Daily Archives: January 27, 2013

Mailbox Monday – January 28, 2013

mailboxsqurrielWelcome to this week’s Mailbox Monday and which is hosted by Lori at Lori’s Reading Corner 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:

Paradise Guest HouseBallantine Books sent me an Advance Readers Edition of The Paradise Guest House (March 2013) for a TLC Book Tour in March and April. Watch for my review on April 16th. The novel is about one woman’s journey to Bali in search of love, renewal, and a place to call home and is being compared to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love and Alex Garland’s The Beach. When Jamie, an American adventure guide, is sent on assignment to Bali she finds herself caught up in nightclub bombings. A year later, haunted by what she has seen, Jamie returns to Bali looking for Gabe, a man who saved her life in the bombings. But is she ready to open her heart to love? The novel, in part, is based on the 2002 terrorist bombing of Bali.

Ellen Sussman is the author of the novels French Lessons and On a Night Like This, both national bestsellers. She has published numerous essays in anthologies, including The Other Woman, and a dozen of her short stories have appeared in literary and commercial magazines. Sussman has taught at Pepperdine, UCLA and Rutgers University. She now teaches through Stanford Continuing Studies and in private classes out of her home. She has two daughters and lives with her husband in Northern California. Learn more about Sussman and her work by visiting the author’s website.

WokeUpLonelyAuthor Fiona Maazel sent me an Advance Readers Edition of her upcoming novel Woke Up Lonely (Graywolf Press, April 2013).  This is what the author writes about the book: “It’s about a cult leader, his ex-wife, and the four people he takes hostage. It’s about loneliness in America. It’s also about North Korea. A city underneath the city of Cincinnati. Cloud seeding. Espionage. Eavesdropping. It’s also, you know, a big old love story.” This looks like a fascinating book and I am eager to read it.

Fiona Maazel is the author of the novel Last Last Chance (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2008; Picador Paperback, 2009). She is winner of the Bard Prize for Fiction and a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35″ honoree. Her work has appeared in Anthem, Bomb, Book Forum, Boston Book Review, The Common, Conjunctions, Fence, GQ, Glamour, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Millions, Mississippi Review, N+1, The National Post, The New York Times, The NY Times Sunday Book Review, Salon, This American Life, Tin House, The Village Voice, The Yale Review, and elsewhere. She teaches at Brooklyn College, New York University, Columbia, and Princeton, and was appointed the Picador Guest Professor at the University of Leipzig, Germany, for the spring of 2012. She lives in Brooklyn, NY. Learn more about Maazel and her work by visiting the author’s website.

Did any fantastic books arrive at YOUR home this week?


The Colour of Milk – Book Review

ColourOfMilki am stopping now for i need to lay down and rest. there is much to tell for you need to know it all and then you will understand. my arm aches. my hand has the cramps. if i close my eyes i can go back and remember everything. – from The Colour of Milk –

Mary is fourteen, born with a crippled leg on a farm in England in the early part of the nineteenth century. When her story opens, the year is 1831. Mary and her three sisters are growing up under the iron hand of their brutal father. They slave in the fields all day, a thankless and endless job. It is Mary who stands up to her father’s rage, who speaks her mind, who cares deeply about her disabled grandfather who lives in the apple room. When Mary’s father sends her to live with a local vicar and his ill wife, Mary goes but not without protest. She now works as a housemaid and her wages go to her father. She sleeps in a bed beneath the eaves, rises early each day, and observes the new world of the vicarage which surprisingly offers her a chance to learn to read and write. But the joy of books comes with a price – one which will change Mary forever.

The Colour of Milk is written in the brave voice of Mary whose courage, humor, and spunk shine through her awkward sentences. Mary’s life is one of toil, yet she finds the beauty in fields and animals, the changing colors of the sky, and the simplicity of her life. She knows that life should be more, but she does not know how to label her dreams.

i watched as the sky changed its colours and the sun climbed upwards. when i stood up i could see the farm and the shape of the house and the lane and the fields. what was it i would dream if i could dream something and it would come true? what was it i would say if anyone ever asked me? i didn’t know. i knew i had dreams but i didn’t know what they were. – from The Colour of Milk –

The last thing Mary expects from life is the gift of reading and writing. The pain of being torn from her beloved grandfather and sisters and mother is eased initially by the simple joy of learning.

i looked along the lines till i found three of them. the the the. i closed the book and leaned over and blew out the candle. the smell of the taper was in the room. an owl called outside the window. – from The Colour of Milk –

As Mary’s words took me deeper into her life, I found myself feeling uneasy. It was clear she was writing retrospectively and as the end of her story grew near it began to vibrate with apprehension. And when the ending did come, it made me gasp.

I cannot say more about this book without ruining it for the reader. Leyshon’s writing is powerful, incredibly moving, and filled with a grace that many authors are not able to find in their prose. This is a penetrating and compelling look into the life of one young girl during a time in history when women were considered property and had no real rights. It is shocking, empathetic and provocative.

When I turned the final page of this slim novel, I had to sit for awhile allowing the power of Mary’s words to wash over me as tears welled in my eyes. I would not be surprised to see The Colour of Milk on the prize lists this year, but even if it is not recognized as the great literature that I think it is, it will certainly be on my list of best books read in 2013.

Highly, highly recommended.


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

The Sunday Salon – January 27, 2013

Sunday SalonJanuary 27, 2013

Good morning and welcome to The Sunday Salon. Read more blogger posts by checking out the Facebook Page links.

WanderersI’ve had a mixed week of reading. Earlier in the week I finished The Wanderers: Stories by Edward Belfar and posted a review as part of a TLC Book Tour. The stories were centered around characters who find themselves disillusioned, failing at marriage or jobs or relationships, and searching for some kind of redemption and hope. The writing is good – and the characters stayed with me long after I finished reading their stories, but the collection has a feel of despair about it too. I am offering a giveaway of the book (thanks to the publisher) to my US and Canadian readers. The contest is open through January 29th. Go to this post to enter.

DeathOfBeesMy next read was The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell which I must admit was just way too dark and depressing for me (read my review). This book has been getting mostly rave reviews around the blog-o-sphere so I expected to enjoy it. Despite fluid writing and a narrative which moves well, the novel left me feeling disheartened rather than hopeful.

ColourOfMilkSo, I was a bit leery about picking up another book with dark themes…but I was stunned and blown away by The Colour of Milk by Nell Leyshon. I have not yet written my review of this book because, to be honest, I just needed a little time to absorb what I had just read. I read this novel in just under 24 hours – putting it aside for only short periods of time when I had to do something else. I just could not stop reading Mary’s story – written in the first person and in the compelling voice of an illiterate English farm girl. I will tell you this – I did not expect the ending which  made me gasp and whisper “Oh no.” The Colour of Milk is a 5 star book for me – and don’t be surprised to see this slim novel on my Best of 2013 list at the end of the year. I hope to have a review up by the end of the day.

WhiteDogFellLast night I picked up White Dog Fell From the Sky by Eleanor Morse. The cadence, style and gorgeous writing reminds me of novels by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. I quickly fell into the story of Isaac Muthethe who has escaped danger and apartheid in South Africa for the uncertainty of Botswana in 1976. And yes, there is in fact, a white dog in the story. I have a feeling this one will be quick read for me.

Yesterday was rainy and yucky at our house, but today the sun is shining brightly and the sky is a brilliant blue. I think Kip, Raven and I will have to take advantage of the weather and go for a walk later. I will also be reading Eleanor Morse’s book after a bit of quilting. Sounds like a perfect Sunday to me!

How about you? What is in YOUR plans for today? Whatever you are up to, I hope, at some point, it includes a great book!