Daily Archives: November 21, 2010

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???

Reading Classically in 2011

The other day I read a blog post by Lenore from Presenting Lenore about her wish to read more classics in 2011 (she was inspired by Amanda at The Zen Leaf). It got me thinking. I read a lot (and I mean A LOT) of contemporary fiction…and I love it…but, sometimes I feel like I am missing something important in my reading by not making time for more classic literature. I like Lenore’s idea to try to read a classic a month, but I’m not sure I can pull that off…so I’m going to go easier on myself and read a classic every two months (or six over the course of a year). I’m going to list a primary book and an alternate for each two month period and if I can manage both, I will read both. Books listed below are subject to change on my whim and mood!

January/February


  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne Du Maurier

March/April

  • Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
  • Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton (re-read)

May/June

  • The Brothers Ashkenazi by I.J. Singer
  • Hans Christian Anderson Fairy Tales (at least two from this book)

July/August

  • The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty
  • The Celebrated Jumping Frog and Other Stories by Mark Twain (at least 2)

September/October

  • Cancer Ward by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
  • My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier

November/December

  • Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maughan
  • My Antonia by Willa Cather

Sunday Salon – November 21, 2010

November 21, 2010

Good morning, loyal readers!! I missed the Salon last weekend. To be truthful, I was still trying to catch up after having been gone so long…and I was tired…and I was barely reading. This past week I worked my butt off, and this weekend (I am happy to say) I am finally able to relax a bit. In case you missed it, check out Raven’s perspective on our cross country trip; and here is one of my favorite memories of the trip.

Winter is officially here at our house – we had our first significant snowfall Friday evening and last night even more fell. I must admit, I enjoy waking up to a winter scene outside our windows, with ice coating the tree limbs and several inches of the white stuff covering the ground. It is always this time of year that I look forward to curling up in front of the wood stove with a good book.

So, let’s talk about reading. I finally finished Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. It seemed like it took me forever to read this massive tome…but, trust me, it wasn’t because I didn’t love it (read my review); it was because I was so distracted with life. Have you read this book yet? Have you read anything by Franzen? This was my first book by him, and I found it really good and interesting (although, I will tell you right up front, the characters are definitely not on my top ten list of favorite people). But, I love family sagas, I appreciate sarcasm and cynicism, and I love literary fiction…so if you’re like me, you might want to pick up a copy of this one.

And just because my reading always seems to have a little serendipity to it, I finished another book which has a lot of sardonic humor in it and which examines contemporary marriage. Love in Mid Air by Kim Wright found its way to me through the author…and after checking out her website, I knew I would accept a copy for review just because I felt drawn to her.  Even still, I wondered if I would like this book which looked suspiciously like light chick lit. I’m glad I gave the novel a chance because it is far from what I expected. This is smart women’s fiction with excellent writing and characters who began to feel like people with whom I would like to be friends. I ended up really loving this book (read my review). I hope Wright has more books in the queue for readers like me.

I also blew through a lovely little book which is perfect for readers of all ages who love dogs. Pukka: The Pup After Merle by Ted Kerasote is a quick read whose more than 200 photos make it a charming book which is perfect to give as a gift to a canine-loving friend (read my review). This is one of those books that just makes you sigh a little, in between muttering “how incredibly CUTE” and oohhhing and aahhhing a lot. I am such a sucker for dogs.

So, once again, in the spirit of serendipity, I’ve started reading Scent of the Missing by Susannah Charleson – a book about the bond between a handler and her search and rescue canine partner. I must admit, I’ve been putting off reading this one because I knew it would make me think of both Argus and Caribou…and just as I thought, I’ve been crying silent tears as I make my way through this very realistic and heartfelt book. My other fear was that the author would not capture the reality of what it meant to be a search and rescue canine handler – that fear (after only a few pages) has been put to rest. Charleson is a terrific writer and she represents search and rescue not only with reality, but with heart too. If I can get through it without too many memories and sadness, I’ll have a review up mid-week.

Yesterday I posted a review of a very interesting journal of sorts. I love this book and can’t wait to start filling its pages with my doodles and thoughts. Do you keep a journal? Do you scrapbook? Do you like making lists? If so, this might be a book worth checking out.

What’s up next on my to-be-read pile? Wow – too many books to list…but, here are some immediate possibilities:

  • Mary Ann in Autumn by Armistead Maupin
  • On Maggie’s Watch by Ann Wertz Garvin
  • The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
  • Season of Water and Ice by Donald Lystra
  • The Doctor and the Diva by Adrienne MacDonnell

Any thoughts on these books? Which one do you think I should read next?

I’m planning on settling on the couch for a couple of hours to read today. What are YOUR plans? Whatever they are, I hope the involve a great book!