Daily Archives: June 3, 2012

Mailbox Monday – June 4, 2012

Welcome to this week’s Mailbox Monday. Today MM is being hosted over at the dedicated blog. For the rest of the month, you can find it at Marie’s blog – Burton Book Review.

Go to the dedicated blog for the meme to see the complete tour schedule in the right sidebar.

Another excellent week in books:

Gold by Chris Cleave (July 3, 2012) arrived from the good folks over at Simon & Schuster. This novel asks the central question: “What would you sacrifice for the people you love?” Kate and Zoe made the national training program in track cycling at age nineteen. Now at thirty-two, the women are facing their last and biggest race: the 2012 Olympics. Each wants desperately to win gold, and each has more than a medal to lose. Kate’s eight-year-old daughter Sophie is fighting a recurrence of the leukemia that nearly killed her three years ago. Zoe has a compulsive need to win at any cost which has threatened her friendship with Kate. “With great humanity and glorious prose, Chris Cleave examines the values that lie at the heart of our most intimate relationships, and the choices we make when lives are at stake and everything is on the line.

Chris Cleave is the author of Incendiary and the #1 New York Times bestseller Little Bee. He lives with his wife and three children in Kingston-upon-Thames, England. Learn more about Cleave and his work by visiting the author’s website.

Porch Lights by Dorothea Benton Frank (June 12, 2012)  is the May pick from William Morrow Books/Harper Collins. From the publisher: Porch Lights is a stirring, emotionally rich multigenerational story—a poignant tale of life, love, and transformation—as a nurse, returning to Sullivans Island from the Afghanistan War, finds her life has been irrevocably altered by tragedy…and now must rediscover love and purpose with the help of her son and aging mother.

Dorothea Benton Frank has been called “the queen of sassy Southern fiction” by The Charlotte Observer. She is the New York Times bestselling author of several novels set in the South. She is a frequent speaker on creative writing and the creative process in private venues, such as the National Arts Club, the Junior League of New York, Friends of the Library, and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Before she began her writing career, Ms. Frank was involved extensively in the arts and education, and in raising awareness and funding for various nonprofits in New Jersey and New York. At the present time she serves on the boards of The South Carolina Historical Society and The South Carolina Coastal Conservation League. Born and raised on Sullivan’s Island in South Carolina, she currently divides her time between New Jersey and South Carolina. Learn more about Frank and her work by visiting the author’s website.

Three books arrived from Pantheon/Random House:

Against Wind and Tide: Letters and Journals 1947-1986 by Anne Morrow Lindbergh (April 2012) looks wonderful. It is no secret that I was swept away by Lindbergh’s wonderful collection of essays, Gift from the Sea (read my review), so I was thrilled that Against Wind and Tide arrived at my home unsolicited. This is the sixth and final collection of Lindbergh’s diaries and letters, penned from 1947 to 1986, where she is devoted to finding the essential truth in life’s experiences through a hard-won spirituality and a passion for literature.

From the publisher: “Between the inevitable squalls of life with her beloved but elusive husband, the aviator Charles A. Lindbergh, she shepherded their five children through whooping cough, horned toads, fiancés, the Vietnam War, and their own personal tragedies.  She researched and wrote many books and articles on issues ranging from the condition of Europe after World War II to the meaning of marriage to the launch of Apollo 8.  She published one of the most beloved books of inspiration of all time, Gift from the Sea. She left penetrating accounts of meetings with such luminaries as John and Jacqueline Kennedy, Thornton Wilder, Enrico Fermi, Leland and Slim Hayward, and the Frank Lloyd Wrights. And she found time to compose extraordinarily insightful and moving letters of consolation to friends and to others whose losses touched her deeply.

This book is being lauded as “an eloquent and often startling collection of writings from one of the most admired women of our time.

Summer Lies by Bernhard Schlink and translated from the German by Carol Brown Janeway (August 2012) is a collection of seven short stories “revolving around the emergence of truth, love, and lies.”

Bernhard Schlink was born in Germany. He is the author of The Weekend, as well as the internationally bestselling novels The Reader and Homecoming, as well as the collection of short stories Flights of Love and four prizewinning crime novels—The Gordian Knot, Self’s Deception, Self’s Punishment, and Self’s Murder. He lives in Berlin and New York.

A Conspiracy of Friends by Alexander McCall Smith (June 2012)  is the third installment of the Corduroy Mansions series. From the publisher: “It seems the universe itself is conspiring against the residents of Corduroy Mansions, as they all find themselves struggling with their nearest and dearest. Oedipus Snark’s mother, Berthea, is still at work on her scathing biography of her son—the only loathsome Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament; literary agents Rupert Porter and Barbara Ragg are still battling each other for first crack at the manuscript of Autobiography of a Yeti; fine arts graduate Caroline Jarvis is busy exploring the blurry line between friendship and romance; and William French is still worrying that his son, Eddie, may never leave home, even though Eddie’s got a new wealthy girlfriend. But uppermost in everyone’s mind is William’s faithful terrier, Freddie de la Hay—without a doubt the only dog clever enough to have been recruited by MI6—who has disappeared while on a mystery tour around the Suffolk countryside. Will Freddie find his way back to Pimlico? Is Corduroy Mansions starting to crumble?

Alexander McCall Smith is the author of the beloved bestselling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, the Isabel Dalhousie series, the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series, the 44 Scotland Street series, and the Corduroy Mansions series. He is also the author of numerous children’s books. He is professor emeritus of medical law at the University of Edinburgh and has served with many national and international organizations concerned with bioethics. He was born in what is now known as Zimbabwe and taught law at the University of Botswana. He lives in Scotland. Learn more about Smith and his work by visiting the author’s website.

How about YOU? Did any fabulous books arrive at YOUR house this week?

Sunday Salon – June 3, 2012

June 3, 2012

Good morning and welcome to The Sunday Salon! Before I start talking about the books I’ve read this week, I want to tell you about a fantastic event that is happening this week. The Armchair BEA is for those book bloggers who are not able to attend the BEA in New York City…and it is a great celebration of books and blogging. I’ll be participating all week…and I’ll be giving away books every day (some giveaways will be open worldwide, while others will be open only to US and Canada mailing addresses; some books will only be available to bloggers, others will be open for everyone)! I hope you’ll come back daily to enter to win some really terrific books. As sort of a pre-celebration, I’ve decided to kick off the giveaways beginning TODAY with:

New hard cover copy of THE ROAD TO GRACE by Richard Paul Evans
ISBN 9781451628180
234 pages
Simon & Schuster (May 2012)

Read more about the book here.
Read more about the author here.


  • Contest restricted to US/Canada mailing addresses
  • Contest restricted to book bloggers (ie: you must have a book blog to enter)
  • Click here to take survey

Also, I’ve posted the widget on my blog for the BEA live streaming of many events (beginning June 5th). This post will remain at the top of my blog all week for your convenience.

Okay, so now that business is taken care of, let’s talk books! Grab your beverage of choice, put up your feet and join the conversation (check out the Facebook page for all links to Sunday Salon posts).

I finished two books this week. One was a disappointment, the other was everything I hoped.

The Elephant Keeper by Christopher Nicholson was a bit of a let-down (read my review). I have had this book for far too long and decided to read it this month for my personal challenge to read literary books from my stacks. I thought I would love it because it is about the special relationship between a keeper and his elephants and takes place in eighteenth century England. But, although Nicholson does capture the flavor of the time period, I found the book very slow and lacking plot. It was a plodding read for me. Have you read this book? What did you think?

The next book I picked up I was certain I would love…and I did. Beth Kephart’s latest novel (on sale July 2012) is another stellar effort from an immensely talented author (read my review). Small Damages is set mostly in the Spanish countryside. It is about love, loss, healing, and family. It is beautifully written. I should disclose that I do have a friendship with the author…but, as I said in my disclosure statement at the end of my review, you should also know that I loved Beth’s words before I discovered the beautiful person behind them. I hope that when the book is released in July, you will rush out and get yourself a copy.

My current read is The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna which was nominated for the prestigious Orange Prize and is our book club choice this month over at the Chunky Book Club (discussion questions go up on June 11th). I am not too far into this novel, but I have a feeling I am going to love it. Have you read this one yet? What did you think? If you haven’t read it, there is still time to get a copy and join the discussion later this month.

Today is gorgeous – sunny, not too hot. I’m going to be planting some flowers and doing a little quilting and reading today. How about you? What are you doing this fine Spring day? Whatever it is, I hope at some point it involves a great book!

Small Damages – Book Review

“Five months is forever,” I told her.

“You made your choices,” she said and I said, “No.” Because the only thing I chose was you. – from Small Damages –

Kenzie has just graduated high school when she finds herself pregnant. The father is a boy named Kevin, on his way to Yale and unwilling to accept a child in his life. Kenzie’s mother makes it clear that to stay in Pennsylvania and have this child will not be suitable…and so Kenzie is sent to a small town just outside of Seville, Spain to have her baby and then surrender the infant to a young couple who wishes to adopt.

When Kenzie first arrives in Spain, she is alone, scared and angry. She is resentful of the woman tasked with her care, a woman by the name of Estela who carries her own secrets and “small damages.”

Coincidence or bad luck or no luck. Don Quixote. Whatever it was. Estela’s life is all subtractions. It is small damages and heartache. – from Small Damages –

But, as the days pass, Kenzie discovers something under the bright, hot Spanish sky – acceptance, love, and healing. Among the gypsies, and under the careful guidance of Estela who teaches her to cook, by the side of a special horse named Tierra, and through the eyes of a young man named Esteban…Kenzie finds a family.

Beth Kephart’s newest novel is filled with her signature beautiful prose. It takes the reader into the heart of a young girl who still mourns the death of her father and struggles with the reality of her unborn baby. It introduces Estela, a complicated woman whose huge heart is reflected in the delicious food she makes. It uncovers the colors of Spain and makes the reader fall in love with the people who call that country home.

Down the road and past the arch, the olive trees are casting webs of purple shadows. Across the way, between the sunflowers, the clover is green and the cacti bloom. Out on the horizon, there’s the leaking of silver, blue, and green, like the sea. I sit up front, with Miguel and Luis. The Gypsies sit in the back, in the bed of the truck, while the wind blows a song through Arcadio’s strings. – from Small Damages –

Kephart explores the themes of loss, the connection between parent and child, and the process of healing our hearts. Lyrical and profound, the words which shape this story take the reader on a journey from suburban American life into the mystical and colorful world of a Spanish cortijo.

I loved this novel and its appealing young protagonist. I loved the journey, and the discovery, the hope and the sadness, the path toward healing after trauma, the knowledge that we are never really alone, and that home is not a place on a map but the people who love you. Beth Kephart is an artist with words and Small Damages is another astonishing literary success.

Highly recommended.

FTC Disclosure: In the spirit of full disclosure, readers should know I have a friendship with the author. They should also know that I loved Beth’s words before I discovered the beautiful person behind them. This book was sent to me from the author.

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