Daily Archives: December 2, 2012

Mailbox Monday – December 3, 2012

Welcome to this week’s Mailbox Monday and which is hosted by Suko’s Notebook 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:

The Death of Fidel Perez by Elizabeth Huergo (April 2013) arrived from Unbridled Books. From the publisher:

On July 26, 2003, the 50th anniversary of the Moncada Army Barracks raid that sparked the Cuban revolution, something unexpected happens. When Fidel Pérez and his brother accidentally tumble to their deaths from their Havana balcony, the neighbors’ outcry, “Fidel has fallen,” is misinterpreted by those who hear it. The wishful mistake quickly ripples outward on the running cries of the people, and it gloriously reawakens a suppressed city. Three Habaneros in particular are affected by the news—an elderly street visionary named Saturnina, the remorseful Professor Pedro Valle, and his impressionable firebrand of a student, Camilo—all haunted by the past and now, once again, made to confront a new future, perhaps another revolution. Their stories are beautifully intertwined as they converge in the frantic crowd that gathers in La Plaza de la Revolución. Both insightful and personal, by turns humorous and poignant, The Death of Fidel Pérez reflects the broken promises of the Cuban Revolution. Elizabeth Huergo’s breathtaking debut fairly rings with the triumphant heart of a nation.

Elizabeth Huergo was born in Havana and immigrated to the United States at an early age as a political refugee. A published poet and story writer, she lives in Virginia. The Death of Fidel Pérez is her first novel.

Plume sent me a copy of Dwarf: A Memoir by Tiffanie Didonato with Rennie Dyball (November 2012). This is a memoir of “grit and transformation for anyone who has been told something was impossible and then went on to do it anyway.” Tiffanie DiDonato was born with dwarfism, but she was also born with a serious case of optimism. She decided to undergo a series of painful surgeries that gave her an unprecedented 14 inches of height—and the independence she never thought she’d have. After her surgeries, she learned to drive, went to college, and led a normal life. She volunteered to write letters to troops stationed abroad, and one of those Marine pen pals ultimately became her husband. Dwarf is described as a “moving and at times funny testament to the power of sheer determination.”

Watch this ABC News interview with the author:

Tiffanie Didonato graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth with a BFA in writing and communications. She is now a weekly columnist for the online magazine, Encore, where she also runs an online book club.

After nine years as a reporter and writer at People magazine, Rennie Dyball is now an editor for People.com. She has co-authored two books, Christian Siriano’s Fierce Style, and A Famous Dog’s Life with Hollywood animal trainer Sue Chipperton. She graduated from Penn State University and now lives with her husband in New York City.

Did any wonderful books arrive at YOUR house this week?

Sunday Salon – December 2, 2012

December 2, 2012

Good morning and welcome to The Sunday Salon – a place where readers gather to talk about books! Check out the Facebook page for more links and to play along.

I realized this morning that it has been a whole month since I last posted a Sunday Salon.  How did December get here so quickly?! November flew by and I actually read some wonderful books last month. Here is a round-up of the books I’ve read since my last Salon post:

I read Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver for a TLC Book Tour and loved it (read my review). Kingsolver is one of those authors who I adore. She is the consummate story-teller, and even if you don’t agree with her “message,” it is hard to deny her skill at stringing words together. Flight Behavior is set in the Appalachians and deals with the theme of global warming and weather change…but it also takes a hard look at choices the we face in our personal lives.  How do we determine truth? What factors influence our decisions and beliefs?

I enjoyed a trip to Santa Cruz in October for Booktopia, and while there got to meet author Adam Johnson and listen to him talk about his extraordinary novel The Orphan Master’s Son. I finished the book last month and found it to be a dense and complex novel which is an unforgettable portrait of a country and the people who survive under the most difficult of circumstances (read my review). Not an easy read, this novel is rich in political satire and filled with memorable characters. I have a feeling this is a book which will generate much discussion in book clubs.

The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets by Kathleen Alcott is an unusual coming of age story that explores forbidden love, family dynamics, the search for identity, and recovery from loss (read my review). I found this debut novel to be sad and bittersweet, but also lyrical and original. Alcott establishes herself as an author to watch with this compelling book…I hope you’ll pick up a copy.

It is no secret that I love Peirene Press and their lovely works in translation. Sea of Ink by Richard Weihe is another successful novella which brings to life an artist and poet from 17th century China (read my review). Translated from the German, the book includes eleven of the author’s works of art. Although less than 200 pages in length, the novella captures the life of Zhu Da, a descendent of the royalty making up the Ming Dynasty which ruled China for 276 years (1368–1644). Do yourself a favor and read Sea of Ink – for that matter, pick up all the previous books published by Peirene Press…they are magnificent!

Another of my favorite publishers is Unbridled Books – so I was not surprised to fully enjoy Love Slave by Jennifer Speigel (read my review). Set in contemporary New York City, Love Slave features a wonderful protagonist by the name of Sybil Weatherfield. Sybil is completely flawed, and so she is also completely believable. I found myself rooting for her to find the meaning in her life she so craved. Delightful and quirky, Love Slave was well worth my time.

My current read is The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer which has been collecting dust on my TBR pile for far too long. This book is due for discussion in the Chunky Book Club mid-month (over on the Chunkster Challenge blog), so I hope you’ll consider joining us. Orringer was long-listed for the Orange Prize in 2011 for this book. It takes place during WWII and centers around three brothers from Hungary. I’m not too far into this chunkster (about 50 pages), but I’m already hooked. Look for my review sometime later this month.

I also want to mention a book giveaway I am hosting. City of Dark Magic by Magnus Flyte was  released just this month through Penguin and although I have not yet read it, it looks fantastic. The giveaway is open to US mailing addresses through December 7th and the book (along with a set of themed buttons) will make FIVE WINNERS very happy, I’m sure. Go to this post to enter.

So that pretty much wraps up my book round-up! I’m hoping to dip into Julie Orringer’s lovely book a little later, and perhaps work on a quilt which I am hoping to complete in the next 2 weeks. What about you? What are you doing on this first Sunday in December? Whatever it is, I hope at some point it involves a great book!