Once again, here’s my monthly wrap-up of the exciting new ebooks available from Singapore’s National Library Board. You can borrow and read these using Libby or the Overdrive app. For a tutorial on how to use Libby, click here.
Tentacle by Rita Indiana
SFF | Goodreads
Plucked from her life on the streets of post-apocalyptic Santo Domingo, young maid Acilde Figueroa finds herself at the heart of a Santería prophecy: only she can travel back in time and save the ocean – and humanity – from disaster. But first she must become the man she always was – with the help of a sacred anemone. Tentacle is an electric novel with a big appetite and a brave vision, plunging headfirst into questions of climate change, technology, Yoruba ritual, queer politics, poverty, sex, colonialism and contemporary art. Bursting with punk energy and lyricism, it’s a restless, addictive trip: The Tempest meets the telenovela.
The Incredible Journey of Plants by Stefano Mancuso
Non-fiction | Goodreads
In this richly illustrated volume, a leading neurobiologist presents fascinating stories of plant migration that reveal unexpected connections between nature and culture.
Generation after generation, using spores, seeds, or any other means available, plants move in the world to conquer new spaces. They release huge quantities of spores that can be transported thousands of miles. The number and variety of tools through which seeds spread is astonishing: we have seeds dispersed by wind, by rolling on the ground, by animals, by water, or by a simple fall from the plant, which can happen thanks to propulsive mechanisms, the swaying of the mother plant, the drying of the fruit, and much more.
Days of Distraction by Alexandra Chang
Fiction | Goodreads
The plan is to leave. As for how, when, to where, and even why—she doesn’t know yet. So begins a journey for the twenty-four-year-old narrator of Days of Distraction. As a staff writer at a prestigious tech publication, she reports on the achievements of smug Silicon Valley billionaires and start-up bros while her own request for a raise gets bumped from manager to manager. And when her longtime boyfriend, J, decides to move to a quiet upstate New York town for grad school, she sees an excuse to cut and run.
Moving is supposed to be a grand gesture of her commitment to J and a way to reshape her sense of self. But in the process, she finds herself facing misgivings about her role in an interracial relationship. Captivated by the stories of her ancestors and other Asian Americans in history, she must confront a question at the core of her identity: What does it mean to exist in a society that does not notice or understand you?
The Death of Comrade President by Alain Mabanckou
Historical fiction | Goodreads
In Pointe-Noire, in the small neighbourhood of Voungou, on the family plot where young Michel lives with Maman Pauline and Papa Roger, life goes on. But Michel’s everyday cares – lost grocery money, the whims of his parents’ moods, their neighbours’ squabbling, his endless daydreaming – are soon swept away by the wind of history. In March 1977, just before the arrival of the short rainy season, Comrade President Marien Ngouabi is brutally murdered in Brazzaville, and not even naive Michel can remain untouched.
Sharks in the Time of Saviours by Kawai Strong Washburn
Magical realism | Goodreads
In 1995 Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, on a rare family vacation, seven-year-old Nainoa Flores falls overboard a cruise ship into the Pacific Ocean. When a shiver of sharks appears in the water, everyone fears for the worst. But instead, Noa is gingerly delivered to his mother in the jaws of a shark, marking his story as the stuff of legends.
Nainoa’s family, struggling amidst the collapse of the sugarcane industry, hails his rescue as a sign of favor from ancient Hawaiian gods–a belief that appears validated after he exhibits puzzling new abilities. But as time passes, this supposed divine favor begins to drive the family apart: Nainoa, working now as a paramedic on the streets of Portland, struggles to fathom the full measure of his expanding abilities; further north in Washington, his older brother Dean hurtles into the world of elite college athletics, obsessed with wealth and fame; while in California, risk-obsessed younger sister Kaui navigates an unforgiving academic workload in an attempt to forge her independence from the family’s legacy.
The Lady’s Handbook for her Mysterious Illness by Sarah Ramey
Memoir | Goodreads
Sarah Ramey recounts the decade-long saga of how a seemingly minor illness in her senior year of college turned into a prolonged and elusive condition that destroyed her health but that doctors couldn’t diagnose or treat. Worse, as they failed to cure her, they hinted that her devastating symptoms were psychological.
The Lady’s Handbook for Her Mysterious Illness is a memoir with a mission, to help the millions of (mostly) women who suffer from unnamed or misunderstood conditions.
The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin
SFF | Goodreads
Every city has a soul. Some are as ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York City? She’s got five.
But every city also has a dark side. A roiling, ancient evil stirs beneath the earth, threatening to destroy the city and her five protectors unless they can come together and stop it once and for all.
The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
Paranormal | Goodreads
Patricia Campbell had always planned for a big life, but after giving up her career as a nurse to marry an ambitious doctor and become a mother, Patricia’s life has never felt smaller. The days are long, her kids are ungrateful, her husband is distant, and her to-do list is never really done. The one thing she has to look forward to is her book club, a group of Charleston mothers united only by their love for true-crime and suspenseful fiction. In these meetings, they’re more likely to discuss the FBI’s recent siege of Waco as much as the ups and downs of marriage and motherhood.
But when an artistic and sensitive stranger moves into the neighborhood, the book club’s meetings turn into speculation about the newcomer. Patricia is initially attracted to him, but when some local children go missing, she starts to suspect the newcomer is involved. She begins her own investigation, assuming that he’s a Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. What she uncovers is far more terrifying, and soon she–and her book club–are the only people standing between the monster they’ve invited into their homes and their unsuspecting community.
Kept Animals by Kate Milliken
Historical fiction | Goodreads
Rory Ramos is a dutiful teenager with a love of photography who works as a ranch hand at the stable her stepfather manages in Topanga Canyon, California, a dry, dusty place reliant on horses and hierarchies. There she rides for the rich clientele, including twins June and Wade Fisk. June begins to take an interest in Rory—but she is more drawn to Vivian Price, the beautiful teenager with the movie-star father, who lives down the hill, and Rory can’t help noticing, swims in her pool nearly every night. Rory’s ambiguous roots and blue-collar upbringing keep her largely separate from the likes of the Prices and the Fisks—until her stepfather is involved in a tragic car accident. From that moment on, the lives of these teenagers become inextricably linked—are they friends or foes, lovers or rivals?—sparking a series of events that come to a head the night a wildfire tears through Topanga Canyon, and Rory’s life is changed forever.
Kept Animals is narrated by Rory’s daughter, Charlie, twenty years after that fateful 1993 fire. Rory is away on assignment as a war photographer, and Charlie knows the key to her own existence lies in the story of what happened during that unseasonably warm fall. And without her mother to tell her the truth, she must unravel it by herself.
Hex by Rebecca Dinerstein Knight
Fiction | Goodreads
Nell Barber, an expelled PhD candidate in biological science, is exploring the fine line between poison and antidote, working alone to set a speed record for the detoxification of poisonous plants. Her mentor, Dr. Joan Kallas, is the hero of Nell’s heart. Nell frequently finds herself standing in the doorway to Joan’s office despite herself, mesmerized by Joan’s elegance, success, and spiritual force.
Surrounded by Nell’s ex, her best friend, her best friend’s boyfriend, and Joan’s buffoonish husband, the two scientists are tangled together at the center of a web of illicit relationships, grudges, and obsessions. All six are burdened by desire and ambition, and as they collide on the university campus, their attractions set in motion a domino effect of affairs and heartbreak.
Meanwhile, Nell slowly fills her empty apartment with poisonous plants to study, and she begins to keep a series of notebooks, all dedicated to Joan. She logs her research and how she spends her days, but the notebooks ultimately become a painstaking map of love.
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