Monthly Archives: November 2010

Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman – Book Review

…it was nine weeks ago that she had arrived in Rome, so as to be with him for a while at last, with Gert, for the first time since their wedding, and when, the very next day, he had to tell her that he had been ordered back to the army, a sudden, immediate redeployment to Africa, and she had not been able to understand,

only just arrived and immediately alone again, highly pregnant in a dangerous, foreign place, it was a shock, at twenty-one almost herself like a child that cannot walk without help or stand on its own two feet, exposed in a totally alien country and a totally alien language… – from Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman, page 14 –

The year is 1943; the place is Rome. A young woman on her way to a Bach concert observes the city and muses on faith, fate, war, and her future. Her new husband has been redeployed to Africa to fight Hitler’s battle there, while she is left alone and pregnant in a foreign city.

Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman is a novella which consists of one long sentence over 125 pages. It is a quiet story which takes a look at WWII from the perspective of a young German woman living temporarily in Rome.  Her husband has written to her and asked her to “absorb all the beautiful things Rome has to offer,” so as she walks she observes the beauty around her: the architecture, the art, the lovely weather, the people. But she cannot help thinking of the war and seeing the sharp contrast between its presence in Rome alongside all the wonder – the restriction of freedoms, the black outs, the lack of food and rationed goods. This reality draws her up short and she quickly pushes it away. The rhythm of the prose (which feels poetic in its style) compliments the push and pull rhythm of the young woman’s thoughts.

Friedrich Christian Delius is one of Germany’s most renowned contemporary writers. His background as a poet is evident in this translated work. In Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman he explores the idea of God being in control vs. the idea of free will. Throughout the novella, the young woman vacillates between questioning the war and her current situation, and putting everything into God’s hands. Her naivete and innocence is emphasized by her situation – namely that of a foreigner in the city of Rome who does not speak the Italian language.

…she sensed something within her rebelling against the constant obligation to stifle the feeling of longing with her reason and faith, because feelings were forbidden in wartime, you were not allowed to rejoice with happiness, you had to swallow your sadness, and like a soldier you were forced to conceal the language of the heart… – from Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman, page 84 –

…but she was not at home, she was in a foreign place, and carrying a child, she had thrown herself into an adventure, left her home and parents and followed her husband, without realizing that God had another plan for her, and nobody could expect her to stroll through this foreign place with a happy heart… – from Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman, page 85 –

Delius manages to capture the mood of the city during wartime, and touches on the horror which has now become synonymous with WWII – that of the fate of Jews under the iron will of Hitler while the world remained largely silent. He uses the young woman’s conflicted emotions to explore this theme. On the one hand, she is a German national and knows she should wish for victory; on the other hand, she holds strong moral and religious views which make her question the ultimate purpose of the Nazi regime.

…she would have been able to discuss the Jews and her Jewish thoughts with Gert, were he here, but not with anybody else, this was another reason she needed him beside her, so she could talk about something so awkward, about the danger of the ideas that came into her head,

on her own she could not work out what you were allowed and not allowed to say, what you should think and what you ought not to think, and how to cope with her ambivalent feelings, all she could do was to keep these things to herself until his return… – – from Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman, page 67 –

This is a brilliant and thought-provoking piece of literature. To be honest, I was not sure I could read a book which consisted of only one sentence – but, Delius manages to make this work. In fact, I came to feel this was the perfect format for the story. The flow and rhythm of the prose carries the reader forward effortlessly. The young woman’s circular thoughts, the ebb and flow of her reasoning, the need for her to protect her emotions despite the very real possibility that her husband may not survive…all of this fits with the style of the novella.

Readers who are interested in translated literature and who love literary fiction as well as poetry will find this to be a mesmerizing work.

Highly recommended.

Other blog reviews:

Have you reviewed this book? Please leave me a link to your review in the comments and I’ll add it here!

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

Mailbox Monday – November 29, 2010

Welcome to this week’s edition of Mailbox Monday sponsored this month by Julie at  Knitting and Sundries.

To play along, write a post sharing the books which have arrived at your home this week…then drop by Julie’s blog and link up. Be sure to stop by other blogs to see what books they found on their doorstep!

This week I got some great books:

Gabrielle at Penguin sent me The Year of the Hare by Arto Paasilinna which Penguin is publishing in January 2011 (coincidentally Chinese Astrology recognizes 2011 as the Year of the Hare!). This edition will be North America’s first publication of this internationally bestselling contemporary classic. When a journalist hits a young hare with his car and then makes the decision to stay with the injured animal, the seemingly innocuous incident unfolds into a life changing event. The Year of the Hare follows protagonist Vatanen as he travels across the wilds of Finland with his trusting hare in tow. Described as “cozy” and “comic,” this novel is a fairy-tale like adventure which has won the hearts of readers worldwide.

Arto Paasilinna is a Finnish writer who has been “amusing Finns for thirty years and readers in twenty-five languages.” He was born in Lapland, Finland and has not only authored thirty novels, but has worked as a journalist, poet, and woodcutter too.

Lindsey at Atticus Books sent me Fight for Your Long Day by Alex Kudera which was just published in October. In Kudera’s debut novel, we meet “Cyrus Duffleman – “Duffy” for short – an adjunct professor who can barely afford his two-room apartment. Forget about an unfinished novel: He’d be thrilled with health insurance. Still, he gamely shuffles to four urban universities each day to teach, and works a security guard graveyard shift once a week.” What should be a routine life becomes anything but…and includes: “The cryptic mumblings of a possibly psychotic student. A bow-and-arrow assassination. A small government protest, then, a very large and violent one. Lunch with a homeless woman who claims to have been a 1950s film star. Frenzied attempts to spare his sanity (and safety) – all while a female coed quietly eyes him.” This novel is being described as part A Confederacy of Dunces (by John Kennedy Toole) and part Straight Man (by Richard Russo).

Alex Kudera is a native Philadelphian who comes from a family of educators. He currently teaches literature and writing at Clemons University in South Carolina. Read more about Kudera on the Atticus Books site, or visit the author’s blog.

Three Seconds by Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom arrived via Barnes and Noble’s First Look Book Club. This suspense-thriller features ex-con Piet Hoffman (one of the Swedish police’s most valuable informants) who has infiltrated the Polish mafia within the Swedish prison system. Success will mean freedom for Hoffman, but a botched drug deal results in murder…and suddenly Hoffman is wanted dead by both the mafia and the police. Three Seconds is due for release in January through Silver Oak.

Anders Roslund is an award-winning Swedish journalist (specializing in criminal and social issues), while Borge Hellstrom is an ex-criminal who helped found the crime prevention organization KRIS (Criminals Return Into Society), and worked with rehabilitation of young offenders and drug addicts. Together they make up one of Sweden’s most acclaimed fiction duos. Their unique ability to combine inside knowledge of the brutal reality of criminal life with searing social criticism in complex, intelligent plots has put them at the forefront of modern Scandinavian crime writing. Learn more about Roslund and Hellstrom by visiting the authors’ website.

Alexis at Tor Forge sent me a copy of Face of Betrayal by Lis Wiehl (with April Henry). This suspense-thriller centers around a seventeen-year-old Senate page who takes her dog out for a walk and never returns. When reporter Cassidy Shaw breaks the story, the resulting media firestorm quickly draws in Federal Prosecutor Allison Pierce and FBI Special Agent Nicole Hedges. The three women are life long friends who call themselves The Triple Threat, and they must race against the clock to find young Katie while their increasing emotional involvement brings out their own inner demons and external enemies. Face of Betrayal was released just this month.

Lis Wiehl is a New York Times bestselling author, Harvard Law School graduate, and former federal prosecutor. She has appeared as a commentator for Fox News and was co-host with Bill O’Reilly on the radio for several years. Learn more about Wiehl and her work by visiting the author’s website.

April Henry is a New York Times bestselling author whose books have been short listed for the Agatha Award, the Anthony Award and the Oregon Book Award. She resides in Portland, Oregon with her husband and daughter. Read more about her work by visiting April Henry’s website.

And just so you don’t think I never buy any books for myself…here are two that I ordered with my Amazon points from Amazon (which arrived last week):

I am touring The Warden by Anthony Trollope for the Classics Circuit next month. My review is scheduled for December 16th. To see the entire Trollope schedule, visit this post. This novel is the first of the six novels which make up the Chronicles of Baretshire series and centers around “a clergyman of great personal integrity whose charitable income far exceeds the purpose for which it is intended.” Trollope uses the case of misapplication of church funds to “illuminate the universal complexities of human motivation and social morality.

Anthony Trollope was born in London in 1815. When he died in 1882, he’d written 70 major works, including novels, stories, sketches, essays, and travelogues.

City Quilts by Cherri House is a fabulous quilting book which I first perused while visiting my sister this fall. The quilts are inspired by the patterns and textures of the city…and use only solid fabrics. These quilts remind me of the more traditional Amish quilts which are bold and beautiful. I am looking forward to using this book as an inspiration for my own quilts!

What wonderful books arrived at YOUR house this week?

On Maggie’s Watch – Book Review

For once she understood a phrase her mother used to use when she was a kid, sometimes to help justify a shopping trip or an impromptu dinner out. “It is a chocolate-cake decision,” her mother would say. She would wear her flirty sideways grin and explain, “A chocolate-cake decision is one where you know something is absolutely unnecessary and maybe a poor choice, but the decision to partake of it is rooted in only one question: Will it taste good?” Maggie remembered the collection of velvety red petals at her feet the night before, the still air, the feeling inside her when blade met botany. Oh, yes, and yes again, it did taste good, she thought. – from On Maggie’s Watch, pages 85, 86 –

Maggie Finley is eight months pregnant and newly returned to her small hometown of Elmwood, Wisconsin. She not only carries the extra weight of pregnancy, but she also is struggling under her leaden fears of the past. When Maggie and her husband Martin lost their baby two years ago, Maggie’s grief took over her life. Now, looking forward to a new baby, she finds herself remembering the pain of loss and fearing the worst. Her decision to move back to Wisconsin is largely based on the idea that this small town will be a safe haven. So when she discovers that a man on her street is listed on an Internet sex offender site, Maggie decides she must do something to safeguard her budding family. She quickly revitalizes the Neighborhood Watch program and secretly targets the man she believes to be a predator, while her best friend Julia tries to ground Maggie in a good dose of reality. On Maggie’s Watch is a lighthearted look at the chaos and misunderstanding that occur when one very pregnant woman takes on crime prevention.

Ann Wertz Garvin’s prose is funny, poignant, and captures the craziness that can happen in small town America when the neighbors start watching each other just a little too closely. I enjoyed the warm, honest friendship between Julia and Maggie, and their struggle to find themselves somewhere between the stereotypes of mother and wife. If the plot is a little predictable, it is easily overlooked because the characters are so charming.

Garvin examines the relationships between mothers and daughters, and husbands and wives in this debut novel…and she takes a hard look at how destructive behavior can rear its ugly head when assumptions replace facts.Despite some of the serious subjects (marital discord, still birth, and sexual predators), this slim book is a feel-good read whose pages turn quickly.

On Maggie’s Watch is enjoyable women’s fiction, an entertaining book which will appeal to those readers who want a quick, light novel to read…it is a bit of Desperate Housewives meets I Love Lucy (with a contemporary twist).

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

Readers wishing to purchase this book from an Indie Bookstore may click on the link below to find Indie sellers. I am an Indie Associate and receive a small commission if readers purchase a book through this link on my blog.

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Sunday Salon – November 28, 2010

November 28, 2010

9:30 AM

Good morning! Welcome to this week’s Sunday Salon edition. I hope all my U.S. readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Kip and I cooked up a turkey with all the fixings and shared it with his parents. It was a quiet, but enjoyable day. Yesterday we traveled to Sacramento to attend a baby shower for Kip’s niece who is expecting her first baby on December 26th (although I bet she delivers a bit early!). It was great to visit with family and friends and celebrate the pending arrival of a new little person.

So, let’s talk reading! I finished reading Scent of the Missing by Susannah Charleson and loved it (read my review). It did bring back many memories of Caribou and Argus…and that was a little tough because it made me miss them…but the writing in this book is terrific and dog lovers everywhere will love it. If you haven’t picked up a copy to read, I highly recommend you do!

I also breezed through Mary Ann in Autumn by Armistead Maupin (read my review). No disappointments there – this is another terrific, light, fun read by Maupin which adds to his series Tales of the City. For those of you participating in Amanda’s GLBT Reading Challenge, this entire series would be a perfect fit. I have read all the books – and although Mary Ann in Autumn could stand alone, I recommend you start with the first book in the series to get the full enjoyment. Those readers who have either visited or lived in San Francisco will also love this book.

This morning I finished the last 40 pages of On Maggie’s Watch by Ann Wertz Garvin (watch for my review later today). This debut novel fits squarely in the genre of women’s fiction. I read it in just over a day. The characters are likable and the story is witty and cozy. I have a feeling that this will not be the last we see of Garvin who seems to have the knack for writing fiction which will appeal to women.

I am planning on reading Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman by Friedrich Christian Delius later today. This is a slim novella published through Peirene Press which I have had on my shelf for a couple of months and I am looking forward to it. I expect to read it in full this afternoon and then I hope to start reading The Distant Hours by Kate Morton because I feel in the mood for something Gothic.

I have a couple of book giveaways going on (sorry, only for U.S. mailing addresses!). The first is an “if I win, you win” kind of thing which you might be seeing around the blog-0-sphere. Chronicle Books is doing a Happy Haul-iday giveaway where bloggers are picking their favorite books up to $500 from the Chronicle Book site…if I win the contest, then a commenter to my post will also win the books! How fun is that? To enter, just visit my post and leave me a comment by December 10th. The second giveaway is through Picador. The winner will get a copy of Harriet Reisen’s Louisa May Alcott book, AND a copy of the PBS documentary of the book. To enter follow the instructions on the giveaway post and leave a comment no later than 5:00 PM on December 1st.

Well at this time next week we will be in the month of December…how crazy is that? I need to get my butt in gear and start getting ready for Christmas…but I hope I still get a good amount of reading time in. I’m thinking of doing the Time to Relax Read-A-Thon over at Jayne’s blog. What about you? What are YOUR reading plans for the weeks leading up to Christmas?

Mary Ann In Autumn – Book Review

There should be something about this hillside, some lingering sense memory – the view of Alcatraz, say, or the foghorns or the mossy smell of the planks beneath her feet – that would lead her back to her lost wonderland. Everything around her was familiar but somehow foreign to her own experience, like a place she had seen in a movie but had never actually visited. She had climbed these weathered steps – what? – thousands of times before, but there wasn’t a hint of homecoming, nothing to take her back to where she used to be. The past doesn’t catch up with us, she thought. It escapes from us. – from the ARE of Mary Ann in Autumn, page 1 –

Armistead Maupin’s latest installation of the Tales of the City series brings back Mary Ann Singleton, one of the original characters in the early books. More than twenty years have passed since Mary Ann left San Francisco, abandoning friends to seek a television career in New York. But now her marriage is failing and she is facing a potentially fatal health crisis which drives her back to San Francisco and her good friend Michael Tolliver. Once there, Mary Ann reconnects with Anna Madrigal (her former landlady from Barbary Lane), DeDe Halcyon-Wilson, and Shawna (her estranged daughter)…and an old mystery resurfaces that could be more of a threat to her than her fragile health.

As in all of Maupin’s books, the characters are who drive the story and draw the reader in. Flawed, original and wholly likable, Maupin’s characters are a joy to spend time with. Maupin captures the essence of San Francisco with its old, quirky neighborhoods, narrow streets and interesting people; and he has some fun with plot, weaving individual stories together and causing the unexpected to happen. Even when coincidences seem to stretch reality, the characters are who rescue the story. This is not a serious read – Maupin’s wit oozes through the story line – and for readers looking for something that glides along the edges of a cozy mystery, this book will be certain to fit the bill.

Mary Ann in Autumn is the tenth book in the Tales of the City series, and for readers new to the books I would recommend reading the earlier installations before tackling this one. Although this novel could stand alone, having the background from the previous books would make it a more enjoyable read. Either way, readers who enjoy light, fun books with interesting characters will find this to be a delightful read. Maupin does not shy away from exploring alternate lifestyles, and this (along with all of the books in the series) would be a terrific read for Amanda’s GLBT Challenge.


*FTC Disclosure: This Advance Readers Edition was sent to me by the publisher for review on my blog.

Readers wishing to purchase this book from an Indie Bookstore may click on the link below to find Indie sellers. I am an Indie Associate and receive a small commission if readers purchase a book through this link on my blog.

Shop Indie Bookstores

Giveaway: Harriet Reisen’s Louisa May Alcott Book and DVD

Picador (October 2010)

Just in time for the holidays, Picador is hosting a giveaway of both the book and DVD: Lousia May Alcott – The Woman Behind Little Woman.

The Book (from the Author’s website):

A vivid, energetic account of the life of the beloved author whose work has delighted millions of readers, Louisa May Alcott portrays a writer as worthy of interest in her own right as her most famous character, Jo March, and addresses all aspects of Alcott’s life: the effect of her father’s self-indulgent utopian schemes; her family’s chronic economic difficulties and frequent uprootings; her experience as a nurse in the Civil War; the loss of her health; and her frequent recourse to opiates in searh of relief from migraines, insomnia, and symptomatic pain. Stories and details culled from Alcott’s journals; her equally rich letters to family, friends, publishers, and admiring readers; and the correspondence, journals, and recollections of her family, friends, and famous contemporaries provide the basis for this true-life rags-to-riches tale.

Read the first chapter.

This book has been making Top 10 Lists all over the place:

  • Top 10 Standout Selection 2009 (WALL STREET JOURNAL)
  • Top 5 Adult Books for Young Adult Readers (BOOKLIST 2009 EDITORS’ CHOICE)
  • Top 5 Biographies 2009 (NEW HAMPSHIRE PUBLIC RADIO)
  • Top 10 Nonfiction Books of 2009 (BOOKPAGE)

The DVD (from the Author’s Website):

The first film biography of an American icon. Starring Elizabeth Marvel and featuring Jane Alexander, Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women tells the story of this remarkable woman’s quest to rescue her family from poverty and to find wealth, fame and happiness for herself. To make Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women, Producer-Writer Harriet Reisen and Producer-Director Nancy Porter worked from a script drawn from primary sources and filmed in many original locations, using documentary and dramatic techniques of the historical documentary, as well as experimental and flash animation, green-screen, and digital effects. The result is an inventive, entertaining, and intimate portrait of the surprising Miss Alcott.

Check out the opening sequence for the DVD:

More video clips HERE.

If you don’t win a copy, consider purchasing a copy here.

ABOUT the AUTHOR (from the Author’s website):

Harriet Reisen’s diverse credits include: in media; scripting dramatic and historical documentaries for PBS and HBO, co-producing National Public Radio (NPR) series Blacklisted [for Tony Kahn], and contributing radio commentary to Morning Edition, Marketplace, and Morning Stories. Music: two regional Emmy nominations for Best Song (with Jeanie Stahl) and Best Composer. Lyrics: songs on Rounder Records (Mason Daring, producer), and award-winning video, “Jersey Shore” (with Jeanie Stahl and Tony Kahn). Teaching: film history and criticism at Stanford University, and screenwriting at Harvard Summer School. Journalism: articles about Mexican language schools, Mexican Art, Mexican margaritas, and international adoption in Travel and Leisure, Provincetown Arts, Tin House, and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Visit the author on her Facebook Page (accessible to even non-Facebook members, the site has great links to reading guides, a brand new photo gallery that just went up this month, a video, etc.)


  • Open only to U.S. mailing addresses (Picador will be mailing winners directly)
  • One winner will win a copy of the book AND DVD.
  • Contest closes on December 1st at 5:00 PM PST
  • Visit the author’s website here…and find something on that page (or the links from that page) that you did NOT know about Louisa May Alcott. Then come back here and leave a comment telling me what you learned.
  • I’ll be drawing a winner either on the evening of December 1st or the morning of December 2nd and will announce the winner here on my blog!


Chronicle Books: Happy Haul-idays Contest

Have you seen the Happy Haul-idays Contest from Chronicle Books? It is a great idea…and if I win, so can one of you. Here are the details:

  • Bloggers (like me) pick out $500 worth of books from Chronicle Books web site and list them on their blog.
  • I then enter the post listing my books into the Happy Haul-idays entry form at Chronicle Books.
  • If I am chosen as the winner, then I win the $500 worth of books I picked … and so does someone who left a comment on this post!

The deadline to post entries (and comments!) is December 10th.

Sound like fun?

Here are my favorite books from their site (clicking on the thumbnail of each book will take you to the Chronicle Books page for each book where you can read a description of the book)…I ended with a total haul of $487.50 … that’s close enough I think!

Amy Butler’s Style Stitches: 12 Easy Ways to 26 Wonderful Bags ($29.95)

Fast, Fresh, and Green by Susie Middleton ($24.95)

The Big Book of Soups and Stews by Maryana Vollstedt ($19.95)

The Tra Vigne Cookbook: Seasons in the California Wine Country by Michael Chiarello
with Penelope Wisner ($40.00)

New Orleans Stories: Great Writers on the City, Edited by John Miller ($14.95)

San Francisco Stories: Great Writers on the City, Edited by John Miller ($14.95)

The Power of the Invisible Sun by By Bobby Sager ($45.00)

Same Place, More Space: 50 DIY Projects to Maximize Every Room in the House by Karl Champley ($24.95)

Saveur The New Comfort Food, from the Editors of Saveur magazine ($35.00)

From Seed to Skillet By Jimmy Williams and Susan Heeger ($30.00)

California’s Central Coast: The Ultimate Winery Guide by Mira Advani Honeycutt ($22.95)

Sonoma: The Ultimate Winery Guide by Heidi H. Cusick-Dickerson ($19.95)

Dante’s Divine Comedy Boxed Set (3 books), by Sandow Birk and Marcus Sanders ($100.00)

Animal Logic by Richard Barnes ($65.00)

LEAVE ME A COMMENT in case I win…that way, you have a chance to win too!

Scent of the Missing – Book Review

As we head out, I wonder what my own dog will bring to the work, to the team, and to me. I like the thought of a long drive home with a Golden snoring belly-up in the back of the car; a good dog who has worked well. A partner. A friend. After a search like this one, that companionship must take away a little of the ache. – from Scent of the Missing, page 17 –

Susannah Charleson first found herself drawn to search and rescue through the air – piloting a small plane on searches for missing people and in disasters; but later, a dog lover and someone who found she liked the work “on the ground,” she decided to certify a search and rescue (SAR) dog with the Metro Area Rescue K9 unit in Dallas, Texas. Scent of the Missing is Susannah’s story of that journey with Golden Retriever Puzzle by her side.

From the first page of this heartfelt book, I was hooked – and not just because I too have traveled that long, difficult, heart-rending and rewarding journey from novice to mission ready SAR K9 handler, but because Charleson can write. She writes from the heart, but it is never sappy or overly emotional. Her prose is descriptive, intuitive, and honest. She writes about the big searches (like the search for human remains following the Columbia tragedy), but she also gives the reader details of the “small” searches, the searches that no one ever hears of except in the small town with a child or adult go missing. The stories she tells are the ones that every searcher remembers – the ones where the person is not found, or where they are found days later deceased. She shares the heavy weight of responsibility which all searchers carry, and the mix of emotions which accompany every search.

Reading Charleson’s book, I was drawn back to my own experiences of being a K9 handler – the long trainings in all kinds of weather and conditions, the 2:00 am “wake up call” when my pager would sound and I would be instantly on alert, the fatigue, the hard work…and ultimately the incredible partnership with my dog. Charleson effortlessly captures all of that in Scent of the Missing.

Dog lovers will love this book and fall in love with Puzzle, Charleson’s adorable, full of life Golden Retriever who takes to the field naturally and challenges her partner from the start. The bond that develops between handler and dog is beautiful and hard won. And, of course, for anyone who has worked in the field of search and rescue (or is considering volunteering for a team in their area) Scent of the Missing should be required reading. Despite my tears at times reading Charleson’s words, despite the fact that it made me ache with missing my own SAR dog Caribou, I am glad I read this beautifully written book.

Highly recommended.

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

Readers wishing to purchase this book from an Indie Bookstore may click on the link below to find Indie sellers. I am an Indie Associate and receive a small commission if readers purchase a book through this link on my blog.

Shop Indie Bookstores

Mailbox Monday – November 22, 2010

Welcome to this week’s edition of Mailbox Monday hosted this month by Julie at  Knitting and Sundries.

To play along, write a post sharing the books which have arrived at your home this week…then drop by Julie’s blog and link up. Be sure to stop by other blogs to see what books they found on their doorstep!

My cup definitely runneth over this week – I got slammed with books, and they look awesome:

Caitlin from Penguin sent me a copy of On Maggie’s Watch by Ann Wertz Garvin which was released just this month. Author Jacquelyn Mitchard writes this about the novel: “If you’re interested in the best in women’s fiction – this suspenseful, quirky, humorous story of a well-meaning woman’s reverberating effect on her neighbor’s life, is certainly that and more.” That sounds like just the kind of women’s fiction I love! Read an excerpt from the book here. Better yet, watch this quirky, wonderful video of the author talking about On Maggie’s Watch:

I can’t wait to read this book – do you know why? I went to Ann Wertz Garvin’s website and read her author page and it made me laugh..and it made me want to read more stuff that she has written. This is Garvin’s debut novel – I bet it won’t be her last.

Maggie at Harper Collins sent me an Advance Readers Edition of Under the Mercy Trees by Heather Newton. Here is another debut novel (due for release in January 2011) which looks really interesting. The blurb describes it as follows: “A beautifully rendered, heartbreaking first novel, Under the Mercy Trees is the story of a man forced to face his troubled past when he returns to his small hometown in the mountains of North Carolina after the disappearance of his brother.” I don’t know what it is about missing person novels, but I am always drawn to them. And this one has other elements that also appeal to me: troubled pasts, family secrets, love and redemption.

Heather Newton has published short stories  in publications such as Encore magazine, O, Georgia! and Wellspring. She lives in Asheville, North Carolina with her family, and where she also works as an attorney and mediator. You may view other writings by Newton by visiting the Flatiron Writers website. More information about Newton and her work may be found on the author’s website.

Mark, also with Harper Collins, tempted me with two books that I just had to have:

Years ago when I first moved to San Francisco, I discovered Armistead Maupin’s fantastic Tales in the City books. I read them all, ravenously and without stopping to breathe. So imagine how thrilled I was to see that in Maupin’s latest novel (released this month), he brings back Mary Ann Singleton who took center stage in his Tales of the City series. In Mary Ann in Autumn more than twenty years have passed in the life of Mary Ann – she has spent the time pursuing a television career in New York…but circumstances take her back to San Francisco and into the arms of her oldest and dearest friend, Michael Tolliver. This book is jumping to the top of the heap…so watch for a review before the month closes!

Armistead Maupin is a best selling author whose books have been the basis of three highly acclaimed television miniseries, as well as the basis of a major motion picture starring Robin Williams (Michael Tolliver Lives). A stage version of Tales of the City is set to premiere in San Francisco in 2011. Maupin resides in San Francisco with his spouse Christopher Turner. Learn more about Maupin and his work by visiting the author’s website.

The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard is another novel (due for release in February 2011) which involves a missing person. When sixteen year old Nora Lindell goes missing, she leaves a group of neighborhood boys behind…and it is these boys who narrate a story full of the mystery of Nora’s disappearance, divergent suspicions, and the ever present “what ifs.” This is a book about what happens after someone goes missing. It is being called a haunting literary debut – and it looks captivating.

Hannah Pittard’s short fiction has appeared in many publications including the Mississippi Review, Nimrod, and StoryQuarterly…and was included in 2008 Best American Short Stories’ 100 Distinguished Stories. She is the recipient of the 2006 Amanda Davis Highwire Fiction Award, and has taught fiction at the University of Virginia. The Fates Will Find Their Way is Pittard’s first novel. A wonderful interview with her can be found on Three Guys One Book.

Meghan from Penguin sent me Inspirations: Selections from Classic Literature by Paulo Coelho. Inspired by the four elements of water, earth, air and fire, Coelho has created an anthology of inspirational selections from classic literature such as Machiavelli’s The Prince and writings from Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nelson Mandela, Oscar Wilde, DH Lawrence, and Mary Shelley. The book is arranged in four sections which correspond to the the four elements…and Coelho shows how lessons can be found in the “most surprising of places.”

Paulo Coelho has sold more than 100 million copies of his books worldwide – books which have been translated into sixty-nine languages and published in 150 countries. Coelho has been praised for his work and received numerous international literary awards. Learn more about Coelho and his work by visiting the author’s website.

I requested and received a galley of A Widow’s Story: A Memoir by Joyce Carol Oates through a Shelf Awareness offer. This much anticipated memoir will be published through Ecco/Harper Collins in March 2011. In February 0f 2008, Oates lost her husband of nearly fifty years, unexpectedly and suddenly. A Widow’s Story is her story of grief and the process of moving through loss and offers a glimpse into the life of a fiercely private person.

Joyce Carol Oates has won numerous literary prizes including the NBCC Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award and the National Book Award (to name only two), and has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Her best selling fiction includes We Were the Mulvaneys, Them,  and The Falls. She has written numerous short story collections, essays, dramas and novellas. To see a complete listing of her vast literary work, visit this page on Wikipedia.

Jocelyn with Kelley and Hall sent me the latest novel from Laura Kasischke. The Raising is due for release in March 2011 through Harper Perennial. The novel centers around the death of a beautiful sorority girl – a straight A student from a small town. A year after her death, no one is left unscathed: her boyfriend, Craig, and his roommate, Perry; a sociology professor, and finally Shelly, the first person at the scene of Nicole’s death who is claiming that Nicole is actually alive. This is being marketed as an evocative thriller told in a narrative which is both “hauntingly supernatural and chillingly real.

Laura Kasischke is the author of seven collections of poetry and eight novels. She has won numerous literary awards and two of her novels have been made into films (including The Life Before Her Eyes which starred Uma Thurman). She teaches in the MFA program and the Residential College of the University of Michigan and resides in Michigan with her family.

An Advance Readers Edition of The Anatomy of Ghosts by Andrew Taylor arrived through a Shelf Awareness offer. This latest suspense-thriller is due for release through Hyperion in January 2011. Taylor’s novel is set in 1786 England and centers around John Holdsworth, a bookseller and novelist, who has fallen on hard times. When he is commissioned to catalogue an extensive library in order that it may be donated to Cambridge University, he unexpectedly encounters a mystery involving a man who claims he has seen a ghost and a secret society which meets within the college’s walls.

Andrew Taylor is the author of many crime and suspense novels. He won the 2009 Cartier Diamond Dagger from the Crime Writer’s Association for sustained excellence in crime writing. Learn more about Taylor and his work by visiting the author’s website.

I am really excited about this redesigned edition of Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. Elaine from Penguin/Viking sent me a copy of this classic, a raucous novel of political and social satire, to celebrate celebrate the modern day film adaptation, starring Jack Black and hitting theaters December 22nd. The novel, first published in 1726 by Irish author Jonathan Swift, describes the fantastic voyages of the shipwrecked castaway Lemuel Gulliver as he awakens to find himself on a series of bizarrely populated islands. Watch for a post about the movie, as well as a book review by Caribousmom sometime in December.

Jonathan Swift, born in Ireland in 1667,  was not just a novelist, but also an essayist, poet, and ordained priest. He was first published anonymously under the pseudonyms of Lemeul Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaffm and M.B. Drapier. He died in 1745.

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown is getting some great early buzz, so when I saw that TLC Book Tours would be touring it in January/February 2011 I couldn’t wait to request a copy (watch for my review January 24th). The Weird Sisters is due to be published in January through Amy Einhorn Books/G.P. Putnam’s Sons.  Centered around the Andreas family whose passion and solace is books, the novel introduces three sisters all named after Shakespearean women: Rosalind, Bianca, and Cordelia. Brought together in adulthood because of their ailing parents, they discover that despite their different paths in life, they are more similar than not.

Eleanor Brown’s work has been published in anthologies, magazines and literary journals. She holds an MA in literature and resides in Colorado. The Weird Sisters is her first novel. Learn more about Brown and her work by visiting the author’s website.

Angela from Penguin sent me a copy of Great Gals: Inspired Ideas for Living a Kick-Ass Life by Summer Pierre (I love the title, don’t you?). This is a journal of sorts – and has some awesome graphic art and prompts for self-exploration between its pages. Check out my review of the book here.

Summer Pierre is a writer, artist and musician who has published a previous book titled The Artist in the Office: How to Thrive and Survive Seven Days A Week. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, child and two cats. Learn more about Pierre and her work by visiting the author’s website.

Whew – that was a lot to write about!!! What about you? What great books arrived at YOUR home this week???