Monthly Archives: April 2010

Adding Books To My Wishlist…AGAIN!

My Bookmarks Magazine arrived in the mail on Monday…and as so often happens, it added more great books to my Amazon Wishlist.

Private Life by Jane Smiley (release date: May 4, 2010)

[…] bookish Margaret Mayfield, who, as the 20th century approaches, faces dim marriage prospects and settles for an increasingly erratic scientist. Smiley traces their lives, frustrations, and disillusionments (and events like the San Francisco earthquake of 1906) through the early 1940s. – Bookmarks, page 5 –

The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer (release date May 4 2010)

She [Orringer} sets her debut novel in Europe as World War II looms. The lives of three Hungarian-Jewish beothers – their loves, their careers, their relationships with each other – are about to be swept up by the forces of history. – Bookmarks, page 6 –

The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine (February 2010)

[…] most critics hailed as a clever and warmhearted tale about love, life, and the true meaning of family. Schine’s story captures the essence of Austen’s classics, with pages filled with vibrant characters and insightful social commentary. Only the Wall Street Journal though the novel too derivative. Both funny and sad, The Three Weissmanns of Westport is the literary version of a delectable desert. – Bookmarks, page 25 –

**NOTE: I ended up buying Shine’s book at Barnes and Noble yesterday!!

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow (January 2010)

Durrow fashions a classic fish-out-of water tale in her brilliant debut, which some compare to Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye in its exploration of race and identity. It comes as no surprise that The Girl Who Fell From the Sky was awarded the 2008 Bellwether Prize, the award founded by author Barbara Kingsolver to support literature of social responsibility. – Bookmarks, page 31 –

**NOTE: I ended up buying Durrow’s book at Barnes and Noble yesterday!!

The Room and the Chair by Lorraine Adams (February 2010)

Critics agree that as a political and psychological thriller and newspaper and war novel, The Room and the Chair is “so topical it could be ripped from tomorrow’s headlines.”

[…]The Room and the Chair offers an all-too-real – and frightening – insight into our times. If the inner workings of Washington and the practice of journalism with the nation’s capitol appeal, this book is for you. – Bookmarks, page 44 –

To find more great books, visit the Bookmarks website (or better yet, subscribe to the magazine!!)

Little Bee – Book Review

How I would love to be a British pound. A pound is free to travel to safety, and we are free to watch it go. This is the human triumph. This is called, globalization. A girl like me gets stopped at immigration, but a pound can leap the turnstiles, and dodge the tackles of those big men with their uniform caps, and jump straight into a waiting airport taxi. Where to, sir? Western Civilization, my good man, and make it snappy. – from Little Bee, page 2 –

Sarah and Andrew, a British couple, travel to Nigeria where they hope to heal the wounds in their marriage. They check into a beachfront hotel, blissfully ignorant of a war which is raging in the area – a war for oil, where the native people are being murdered to gain access to the black gold which lies beneath their villages. A young girl (who has taken the name Little Bee) and her sister have fled from one of these villages and soldiers are tracking them down. It is on the beach that the African girls cross paths with Sarah and Andrew…and horror unfolds.

Chris Cleave’s novel doesn’t start on the beach, but everything that happens there has a lasting impact on the characters. The novel actually begins two years after the beach incident – Little Bee managed to get to England where she sought asylum and where, within minutes of her arrival, the immigration authorities locked her up in an Immigration Removal Center. Now she has managed to get free of the Center and has traveled on foot to Sarah and Andrew’s home. It is there where the real story unfolds.

That summer – the summer my husband died – we all had identities we were loath to let go of. My son had his Batman costume, I still used my husband’s surname, and Little Bee, though she was relatively safe with us, still clung to the name she had taken in a time of terror. We were exiles from reality, that summer. We were refugees from ourselves. – from Little Bee, page 22 –

Little Bee is a book about two women who unexpectedly find each other through tragedy. It is their stories, told in alternating points of view, which drive the narrative of the novel and reveal the underlying inhumanity of the refugee and asylum system in England.

Cleave’s prose is ironic, at times humorous (although the themes of the novel are anything but funny), and original. When Sarah compares the recent unfolding of the war to that of her child, Charlie (who dresses as Batman throughout the novel), the resultant analogy is a brilliant look at how wars (and children) need our constant attention lest they grow out of control.

The war was four years old. It had started in the same month my son was born, and they’d grown up together. At first both of them were a huge shock and demanded constant attention but as each year went by, they became more autonomous and one could start to take one’s eye off them for extended periods. Sometimes a particular event would cause me momentarily to look at one or the other of them – my son, or the war – with my full attention, and at times like these I would always think, Gosh, haven’t you grown? – from Little Bee, page 33 –

Thematically the novel explores fate and how in an instant our lives can be changed by things not in our control. It also takes a hard look immigration laws, specifically those impacting individuals seeking asylum from brutal governments (which are often militarized). A third theme looks at the choices we make and how those choices impact our futures and the futures of those closest to us. Cleave examines these themes through the unlikely friendship of the two protagonists – Little Bee and Sarah.

One of the problems I had with the book was not so much the story or Cleave’s writing – but the marketing of the book which sets the reader up with certain very high expectations. The book flap reads:

We don’t want to tell you what happens in this book. It is truly a special story and we don’t want to spoil it.

And they don’t tell us. So as a reader, we purchase the book with certain expectations. I expected not just a good book, but a book which was going to blow me away; perhaps provide a twist in the plot which would surprise me. That didn’t happen (I actually anticipated how the book HAD to end) and I could not help but feel a little manipulated. I think the publisher did a bit of a disservice to the author by marketing the book the way they did…so I won’t hold it against Cleave.

In fact, this is a good book. It is a meaningful book which is heartbreaking in many ways. Despite revealing the dark side of humanity in his story, Cleave also shows that there are good people in the world. There is light even when there is darkness. The world may have evil, but it also has hope and goodness. My favorite character in the book was not either of the women, but Charlie – the little boy who poses as a superhero. Not only does Charlie represent the innocence in the world, but he is also symbolic of future hope. His child’s voice was endearing and honest…a refreshing glimmer of goodness in a novel which looks at betrayal.

Little Bee is not an easy read, but it is a book I am glad I read.

Recommended for book groups, and for readers who enjoy literary fiction.

Another review:

Books I Done Read

TLC Book Tour and Giveaway – Chow Hounds

Chowhounds, by Ernie Ward, DVM
ISBN 978-0-7573-1366-0
Published by Health Communications Inc (March 2010)

Many thanks to TLC Book Tours for giving me the opportunity to tour Chowhounds, by Ernie Ward DVM.


Read my review.

From the Press Release:

As a practicing vet and founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, Ernie Ward, DVM exposes why we, as a nation, have created a Perfect Storm of Portly Pets: pet food manufacturers have tweaked their foods to the point that they have addicted our dogs to sugar and fat; pet food labels are so confusing that most owners overfeed their pets by 25 percent; some pet food formulas are too high in carbohydrates, causing and escalating number of “carboholic” dogs; and our sedentary lifestyle has turned active dogs into couch potatoes.

Read more reviews by following the links for the TLC Book Tour.


Dr. Ernest Ward, DVM is a practicing veterinarian who has appeared regularly on the Rachael Ray Show, and has been featured on Animal Planet, NBC Nightly News, and CNN. He has authored and contributed to over forty-five veterinary journal articles in North America, England, Canada, Japan, and China, and has published two training videos. He lectures extensively in the United States, Canada, Europe, and China, and was awarded the Speaker of the Year award from the North American Veterinary Conference in 2004. Read more about Dr. Ward and his work by visiting the author’s website.


*click on photo to enjoy a larger view

I thought it would be fun to do a little piece on Raven related to what I learned by reading Chowhounds. Some facts about Raven:

  • She is a purebred German Shepherd.
  • She is 15 months old.
  • She weighs approximately 60 pounds (which is on the small side for a female German Shepherd).
  • She suffers from allergies, for which she is treated with a combination of herbal remedies, acupuncture and diet. These interventions have been successful in managing her allergies.
  • She is VERY active. Normally she spends two days a week at a day care center for dogs where she plays all day with other dogs on a fenced property. We take her for daily walks. She plays ball, tug and “find it” games every day.

I calculated Raven’s caloric needs (based on Dr. Ward’s recommendations) and found she needs 1400 K-Cals per day (which comes out to 3 cups of her dog food). Raven is a picky eater – sometimes (if she has had a more sedentary day) she only eats 2 cups per day, sometimes (especially on days she spends at the day care) she eats 4 cups. I think she pretty much averages out to 3 or 3.5 cups per day.  Since she is actually pretty thin, I am not concerned about her eating too much at this time. But, we’ll monitor her as she gets older.

We feed Raven a high end commercial dry dog food which is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for All Life Stages. It is Nature’s Variety Instinct (a grain-free Duck Meal and Turkey Meal formula) which has no artificial colors (the carbohydrate comes from Tapioca). I am pretty happy with Raven’s diet right now. But I plan on supplementing it with some of Dr. Ward’s home cooked meals.

In Dr. Ward’s book, there is a section on how to assess the weight of your dog. He recommends viewing your dog from the side, rear, and above…and feeling your dog. Below are photos I took of Raven with a brief descriptor of my assessment.

**Click on any photo to enjoy a larger view.

Step 1: View Your Dog From the Side

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the neck and shoulder region disproportionally large compared to the head?
  • The chest should be wider than the stomach (ie: you should see a gradual sloping of the body as you look toward the hips)
  • Do you see rolls of fat and fur around the neck?
  • Are the size of the legs relative to the body (ie: do the legs looks too small when compared to the torso)? Fitness can be determined by the amount of muscles and size of the legs, especially the rear legs.

My Assessment: Raven has good overall proportions when viewed from the side. Her chest is definitely wider than her stomach (and she does not have any fat on her stomach). In that first photo you can really see the outline of her rear leg muscles. She’s a powerful little dog!

Step #2: View Your Dog From the Rear

A lean healthy pet should look sleek and streamlined when viewed from the rear. Any bulging that you see should be from the upper legs, and not the hip and lower back region. – from Chowhounds, page 74 of the ARC –

My Assessment: Raven has a cute little waist – her bulges are from the strong rear leg muscles. German Shepherds have large torsos, and you can see that clearly on Raven…but there is no fat there!

Step #3: View Your Dog From Above

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does the neck seem too wide for your pet’s head?
  • Does the chest seem to be disproportionately large when compared to the size of your pet’s head?
  • Do you see a waist when viewed from above?
  • Does your pet have a slight hourglass figure?

My Assessment: Raven appears proportional when viewed from above. She definitely has a waist (you can see this especially in the second photo), in fact, she is a little on the thin side. Her “hourglass” is easy to see.

Step #4: Feel Your Pet

With your pet standing, feel the ribs. You should be able to easily, with very little pressure applied, feel and count your pet’s ribs. In very lean, muscular, and fit pets, you may even see the faint outline of three or four ribs. – from Chowhounds, page 75 of the ARC –

Dr. Ward also asks that you feel your pet’s stomach. There should be no loose, sagging belly. You should also be able to feel your dog’s backbone  and hip bones easily.

My Assessment: Raven is very muscular. I could easily feel her ribs, backbone and hip bones. She has no flab on her belly. Her muscles are well developed, especially in the rear.

Based on the overall assessment, I would classify Raven as Thin-Normal.

Have you assessed YOUR dog? If so, is he/she too thin, normal, or overweight? If you don’t know, it is time to find out!!



Thanks to the generosity of  book publisher Health Communications Inc., I am happy to offer TWO copies of Chowhounds for giveaway.  It is simple to enter:

  1. Leave me a comment on this post telling me something fun about your dog (if you don’t have a dog, tell me why you want to win the book!)
  2. U.S. and Canada mailing addresses only please.
  3. Comments will close on May 4th at 5:00 PM (PST)
  4. I will draw TWO winners using on May 5th and announce their names here on my blog. Please make sure that when you complete the comment form, you leave a legitimate email address so I can contact you for your snail mail should you win.

That’s it!! Good Luck!

Chow Hounds – Book Review

And what if your dog isn’t obese but is just toting around a few extra pounds? Owners who view their dog’s “few extra pounds” as no big deal are greatly underestimating the potential health threat. Even as few as two or three extra pounds may be silently damaging your dog’s vital organs. – from Chowhounds, page 1 of the ARC –

Dr. Ernie Ward, a veterinarian who has authored or contributed to more than 45 veterinary journal articles worldwide, has written a book which just may save your dog’s life.  Chowhounds is a user-friendly manual for dog owners that not only gives you the frightening statistics around canine obesity (in 2008 nearly half the dogs in a pet obesity study were found to be overweight or obese), but tells you how to slim your dog down to a healthy weight.

The book is divided into several sections – beginning with the statistics around the problem, then taking the reader through the complicated maze of pet food labeling, then helping the layperson assess their dog’s weight, and finally giving the answers to the problem: choosing a good commercial dog food, supplementing your dog’s diet with home cooking, exercise (for you AND your canine), and troubleshooting.

Before I read this book, I thought I knew a good deal about dogs and how to feed them – I’ve raised five German Shepherds from puppies and none of them were overweight. But I was amazed to discover that weight itself may not be the key to a healthy dog. Dr. Ward’s section on deciphering the label on a bag of commercial dog food was very interesting to me, although I must admit the complexity of it made my eyes glaze over a bit.

Not surprisingly, the pet food companies have figured out what to add to dog food to make our dogs want to eat more food: sugar, fat and salt are the primary additives which increase the desire for a dog to eat more than is healthy for them.

The primary concern is that sugar and fat contribute greatly to weight gain because they are higher in calories. However, even more dangerous is that when many animals eat foods rich in sugar, fat, or salt, they want to eat more, regardless of whether or not they should. – from Chowhounds, page 11 of the ARC –

Sounds like dogs are not that much different than people, doesn’t it?

Some of Dr. Ward’s advice is just commonsense – such as tracking how many “treats” you give your dog. I did enjoy his comparison charts in this section which show the reader the effects of dog treats in human terms. For example, if I give Raven (who weighs approximately 60 pounds) one Good-Life wholesome bone, it is like me eating FOUR Kentucky Fried chicken breasts. Yikes!

One of the most helpful sections for me was the section on choosing a commercial dog food. Dr. Ward breaks down the contents for the reader in easy to understand terms: Calories, Fat, Protein and Carbohydrates. He also specifies what to avoid (such as artificial colors – dogs don’t see color like we do!). Following this section, is a fun section on how to supplement your dog’s food with home cooked meals. I enjoyed looking through the recipes and have decided to try out a few of these with Raven who is a picky eater! For example, check out this recipe:

Turkey Meatballs (makes 30)

6 oz. lean ground turkey
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup ground quinoa or oatmeal
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Pinch of kelp

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place beef and carrots in food processor and process until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and blend until mixed. Roll into 1 inch balls and place on nonstick cooking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes.  (calories per meatball = 17)

Overall, Chowhounds is a useful book for dog owners who care about the health and fitness of their pet. Some sections may be a little too technical for readers…but that is really a minor complaint. Understanding the caloric needs of our dogs, as well as their fitness requirements, is essential to preventing early onset arthritis, diabetes, and other diseases related to obesity. Even if your dog is NOT overweight, Chowhounds is a good reference tool for selecting healthy food for your dog.

Highly recommended for dog owners.

Read more about the book and author on my TLC Book Tour post (I’ve also included photos and an assessment of Raven based on the information in the book). This post also offers you a chance to win a copy of Chowhounds. Contest ends May 4th.

FTC Disclosure: This book was provided to me by the publisher for review on my blog.

Mailbox Monday – April 26, 2010

Welcome to this week’s edition of Mailbox Monday hosted each Monday on Marcia’s blog The Printed Page.

Here is where I share the latest books to arrive at my home.

This is what arrived this week:

The Outside Boy by Jeanine Cummings arrived from Angela at The Penguin Group. This novel is due for release June 1st though New American Library and it looks wonderful. The press release reads (in part): ‘[The Outside Boy is]… a poignant, unforgettable coming-of-age story that brings 1950s Ireland to vivid life. [Jeanine Cummins]…tenderly explores the universal bonds of family, community, and identity…‘ Early praise sites Cummins’ book as poignant, poetic, and powerful.

Jeanine Cummins published her memoir (A Rip in Heaven) in 2004 which quickly became a bestseller. Cummins was born in Spain, but grew up in Maryland. She later moved to Ireland for several years before returning to the United States to immerse herself in the publishing world of New York City. The Outside Boy is Cummins’ debut novel. She currently lives in New York City with her husband and young daughter. Learn more about Cummins and her work by visiting the author’s website.

Everything is Broken by Emma Larkin arrived from Penguin Press thanks to TLC Book Tours. I will be touring this book on June 9th, so be sure to  come back then to read my review. This is a nonfiction book which takes a look at chaotic days and months which followed the May 2, 2008 tropical cyclone that made landfall Burma. The storm claimed an official toll of 138,300 dead and missing, but what was more shocking was the Burmese government’s unthinkable response to this catastrophe. Their decision to block international aid from entering the country resulted in hundreds of thousands of Burmese citizens going without food, drinking water, and basic shelter…even though relief was available.

In Everything is Broken, Emma Larkin (an American who writes under a pseudonym) unveils  the motivations of a regime whose brutal dictatorship continues to suppress its people.

What books found their way into YOUR home this week?

Sunday Salon – April 25, 2010

April 25, 2010

Good morning everyone! This weekend my husband and I are on a road trip to Sacramento to visit family and to shop. As the weeks crawl closer to the BEA and Book Blogger Convention in New York City, I am beginning  to see that I need to buy some new clothes. I work as a home health physical therapist and consultant, and I live in a very casual area…so the clothes I have are not necessarily appropriate for the events in New York. Did I tell you I am a panelist on the Blogging with Social Responsibility panel at the Book Blogger Convention? I am really excited, and just a tad nervous about it. Check out the agenda for the day. Are you going? I’d love to see you there!

Okay, lets talk about books.

Since the last time I posted a Salon post, I have continued having a great month of reading.

I finished reading Chow Hounds by Ernie Ward, DVM which is a very informative non fiction book for dog owners who are concerned about what their dog is eating and potential weight gain in their pet. You’ll have to wait for a full review on April 27th when I tour this book for TLC Book Tours. I am also planning to post something about Raven to show you that yes, I was paying attention while I was reading!

I also blew through The Threadbare Heart by Jennie Nash which is women’s fiction. I am planning on posting a review of this book on May 1st…and also details of a terrific Mother’s Day contest that I promise you will not want to miss!

Now, finally, I have a review for you. I read Therese Raquin by Emile Zola for The Classics Circuit Paris in Sprin tour (here’s my review). Wow, this was a really interesting, albeit dark look at humanity. I don’t read tons of classics, although I have quite a few on my TBR shelf…so being part of The Classics Circuit has helped me stretch a little. Zola was a new to me author…and I would now like to read more of his work. He was only 27 years old when he published Therese Raquin, but his prose struck me as someone far more mature. Have you read anything by Zola?

I am right in the middle of Little Bee by Chris Cleave. This is another rather dark look at humanity. So far it is not blowing me away, but it is keeping me reading. The book raises some interesting questions about undocumented immigrants and refugees. I hope to get this finished either today or tomorrow, so stay tuned for a review.

Before the end of the month, I hope to read one more book…and it will most likely be Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann which I am reading for a Yahoo book club AND for TLC Book tours. Watch for my review of this book on May 28th.

What are YOU doing today? Whatever it is, I hope it involves a great book!

Therese Raquin – Book Review

Therese Raquin, by Emile Zola
Translated from the French by Robin Buss
ISBN: 978-0-140-44944-0
First published 1867
This translation first published 2004 (Penguin Books)

Nature and circumstances seemed to have made this man for this woman, and to have driven them towards one another. Together, the woman, nervous and dissembling, the man, lustful, living like an animal, they made a strongly united couple. They complemented one another, they protected one another. In the evening, at table, in the pale light of the lamp, you could feel the strength of the bond between them, seeing Laurent’s heavy, smiling face and the silent, impenetrable mask of Therese. – from Therese Raquin, page 43 –

Therese Raquin is an unhappy, somber woman who has married  her cousin, Camille – a sickly man who repulses her. They live together with Camille’s mother Mme Raquin in a dingy apartment in Paris and the joyless days crawl past, with the only interruption being a weekly Thursday night domino game with visitors. So when Camille’s co-worker and friend Laurent arrives one evening, it is not surprising that his ruddy good looks and easy-going nature gain Therese’s attention. Soon the two are engaged in an unseemly affair right beneath the noses of Camille and his mother. The affair becomes more and more passionate, and the two lovers hatch a scheme to rid themselves of Camille so that they can marry each other.

Therese Raquin is a psychological thriller of sorts which explores the psyche of the criminal mind and seeks to examine the repercussions of a criminal act. The plot is simple and the novel takes place primarily in the dreary apartment of the Raquin’s. To fully understand the novel, the reader should understand some of the science of the time. Zola, at only twenty-seven years old when he published Therese Raquin, was interested in a theory of human psychology which was well-accepted in the mid-nineteenth century…namely that of human temperament being the key to understanding human behavior. Simply put, human temperament could be divided into four basic categories: bilious, sanguine, nervous and lymphatic. At the time of the writing of this novel, doctors believed a person’s temperament could be altered by circumstance. It is this idea which motivated Zola to write Therese Raquin. Faced with fierce criticism that the novel was pornographic and “putrid,” Zola added a preface to the second edition of the book where he writes:

In Therese Raquin I set out to study temperament, not character. That sums up the whole book. I chose protagonists who were supremely dominated by their nerves and their blood, deprived of free will and drawn into every action of their lives by the predetermined lot of their flesh. – from the Preface of Therese Raquin, page 4 –

Zola assigns Therese a nervous temperament which becomes inflamed when her love for Laurent is awakened.

With the first kiss, she revealed the instincts of a courtesan. Her thirsting body gave itself wildly up to lust. It was as though she were awakening from a dream and being born to passion. She went from the feeble arms of Camille to the vigorous arms of Laurent, and the approach of a potent man gave her a shake that woke her flesh from its slumber. All the instincts of a highly-strung woman burst forth with exceptional violence. – from Therese Raquin, page 35-36 –

Laurent, on the other hand, demonstrates a sanguine temperament.

Underneath, he was lazy, with strong appetites and a well-defined urge to seek easy, lasting pleasures. His great, powerful body asked for nothing better than to lie idle, wallowing in constant indolence and gratification. – from Therese Raquin, page 28 –

Zola uses the temperaments of the characters to demonstrate what happens when two people with these temperaments come together to commit a crime for their own personal gain. It is heady stuff.

At its core, however, Therese Raquin is a classic tragedy. It is also a moral tale – examining the consequences of adultery and murder. Both Therese and Laurent are narcissists who fail to regret the evil of their actions. In pursuing their own selfish desires, they not only inflict cruelty on Mme Raquin (who loves and trust them), but they ruin their own lives in the process.

Emile Zola’s writing is surprisingly accessible and modern given the time in history the story was penned. Zola quickly pulls the reader into the dark and despairing lives of his characters. This is far from an uplifting story – in fact, it is a rather depressing read. Despite that, I enjoyed getting inside the heads of these characters who are admittedly grotesque. Although psychology today does not agree with psychology in Zola’s time, some things do remain the same…namely that immoral behavior rarely results in happiness and violent crime is almost always punished, if only by the impact it has on the perpetrators’ psyche.

Readers who enjoy classic literature, psychology, and crime novels will undoubtedly want to add Therese Raquin to their list of potential reads.


This review is part of The Classics Circuit tour Paris in the Spring: Emile Zola. Other bloggers have also reviewed this book for the tour. Read their reviews:

Visit the Emile Zola tour schedule on The Classics Circuit to get links to reviews of Emile Zola’s other works.

Winner: Impatient with Desire

Thank you to all who entered to win a SIGNED copy of Impatient with Desire by Gabrielle Burton. I was surprised by how few people had previously read anything about the Donner Party! Even it you were not the lucky winner of this book, I encourage you to read it at some time. It is a terrific book which gives some insight into the individuals who made the fateful decision to join the Donner party and head west to start new lives in California.

I used to choose ONE winner.

Congratulations to:

TARA from Books and Cooks

I’ll be sending you an email – please respond to that with your snail mail and how you would like your book inscribed and I will forward it on to Gabrielle Burton so she can get your book out to you!

Thank you again to all who entered the contest!

Other Press – An Interesting Source for Books

I love finding new sources for books…and today’s Maximum Shelf Awareness newsletter introduced me to books published by Other Press:

Other Press attracts authors who are guided by a passion to discover the limits of knowledge and imagination. We publish novels, short stories, poetry, and essays from America and around the world that represent literature at its best. Our nonfiction books–should they be history, current events, popular culture or memoir–explore how psychic, cultural, historical, and literary shifts inform our vision of the world and of each other. (Visit THIS PAGE on their site to watch a short video)

I downloaded their Summer and Fall 2010 catalogs and found that many of their books interested me. Here are a few which especially caught my eye:

By Fire, By Water by Mitchell James Kaplan (to be released May 18, 2010)

Genre: Historical Fiction (15th Century)

Read an excerpt.

From the publisher:

Within the dramatic story lies a subtle, insightful examination of the crisis of faith at the heart of the Spanish Inquisition. Irresolvable conflict rages within the conversos in By Fire, By Water, torn between the religion they left behind and the conversion meant to ensure their safety. In this story of love, God, faith, and torture, fifteenth-century Spain comes to dazzling, engrossing life.

This is Kaplan’s debut novel. Read more about him and his work on the author’s website.

Learning To Lose by David Trueba, Translated from the Spanish by Mara Faye Lethem (to be released June 2010)

Genre: Literary Fiction

Read an excerpt.

From the publisher:

From one of Spain’s most celebrated contemporary writers, Learning to Lose is a lucid and gripping view into the complexities of lives overturned and into the capriciousness of modern life, with its intoxicating highs and devastating lows.

David Trueba was born in Madrid and has published two previous novels. Learning to Lose is his English-language debut. Trueba is also an accomplished screenwriter.

The Quickening by Michelle Hoover (to be released June 29, 2010)

Genre: Historical Fiction (Depression Era), Women’s Fiction

Read an excerpt.

From the publisher:

In this luminous and unforgettable debut, Michelle Hoover explores the polarization of the human soul in times of hardship and the instinctual drive for self-preservation by whatever means necessary.

This is Michelle Hoover’s first novel.She teaches writing at Boston University and Grub Street and has published fiction in numerous literary journals. To learn more about Hoover and her work, visit the author’s website.

The Pages by Murray Bail (to be released August 17, 2010)

Genre: Literary Fiction

Read an excerpt.

From the publisher:

The Pages is a beguiling meditation on friendship and love, on men and women, on landscape and the difficulties of thought itself, by one of Australia’s greatest novelists, the author of the much-loved Eucalyptus.

Murray Bail was born in Adelaide, Australia. He has previously published four novels and two collections of short stories. His novel Eucalyptus was awarded the 1999 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Miles Franklin Literary Award.

The Witness House by Christiane Kohl, translated from the German by Anthea Bell (to be released October 12, 2010)

Genre: Non Fiction (History)

Read an excerpt.

From the publisher:

The Witness House reveals the social structures that allowed a cruel and unjust regime to flourish and serves as a symbol of the blurred boundaries between accuser and accused that would come to form the basis of postwar Germany.

Christiane Kohl has worked as a correspondent to the Cologne Express, a press officer for the Environment Ministry in Hessen, and, from 1988 to 1998, an editor with Der Spiegel. She is currently Munich’s Süddeutsche Zeitung correspondent for eastern Germany in Rome.

These are all going on my wish list. Now I just need more hours in the day to read!

Mailbox Monday – April 19, 2010

Welcome to this edition of Mailbox Monday hosted each week at Marcia’s blog The Printed Page.

I love this weekly meme which encourages readers to share the books which have arrived at their home over the last 7 days.

Here is what came into my house this week:

Still Missing by Chevy Stevens came to me from St. Martins Press through a Shelf Awareness offer. Have you heard of this book yet? It is getting some amazing early reviews and being called engrossing, terrifying, grim and utterly absorbing. This novel is a thriller which tells the story of ‘an abducted woman, her year held captive, and an escape which is just beginning.‘ Set for release in July 2010, this is the author’s first published novel.

Chevy Stevens grew up on a ranch on Vancouver Island. Her inspiration for Still Missing came from her fears as a Realtor about being abducted. Steven’s bio indicates she enjoys writing thrillers that allow her to blend her interest in family dynamics with her love of the west coast lifestyle. She also likes hiking with her husband and dog in the local mountains (my kind of person!!). Stevens is currently working on her second novel Never Knowing to be released in the summer of 2011.  To learn more about Chevy Stevens and her work, visit the author’s website. You can also follow her blog here.

My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira arrived from Lindsay, Publicity Manager for Viking/Penguin. This debut historical novel is due for release next month, and it looks like a wonderful read. Oliveira’s book is an epic story of a woman who enters the Civil War arena as a midwife,  but ultimately becomes one of the nation’s first female doctors. Although the character of Mary Sutter is fictional, Oliveira apparently put a ton of painstaking research into women’s roles in medicine during the Civil War period. You may read an excerpt from the book here.

Robin Oliveira holds a BA in Russian and studied at the Puskin Language Institute in Moscow. She is also a Registered Nurse with specialization in critical care. In 2007 she received the James Jones First Novel Fellowship for a work in progress for My Name is Mary Sutter. She received her MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Art. Oliveira currently lives in Seattle, Washington. To learn more about Oliveira and her work, please visit the author’s website.

Did any amazing books arrive at YOUR house this week?