Mailbox Monday – March 28, 2011

Welcome to this week’s edition of Mailbox Monday which is hosted each month by a different blogger. To see the schedule of hostings, visit the dedicated blog.

March’s host is Laura at I’m Booking It. Make sure you visit Laura’s blog today and add your link … you’ll also find links to other readers’ mailboxes there.

Here is what arrived at MY house this week:

Christina with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt sent me a beautiful finished copy of The Architect of Flowers by William Lychack which is a collection of short stories released this month. The publisher writes that in this collection, Lychack “explores the dear and inevitable distance between people in loving relationships and the hope they find in dark situations.” Author Margot Livesey describes the stories as “precise, exhilarating, sometimes wonderfully funny and always beautiful.” This book is a Summer 2011 Discover Selection from Barnes and Noble and I am eager to read it.

William Lychack is a novelist (The Wasp Eater) and his short works have appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize, Ploughshares, and The Southern Review (to name a few), as well as on public radio’s This American Life. He lives in Vermont, and teaches in the Low-Residency MFA Program at Lesley University. Read more about Lychack and his work by visiting the author’s website.

Caitlin from Penguin sent me a finished copy of Catfish Alley by Lynne Bryant (due for release in April 2011) which is set in the south and centers around a white woman whose research into local black history introduces her to several elderly black women and their stories of tragedy and endurance in the days before Civil Rights. Based on the author’s childhood in Mississippi and inspired by the history of Columbus Mississippi (including a photographer named Pruitt whose photographs of lynchings circulated as postcards in the South during the 1930s and ‘40s),  this debut novel is being compared favorably to The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  Author Lisa Wingate calls the novel “tender, wise, unique.”

Lynne Bryant grew up in rural Mississippi during the Civil Rights Movement and came of age during the volatile integration of Mississippi’s schools. She attended nursing school at Mississippi University for Women, and earned both a masters in nursing from Ole Miss and a PhD in nursing from the University of Colorado. Bryant teaches nursing full-time in Colorado while she works on her second novel. Learn more about Bryant and her work by visiting the author’s website.

Simon & Schuster sent me an Advance Readers Edition of Dominance by Will Lavender through a Shelf Awareness offer. This suspense-thriller is due for release in July 2011 and is based on an interesting bit of literary lore and historical fact. Paul Fallows is the pen name of an American writer and recluse whose real identity is unknown. Many scholars see symbolism in his work and claim that Fallows uses the text of his novels as a kind of map to his true identity. In 1994, an imprisoned professor by the name of Richard Aldiss taught a class via satellite to a small group of students at Jasper College in Vermont which was designed to explore the identity of Fallows through his literary works. One student, Alex Shipley, claimed to have uncovered the key to the Fallows mystery. Based on these true facts, Lavender has constructed a literary suspense-mystery-thriller for his second novel Dominance (his first novel Obedience is also set around a college campus, becoming a New York Times best seller and winning Lavender overwhelming praise). I am really looking forward to reading this one!

Will Lavender is a native of Kentucky and lives in Lousiville with his wife and children. He is a graduate of Centre College with an MFA from Bard College and worked as a college professor for six years. A former poet and short story writer, he now writes “puzzle thrillers,” novels that are not quite mysteries and not quite thrillers but incorporate elements of both. Read more about Lavender and his work by visiting the author’s website.

Random House sent me a finished copy of Friendship Bread by Darien Gee (due for release by Ballantine Books in April). The novel opens with Julia Evarts discovering a gift of friendship bread on her front porch.  Still reeling from the death of her five year old son, Julia is still struggling to get through each day – but she makes the effort to prepare the bread in order to please her daughter. When she shares the bread, an unexpected friendship is kindled with two women. A book about life, loss, friendship, community, and the triumph of hope, Friendship Bread is certain to appeal to women readers. The book includes Amish friendship bread recipes and tips.

Darien Gee divides her time between Hawaii and the West Coast. She lives with her husband and their three children. Her next novel set in Avalon will be available in 2012.

An Advance Readers Edition of The Moment by Douglas Kennedy arrived from Atria Books via Shelf Awareness offer. Due for release in May 2011, this is Kennedy’s tenth novel. The Moment is a love story which centers around character Thomas Nesbitt – a divorced American writer living in Maine. When a package postmarked Berlin arrives one wintry morning, Thomas is unsettled. The package is from a woman with whom Thomas had an intense love affair twenty-six years earlier in Berlin during the Cold War.  Described as “unputdownable and profound,” The Moment questions why and how we fall in love and is a sweeping epic “with immense emotional power.

Douglas Kennedy is the author of nine previous novels. His work has been translated into twenty-two languages and he received the French decoration of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2007. He currently lives alternately in London, Paris, and Maine.

I also purchased two books from Barnes and Noble this week:

The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht (long-listed for the Orange Prize)
The Yellow Wall Paper, Herland, and Selected Writings by Charlotte Perkins Gilman


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  1. I like the cover for The Tiger’s Wife and Dominance. They sound like intriguing reads as well. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Friendship Bread, but have yet to read it myself. Happy reading!

    Here’s my Mailbox for this week.

    • Kim V on March 28, 2011 at 04:41

    I have The Friendship Bread in my TBR pile too. Looks like a nice light read!

  2. I’m really looking forward to Catfish Alley. I’ll be watching for your reviews of it and The Moment.

    • Wendy on March 28, 2011 at 05:40

    Majanka: I love some of the cover art – and you’re right, The Tiger’s Wife and Dominance both have terrific covers!

    Kim V: I agree – Friendship Bread looks like light and fun 🙂

    Kathy: I think Catfish Alley has some real potential to be one of those talked about books.

  3. You have a good selection of books here for this week. Enjoy the reads.

  4. Catfish Alley and Dominance both sound FABULOUS! I will have to get my hands on those ones. Happy reading and thanks for sharing!

    Here’s my Mailbox Monday

  5. Such great stuff there! I also have The Yellow Wallpaper and Herland, and I have been really intent on reading them, but haven’t yet found the time. Friendship Bread is a book that I am also interested in and can’t wait to see your review. Awesome mailbox this week!

    • Wendy on March 28, 2011 at 06:43

    Mystica: Thanks!

    Reviews by Molly: I agree – they look good! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

    Heather: Herland is being discussed on The Year of Feminist Classics in April – so that will be my motivation to actually read it 🙂 I agree – Friendship Bread looks like a fun read.

  6. I’ve heard a lot about The Tiger’s Wife. Enjoy!

    • Audra on March 28, 2011 at 09:38

    Oooh, The Architect of Flowers looks interesting (short stories are suddenly going to be my thing — am review two diff collections this week after declaring I hate short fiction!) and I love the cover for the Gilman edition!

  7. I have heard The Tiger’s Wife is very good. I have Friendship Bread and The Moment. I had a friendship bread starter for a long time so I am curious about the book.

    • Mary on March 28, 2011 at 13:11

    They all look like good/interesting reads. Have a good week!

  8. I’ve recently been enjoying short stories. That collection looks very interesting.

  9. I loved The Yellow Wallpaper! You got some great books…enjoy them all. 🙂

    • Wendy on April 3, 2011 at 06:26

    Kate: The Tiger’s Wife is one I am really eager to read.

    Audra: I really enjoy short stories…and this collection looks particularly good.

    Beth: I think Friendship Bread looks “cute.” Fun concept.

    Mary: Thanks!

    Jennifer: I agree. A good sort story can be very satisfying.

    Michelle: I just started Herland – so far so good 🙂

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