Six Degrees of Separation: The Road to This Wont End Well

Hosted by Kate at booksaremyfavouriteandbest, on the first Saturday of every month, a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form Six Degrees of Separation. Readers and bloggers are invited to join in by creating their own ‘chain’ leading from the selected book.

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This month’s selection is The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I haven’t read it though I’m familiar with its premise. As Kate points out it has an unexpected relevance today as the world reels mid pandemic so I decided to lean into the theme.

My chain begins with Viral by Helen Fitzgerald, though she is referencing not a disease like Covid-19, but a video of a drunken indiscretion that finds its way online.

In Leigh K Cunningham’s novel, Being Anti-Social, the main character would find our current stay-at-home orders suit her being that she is, “unwilling or unable to associate in a normal or friendly way with other people”.

Of course it’s the Fever we are all trying to avoid, the most common first symptom of Covid-19, and one of the first symptoms of Typhoid which Mary Beth Keane writes of.

If you are unfortunate enough to catch Covid-19 there is a chance you may end up in Intensive Care, which is why the stay-at-home orders were issued. There was concern in particular that rural hospitals like the one in Nicki Edwards novel could be overwhelmed.

There is no doubt that preventing the spread of Covid-19 virus is a matter of Life or Death, I’m sure even Michael Robotham’s anti-hero would agree.

And while we are eager to regain some normalcy to our lives, I’m afraid This Won’t End Well if we don’t take care to avoid a second wave of infection. We need to listen to the scientists like Camille Pagan’s lead character, Annie.

 

 So my chain today is a PSA, thanks for reading.

#stayhome #staywell

 

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Next month (June 6, 2020), we’ll begin with Sally Rooney’s best seller (and now a TV series), Normal People.

Six Degrees of Separation: Stasiland to A Beautiful Place To Die

 

Hosted by Kate at booksaremyfavouriteandbest, on the first Saturday of every month, a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form Six Degrees of Separation. Readers and bloggers are invited to join in by creating their own ‘chain’ leading from the selected book.

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This month’s nominated starting point is Stasiland by Anna Funder. For some inexplicable reason Stasiland never made it on to my TBR list, I’ve corrected that now.

My first link is going to be Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon. It’s historical fiction based on the true exploits of an extraordinary woman, Nancy Wake, a New Zealand born, Australian raised, French expat who during World War II made a significant contribution to the Allied war effort as a smuggler, a spy and a Resistance leader, and had several run ins with the Stasi.

Another extraordinary woman is the subject of Cassandra Pybus’s biography, Truganini. Known (though erroneously) as the ‘Last Tasmanian Aborigine’, this harrowing biography reveals a spirited and courageous woman who suffered unimaginable losses – the annihilation of her country, her culture, her kin, and her identity.

Tasmania is the setting of Devil’s Lair by Sarah Barrie, a gothic-y tale about a young woman targeted by a psychopathic killer that hooked me with its chilling suspense and atmospheric setting.

 

 

I am really looking forward to carving out some time to read Sarah J Maas’s House of Earth and Blood. It’s the beginning of a new fantasy series, Crescent City, but at 803pp it’s not going to be easy to squeeze into my schedule.

Blood Witness is a legal thriller by South African born Australian lawyer, Alex Hammond. Set in Melbourne, Will Harris is a defence lawyer on a high profile murder case. I particularly liked the way in which the author balanced the professional with the personal aspects of his protagonist.

A Beautiful Place to Die is the first book in a series of four that features Detective Emmanuel Cooper by Malla Nunn. This crime fiction series is set in South Africa in the 1950’s, and has a gritty, dark realism that explores the political and social system of the period.

 

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The choice for next month (May 2, 2020) is The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

Six Degrees of Separation: Wolfe Island to Snake Island

Hosted by Kate at booksaremyfavouriteandbest, on the first Saturday of every month, a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form Six Degrees of Separation. Readers and bloggers are invited to join in by creating their own ‘chain’ leading from the selected book.

 

I thought it would be fun to go Island hopping this month, shall we?

This month we begin with Wolfe Island by Lucy Treloar, which is set off the north east coast of the United States.

It’s a short hop from there to Haiti which is the setting of The Island on the Edge of the World by Deborah Rodriguez.

Take a leisurely boat ride around the rest of the West Indies which is the area in which The House on Hummingbird Island by Sam Angus takes place.

From there, it’s a long jump across the pond to Hy Brasil, a tiny island off the coast of Ireland, where Ellie O’Neill sets The Enchanted Island.

 

The setting of Ember Island by Kimberley Freeman moves between The English Channel Islands in the UK and a small island off the coast of Queensland, Australia, in the region of Moreton Bay.

Since you’ve come all this way, head to the most northern point of Queensland and you’ll find Thursday Island, the setting of My Island Homicide by Catherine Titasey.

For the final leg of the journey follow Australia’s east coast all the way south to Victoria and visit Snake Island with Ben Hobson.

It might not be the most picturesque place to leave you, but feel free to keep hopping , there are plenty more islands in the sea!

Six Degrees of Separation: Fleishman Is In Trouble to Peace

I haven’t had time to read this month’s book prompt, Fleishman Is In Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner (though I’m interested in doing so), so I’m taking my cue from the cover this month, an inverted cityscape of New York.

Old Scores by David Whish-Wilson also has a cityscape on the cover, and though it’s right side up, the city -Perth- can be found Down Under.

Australia is the setting for Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton. Winning *all* the awards in Australia last year, it is a gritty coming of age tale.

Another coming of age tale, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz , also won a number of awards in the US.

The Disappeared by C.J. Box also has a red pick up on the cover, I haven’t been able to keep up this series featuring a Wyoming game warden but I have enjoyed those I’ve read.

It’s a small leap to Boxed by Richard Anderson, both have ‘box’ on their covers and the stories share a rural setting.

I’ve managed during this chain to choose books with male protagonists, and I’m going to end it with the last book with a male protagonist I awarded five stars, Peace by Garry Disher.

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Hosted by Kate at booksaremyfavouriteandbest, on the first Saturday of every month, a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form Six Degrees of Separation. Readers and bloggers are invited to join in by creating their own ‘chain’ leading from the selected book.

 

 

Six Degrees of Separation: Daisy Jones & the Six to Under A Silent Moon

January’s Six Degrees of Separation meme begins with Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid, which I read between Christmas and New Year expressly because it was chosen for this meme. I knew it had received high praise from bloggers and readers but I honestly wasn’t expecting to like it much, happily though that wasn’t the case – I thought it was pretty terrific.

My first link required very little thought, the first book of the year I read is already generating buzz, Such A Fun Age, and the author, Kiley Reid, shares her last name with Taylor. This sparked the idea for a theme with which to connect the books in my chain. One of the main characters in Such A Fun Age is Alix Chamberlain, and the surname provides a link to…

The Good Father by Diane Chamberlain. Published in 2012, this contemporary fiction novel is a bit of tearjerker. The authors first name provides my next link to…

Empire Day by Diane Armstrong, a historical fiction novel set in Australia. I’d never heard of Empire Day until reading this novel, but the book’s real focus is on the post-WWII immigrant experience as the ‘reffos’s’ struggled to adjust their new life, one of whom is named Emil.

I’ve used Hannah and Emil by Belinda Castles in a chain previously but it was the obvious book to choose here since it links the two characters by their first name. The story, about two lovers set against the backdrop of WWII, is based on the lives of the author’s grandparents. Sharing Belinda’s first name is…

A character in Riverboat Point by Trisha Stringer. In this romantic suspense novel, the main character, Savannah Smith unexpectedly finds herself running a houseboat charter business, relying in part on her seemingly friendly neighbours, Belinda and Ashton Palmer for help.

Smith is also the last name of Elizabeth Haynes’ lead character in Under A Silent Moon. DCI Louisa Smith is a crime analyst leading her fist task force investigating the murder of a horse groomer.

So this month I’ve managed to connect the names of authors, and characters in six different permutations.

Next month (February 1, 2020), will begin with a book that topped the critics ‘best of 2019’ lists, Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner.

Six Degrees of Separation: Sanditon to Northanger Abbey

 

This month Six Degrees of Separation begins with Sanditon, Jane Austen’s unfinished novel. It has been published posthumously both incomplete, and has been ‘completed’ by several different authors over the years.

My thoughts immediately jumped to another author whose work was continued after his death, and coincidentally shares a surname with several of the characters in Sanditon –Robert B. Parker. Parker is best known for his popular series featuring Spenser, an ex-boxer, ex-state cop turned private eye, in Boston, Massachusetts. I read quite a few books in the series in my pre-blogging days.

Ace Atkins is the author who finished Parker’s incomplete novel, and has continued the Spenser series since 2011. I’m also a fan of Atkins contemporary western series featuring Quinn Colson, a former ranger turned Sheriff in rural Mississippi.

And because I just finished it, I feel compelled to link to Emma Viskic’s series featuring Caleb Zelic, a deaf security consultant. Book number three is Darkness for Light, and one of the characters with a major role in the plot is named Quinn.

I may as well stay with the genre and link to Present Darkness by Malla Nunn. It’s the fourth book in her excellent series set during the 1950’s in apartheid ruled South Africa, featuring Detective Emmanuel Cooper.

South Africa is also the setting for T.M. Clark’s newest release, Cry of the Firebird. A crime thriller which sees WHO consultant Dr Lily Winters caught up web of corruption, greed, and revenge.

Val McDermid is an international best seller of crime fiction, but you may not be aware that she has also written an updated take on Austen’s classic novel, Northanger Abbey. Opinion is divided on its success, but it neatly brings me full circle for this month’s chain.

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Join in by posting your own six degrees chain on your blog and adding the link in the Linky section (or comments) of each month’s post at booksaremyfavouriteandbest. If you don’t have a blog, you can share your chain in the comments section. You can also check out links to posts on Twitter using the hashtag #6Degrees

Six Degrees of Separation: Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland to Putting Alice Back Together

 

 

It would be a rare reader who is not at least a little familiar with Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland. I can’t remember when I was first introduced to it but it was likely when I was quite young. To be honest it’s never been a favourite of mine, I find it a little too nonsensical, though I know for many that is part of the charm.

Choosing the first link in my chain was this month was easy. Still Alice by Lisa Genova is the story of a fifty year old wife, mother and renowned linguistics professor at Harvard University, whose life is turned upside down when she develops early onset Alzheimer’s. The shifts between lucidity and disorientation as the disease progresses could be said to have something in common with Alice’s adventures down the rabbit hole.

Still Alice leads me directly to Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante. In this unique mystery novel, Jennifer White is a suspect in her best friend’s murder, but Jennifer suffers from rapidly advancing Alzheimer’s, and slipping in and out of awareness, can’t quite hold on to her memory of what happened the last time she saw her friend alive.

In What Alice Forgot by bestselling Australian author Liane Moriarty, the titular Alice loses her memory of the past ten years after a fall, leaving her struggling to reconcile her 29 year old mind set with her 39 year old self. The style of writing here gives the impression of a lighthearted chic lit novel, but it disguises a story with surprising insight, and I think it is one of her best novels to date.

An award-winning Australian writer, essayist and journalist, Alice Pung’s first fiction novel Laurinda, features a teenage girl, Lucy Lam, who is awarded the inaugural ‘Equal Access’ scholarship to an exclusive Ladies College, where she struggles to fit in. Part satire, magnifying the pretensions of private school and the aspirations of immigrant families, part poignant coming of age tale, Pung draws on her own experiences which gives the story a sense of authenticity.

Go Ask Alice by Anonymous (later revealed as a fictional novel by Beatrice Sparks) was probably the most shocking coming of age tale of my generation, it chronicled a teenage girl’s descent into drug addiction. I was only about eleven when I read it, and I believed every word of it was true. While today’s teens would probably it consider rather ridiculous, it certainly had a lasting effect on me.

In Putting Alice Back Together by Carol Marinelli, another Australian author, a young woman is struggling to maintain a facade of happiness and success. Plagued by anxiety attacks, addicted to drugs and alcohol, and sabotaging her career and relationships, her life is falling apart, as hiding a secret from her past takes its toll.

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So this month links all have an obvious connection, either the main protagonist of each book is named Alice, or the author’s first name is Alice. Without realising it I also created links using A words … Alzheimer’sAmnesiaAustralianAdolescence… and Addiction. That was clever of me! LOL. Oh and this month I have actually read all of the books in my chain.

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Join in by posting your own six degrees chain on your blog and adding the link in the Linky section (or comments) of each month’s post at booksaremyfavouriteandbest . If you don’t have a blog, you can share your chain in the comments section. You can also check out links to posts on Twitter using the hashtag #6Degrees

Six Degrees of Separation: Three Women to Unmentionables

 

Hosted by Kate at Books Are My favourite and Best, the Six Degrees of Separation meme asks you to start at the same place as other readers, add six books, and see where you end up!

I’ve seen mixed opinions on Three Women by Lisa Taddeo, the book chosen to be this month’s starting point. I had vague plans to read it myself but didn’t get to it. The description of Maggie’s story in the blurb of Three Women though immediately called to mind a book I read several years ago.

Precocious by Joanna Barnard tells the story of Fiona who had an affair with her English teacher when she was fourteen. While Fiona has always been convinced she was the instigator of their relationship, learning that she was not the first, nor had been the last, in a long line of student conquests she is forced to reexamine their past, and present, relationship.

It’s the tag for Precocious ‘Can there be a more unreliable narrator than a teenage girl?’ that leads me to The Accusation by Wendy James. In this provocative tale, a teenage girl accuses drama teacher Susannah of abducting and keeping her captive for over a month. It’s an engrossing story, inspired by a Victorian crime known as The Canning Affair.

Marie was just a teenager when she was raped by a stranger in her apartment. The police did not believe her and she was charged, and convicted, of making a false report. Two years later the capture of a serial rapist revealed photographs taken of Marie during her ordeal. She had told the truth. T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong tell her story in Unbelievable, the book that has inspired a Netflix limited series.

 

The Betrayal by Y.A. Erskine is a thinly veiled admission of an incident in Erskine’s own eleven year police career, though she chose not to report. It features a young police Constable who is sexually assaulted by a colleague. When Lucy reports the attack she is accused of false reporting, targeted in a smear campaign, harassed and physically threatened by many of those she works with.

Sexual harassment in the workplace has long been an issue, in Whisper Network by Chandler Baker four female employees have had enough and refuse to stay silent any longer, but just how far will they go?

I wanted to finish this chain on a slightly more upbeat note which leads me to Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage and Manners by Therese Oneill. While it often seems as if change is slow for women in society, this non-fiction work, a ‘hilarious, illustrated, scandalously honest (yet never crass) guide to the secrets of Victorian womanhood’, proves things have been much, much worse.

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Join in by posting your own six degrees chain on your blog and adding the link in the Linky section (or comments) of each month’s post at booksaremyfavouriteandbest . If you don’t have a blog, you can share your chain in the comments section. You can also check out links to posts on Twitter using the hashtag #6Degrees

 

 

Six Degrees of Separation: A Gentleman in Moscow to The Farm

 

Hosted by Kate at Books Are My favourite and Best, the Six Degrees of Separationasks you to start at the same place as other readers, add six books, and see where you end up!

I haven’t read A Gentleman in Moscow but the description tells me that it features an unrepentant Russian aristocrat who is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin.

No one was imprisoned in The Hydro Majestic, a grand hotel built among the Blue Mountains of NSW Australia, which is the setting for Palace of Tears by Julian Leatherdale, a generational saga of family, passion, secrets and vengeance.

One of the most famous palace’s in the world is The Palace of Versailles, once the residence of French royalty. The Blue Rose by Kate Forsyth is set during the period of the French Revolution, and the story’s protagonist, Viviane de Faitaud, spends both time at court, and at her family estate, Château de Belisama-sur-le-Lac in Brittany.

Château is French for castle, which brought to mind Hannah and Emil by Belinda Castles. Inspired by the lives of Castles’ grandparents, this novel relates a love affair that transcended the political, religious and social strictures of the time. Hannah and Emil are cruelly separated when Emil, a German refugee in Britain, was sent to Australia and interned in a camp for ‘enemy aliens’ during WWII.

Anyone with Japanese ancestry living in the United States during WWII were also forced into interment camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbour. Garden of Stones by Sophie Littlefield is a poignant tale of a mother and daughter forced to endure the corruption, injustice and indignity of imprisonment.

The author of Safe Harbour, Helene Young, lives on a yacht. She and her husband are currently docked in Vanuatu, but her rural romance novel is set in a small coastal community in Australia, surrounded by dairy farms.

A remote farm in Sweden is the setting of The Farm by Rob Tom Smith, an intriguing psychological thriller that is sure to keep you guessing. Is Daniel’s mother, Tilde crazy, or is Daniel’s father really responsible for a reprehensible crime?

 

Did you notice? We ‘moved’ from a hotel, to a palace, to a castle, to an internment camp, to a harbour, and finally a farm.

Six Degrees of Separation: The Elegance of the Hedgehog to The Desert Midwife

 

Hosted by Kate at Books Are My favourite and Best, the Six Degrees of Separation asks you to start at the same place as other readers, add six books, and see where you end up!

My last post for Six Degrees of Separation ended with The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbers, translated from the French by Alison Anderson, so that’s the book that I start my chain with this month.

When it comes to translated fiction, most of what I read tends to be Scandi or Nordic crime. This includes Arnaldur Indriðason’s series featuring Inspector Erlendur, the first of which is Reykjavik Nights, translated from Icelandic by Victoria Cribb.

Iceland is the country Tory Bilski returns to every summer for a decade in her memoir, Wild Horses under the Summer Sun. Tory developed a yearning in middle age to ride Icelandic horses in their native setting and this engaging nonfiction book details her experiences.

I haven’t read White Horses by Rachel Treasure yet, it’s on my reading list for later this month, but the link is there in the title. Set in Western Australia, it’s about a motherless young woman, named Drift, raised by her father, an itinerant cattle drover. The blurb mentions that Drift was also cared for by a woman who was a travelling librarian, which immediately bought to mind…

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson. This historical fiction novel features the women of The Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky, a depression era federal program which delivered books to schoolhouses and homes in remote areas.

Also taking place in Appalachia during roughly the same period, is The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman. I really enjoyed this heartwarming novel about midwife struggling against poverty and prejudice set against a time of significant social angst.

My final link in the chain shares a protagonist with the same profession, though The Desert Midwife by Fiona McArthur is set almost a century later in outback Australia.

It’s been fun as always, I look forward to seeing what connections you have made.

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