“The Readymade Thief” by Augustus Rose: Review

The Readymade Thief

Rarely have I felt so passionately about a new author and debut novel that I not only called a regional bookstore about an author signing, I emailed my friends to encourage them to attend.

“The Readymade Thief” by Augustus Rose has sent me into an unpaid, handselling frenzy. The blurb from Penguin Random House may mislead some readers, letting them think this one of those ubiquitous teen coming-of-age fantasy novels featuring an at-risk young woman. Rose takes many of the themes found in genre novels and spins them into a kaleidoscopic whirlwind of physical and metaphysical insight.

While this may sound challenging, at its heart “The Readymade Thief” is a literary mystery-thriller, featuring a secret society, disappearing teenagers, uber-geeks, the darknet, drugs, raves, and…oh yeah… a kick-ass heroine. Somehow, Rose manages to meld physics and art without losing track of the twisty plot or sacrificing the novel’s pace.

To read an excerpt, go to:

http://www.firsttoread.com/books/the-readymade-thief-augustus-rose/9780735221833#

 

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I received an advanced copy of this book in electronic format from firsttoread.com in exchange for an honest review.

This review has been posted to:

Goodreads.com

Amazon.com

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New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson

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Amazing near cli-fi, in which New York is a drowned city as the result of catastrophic climate change. The big money movers and shakers have not learned their lesson though, and are once again leading the world to the edge of economic and physical disaster. Engaging characters are far from stereotypic as they fight the good fight to save the world and their city.

 

Close to Shore: A True Story of Terror in an Age of Innocence by Michael Capuzzo

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Can’t get enough of shark week? This is the book for you-a nonfiction account of a series of shark attacks along the Jersey shore during July, 1916. The Gilded Age is over, and the US is on the cusp of entering WWI. Americans from all financial stratus head out to a new vacation destination, the beach, to beat the summer heat. Few people knew anything about sharks; most fishermen considered them harmless, timid scavengers. Shock and horror at the discovery of great white sharks, and their need of large prey, sent beachgoers fleeing from beaches. This gripping sea saga may have served as inspiration for Jaws by Peter Benchley.

 

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Credit: Chris & Monique Fallows/

 

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

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I am surprised by how much I liked this book. Generally, I don’t read books written by men about women, but Cleave seemed to get the characters right in the world he has created. I realize avoiding novels written by men about women is a particular bias of mine, but I’m also sure that other women share this bias.

But author Chris Cleave seems to perceptively characterize the women in this “sweeping epic” about WWII, as well as the many other characters peopling his novel. In a rare nod to diversity, Cleave shines his authorial light on the plight of blacks during the London blitz, sharing a perspective I’ve not seen before. It has made me want to read more, to determine the veracity of his descriptions.

Over all, the novel sensitively depicts love, loss and courage. It shows the trials endured by ordinary people in extra-ordinary circumstances, and how they find the grace and courage to endure. Would be a good read for a book club.

 

Cooking the Book: The Little French Bistro by Nina George

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“White witches should be very skilled at baking,” Pascale said as she showed her how to prepare the gâteau breton, but however hard she tried, Marianne’s cakes never tasted as luscious and as enticing as Pascale’s.”  -The Little French Bistro, Nina George, 2017.

With a title like “The Little French Bistro,” you know food is going to play an important role in the novel. Armchair traveler foodies will delight in the descriptions of classic Breton cuisine. In fact, the ability to cook is critical to the protagonist. It helps her find employment and a place in her new community.

If you are looking for something sweet to enjoy while reading the book try Gâteau Breton, also known as kouign-amann, Brittany’s shortbread. Perhaps you will even discover a bit of magic in your first slice.

“Some said that it took a sprinkling of magic to make a kouign so good that it would enchant a person’s heart forever, so they would never forget where they had eaten their first slice. -The Little French Bistro, Nina George, 2017.

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Gâteau Breton

Ingredients

350g plain flour

350g salted butter

300g sugar

6 egg yolks (+ 1 extra for brushing over)

A splash of rum (optional)

Method

Mix together the flour and sugar then gradually mix in the butter.

Add the egg yolks as you knead the dough – normally by hand – and the rum if you wish. Don’t knead the dough for too long, only long enough to incorporate all the ingredients.

Spread out the dough in a deep, round ovenproof dish or springform mould.

Using a fork, etch diagonal stripes onto the surface, then coat with a yolk egg-wash for a golden finish.

Bake for around 45 minutes at 180°C, leave it to cool then take it out of the dish or mould.

This cake keeps for a long time and some believe it tastes even better after a few days. It is usually served in slices with a cup of good coffee. It can also be served with a little jam or prune conserve – but whichever way it’s served, it’s delicious.

Sources:

First image: finisterebrittany.com

Second Image: Unattributed via Pinterest

Recipe: finisterebrittany.com

 

The Little French Bistro

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Since I was a fan of Nina George’s The Little Paris Bookshop, I looked forward to reading her latest, The Little French Bistro. Given the subject matter, I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy it. Be assured, The Little French Bistro is filled with lush prose, distinctive characters, and is utterly charming. The description of the sights, sounds, and smells and tastes of Brittany will leave you longing to make your own journey.

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Bécherel, City of Books in Brittany, France.

Source: Unattributed via Pinterest.