Six Degrees of Separation: Rodham to Life or Death

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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I had no idea where to go with Rodham since it’s unlike anything I choose to read, then, when on Goodreads I decided to page through the ‘Readers Also Enjoy’ feature of the book page, and found something I’d actually read, so let’s start there.

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I doubt Please See Us by Caitlin Mullen actually has anything in common with Rodham. Set in Atlantic City, it’s a dark, gritty story of two young women drawn into the orbit of a serial killer.

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Caitlin Doughty also writes about death, but she blends the tales of her experiences as a crematory operator, and later as a licensed mortician, with a brief historical, cultural and philosophical overview of death rituals, in Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.

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In contrast, in Drink, Smoke, Pass Out, Australian comedienne Judith Lucy writes about life, recounting her journey from hard drinking youth to a more moderate middle age as her rekindled interest in spirituality vies with her deeply ingrained cynicism.

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Lucy is the name of a supporting character in Hermit, a debut novel from S.R. White. Set in rural Australia, most of the action in Hermit takes place within a police interrogation room as Detective Dana Russo carefully coaxes information from a psychologically frail murder suspect. It results in a series of tense and unusual exchanges between the two as a tentative rapport develops, despite their nominally adversarial relationship.

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Australian bank robbers, Ray Denning and Russell ‘Mad Dog’ Cox were no strangers to the inside of a police interrogation room. In the fascinating and unexpectedly entertaining true crime book, Public Enemies, author Mark Dapin explores the lives of these anti-heroes, from childhood through to adulthood.

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International bestselling author Michael Robotham was a cadet journalist covering the night shift when he received a call from Ray Denning, who had escaped prison and was on the run. I have to wonder if his stand alone novel, Life or Death, about a prison escapee, may have been inspired in part by his connection with the notorious criminal.

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Next month the Six Degrees of Separation meme will begin with

Six Degrees of Separation: How To Do Nothing to Rohan’s Echo

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.

This month the chain begins with How To Do Nothing by Jenny Odell.

“When the technologies we use every day collapse our experiences into 24/7 availability, platforms for personal branding, and products to be monetized, nothing can be quite so radical as… doing nothing. Here, Jenny Odell sends up a flare from the heart of Silicon Valley, delivering an action plan to resist capitalist narratives of productivity and techno-determinism, and to become more meaningfully connected in the process.”

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Based on the synopsis, my instinct is to leap to The Moment of Everything by Shelly King. Her protagonist is unemployed after being made redundant by a Silicon Valley tech start-up. In this charming romantic novel, Maggie knows what she doesn’t want – a marriage like her parents or to work in a bookstore. She thinks she wants a casual, fun relationship and the status and wealth of a career in high tech. It is only when she decides to make the Dragonfly profitable while waiting for ‘the’ job that she discovers that the store is exactly what she needs, and only when she nearly loses it all, what she really wants, what will make her happy.

Owning a bookstore would certainly make me happy, though few of the bookstore owners in books I’ve read seem to be so. Shaun Bythell, the author of Confessions of a Bookseller, for example, rarely seems to be anything but morose or stressed.

Working in a library would also make me happy, especially if it was one of the magnificent libraries featured in Library Architecture + Design by Manuela Roth. From the blurb, “This volume from the Masterpieces series presents outstanding examples of revolutions in library design and renovation, an architectural challenge to strike the finest balance between functionality and aesthetics.”


Architecture is the link to The Lubetkin Legacy by Marina Lewycka, a quirky, rather rambling novel which centres on characters who live in a social housing block of flats in North London named Mandelay Court. One of them is Berthold Sidebottom who has lived in the top floor apartment with his mother, Lily, for most of his life, named after the building’s architect, Berthold Lubetkin, with whom his mother claimed to have an affair.

Lily King is the author of Euphoria, a fascinating novel about three cultural anthropologists studying native tribes in Papua New Guinea in the 1930s, based loosely a real-life love triangle involving renowned anthropologists Margaret Mead, Reo Fortune, and Gregory Bateson.

Rohan’s Echo by Joanne Van Os features a forensic anthropologist. Catriona Kelso’s curiosity is roused when she learns her next assignment will be the exhumation and identification of the hundreds of World War 1 soldiers buried en masse on the French battleground, and that her great grandfather’s twin brother may be among them. Excited by the possibility, Cat begins to ask questions about her family, but uncovers more than one long buried secret.

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Next month the Six Degrees of Separation meme will begin with Curtis Sittenfeld’s latest novel, Rodham.

Six Degrees of Separation: What I Loved to The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective

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.

This month the chain begins with What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt. I’m not at all familiar with this novel or the author, but her biography tells me she has strong ties to Norway, so that is going to be where I start.

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The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave is a novel set during the 17th century which begins as a freak midwinter storm hits Vardø, Norway’s north-easternmost point. A captivating novel about love, fear, obsession, and evil, The Mercies is inspired by historical witch trials.

As is the The Darkest Shore. Author Karen Brooks seamlessly blends historical detail with informed imagination to create a spellbinding story that explores the true events that occurred in Pittenweem, Scotland during the early 1800’s, where seven women (and one man) were imprisoned and tortured after being accused of witchcraft.

Veronica McCreedy isn’t a witch, she simply an elderly, eccentric and wealthy woman who travels from her home in Scotland to Antarctica to spend time among Adelie penguins, despite not being welcome. Away With the Penguins by Hazel Prior is an entertaining and uplifting story.

 

 

 

 

Heatstroke is a tense, atmospheric novel from Hazel Barkworth about mothers and daughters, desire and obsession, trust and betrayal. It begins when the best friend of Rachel’s fifteen year old daughter, Mia, disappears, but this is not really a story about the missing Lily, it is about what Rachel feels she is losing…. her daughter, her youth, her attractiveness, and perhaps her mind.

In Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healy, the protagonist, Maud, really is losing her mind. The eighty two year old mother and grandmother suffers from progressive dementia and when her closest friend disappears from her life she grows obsessed with finding her. I found this to be a clever and engrossing read.

From an amateur investigator to a professional, Maud West was a real life ‘lady detective’ in London during the early 20th century. Susannah Stapleton’s biography, The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective: Secrets & Lies in the Golden Age of Crime, details her exploits and reveals a complex woman, perhaps more elusive than the most slippery private eye’s quarry.

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Next month the Six Degrees of Separation meme will begin with How To Do Nothing by Jenny Odell

Six Degrees of Separation: Normal People to The Colorado Kid

 


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 chain begins with Normal People by Sally Rooney. Having learnt that the novel doesn’t use speech marks, I knew I wouldn’t read it, however I did watch the television series adaption and found it quite mesmerising.

 

I simply didn’t get around to read The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Gailbraith (aka JK Rowling) before binging on the tv adaption series, C.B. Strike, which I enjoyed.

 

I have read at least the first book in M.R.Hall’s Jenny Cooper series which begins with The Coroner. Interestingly though the books are set in England, the tv series, also called The Coroner, is set in Canada.

 

One of my (many) guilty viewing pleasures is When Calls the Heart, a period show set in Canada during the early 1900’s, which is inspired by a book series, Canadian West, written by Janette Oke.

 

Set during a similar timeframe in Australia, I adore the TV show Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries but I really wasn’t a fan of the book series on which it is based, which begins with Cocaine Blues, authored by Kerry Greenwood, and have read no more than a handful.

I have read (and own) the entire series of Robert G. Barrett’s book series which starts with You Wouldn’t Be Dead For Quids, featuring knockabout country bloke Les Norton though, and I enjoyed the recent TV adaption.

 

Perhaps my favourite TV series based loosely on a single novel, The Colorado Kid by Stephen King, is Haven. I binge watch the supernatural drama series at least once a year.

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What’s your favourite page to TV adaption?

Next month (July 4, 2020), the chain will begin with with What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt (inspired by a recent post by A Life in Books).

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: 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

 

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!

 

Murmur by Will Eaves is this months selection as the springboard for Six Degrees of Separation. What I know of Alan Turing is largely gleaned from ‘The Imitation Game’ (starring Benedict Cumberbatch), and I wouldn’t be averse to learning more about him, but honestly this is not something I will ever read, reviews give me the impression that its terribly pretentious

Of the previous winners of the Wellcome Prize, I found The Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot fascinating. I read it as a member of an informal bookclub, and it was one of the first books I reviewed on Goodreads.

Speaking of immortality, I really enjoy reading urban fantasy, and the immortal Atticus O’Sullivan, along with his faithful Irish Wolfhound companion, Oberon, who features in the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne is one of my favourites. Beginning with Hounded, the series ended last year with book 9, Scourged.

From an Irish Druid with a dog, to an Irish cop (with no dog) brings us to Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty, book five of his gritty crime series set in Ireland during ‘The Troubles’ featuring Guarda Sean Duffy. In this instance, Duffy is investigating the death of a journalist in the grounds of Carrickfergus Castle.

 

Duffy enjoys a whisky now and then, which leads me to Whisky and Charlie by Annabel Smith (one of the original hosts of this meme). First published in Australia as ‘Whisky, Charlie, Foxtrot’ in 2012, Whiskey and Charlie is a moving and poignant novel, the story of identical twin brothers, Charlie and William (aka Whiskey) Ferns.

Newly published, The Place on Dalhousie is authored by another Australian writer, Melina Marchetta. It’s an adult contemporary fiction novel that loosely follows up on her popular young adults novels, Saving Francesca and The Piper’s Son, though it can also be enjoyed as a stand-alone. It begins when Rosie and Jimmy meet during a flood.

To bring the chain to a close, I decided to go with Deeper Water by Jessie Cole in which a flood also has life changing repercussions for the main character, Mema, a young woman awakening to the possibilities of love and life.

 

Since I hadn’t read the first book in the chain, I also decided that the rest should draw on books I had read.

 

Join in anytime during the month – Click here for the rules!

Six Degrees of Separation

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!

Click here for the rules!

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This month begins with The Dry, the debut novel from Australian author, Jane Harper. One of its many strengths (you can read my review here), is it’s setting in a small and struggling drought affected country town in Victoria.

That, among other similarities, leads us to another Australian crime fiction novel, Scrublands  by Chris Hammer (you can read my review here). Set in New South Wales, drought-stricken Riversend is the scene of a shocking mass murder.

It’s no surprise that the film rights to both The Dry, and Scrublands, were snapped up by the local film industry. Currently in post production is I am Woman, a movie based on Australian Helen Reddy’s autobiography, The Woman I Am. With her song “I Am Woman,” Reddy provided the feminist anthem of the 1970’s.

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid is a novel about a young woman’s music career set during the same period in which Helen Reddy found fame. Reid relates Daisy’s journey in an epistolary format, through interview transcripts mimicking a music documentary.

Which brings us to the YA sci-fi novel, Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff told through a combination of schematics, logs, emails and file documents. Set in the year 2575, Illuminae begins when Kady is forced to evacuate her planet after war breaks out between two mega corporations.

Next I’ve chosen Anthony Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, All the Light We Cannot See, where a father and his young blind daughter, are forced to flee their home in Paris when the the Nazi’s invade during World War 2. I really need to read this before Netflix releases its tv series adaption.

Finally, the chain ends with another book on my TBR pile, The Rules of Seeing by Joe Heap. This novel features two vision impaired characters, Nova has been blind since birth, while Kate’s vision was affected by an accident. Both women face challenges as they negotiate their change in circumstances.

I’m looking forward to seeing how your chain unfolded!