Mailbox Monday – February 14, 2011

Welcome to another edition of Mailbox Monday, hosted this month by Sandra and Laura at Library of Clean Reads. Be sure to visit their blog today to get links to participants’ mailboxes and to leave your own link.

I found some wonderful books in the mail this week – now I just need more time in the day to actually read them all!

Many thanks to Michelle Moran who made sure that I got a signed, first edition hardcover of her newest novel Madame Tussaud (due for release February 15th). I have read every novel Moran has written and enjoyed them all…so I am greatly anticipating reading this book! Madame Tussaud was a famous wax artist, but apart from that, most people are ignorant of who she really was…now, she is about to come to life through the talent of Michelle Moran. Spanning five years, from the start of the French Revolution to the Reign of Terror, the book follows the life of an astonishing woman whose “talent for wax modeling saved her life and preserved the faces of a vanished kingdom.” Author Allison Weir calls Madame Tussaud “a first-class novel, brilliantly written” and says “The scope of the author’s research is staggering…”

Read an excerpt from the book.

And guess what? YOU can also get a signed copy of this book along with a pair of Marie Antoinette cupcake earrings because I am sharing the love for Valentine’s Day by hosting a giveaway which opened YESTERDAY. Visit THIS POST for more information.

Michelle Moran was a public high school teacher before turning to writing full-time. She lives in California with her husband and has penned three previous historical novels: Nefertiti, The Heretic Queen, and Cleopatra’s Daughter. Learn more about Moran and her impressive body of work by visiting the author’s website.

The fabulous Lydia Hirt over at Penguin sent me four books which look amazing (three of which will be perfect for the Memorable Memoir Reading Challenge):

How many of you were completely captivated by the Little House on the Prairie series written by Laura Ingalls Wilder? Author Wendy McClure remembers the series well, and it has become the basis for her memoir The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie (due for release through Riverhead Books in April 2011). McClure retraced the pioneer journey of the Ingalls family, searching for the Big Woods in Wisconsin and wading through Plum Creek, and immersed herself in all things Little House as a tribute to the well-loved series. What came out of that journey is this memoir, a story not only about McClure’s adventure, but about what happens when we “reconnect with our childhood touchstones – and find that our old love has only deepened.”

Wendy McClure holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and lives in Chicago where she is a senior editor at Albert Whitman & Company. She is also the author of a previous memoir I’m Not New To Me (2005) and is a columnist of BUST magazine. She also contributes to The New York Times Magazine. Learn more about McClure and her work by visiting the author’s website.

The Long Goodbye by Meghan O’Rourke takes a look at grief and sorrow, “the fleeting moments of joy that make up a life, and the way memory can lead us out of the jagged darkness of loss.” After her mother’s death, O’Rourke began to create a record of her interior life as a mourner. It was from these notes, that her memoir was born. Author Joyce Carol Oates writes about The Long Goodbye: “[…] yes, it is sad, it is in fact heartrending, but it is many things more: courageous, inspiring, wonderfully intelligent and informed, and an intimate portrait of an American family as well.The Long Goodbye will be released in April 2011 through Riverhead Books.

Meghan O’Rourke grew up in Brooklyn, where she still resides. She is the author of an award-winning book of poems (Halflife), and her essays and poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, The Best American Poetry, and other well-known publications. She also works as a culture critic for Slate.

Planting Dandelions by Kyran Pittman is also a memoir which celebrates the joys and trials of a new generation of parents (due for release by Riverhead Books in May 2011). Pittman links eighteen chronological essays which look at the first twelve years of “becoming a family” as she raises three kids in the heartland. Her prose is described as candid and hilarious. Author Neal Pollack writes: “Kyran Pittman’s searingly honest confessionals, and her expert wit, should serve as model and inspiration for all the former ‘bad girls’ who’ve crossed over into motherhood.

Kyran Pittman grew up in Newfoundland (the daughter of a poet, and the middle of three sisters), but now lives in Arkansas with her husband and three children. She is a contributing writer for Good Housekeeping. Read more about Pittman (and get a sample of her writing), by visiting the author’s blog.

Joy For Beginners by Erica Bauermeister will be released in June 2011 through G.P. Putnam’s Sons. I was really excited to read about this novel because I really enjoyed Bauermeister’s first book The School of Essential Ingredients (read my review). In her sophomore  effort Bauermeister introduces six women who gather to celebrate their friend Kate’s recovery from cancer. During the festive dinner party, Kate strikes a bargain with them…to celebrate her new lease on life they will agree to do one thing that they have always sworn they would never do – and Kate gets to choose their adventures. Described as “a celebration of life,” and “deeply satisfying,” this is a novel I am truly looking forward to reading.

Erica Bauermeister was born in Pasadena, California. She later moved to Seattle, got married, and earned a PhD. at the University of Washington. She went on to teach writing and literature and started her family. Her first novel (The School of Essential Ingredients) became a bestselling book and an Indie Next Pick, and has been published in 19 countries. To learn more about Bauermeister and her work, visit the author’s website.

Aurora, one of the terrific publicists over at Picador, sent me a trade paperback of The Bradshaw Variations by Rachel Cusk (due for release March 1st). The novel is about Thomas Bradshaw, a man who has quit his job to be a stay at home dad for his eight year old daughter Alexa. In contrast, Thomas’s wife Tonie is an intense, intellectual woman who is seduced by the high powered world of her career. The Bradshaw Variations takes place over a year where Cusk examines the trials, sacrifices and demands on this English family.

Rachel Cusk was born in Canada and spent much of her childhood in Los Angeles before finishing her education at a convent school in England. Cusk is an award-winning author of two memoirs and seven novels. She was awarded the 1993 Whitbread Prize for her debut novel, Saving Agnes; her novel, Arlington Park, was shortlisted for the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction; and in 2003 she was chosen as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists. She lives in Brighton, England.

Meike of Peirene Press sent me their latest translated work. Next World Novella by Matthias Politycki is translated from the German by Anthea Bell. Due to be released this week (February 18th), the book “is a witty, clever story about marriage – the misunderstandings, wrong expectations and different male/female perceptions of it.” When 60-year-old Hinrich finds his wife of 30 years dead of a stroke, he tries to come to terms with her sudden death. As he goes through her papers he realizes that his marriage wasn’t all what it seemed.

I have read and loved every book Peirene published in 2010, and I am eager to read this latest.

Matthias Politycki has published more than 20 novels and poetry collections. He is considered one of the most successful literary German authors. His books have sold more than 200,000 copies and been translated into several languages. Next World Novella was first published in 2009.

I also want to share a book I purchased this past week – I couldn’t resist this one:

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell is getting some interesting early buzz. Recently released through Alfred A. Knopf, this debut novel takes place in the Florida Everglades and centers around a young heroine by the name of Ava Bigtree and her family who make up an alligator-wrestling dynasty called Swamplandia! Filled with quirky characters and completely original, Russell’s novel is being lauded as “brilliant,” “dazzling,” and “lavishly imagined.” Author Emma Donaghue writes: “Vividly worded, exuberant in characterization,this novel is a wild ride: Russell has style in spades.

Russell’s break-out short story, “Ava Wrestles The Alligator” was recently made available on Scribd if you want to get a good idea of her writing.

Karen Russell is a native of Miami and has been honored on The New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 list, was chosen as one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists, and received the 2009 5 Under 35 Award from the National Book Foundation. She is currently a writer-in-residence at Bard College.

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    • Serena on February 14, 2011 at 09:31

    You have a nice full mailbox. We have one book in common! Those others look like good ones too.

    • Wendy on February 14, 2011 at 10:52

    Serena: I see you also got Moran’s new book 🙂

  1. Madam Tussaud is one that I’m itching to receive – I won it in a giveaway and I can’t wait to read it! 🙂 Here’s my Mailbox: Coffee and a Book Chick — Mailbox Monday…

    • Laura on February 14, 2011 at 12:00

    I am reading Swamplandia and enjoying it. Can’t wait to hear what you think.

  2. Great mailbox! I bought Swamplandia yesterday too!

  3. You have such an active mailbox, Wendy! I’ve heard so much about SWAMPLANDIA – I look forward to your thoughts. Of course there are a certain few titles that I’m really excited for you to read! Enjoy!

    • Amused on February 14, 2011 at 13:09

    Oh my goodness you got a lot of wonderful books this week! I am looking forward to your thoughts on many of these!

  4. I ve Next world too looking forward to it ,a interesting idea for a book and how we are perceived by others .Swamplandia seems a popular book keep seeing it here and there ,all the best stu

    • Wendy on February 14, 2011 at 15:14

    Coffee and Bookchick: I just love Moran’s novels!

    Laura: I’ve been seeing some good things about Swamplandia! out there in the blog world!

    Kathy: LOL – great minds think alike!

    Lydia: It’s all your fault!!! LOL!

    Amused: I wish I could take a month off of work and just read. Hmmmm, there’s a thought!

    Stu: I have high hopes for Next World…and I am eager to settle down with Swamplandia too 🙂

    • Staci on February 14, 2011 at 16:17

    I’m pretty much in love with all of your books!!!

    • Wallace on February 14, 2011 at 16:25

    Wow, you get a TON of books every week… how do you keep up with al the reading? So many of these look fantastic! I’ll be adding them to my list.

  5. Oh my goodness, Wendy, I want to read all your books! They all sound fantastic!

    My sister recently reviewed one of Rachel Cusk’s books on my blog (Arlington Park) — I’m not sure I’d like her style, so I’ll be curious to see what you think of her.

    Happy reading!

  6. I heard the author of Swamplandia on NPR the other morning and she was intriguing. All of your books sound wonderful.

    • Teddy on February 14, 2011 at 22:37

    Wow, there are some really nice looking books in there! I’m still waiting for my copy of Madame Tussaud. I want to read it before I go to New York in May because I am planning to go to Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum there.

    I received 2 historicals in my mailbox.

    • zibilee on February 15, 2011 at 07:38

    I am so interested in the new Michelle Moran book, and want to go out and buy it right now!! Too bad I am going to have to wait for a couple of weeks 🙁 A lot of great stuff in that mailbox this week. It seems like it was just packed!

    • Kailana on February 15, 2011 at 11:22

    I am looking forward to the Michelle Moran book, too!

    • Anna on February 16, 2011 at 06:21

    I can’t wait to start Madame Tussaud. I’ve enjoyed all of Moran’s novels so far. I just received Joy for Beginners, so that’ll be in my next MM post. Happy reading!

  7. Wow, everyone is getting Madame Tussaud! *sticks out pouty lip* LOL!

    You got a lot of great sounding books. Happy reading!

    Now I’m off to enter your giveaway!

    • Alyce on February 17, 2011 at 11:41

    What a great batch of books!

  8. Love the covers of THE BRADSHAW VARIATION and SWAMPLANDIA … enjoy!

  9. Oh, I just finished REVOLUTION so the Madame Tussaud looks amazing. Can’t wait to read it and I hope you enjoy it!

    • Wendy on February 20, 2011 at 16:00

    Staci: LOL – I’m not surprised since you and I seem to gravitate to the same types of books!

    Wallace: You wrote – “Wow, you get a TON of books every week… how do you keep up with all the reading? “ The short answer: I don’t! Sometimes I get book unsolicited, sometimes I request them…I try to keep things organized by my eyes are always bigger than my ability to read them all!

    Avis: I’ve heard mixed things about Cusk, so I am interested in giving her a try. Stay tuned!

    Michelle: The author for Swamplandia was named on the 5 Under 35 list at the National Book Awards for another of her work – so she has been on my radar.

    Teddy: Oh, that will be fun to visit the wax museum! I’m sure your book will arrive before May!

    Heather: This was a good week in books for me (I love when that happens!). I am eager to read Moran’s book too!

    • Wendy on February 20, 2011 at 16:02

    Kailana: Have you read Moran’s other books?

    Anna: I was excited to get Joy For Beginners – I think it looks fantastic and I enjoyed her last book.

    Michelle (True Book Addict): I hope you win the Moran book so you don’t have to pout anymore *laughs*

    Alyce: I agree!!

    Dawn: I do too – but I am a huge sucker for great covers!

    Pam: I hope so too! 🙂

  10. I, too, received a copy of Erica’s book and spent most of yesterday afternoon curled up on the couch savoring every single sentence! I read close to 200 pages. Unheard of for me, but I made sure to get all my chores and errands taken care of on Saturday so I could enjoy the book without any interruptions or distractions. Suffice it to say, I’m loving it and will probably finish tonight.

    I’m curious about The Long Goodbye. You know I like these kind of books and I’ll be interested to see what you have to say in your review.

    • Lesley on February 25, 2011 at 12:53

    I loved the Little House books when I was younger – and still have my boxed set. I will have to add this one too my wishlist. Gorgeous cover!

    Thanks for the heads up. 🙂

    • Wendy on February 28, 2011 at 08:25

    Lesley: I agree!!! You’re welcome 🙂

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