The Book Rack: Titles

Personal trauma/family issues, psychological and philosophical fiction, 457 pages

Kazenoko Takebayashi is slowly coming undone. She has just left her husband, uprooted her two young children, and hauled everyone across town to a new apartment, a new school, a new life. She can’t count on any support from her ex, even as she knows the presence of their daughters will keep him annoyingly in her life. She’ll have to discover her own way for the ends to meet and everything to click together. Yet she’s convinced that this was the right choice, and that it is – or will anyway prove to be – for the best. Will it?

Moonshadows is Kazenoko’s story told in her own words, a diary of her thoughts, feelings, perspectives, and efforts as she struggles in an unfair world and reflects on the fate laid bare at her feet. Could she have taken another path than the one she did? Would it have helped? As the pressures mount and her daily worries close in Kazenoko sinks into an emotional breakdown, becoming both sacrifice and sacrificer on life’s altar. Depression, madness, suicide, murder, all pass through her in the constant striving to find some meaning and make some sense, to attain some peace with having been born. She never asked for any of it, and there’s so little she can control; can she at least preserve herself?

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Visionary and speculative fiction, 592 pages

Frank Tollman has just woken up in the middle of a rice paddy. Under a blazing sun. Being poked by someone he does not know and who is speaking to him in a language he has never heard. The last thing he can remember is stopping for drinks and then stumbling to catch the Tokyo Metro home after another day of grinding numbers for a multinational. Life abroad was supposed to be so much more exciting. And then suddenly, in a most unwelcome way, it was.

In the tradition of Camus, Hesse, and Huxley, Freedom’s Mask is a breathtakingly fresh philosophical novel that follows its hero-anti-hero on a quest for knowledge and for self. As Frank struggles to make sense of the world he finds himself in, he is forced to face the difficulties of meaning, the purpose of choice, consent, and the vast puzzle of being. He must not only relearn how to live, but come to terms with what it is, or what it could be, to live well. With its unflinching look at identity, self-making, and the ceaseless struggle of life alone among so many others, Freedom’s Mask is the kind of book that haunts you long after you’ve put it down. Frank’s story is our story, and his questions might be our answers. Don’t miss your chance to ask them too.

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Nonfiction account of struggling with depression and loss, 56 pages

One man’s struggle with depression told in his words but left unfinished.

One woman’s struggle with the loss of her fiancé.

Reflections on Lives Lost: A Journey Through Suicide is a biographical account of events leading to suicide and the aftermath that ensued. Both tell of their personal hurdles and hardships in dealing with things that are out of their control.

This book reflects on childhood, anger, depression, suicide, forgiveness and survival.

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Contemporary philosophy with an added narrative, 256 pages

Tomorrow, as the Crow Flies is a book of ideas. Written in the style of a blog, it covers such philosophical topics as the absence of a soul, issues of personal identity and community, core values for modern life, and the nature of truth. Personal, social, and political concerns are also discussed, with a unique form of government offered for consideration in the author’s “control socialism”. Each chapter consists of the recorded lectures of a wandering thinker, a present-day Zarathustra, and is followed by the comments and narratives of one of his disciples, along with an assortment of voices from those reading the content online. It will offend, entertain, uplift, and most of all challenge readers to look at themselves and their world in an entirely different way.

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A 272-page comedy with heart

Horatio Goodman appears beset by large decisions that make themselves around him whilst he ties his shoelaces. He has made the unlikely swap from store detective to private detective following a night on the couch. He did not realise just how much of his time would be spent sat in his van, waiting for unfaithful spouses to provide ammunition for the divorce courts.

His best friend, Lambert Windle, failing at most things, except attracting women, is a college lecturer in English Literature and has somehow been decamped in the spare room for two years now. Two years of nocturnal shuffling and bumping, of bouncing bed springs and another stranger at the breakfast table.

Horatio’s wife, Megan, appears to take all in her stride, fixed she says by her therapist. Changes are coming for Horatio, Megan has warned him. He must first visit the therapist and then notes can be compared, decisions arrived upon.

But just who is Caleb Pink? This shrink with the life saving touch? Was he not the bass player in a 1970s glam rock band, isn’t he massively and hopelessly depressed?

Megan floats through a world in which the three men closest to her, husband, lodger and former therapist, look to her for reason and warmth. Two of them would probably like to share her bed, one of them just wants to connect with her again.

This is a story of what happens when broken people try to make some of the pieces fit together.

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Read the first two chapters
Lancashire Writing Hub review
CHECKING OUT, a free short by Mark Porter

20 serial short stories, 156 pages

When winter stretches on for half the year and people are forced to spend entirely too much time indoors, strange things are bound to happen. Randolph’s city of Sornsville, and the local coffee shop he works at, are no exceptions. But through all the irate customers and cryogenically preserved mammals, the drinks that magically disappear just when their order has come up, and the simian clerks that know far too much for their own good, Randolph somehow manages to keep an even keel. Here are twenty linked stories, or twenty episodes if you will, about Randolph and the small, frozen, and thoroughly odd part of the world he inhabits.

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POD People review
It’s Time to Read! review

A 213-page graphic novel

Rampant climate change. Unchecked and self-serving authorities. Clinging to imported traditions. Thriving but hostile indigenous tribes. Racism. Starvation. Murder. It is Western Settlement, Greenland, late fifteenth century, and the Norse colony there is plagued by all these problems and many more. GREEN SKIES tells their tale through the eyes of a young farmer named Bjorn Thorsson, a man whose efforts to eke out a living are mirrored countless times across his community. Season after season, from midnight sun to polar night, their hardships mount until the settlement’s very survival is in question. Will the Norse be able to limp their way through another harsh winter? Or will the Inuit finally push them over the brink? Will Bjorn be able to find peace in his eerily modern medieval world? Or will he succumb to the despair that haunts his neighbors and afflicts his nation? GREEN SKIES is a story of the struggle we all face to survive in a changing world—physically, certainly, but much more so psychologically.

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Read the first two chapters
Review from Historical Novel Review

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