Mailbox Monday – August 22, 2011

Welcome to this week’s edition of Mailbox Monday. This month Mailbox Monday is being hosted by Staci at Life in the Thumb.

Make sure to visit Staci’s blog today and add your link … you’ll also find links to other readers’ mailboxes there.

To see the schedule of this meme’s host, please visit the dedicated blog.

Here is what I found in my mailbox this week:

From Commonwealth Prize finalist and author Genni Gunn (thanks to Diane Saarinen) came a signed edition of Solitaria (published by Signature Editions). This literary fiction novel set in Italy is a “tale of longing and family honor, told from two points of view: that of Piera, the sister who, when her brother’s remains are found, locks herself in her room, refusing to speak to anyone but her Canadian nephew, David; and by David, who reluctantly accompanies his mother to Italy to bury his long-lost uncle. With the unraveling of their stories, we glimpse a woman’s growing awareness of her own capacity for self-delusion, and of the consequences of her actions on others, and a young man’s awakening to the depth of his roots.” I will be touring this book on October 28th and hope to also offer a giveaway at that time…so stay tuned!

Genni Gunn is a gifted writer, musician and translator. Born in Trieste, she arrived in Canada at the age of eleven. She has published eight books: two novels—Tracing Iris and Thrice Upon a Time (a finalist for the Commonwealth Prize), two short story collections—Hungers and On The Road, two poetry collections— Faceless and Mating in Captivity. She has translated from the Italian two collections of poems, and two of her books have been translated into Italian. Her novel Tracing Iris has also been optioned for film and is currently in development. Her opera, Alternate Visions premiered in Montreal in 2007 (music by John Oliver) and was projected in a simulcast at The Western Front in Vancouver; and her poem “Hot Summer Nights” has been turned into classical vocal music by John Oliver, and performed widely internationally. Learn more Gunn and her work by visiting the author’s website.

Thanks to Kaitlyn at Penguin/Berkley, I snagged a much anticipated copy of Cross Currents by John Shors.   This novel is set on Ko Phi Phi island, a pristine and remote place in Thailand. Resort owners Lek and Sarai, struggling to support their children, offer a friendly young American, Patch, room and board in exchange for his help. But Patch has an expired Visa and is on the run from the law; and when his brother Ryan arrives with his girlfriend, Brooke, trouble looms. Before they can resolve their issues, a tsunami hits the island and takes all the characters’ lives in new and startling directions.

John Shors has been praised as an “immense talent.” After graduating from Colorado College, he lived for several years in Kyoto, Japan, where he taught English. He later trekked across Asia, visiting ten countries and climbing the Himalayas before returning to the United States, where he became a newspaper reporter in his hometown, Des Moines, Iowa. He then moved to Boulder, Colorado, and helped launch GroundFloor Media, now one of the state’s largest public relations firms. Now a full-time novelist, Shors spends his days writing. His first five novels have won multiple awards, and have been translated into twenty-five languages. He lives with his wife and their two young children in Colorado. Read more about Shors and his work by visiting the author’s website.

Author Diane Simmons sent me a copy of her collection of short stories: Little America (released in May through The Ohio State University Press). The publisher’s blurb reads: “Little America is for anyone who has ever considered just getting in the car and driving away. Here the ribbon of Western road is a metaphor for the heart’s strange longings, providing hard, sometimes hilarious, lessons on the improbability of escape, the possibility of salvation, and the elusiveness of self-knowledge.” The collection includes eight short stories, some previously published, and has been compared to writings by E.L. Doctorow and Richard Ford. I love discovering new voices in short fiction, and I am very much looking forward to reading Simmons’ work.

Diane Simmons grew up on a farm in Eastern Oregon and worked as a newspaper reporter in Idaho, Alaska and Washington before moving to New York. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from the City College of New York and a Ph.D. in English from the City University of New York Graduate Center, and has published critical studies of Jamaica Kincaid and Maxine Hong Kingston, as well as a study of popular British Imperial Writing. Her short work has been published in print and online journals such as Northwest Review, Missouri Review, Beloit Review, and Blood Orange Review. Simmons’ novel, Dreams Like Thunder (Storyline Press) won the Oregon Book Award. An earlier novel, Let the Bastards Freeze in the Dark, was published by Simon and Schuster. Learn more about Simmons and her work by visiting the author’s website.

Maria, Senior Publicist with Random House, sent me a beautiful hardcover edition of Second Nature by Jacquelyn Mitchard (due for release in September). Mitchard takes on the controversial subject of face transplants in this latest novel that explores medical necessity and our beliefs about identity. The book begins with twenty-five year old Sicily Coyne’s recollection of the traumatic school fire in which her firefighter father perished and she, at age thirteen, was badly burnt.  Left disfigured she is placed in the custody of her Aunt Marie when her mother unexpectedly dies.  Despite carving out a remarkably full life for herself, including a successful career as a medical illustrator and an engagement to a handsome childhood friend, Sicily’s life is shattered by a secret about her fiance and his friends.  It is this event which leads her to consider “the only surgery that can restore” Sicily to the “normal” world.

Jacquelyn Mitchard’s first novel, The Deep End of the Ocean, was named by USA Today as one of the ten most influential books of the past 25 years – second only to the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. The book was chosen as the first novel in the book club made famous by the TV host Oprah Winfrey, and transformed into a feature film produced by and starring Michelle Pfeiffer. Critics have praised all of Mitchard’s novels for their authentic humanity and skilful command of story. The author divides her time between south central Wisconsin and the Amalfi Coast. Learn more about Mitchard and her work by visiting the author’s website.

Finally two books arrived on my doorstep which were unsolicited:

Surprised by Oxford: A Memoir by Carolyn Weber arrived from Thomas Nelson Press (released this month). The book is described as follows: “Carolyn Weber arrived for graduate study at Oxford University a feminist from a loving but broken family, suspicious of men and intellectually hostile to all things religious. As she grapples with her God-shaped void alongside the friends, classmates, and professors she meets, she tackles big questions in search of love and a life that matters.” This is being marketed as a “girl meets God” style memoir where an agnostic is converted to Christianity. I’m not sure this is my cup of tea – so watch for a possible giveaway in the future.

Carolyn Weber holds a BA from the University of Western Ontario and her M.Phil. and D. Phil degrees from Oxford University. She has been an Associate Professor of Romantic Literature at Seattle University and has taught at Westmount College, University of San Francisco and Oxford University. Read more about Weber and her work by visiting the author’s website.

Also from Thomas Nelson Press via Meryl Zegarek came Jesus, My Father, The CIA, and Me: A Memoir of Sorts by Ian Morgan Cron (released in June). From the publisher: “When he was sixteen years old, Ian Morgan Cron was told about his father’s clandestine work with the CIA.  This astonishing revelation, coupled with his father’s dark struggles with chronic alcoholism and depression, upended the world of a boy struggling to become a man.  Decades later, as he faces his own personal demons, Ian realizes the only way to find peace is to voyage back through a painful childhood marked by extremes—privilege and poverty, violence and tenderness, truth and deceit—that he’s spent years trying to escape.  In this surprisingly funny and forgiving memoir, Ian reminds us that no matter how different the pieces may be, in the end we are all cut from the same cloth, stitched by faith into an exquisite quilt of grace.” The book was chosen as a featured title in the Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers program. Due to my towering TBR stacks, this will also most likely find its way into the giveaway pile later this year.

Ian Morgan Cron is an author, speaker, Episcopal priest, psychotherapist, and retreat guide. He is the author of Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim’s Tale which received accolades from The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Fr Richard Rohr, Phyllis Tickle, Marcus Borg, Brian McLaren, and artist Makoto Fujimura In addition to writing, facilitating retreats, and speaking around the country, Cron is an adjunct priest at Christ Episcopal Church in Greenwich, Connecticut. He is also a student at Fordham University where he is completing his doctoral work in Christian spirituality. He divides his time between living in Tennessee and Vermont with his wife, and three children. Read more about Cron and his work by visiting the author’s website.

What arrived at YOUR house this week?

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  1. I received Cross Currents last week – I love his writing and am very excited to read this one! Plus, that cover is so beautiful.

  2. Nice mailbox, I hope you enjoy them all.

  3. I ve just got solitaria as well ,so pleased they sent it me from canada to uk ,starting it later today ,all the best stu

    • kaye on August 22, 2011 at 12:07

    Cross Currents sounds great and I love the cover. Have a wonderful week and enjoy your new books.

  4. It looks like you had a fabulous week! Second Nature sounds fascinating. The last two books showed up at my house today.

    • Staci on August 22, 2011 at 16:39

    Cross Currents and Second Nature intrigue me…enjoy your books!

  5. A new Mitchard book!! I have to read that! I love her books. I could read The Deep End of the Ocean over and over again. Cross Currents is a book I am excited about also. I can’t wait for both of these books to come out.

    • Alyce on August 22, 2011 at 19:57

    I’m curious to see what you think of the John Shors book. I’ve heard good things about his novels but I haven’t read one yet.

  6. Both the Shors book and the Mitchard book sound excellent, and I hope that you enjoy them!

    • Mary on August 23, 2011 at 19:03

    I love the variety of books in your mailbox. Enjoy!

    • Wendy on August 25, 2011 at 07:44

    Thanks, everyone, for stopping by my mailbox!

  7. Well, if you’re looking for a good home for SURPRISED BY OXFORD, I’d gladly take it off your hands and review it for my own site! Your mailbox looks like it was downright fun this week!

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