Mailbox Monday – August 20, 2012

Welcome to this week’s Mailbox Monday which is hosted this month at Five Minutes For Books.

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

Here is what showed up at my house this week:

The Roots of the Olive Tree by Courtney Miller Santo (August 2012) arrived via Harper Collins. From a new voice in contemporary woman’s fiction, comes a novel about five generations of women set in a northern California olive grove. The writing in this books is being compared to Sarah Blake’s The Postmistress, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, and the works of Kristin Hannah.  Told from varying viewpoints, Courtney Miller Santo’s evocative debut novel “captures the joys and sorrows of family—the love, secrets, disappointments, jealousies, and forgiveness that tie generations to one another.

Courtney Miller Santo grasped the importance of stories from listening to her great-grandmother, who lives in Northern California. She learned to write stories in the journalism program at Washington and Lee University and then discovered the limits of true stories working as a reporter in Virginia. She teaches creative writing at the University of Memphis, where she earned her MFA. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Los Angeles Review, Irreantum, Sunstone, and Segullah. She lives in Tennessee with her husband, two children, and dog. Her most prized possession is a photo of five generations of the women in her own family. Learn more about Santo and her work by visiting the author’s website.

Pantheon Books sent me a couple of mystery books:

Munster’s Case: An Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery by Hakan Nesser and translated from the Swedish by Laurie Thompson (August 7, 2012) is the latest installment in Nesser’s popular mystery series. In this book, Waldemar Leverkhun has just won the lottery – a modest su when split between him and his four friends. But, after a night of celebration, Waldemar ends up dead in his bed, stabbed twenty-eight ties in the chest with a carving knife. Intendent Munster, a long time colleague of Chief Inspector Van Veeteren, takes the case. A seemingly open and shut case (with a confession) comes unglued when a second grisly murder takes place in the same neighborhood.

Hakan Nesser was awarded the 1993 Swedish Crime Writer’s Academy Prize for new authors for Mind’s Eye (published in Sweden as Det Grovmaskiga Nätet); he received the best novel award in 1994 for Borkmann’s Point and in 1996 for Woman with Birthmark. In 1999 he was awarded the Crime Writers of Scandanavia’s Glass Key Award for the best crime novel of the year for Carambole. Nesser lives in Sweden and London. Learn more about Nesser and his work by visiting the author’s website.

The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds by Alexander McCall Smith (October 2012) is the newest and ninth addition to the Isabel Dalhousie series. From the publisher: “Isabel is asked to help a wealthy Scottish landowner who has been robbed of a valuable painting. This painting, by the celebrated French artist Nicolas Poussin, had been earmarked for ultimate donation to the Scottish National Gallery. Could the thieves be people who are rather close to the owner? It begins to look as if this may be so . . . Against the backdrop of this intriguing case, Isabel leads her day-to-day life, coping with issues small and large.

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.


In the spirit of trying to participate more in my online book club (Bookies Too), I also purchased some of the books which are coming up for discussion in the next few months:

Home by Toni Morrison (Knopf, May 2012) is a book I have been wanting to read ever since it was released. Bookies Too will be discussing this book between September 1 and September 15, 2012. From the publisher:

Frank Money is an angry, self-loathing veteran of the Korean War who, after traumatic experiences on the front lines, finds himself back in racist America with more than just physical scars. His home may seem alien to him, but he is shocked out of his crippling apathy by the need to rescue his medically abused younger sister and take her back to the small Georgia town they come from and that he’s hated all his life. As Frank revisits his memories from childhood and the war that have left him questioning his sense of self, he discovers a profound courage he had thought he could never possess again. A deeply moving novel about an apparently defeated man finding his manhood—and his home.

Toni Morrison is the author of ten novels, from The Bluest Eye (1970) to A Mercy (2008). She has received the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize. In 1993 she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. She lives in New York.

The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky with translation from the Russian by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (Vintage, 2003). This novel will be discussed on Bookies Too between September 16 and September 30, 2012.

After his great portrayal of a guilty man in Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky set out in The Idiot to portray a man of pure innocence. The novel features twenty-six-year-old Prince Myshkin who returns to Russia to collect an inheritance and “be among people.” He encounters the dark Rogozhin, a rich merchant’s son whose obsession with the beautiful Nastasya Filippovna eventually draws all three of them into a tragic denouement. Scandal escalates to murder as Dostoevsky traces the surprising effect of this “positively beautiful man” on the people around him.

Fyodor Dostoevsky (November 1821 – 9 February 1881) was a Russian writer of novels, short stories and essays. His works explore human psychology in the troubled political, social and spiritual context of 19th-century Russian society. He is best remembered for his novels Crime and Punishment, The Idiot and The Brothers Karamazov. In all, he wrote eleven novels, three novellas, seventeen short novels and three essays.

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (Scribner, July 2012) will be discussed on Bookies Too from October 1 through October 15, 2012. This debut novel is set in Australia just after WWI. Tom Sherbourne takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, and brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel with him. Years later, after being unable to carry a baby to term, a boat washes up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby. Tom and Isabel’s decision to keep the baby as their own has repercussions “where justice for one person is another’s tragic loss.

ML Stedman was born and raised in Western Australia and now lives in London. This is her first novel.

In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez (Algonquin, 201o) will be discussed on Bookies Too between October 16 and October 31, 2012. It is November 25, 1960, and three beautiful sisters have been found near their wrecked Jeep at the bottom of a 150-foot cliff on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. Although their deaths are reported as accidental, no one mentions that a fourth sister lives. But everyone knows these women who were among the leading opponents of Gen. Rafael Leonidas Trujillo’s dictatorship. They are simply “The Butterflies.” This is a  novel of courage and love, and the human cost of political oppression.

Julia Alvarez is the author of nineteen books, including the novels How the García Girls Lost Their Accents. A writer-in-residence at Middlebury College, she and her husband, Bill Eichner, established and founded Alta Gracia, an organic coffee farm–literacy arts center, in her homeland, the Dominican Republic. Learn more about Alvarez and her work by visiting the author’s website.

Did any amazing books arrive at YOUR house this week?

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    • Susan on August 20, 2012 at 08:03

    Thanks for the info on BookiesToo, didn’t know about the site. I’m sort of interested in The Light Between Oceans novel. So perhaps will read for discussion in Oct.

  1. Awesome books you have here!

    Have fun with your new books! Have a great reading week…!!!

    Here is my post.

  2. I’m reading The Roots of the Olive Tree right now and am enjoying it so far. I find the cover of Munster’s Case kind of disturbing for some reason. Enjoy your new books!

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