Monthly Archives: November 2012

Love Slave – Book Review

This is not the world I imagined, the world I set out for, the world I even admire. My friends used to talk about a love that makes one stagger. No one told me about disappointment. No one mentioned necessity. – from Love Slave –

Sybil Weatherfield is fast approaching thirty. She lives in New York City in a basement apartment with unreliable hot water and writes self-absorbed columns for New York Shock, an alternative newspaper. She supports herself by temping and spends her free time with her friend Madeline, a human rights activist. Together they hit New York’s coffee houses and bars, following a band ironically named “Glass Half Full.” Sybil is dating a conservative businessman named Jeff, but spends most of her time with Glass Half Full’s lead singer, Rob.

Sybil is a conflicted young woman – she longs for a life of grandeur, but lacks the motivation to give up temping; she loves the status of Jeff, but feels most drawn to the mysterious Rob; she doubts her ability as a writer, but dreams about penning a novel. Sybil also struggles with an eating disorder. Her story unfolds in her unique, self deprecating voice and through her often funny and absurd column in New York Shock. Her cohort, Madeline, chain-smokes and plans her escape from the City. Together, the two stumble through their angst-filled lives searching for the bigger meaning of life.

Jennifer Spiegel’s novel is a very funny, surprisingly poignant journey into the heart of one young woman looking for real love in the city that never sleeps. New York City is a character in this book which pulses with urban street life, trendy restaurants, and smoke-filled bars. It is against this backdrop where Sybil confronts her own fears and dreams.

New York is not wholly who I am, but it’s a part. – from Love Slave –

I have to admit, I grew quite fond of the quirky and cynical Sybil as Love Slave unfolded. When she compares her relationship with boyfriend Jeff to a tampon, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud because this is Sybil – outrageous,wholly herself, and stumbling through life with bad analogies.

This is Sybil Weatherfield at her best: analytical, quirky, sardonic, gloomy. “Think about it, Rob – it’s perfect! The tampon’s a great metaphor for our hapless, utilitarian relationship.” I pause. “You need ’em, but don’t like ’em. In fact, out of sight, out of mind. Downright gross. In this case, altogether unnecessary. And where was it after all that? ” I look at him victoriously. “In the garbage!” – from Love Slave –

And it is because of this very human quality that readers will find themselves rooting for Sybil to discover that thing which will make her life more beautiful and meaningful. Midway through this delightful novel, I found myself unwilling to put it aside for very long. I wanted to see what would happen to Sybil. I longed for her to make the right choices. I implored her to finally be the winner I knew she could be.

It doesn’t happen very often that I relate to a character in a book as a living, breathing person. But that is exactly the gift that Spiegel gives her readers in Love Slave. Here is a novel that will appeal to a wide range of literary fiction lovers. It has just the right amount of lightness and humor mixed with wisdom to make it memorable. Sybil Weatherfield is a character who will grab onto your heart and not let go.

Highly recommended.

FTC Disclosure: This book was sent to me by the publisher for review on my blog.

City of Dark Magic – Giveaway

City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte
464 pages
ISBN 9780143122685
Penguin | 27 Nov 2012

City of Dark Magic is the debut novel by the mysterious Magnus Flyte (pseudonym for authors Meg Howrey and Christina Lynch) and it has captured my imagination and interest – I can’t wait to read my copy which is due to arrive any day now. Due to the generosity of Penguin, I am delighted to offer FIVE U.S. readers the opportunity to win a copy of the book along with a set of themed buttons.

ABOUT THE BOOK

From the publisher:

Rollicking, sexy and wildly imaginative, CITY OF DARK MAGIC is the story of musicologist Sarah Weston who accepts an invitation to spend the summer at Prague Castle cataloging Beethoven’s manuscripts for the wealthy Lobkowicz family.  While there, she discovers a city filled with dark magic, where the fabric of time is thin and danger lies around every corner.  CITY OF DARK MAGIC could be called a rom-com paranormal suspense novel—or it could simply be called one of the most entertaining novels of the year.

Conan O’Brien raves, “This deliciously madcap novel has it all: murder in Prague, time travel, a misanthropic Beethoven, tantric sex, and a dwarf with attitude. I salute you, Magnus Flyte! And Kirkus Reviews says, “The riddle of Beethoven’s ‘Immortal Beloved,’ alchemy and clandestine love fuse in this fast-paced, funny, romantic mystery. … An exuberant, surprising gem.

This is one the most anticipated novels of the year and has also been included in CNN’s list of Hot Thrillers.  Check out this  great interview with the authors on The Huffington Post.

Here is the fun book trailer:

 ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Magnus Flyte is a pseudonym for the writing duo of Meg Howrey and Christina Lynch. Howrey is a former dancer with the Joffrey II and the winner of an Ovation Award. She is the author of the novels The Cranes Dance and Blind Sight and lives in Los Angeles. Lynch is a television writer and former Milan correspondent for W Magazine. She lives near Sequoia National Park in California. Visit their website to learn more about the book and their work.

HOW TO WIN A COPY

This giveaway is open to US mailing addresses through December 7th at 5:00 pm PST.

There are TWO chances to win:

  1. Leave a comment on this post telling me why you want to read the book
  2. Go to Magnus Flyte’s Facebook Page and like it, then come back and leave me a second comment telling me you did that.

Please be sure to include a legitimate email address on the comment form so I can contact you if you win.

I will randomly draw FIVE WINNERS on December 8th and announce their names here on my blog. I will also email the winners to obtain their mailing addresses. The publisher will be mailing out the books and buttons.

GOOD LUCK!!!

FTC Disclosure: Book giveaways and featured book articles are NOT paid promos. Although books for giveaway will be supplied by the publisher (in most cases), Caribousmom does not accept payment to host these special events.

Sea of Ink – Book Review

This story is about Zhu Da, the Prince of Yiyang, distant descendant of the Prince of Ning, the seventeenth son of the founder of the Ming dynasty. – from Sea of Ink, page 8 –

Richard Weihe makes the observation that the paintings and calligraphy of the influential Chinese poet and painter, Bada Shanren (a pseudonym), “show mountains, forests, and rivers, many species of plants, birds and fish – and yet they always seem to be self-portraits.” It is this understanding of Bada Shanren’s work which informs Weihe’s novella Sea of Ink.

Bada Shanren was born Zhu Da, a descendent of the royalty making up the Ming Dynasty which ruled China for 276 years (1368–1644). The Qing Dynasty came into full power in 1662. As families of the old Ming Dynasty were killed, Zhu Da fled into the countryside and entered a Buddhist monastery where he remained for 40 years. Later he re-entered society and began painting professionally. His life was defined by odd behavior, a type of madness which may or may not have been feigned in order to prevent being co-opted by the Qing regime. It is from this biography that Weihe constructs his fictional narrative of Zhu Da’s life as painter.

Sea of Ink is a luminous story of a man whose devotion to his art defined the life he lived. Eleven of his works are included in the pages of this slim book and linked to the narrative. Throughout the novella, Weihe uncovers the hidden side of the artist by evaluating his work within the context of self-study. Wholly original and in poetic language, Sea of Ink takes the reader along a magical journey into the heart of an artist.

The novella is broken into 51 short chapters, and like poetry, the writing forces the reader to ponder each word and phrase. I found the experience to be rewarding, albeit not always easy reading. I waited a couple of days before writing my review of this book and I am glad I did. Sea of Ink is one of those books which sticks with the reader and is more appreciated in the days after turning the last page. I found myself thinking of Bada Shanren, and seeing the world around me a little differently after experiencing his artwork through the interpretation of Richard Weihe.

Peirene Press has made a name for itself with these short, translated works and Sea of Ink will not disappoint fans of their press. Richard Weihe is well known for his poetic biographies. This book was translated from the German by Jamie Bulloch.

Readers who love poetry, historical fiction and art will do well to pick up a copy of Sea of Ink.

Highly recommended.

The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets – Book Review

But even one letter changes a meaning entirely; no matter their proximity, different points of an alphabet refuse to be represented as the same: there’s no guarantee that someone standing at precisely the same longitude and latitude as you will remember the view the same way, no promise that one person’s memory of a moment or a month will parallel yours, retain the same value, shape the years of living that follow.  – from The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets, page 9 –

Ida is growing up motherless after a tragic accident took her mother’s life. James and Jackson are growing up fatherless when their father dies in prison. As their single parents connect, so do these three children, forming a family of sorts which grows more complicated as the years pass. Ida and Jackson’s relationship turns from a sibling love into a romantic connection, while James slips into mental illness. Jackson is also struggling with an unusual sleep disorder that is becoming more and more violent. Narrated in the singular and introspective voice of Ida, The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets explores forbidden love, family dynamics, the search for identity, and recovery from loss.

Ida, James and Jackson are sympathetic characters who are struggling to find roots in the face of mostly absent parenting. And they turn to each other – kids whose names begin with letters proximal to each other in the alphabet. This alphabetic coincidence is symbolic of their closeness, not only in geography, but in life experience and need which creates an intimacy and interdependency that devolves into something unhealthy. For James, the slip is into mental illness; but for Jackson and Ida, the result is an unraveling of their relationship altogether. Jackson’s repressed anger emerges through sleepwalking and violence – first toward objects, and then towards Ida. When Jackson moves on, Ida is left to wonder who she is without her childhood friend and lover.

The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets is a bittersweet, often sad, coming of age novel. Kathleen Alcott deftly brings to life her characters with prose both lyrical and original. When we meet Ida she is reflecting back on her childhood – the loss of her mother, the complex relationship which develops between she and Jackson, the simple needs of a child who is feeling around in the dark and navigating the complicated path toward adulthood. Ida’s pain reverberates on the page – it is tangible and difficult and at times feels unbearable. Alcott captures the despair perfectly. But despite the drape of sadness in this story, Alcott does not leave her readers completely bereft of hope. Ida, James and Jackson morph and grow, they slip apart and drift back together…and through their journey luminous truths emerge to heal their broken hearts.

The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets will appeal to readers who love literary fiction. This debut novel makes Kathleen Alcott an author to watch.

Recommended.

Mailbox Monday – November 26, 2012

Welcome to this week’s Mailbox Monday and which is hosted by Kathy at Bermuda Onion this month. Visit the dedicated blog for the memeto see the complete tour schedule in the right sidebar.

Here is what showed up at my house this week:

Wanderers: Stories by Edward Belfar (Stephen F. Austin University Press, June 2012) arrived direct from the author. This debut collection of short fiction takes the reader to a piano bar in Rome, a hospital bed, a train traveling between Nairobi and Mombasa, and the bleachers at Yankee Stadium where the characters struggle to navigate geographical and emotional terrain in their search for hope, redemption, and love. Several stories are set in Kenya.  Two linked stories trace the arc of a doomed marriage. I love discovering new short fiction and I am looking forward to reading this book.

Edward Belfar is a Long Island native who now lives with his wife in Maryland and works as a writer and editor. His fiction has appeared in Shenandoah, Tampa Review, Confrontation, Natural Bridge, and numerous other publications. His short story “Errors” was chosen as the winning entry in the Sport Literature Association’s 2008 fiction competition. Wanderers is his first book. Learn more about Belfar and his work by visiting the author’s website.

The good folks at Tor-Forge sent me a finished copy of Silver Cross by B. Kent Anderson (November 2012). This sequel to Cold Glory centers around a vast conspiracy involving a letter from Napoleon III to Confederate president Jefferson Davis, pledging French aid to the Confederacy for the “Silver Cross.” As horrifying acts of domestic terrorism erupt throughout the country, Journey and Tolman seek an answer to the 150-year-old riddle before it’s too late.

B. Kent Anderson is an award-winning novelist, journalist, and broadcaster. He is the author of the thrillers Cold Glory (Forge Books, 2011) and Silver Cross (Forge, 2012).  Under the pseudonym David Kent, he also authored the Department Thirty series of thrillers, including The Blackjack Conspiracy, which won the Oklahoma Book Award for Fiction in 2006. His magazine stories have received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists. He lives with his three sons in Oklahoma City. Learn more about Anderson and his work by visiting the author’s website.

Did any wonderful books arrive at YOUR house this week?

The Orphan Master’s Son – Book Review

The darkness inside your head is something your imagination fills with stories that have nothing to do with the real darkness around you. – from The Orphan Master’s Son, page 15 –

Jun Do is growing up in a North Korean work house for orphans, but he is not an orphan – he is the son of the orphan master. His mother is lost to him, although he yearns to know her. And as he grows and learns the manipulations of power, Jun Do is noticed by those high up in the state. His life unfolds in unusual ways – he is employed as a professional kidnapper, stealing people from beaches and delivering them to the capital city; he works as a spy aboard a fishing boat where he spends his nights listening to the disembodied voices of Americans and other foreigners; and he is chosen to travel to Texas with “diplomats” where he meets an American senator. During all these adventures, Jun Do is tasked with sorting out the right moves to allow for his survival. He must invent outrageous stories, and figure out the shifting allegiances in the government. Eventually he is imprisoned where he is exposed to starvation and torture before he escapes in a daring feat of murder and concealment of identity. Jun Do’s fate is to  ultimately meet face to face with the country’s leader where he bravely takes a stand to save the life of a beautiful actress he has loved from afar.

Adam Johnson’s second novel is a robust tangle of intrigue and corruption in a country very few outsiders understand. North Korea is perhaps one of the most secretive governments in the world, and Johnson gives his readers a peek into what life may be like in a country where individual freedom and identity is sacrificed and stifled. Jun Do is first introduced as a young boy, and so the novel is a bit of a coming of age story. Early on, survival depends not only on who he knows, but how he can manipulate events so they are acceptable to the all-knowing government forces. Throughout Jun Do’s life, conspiracy theories are voiced as fact and lent legitimacy by being repeated over and over again. When governments control everything, including thought and identity, ridiculous theories somehow become accepted as truth.

It did sound a little paranoid when the Second Mate said it out loud. But the truth was the idea of conspiracy appealed to Jun Do. That people were in communication, that things had a design, that there was intention, significance, and purpose in what people did – he needed to believe this. – from The Orphan Master’s Son, page 47 –

It is this idea of lost identity, that resonated the most for me. Jun Do longs to know the identity of his mother. Later Jun Do becomes someone he is not in order to save the life of the woman he loves. People create stories about their lives which are far-fetched, untrue, and yet define who they are in the eyes of the government.

When you have a subject’s biography, there is nothing between the citizen and the state. That’s harmony, that’s the idea our nation is founded upon. Sure, some of the our subject’s stories are sweeping and take months to record, but if there’s one commodity we have no shortage of in North Korea, it’s forever. – from The Orphan Master’s Son, page 181 –

The Orphan Master’s Son is divided into two parts – the first narrated in the third person through the eyes of Jun Do as a child and a young man. The second half of the book is devoted to Jun Do as “Commander Ga” following his escape from a prison work camp. This latter half of the book has an other worldly feel to it as it moves from the voice of the government, to the voices of the men tasked with learning the truth about “Commander Ga,” to the underlying love story of Jun Do and Sun Moon. The narration of the novel is unsettling. Nothing is as it seems and truth is elusive.

I was honored to meet Adam Johnson and listen to him speak while attending Booktopia in Santa Cruz this fall. He was able to do something few Americans have been able to do: visit North Korea. He shared with his audience that it is hard to find a human portrait of North Korea and all information is very controlled. It is a crime for North Koreans to speak to foreigners; in fact, foreigners are only allowed to visit the capital of Pyongyang where their visit is restricted and managed by handlers. Johnson’s novel is his interpretation of life in this country where the history of torture and imprisonment is hard to imagine. What Johnson does so well in his book is to find that human portrait hidden from view. Jun Do becomes the heart of the people – a man searching for truth, beauty and love in a country where those things are elusive.

The Orphan Master’s Son is a dense and complex novel that deserves more than one reading. This would be an excellent book to be dissected by book clubs. Readers who love literary fiction and who enjoy complex characters will want to read this novel. It should be noted that The Orphan Master’s Son is not an easy read – it is disturbing and filled with imagery of life in a society which does not honor individuality. There were moments when I simply closed the book for awhile, unable to go on. But for those readers who stick with it, this is an unforgettable portrait a country and the people who survive under the most difficult of circumstances.

Highly Recommended.

 

Mailbox Monday – November 19, 2012

Welcome to this week’s Mailbox Monday and which is hosted by Kathy at Bermuda Onion this month. Visit 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:

A Winter Dream by Richard Paul Evans arrived from Simon & Schuster (November 2012). The #1 bestselling master of the holiday novel re-imagines the classic story of Joseph and the coat of many colors, presenting a modern story of family and forgiveness. From the publisher:

Joseph Jacobson is the twelfth of thirteen siblings, all of whom are employed by their father’s successful Colorado advertising company. But underneath the success runs a poisonous undercurrent of jealousy; Joseph is his father’s favorite and the focus of his brothers’ envy and hatred. When the father seems ready to anoint Joseph as his heir, the brothers make their move, forcing Joseph from the company and his Denver home, severing his ties to his parents and ending his relationship with his soon-to-be fianceé. Alone and lonely, Joseph must start a new life.

Joseph joins a Chicago advertising agency where his creativity helps him advance high up in the company. He also finds hope for a lasting love with April, a kind woman with a secret. However, all secrets hold consequences, and when Joseph learns the truth about April’s past, his world is again turned upside down. Finally, Joseph must confront his own difficult past in order to make his dreams for the future come true.

Watch the book trailer:

Richard Paul Evans is the #1 bestselling author of The Christmas Box. Each of his twenty novels has been a New York Times bestseller. There are more than 15 million copies of his books in print worldwide, translated into more than twenty-four languages. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the American Mothers Book Award, the Romantic Times Best Women’s Novel of the Year Award, the German Audience Gold Award for Romance, two Religion Communicators Council Wilbur Awards, the Washington Times Humanitarian of the Century Award, and the Volunteers of America National Empathy Award. He lives with his wife, Keri, and their five children in Salt Lake City, Utah. Learn more about Evans and his work by visiting the author’s website.

Did any wonderful books arrive at YOUR home this week?

Winner – Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm

Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version by Philip Pullman
Viking (November 12, 2012)
406 pages

Thank you to all who entered the contest to win a copy of this classic book…but there can only be one winner and tonight I used Random.org to choose the lucky person.

Congratulations to:

Natasha from 1330V Blog

I’ve sent your mailing address to the publisher, Natasha, and they’ll be mailing out your book. Enjoy!

For those of you who did not win, I hope you’ll consider purchasing the book!

Flight Behavior – Book Review

A small shift between cloud and sun altered the daylight, and the whole landscape intensified, brightening before her eyes. The forest blazed with its own internal flame. “Jesus,” she said, not calling for help, she and Jesus weren’t that close, but putting her voice in the world because nothing else present made sense. – from Flight Behavior –

Dellarobia’s life changed at seventeen when an unplanned pregnancy forced her into marriage…the same year she was orphaned when her mother succumbed to cancer. Despite a miscarriage, she stayed in her marriage to Cub, a man whose life is defined by his parents – the rigid Bear and his opinionated and religious wife, Hester. Now, ten years later, Dellarobia is disillusioned with her life as mom to two young children, barely scraping by on a small sheep farm in Feathertown, Tennessee on the edge of the Appalachian mountains. She longs for a brighter future, a more romantic relationship than the one she has with Cub, and an escape from the poverty and sameness of each day. So one day she heads up the mountain to consummate a tryst with the telephone guy. But instead of discovering love,  Dellarobia finds the trees on the mountain aflame with Monarch butterflies. Believing this to be a message from God, she turns back down the mountain and vows to stay in her marriage and make it work. The butterflies soon become a sensation, bringing a team of scientists to Dellarobia and Cub’s farm and upending the tenuous balance in a family which is living on the edge.

Barbara Kingsolver’s newest novel explores the impact of global warming and the divide between science and religion. Kingsolver lightens these heavy themes with warm hearted, genuine characters and a finely wrought sense of humor balanced by poignancy. Dellarobia is an insightful, smart woman who has been denied an education. She loves her kids. She grapples with her faith. She longs for a life of beauty and meaning. She is one of those characters who a reader can get behind even though she is far from perfect.

Kingsolver lays down a dilemma for Dellarobia:  Should she stay in her life and make it work, or should she take flight? Her journey is  symbolized by that of the butterflies – insects who migrate thousands of miles even though they have never been shown the way. What choices do we have when faced with potential catastrophe and the unknown? How do we determine truth? What factors influence our decisions and beliefs?

I am a huge Kingsolver fan. I love her beautiful prose, her complex characters, her sense of humor, and the relevancy of her themes. I expected to love this book, and it did not disappoint me. Critics of the global warming argument may be put off by the underlying message regarding the dire nature of environmental change, but no one can fault Kingsolver’s imagination and ability to bring to life a set of characters facing one of the most controversial topics facing this generation. It is her skill at character development against the backdrop of nature where Kingsolver shines, and in Dellarobia, she has given her readers a character who is truly memorable.

Highly Recommended.

FTC Disclosure: I was sent this book by the publisher for review on my blog. Thank you to TLC Book Tours for giving me the opportunity to share this novel with my readers. Please visit the tour page for links to more reviews.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Barbara Kingsolver is the author of eight works of fiction, including the novels The LacunaThe Poisonwood BibleAnimal Dreams, and The Bean Trees, as well as books of poetry, essays, and creative nonfiction. Her most recent work of nonfiction is the enormously influential bestsellerAnimal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life. Kingsolver’s work has been translated into more than twenty languages and has earned literary awards and a devoted readership at home and abroad. In 2000, she was awarded the National Humanities Medal, our country’s highest honor for service through the arts. She lives with her family on a farm in southern Appalachia.

Learn more about Barbara Kingsolver at her website and connect with her on Facebook.

Mailbox Monday – November 12, 2012

Welcome to this week’s Mailbox Monday and which is hosted by Kathy at Bermuda Onion this month. Visit 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:

Ecco/Harper Collins sent me a hard cover edition of The Stockholm Octavo by Karen Engelmann (November 2012). Isn’t that cover spectacular? This is a November Indie Next Pick selection and it has been getting some great buzz. Salon. com calls the book “a bonbon box filled with treats designed to appeal to lovers of literary historical thrillers.” Publisher’s Weekly says The Stockholm Octavoneatly mix(es) revolutionary politics with the erotic tension and cutthroat rivalry of the female conspirators – whose exquisite, one-of-a-kind fans are both weapons and prizes.”  The novel is a history-bound but character driven story which transports readers to a world of intrigue and magic, a dazzling era of fashion and frivolity that marked the pinnacle of a golden age. Set in Stockholm in the 1790s, The Stockhold Octavo uses an authentic deck of historic European playing cards to introduce its characters’ Octavos and predict their futures. As the plot thickens, these 8-card illustrations in the book become increasingly elaborate, adding a wonderfully decorative puzzle-like element to the text.

From the publisher:

Life is close to perfect for Emil Larsson, a self-satisfied bureaucrat in the Office of Excise and Customs in Stockholm of 1791.  He is a true man of The Town―drinker, card player, and contented bachelor.  Until one evening, when Mrs. Sofia Sparrow, proprietor of an exclusive gaming parlor and fortune teller, shares with him a vision she has had —a golden path that will lead to love and connection for Emil. She offers to lay an Octavo for him, a spread of eight cards that augur the eight individuals who can help him realize this vision ―if he can find them.

Once on the colorful cobblestone streets of this charming northern city, as you pass by ladies in extravagant silks and gentlemen in powdered wigs, the real question you must ask is which of these exquisitely costumed individuals will be the one to direct the course of history? To shift the balance in favor of one fate or another? Will it be the stunning Baroness Uzanne with the artful fan?   Johanna, the young blossom of an apprentice at her side?  Mrs. Sparrow, the woman who runs the house of cards and tells the fortune of the King?  Our hero Emil Larsson, the red-cloaked secretaire?  Or perhaps the gloved calligrapher Master Fredrik Lind?  The Nordén French family of fan makers?  The ambitious and beautiful Anna Maria Plomgren? Or will it be King Gustav III or his brother Duke Karl? And, how are they all linked to the tumultuous goings on in France at the same time? 

Check out this fabulous interview with the author on CBS Author Talk.

Karen Engelmann is an American writer and designer. She was born and raised in the American Midwest, then moved to Sweden after completing university studies in drawing and design. The city of Malmö was home base for eight years. She is the 2011 winner of the American Scandinavian Society Cultural Award Grant and now lives in Dobbs Ferry, New York.  The Stockholm Octavo is her first novel. Learn more about Engelmann and her work by visiting the author’s website.

A Thousand Pardons by Jonathan Dee (March 2013) arrived from Random House. Dee’s work has been recommended “for readers of Jonathan Franzen and Richard Russo” and described as “masterful works of literary fiction.” In his newest novel, Dee raises a trenchant question: what do we really want when we ask for forgiveness?

From the publisher:

Once a privileged and loving couple, the Armsteads have now reached a breaking point. Ben, a partner in a prestigious law firm, has become unpredictable at work and withdrawn at home—a change that weighs heavily on his wife, Helen, and their preteen daughter, Sara. Then, in one afternoon, Ben’s recklessness takes an alarming turn, and everything the Armsteads have built together unravels, swiftly and spectacularly.

Thrust back into the working world, Helen finds a job in public relations and relocates with Sara from their home in upstate New York to an apartment in Manhattan. There, Helen discovers she has a rare gift, indispensable in the world of image control: She can convince arrogant men to admit their mistakes, spinning crises into second chances. Yet redemption is more easily granted in her professional life than in her personal one.

As she is confronted with the biggest case of her career, the fallout from her marriage, and Sara’s increasingly distant behavior, Helen must face the limits of accountability and her own capacity for forgiveness.

Jonathan Dee is the author of four novels, most recently Palladio. His novel, The Privileges, was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Dee is a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine, a frequent contributor to Harper’s, and a former senior editor of The Paris Review. He teaches in the graduate writing programs at Columbia University and the New School.

Did any wonderful books arrive at YOUR house this week?