Category Archives: Events

The Last Good Paradise – Book Review

LastGoodParadiseNow their life in tatters, Richard went off diving. Where had that protective, nurturing Richard gone? Amusing himself despite her torment. Ten years, every year since law school, lopped off. Ann worried because she knew from long professional experience that relationships only continued on some basis of parity, to be determined by the two parties. Where was that parity now? – from The Last Good Paradise –

Ann is a lawyer who is disillusioned by her corporate position and eager to support Richard, her husband, in opening their own restaurant. But when their life comes apart at the seams, they decide to empty their accounts. leave responsibility behind, and seek escape in a tropical paradise. Once on a remote island, they connect with a burnt out rock star and his young girlfriend, the flawed owner of the resort who has deep regrets about the path his life has taken, and a seemingly discordant couple who are native to the island and help run the resort.

Tatjana Soli’s newest novel explores the idea of failed dreams, the search for an ever more illusive paradise, and the pull of the technical, fast paced corporate world of computers, high finance, and success.

Richard and Ann seem like the typical all-American couple who are set on a path to success only to have their dreams shattered. When they escape their “real” lives to find freedom in “paradise,” they discover that paradise is not defined by ocean breezes, blue waters and endless sunny days. Rather, the idea of happiness and finding paradise is an inner journey and is linked to the connections we have with others.

Soli introduces some quirky characters and intersperses humor with tragedy to engage her readers in this modern tale of a group of people searching for meaning in a complex and isolating world.

I was prepared to love this novel because I adored The Lotus Eaters by this same author (read my review). But despite good writing, I felt a bit disconnected from the characters who at times felt oversimplified. I wondered if Soli intended to create caricatures to emphasis the outrageous and amplify her characters’ personalities. Instead the novel feel a bit flat for me.

Readers who enjoy novels firmly grounded in our contemporary world, will find this an interesting work of fiction. Read other reviews of this book by visiting the TLC Book Tour page and scroll down to the links.


About the Author:

Tatjana Soli is a novelist and short story writer. Her New York Times bestselling debut novel, The Lotus Eaters, was the winner of the James Tait Black Prize, a New York Times Notable Book, and a finalist for the LA Times Book Award. Her critically acclaimed second novel The Forgetting Tree was also a New York Times Notable book . Her stories have appeared in ZyzzyvaBoulevard, and The Sun, and have been listed in Best American Short Stories. She lives with her husband in Southern California.

tlclogoFTC Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher for review on my blog as part of the book tour through TLC Book Tours


2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas – Book Review and Giveaway

2AM Not today, Philadelphia. Bring your sorry shit back tomorrow. – from 2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas –

Madeleine Altimari is only nine years old, but don’t let that fool you…this is one brave, independent-minded kid who doesn’t let reality get in the way of her dreams. Madeleine has been practicing singing all her life. She just needs the chance to prove her voice to others.

Sarina Greene is the kind of teacher most fifth grade  kids wish they had, and she’s back in Philadelphia after a divorce wondering what it will be like to meet up with her old high school crush again. Insecure and disappointed by what life has so far dished her way, Sarina wonders if everything could change if she just took a chance.

Lorca is dealing with an estranged girlfriend and a teenage son (who only wants to play guitar) when suddenly he is faced with the possibility of losing his business unless he can come up with $30,000.

All three of these characters come together on the Eve of Christmas Eve at The Cat’s Pajama’s, an aging jazz club whose history seeps out into the smokey atmosphere and captivates its audience. Coincidence and maybe a little magic unite to open up a world of possibility and joy for this novel’s protagonists.

Marie-Helene Bertino has written a charming story about bad luck, human kindness, and the dazzling lure of possibility. Witty and surprising, the novel celebrates the little things in life which can lead us to inner change and happiness. Madeleine is the star of the novel, a kid who has lost her mother and is forced to care for her grieving father, but never gives up her dream of singing. She’s tough, has a mouth like a sailor and has a way of always coming out on top no matter what life throws her way.

Mixing literary fiction with a bit of magical realism, Bertino has crafted a fine first novel that will captivate readers.

Highly recommended.


About the Author:

MH BertinoMarie-Helene Bertino is the author of the story collection Safe as Houses, which won the 2012 Iowa Short Fiction Prize and The Pushcart Prize, and was long-listed for The Story Prize and The Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize. An Emerging Writer Fellow at New York’s Center for Fiction, she has spent six years as an editor and writing instructor at One Story.

tlclogoFTC Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher for review as part of a TLC Book Tour.

Book Giveaway:

I am happy to be able to offer a copy of this book to a lucky winner living either in the US or Canada. The winner will receive a new book from the Publisher (Crown) after the conclusion of the tour (the end of this month).

  • To enter to win please complete the survey at the bottom of this post.
  • Comments left on this post do not enter you in the contest – you must complete the survey
  • Contest will run from August 17th through August 26th, 2014 at 5:00 pm PST.
  • I will draw one winner randomly from all entries and announce their name here on my blog on the 27th of August. I will also contact the winner via email.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

8Wikipedia: Year 8 was a leap year starting on Sunday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Camillus and Quinctilianus. The denomination 8 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.

Mailbox Monday – December 23, 2013

mailboxsqurrielWelcome to this week’s Mailbox Monday and which is hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader. Visit the dedicated blog for the meme to see the complete tour schedule in the right sidebar.

Because I am making changes on my blog for 2014, this will be my last Mailbox Monday post. I may still post about new books from time to time, but I will no longer be doing a formal mailbox post.

Here are the books that have arrived at my house over the last several weeks:

gretelanddarkcoverGretel and The Dark by Eliza Granville (Penguin UK, February 2014). This book is described as “a dark, distinctive and addictively compelling novel set in fin-de-siecle Vienna and Nazi Germany – with a dizzying final twist.” The publisher recommends it to those readers who loved The Book Thief (that would be me), Pan’s Labyrinth, The boy in the Striped Pyjamas (me again), and The Bloody Chamber.

This is one of those books that I think I might really like – and I’m planning on reading it soon. Check out the fun packaging it came in from the publisher:


Eliza Granville was born in Worcestershire and currently lives in Bath. She has had a lifelong fascination with the enduring quality of fairy tales and their symbolism, and the idea for Gretel and The Dark was sparked when she became interested in the emphasis placed on these stories during the Third Reich.

GoldenStateGolden State by Michelle Richmond (Bantam Books, February 2014). I received this book from the publisher through Library Thing’s Early Review Program. I loved Richmond’s The Year of Fog (read my review) and so I was interested in reading her newest novel. Description from the publisher:

Doctor Julie Walker has just signed her divorce papers when she receives news that her younger sister, Heather, has gone into labor. Though theirs is a strained relationship, Julie sets out for the hospital to be at her sister’s side—no easy task since the streets of San Francisco are filled with tension and strife. Today is also the day that Julie will find herself at the epicenter of a violent standoff in which she is forced to examine both the promising and the painful parts of her past—her Southern childhood; her romance with her husband, Tom; her estrangement from Heather; and the shattering incident that led to her greatest heartbreak.

Michelle Richmond is the author of The Year of Fog, Dream of the Blue Room, and the award-winning story collection The Girl in the Fall-Away Dress. A native of Mobile, Alabama, Michelle lives with her husband and son in San Francisco, where she is at work on her next novel. Learn more about Richmond and her work by visiting the author’s website.

Did any great books arrive at YOUR house this week?

Ade – Book Review and Giveaway

AdeIt was like nothing penetrated until I began making my way toward him. And then it was as if I had been dying of emptiness, so readily did the world bleed into me. – from Ade, page 10 –

Farida is an American college student when she decides to journey overseas with her friend, Miriam. Together they explore new worlds, flying to Cairo and moving south. In Africa, Farida begins to discover a part of herself which she has never known before. She notices how the local people look like her, she begins to feel bound to them in a way which is hard to express.

This new world – with its Afro-Arab-Portuguese inhabitants with whom I shared bone structure and skin color, and whose brown eyes appraised me as if they knew me better than I knew myself – had claimed me in a way I had not known. The island was becoming my home. My mother’s prophecy was becoming manifest. – from Ade, page 45 –

And then she meets Ade, a Swahili man who lives off the coast of Kenya on an island which feels safe and idyllic. Miriam and Farida part ways, and Farida immerses herself in Ade’s culture, meeting his family and planning a life with him. But Africa is not the romantic place which Farida imagines – there is violence, political upheaval, and illnesses which are not easily treated far from America. As reality begins to intrude on Farida’s dreams, she must wrestle with love and make a heart-wrenching decision.

But it was more than this. Yes, I could see it now. It wasn’t him, it was me. I had done what I swore I would not do: I had romanticized Africa. I had accepted Ade’s life before I realized what it might mean for my own. – from Ade, page 102 –

Ade is Rebecca Walker’s debut novel – really more of a novella at a slim 112 pages. Walker’s prose shimmers with a light and rhythm which pulls the reader into Farida and Ade’s dreamlike world. At first, like Farida, the reader wants to believe in this magical place and in the possibility of love overcoming darkness. But, Walker allows glimpses into the dangers and pitfalls rife within Africa – the cultural divide between the America which Farida has grown up in and the rigidity of African paternalism and governmental chaos.

From my sheltered American perch, I imagined checks and balances, the rights of the individual, and judicial protection, even though history had shown me otherwise. – from Ade, page 78 –

Walker explores the big themes of identity, romantic idealism, and the impact of civil war on the lives of individuals. The writing is luminous and beautiful, the characters captivating. Long before the end of the story, the reader sees the conflict and watches as Farida slides toward a reality she has not yet imagined. It is tense and riveting – the kind of literature which holds the reader in its thrall while it comes to its inevitable conclusion.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book which is not just a love story, but an exploration of what it means to discover oneself in a different culture. It is about idealism vs. realism, seen through the eyes of a young adult as she moves out into the world. Readers who enjoy literary fiction will want to pick up a copy of Ade and experience this very talented, new voice in fiction.

Highly recommended.


tlclogoFTC Disclosure: This book was sent to me by the publisher as part of a TLC Book Tour.

Read more reviews by visiting the TLC Book Tour page.

Rebecca-Walker_72dpi_cDavid-Fenton-242x300ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rebecca Walker is the author of the best-selling memoirs Black, White and Jewish and Baby Love, and editor of the anthology Black Cool. She is also the editor of the anthologies To Be Real, What Makes a Man, and One Big Happy Family. Her writing has appeared in Bookforum,  Newsweek, Glamour, Marie Claire, The Washington Post, Vibe, and Interview, among many other publications, and she blogs regularly for The Root. Learn more about Walker and her work by visiting the author’s website.


  • Contest open from November 26 through December 3, 2013 at 5:00 pm PST.
  • Contest open for US and Canada mailing addresses only (no PO boxes)
  • To enter, leave a comment on this post telling me you would like to be entered.
  • I will draw ONE winner after 5:00 pm on December 3rd (PST).


Mailbox Monday – November 25, 2013

AutumnMailboxWelcome to this week’s Mailbox Monday and which is hosted by Crystal at I Totally Paused. Visit the dedicated blog for the meme to see the complete tour schedule in the right sidebar. Also please note: Marcia is looking for someone to take over the running of this meme – see her most recent post on the dedicated blog for more information.

I have been really remiss at posting weekly Mailboxes – and I am sorry for that, but life seems to be getting in the way of blogging these days. This Mailbox includes all the books I’ve received since the last time I post on November 4th.

PossibleLifeA Possible Life: A Novel in Five Love Stories by Sebastian Faulks (November 2013) arrived from Picador. I really enjoy connected short stories and this one looks particularly good. From the publisher:

Throughout this masterpiece of fiction, exquisitely drawn and unforgettable characters risk their bodies, hearts, and minds in pursuit of the manna of human connection. Between soldier and lover, parent and child, servant and master, and artist and muse, important pleasures and pains are born out of love, separations, and missed opportunities…

Listen to the author talk about the novel:

Sebastian Faulks is the author of  ten novels. They include the UK number one bestseller A Week in December; Human Traces; On Green Dolphin Street; Charlotte Gray, which was made into a film starring Cate Blanchett; and the classic Birdsong, which has sold more than three million copies and was recently adapted for television. In 2008, he was invited to write a James Bond novel, Devil May Care, to mark the centenary of Ian Fleming. In between books he wrote and presented the four-part television series Faulks on Fiction for the BBC. He lives in London with his wife and their three children. Learn more about Faulks and his work by visiting the author’s website.

TracksAuthor Genni Gunn had her publicist send me a copy of her book Tracks: Journeys in Time and Place (Signature Editions, October 2013) which is a collection of personal travel essays. Some of you may remember my review of Gunn’s novel Solitaria. The essays in Tracksrange across three continents, from Italy, where Genni Gunn was born and spent her early years, to Canada, Mexico and through Asia, where she has traveled many times, both reconnecting with her sister and witnessing the emergence of new political realities in Myanmar. Journeys into the new and unknown also trigger the inner journey to the realm of memory. These pieces dig deep into personal territory, exploring the ties of an unusually peripatetic family.

Genni Gunn is an author, musician and translator. Born in Trieste, she came to Canada when she was eleven. She has published nine books: three novels—Solitaria, Tracing Iris and Thrice Upon a Time; two short story collections—Hungers and On The Road; two poetry collections— Faceless and Mating in Captivity. As well, she has translated from Italian two collections of poems—Devour Me Too andTraveling in the Gait of a Fox by renowned Italian author, Dacia Maraini. Gunn has a B.F.A. and an M.F.A. from the University of British Columbia, and teaches Creative Writing at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. She lives in Vancouver. Learn more about Gunn and her work by visiting the author’s website.

GoodKingsBadKingsAlgonquin Books sent me a copy of Good Kings Bad Kings by Susan Nussbaum (November 2013) as part of the Library Thing Early Review Program. Nussbaum won the Bellwether Award for this novel which centers around a group of teenagers living in an institution for juveniles with disabilities.

This unfamiliar, isolated landscape is much the same as the world outside: friendships are forged, trust is built, love affairs are kindled, and rules are broken. But those who call it home have little or no control over their fate. Good Kings Bad Kings challenges our definitions of what it means to be disabled in a story told with remarkable authenticity and in voices that resound with humor and spirit.

Susan Nussbaum’s plays have been widely produced. Her play Mishuganismo is included in the anthology Staring Back: The Disability Experience from the Inside Out. In 2008 she was cited by the Utne Reader as one of “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World” for her work with girls with disabilities. This is her first novel.

ThirtyGirlsThe folks from Alfred A. Knopf sent me an Advance Readers Edition of Thirty Girls by Susan Minot ((February 2014). Set in war-torn Africa, Minot’s highly anticipated novel centers around Esther who is a Ugandan teenager abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army and forced to witness and commit unspeakable atrocities. Jane, an American journalist, travels to Africa, hoping to give a voice to children like Esther. Minot interweaves their stories, “giving us razor-sharp portraits of two extraordinary young women confronting displacement, heartbreak, and the struggle to wrest meaning from events that test them both in unimaginable ways.

Susan Minot’s first novel, Monkeys, was published in a dozen countries and received the Prix Femina Étranger in France. She is the author of Rapture, Lust & Other Stories, Folly, Evening, and Poems 4 A.M., and wrote the screenplay for Bernardo Bertolucci’s Stealing Beauty. View a complete list of titles available by Susan Minot from Random House here. Minot lives on an island in Maine.

ImpossibleExileOther Press sent me an Advance Readers Edition of The Impossible Exile by George Prochnik ((May 2014). From the publisher:

By the 1930s, Stefan Zweig had become the most widely translated living author in the world. His novels, short stories, and biographies were so compelling that they became instant best sellers. Zweig was also an intellectual and a lover of all the arts, high and low. Yet after Hitler’s rise to power, this celebrated writer who had dedicated so much energy to promoting international humanism plummeted, in a matter of a few years, into an increasingly isolated exile—from London to Bath to New York City, then Ossining, Rio, and finally Petrópolis—where, in 1942, in a cramped bungalow, he killed himself.

The Impossible Exile tells the tragic story of Zweig’s extraordinary rise and fall while it also depicts, with great acumen, the gulf between the world of ideas in Europe and in America, and the consuming struggle of those forced to forsake one for the other. It also reveals how Zweig embodied, through his work, thoughts, and behavior, the end of an era—the implosion of Europe as an ideal of Western civilization.

George Prochnik’s essays, poetry, and fiction have appeared in numerous journals. He taught English and American literature at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and has also worked as a therapist for the chronically mentally ill. He lives in New York City.

AshendenFinally, Simon & Schuster sent me a copy of Ashenden by Elizabeth Wilhide (November 2013). “When brother and sister Charlie and Ros discover that they have inherited Ashenden, the beautiful eighteenth-century English country house steeped in their family history, they face an important decision: Do they try to keep it or do they sell it?” The novel spans two and a half centuries, and the reader is introduced to the characters who have built the house, lived in it, loved it, and those who would subvert it to their own ends. Wilhide utilizes “upstairs and downstairs storylines intertwining to form a rich tapestry” to create “an evocative portrait of a house that is a character as compelling as the people who inhabit it.

Elizabeth Wilhide is the author of more than twenty books on interior design, decoration, and architecture and a coauthor and contributor of many more. Born in the United States, she moved to Britain in 1967, where she lives with her husband. Learn more about Wilhide and her work by visiting the author’s website.

Did any wonderful books arrive at YOUR house this week?

Sunday Salon – November 24, 2013

Sunday Salon

November 24, 2013

Good morning and welcome to this week’s edition of The Sunday Salon. Visit the Facebook Page for links to other bloggers’ posts.

The last time I posted a Salon post was way back on July 7th. This year has been one of ups and downs and lots of distractions. My reading is way down. I have been spending more time in my sewing room than curled up on the couch with a book. There are reasons, of course.

This weekend I took some time to update my blog (especially the prize lists) and caught up on some reviews that I had yet to write. I gazed at my towering to-be-read pile and felt some dismay. I don’t want to give up my blog, but I don’t want to feel the pressure of having to read and review books. So you may see some changes here come January 1st. Not huge changes, but changes nonetheless.

Today I thought I’d talk about the books I have read so far this month. The list is not long, but the books have been good.

WhatTheDogKnowsI started out the month finishing up What the Dog Knows by Cat Warren – which I loved. I rarely read nonfiction because I love, love, love fiction. BUT, this book kept me riveted. The writing is excellent and it was a subject that interested me. Check out my review.

ChasingKingofHeartsChasing the King of Hearts by Hanna Krall (and translated by Philip Boehm) is a Peirene Press novella. I love getting these beautifully crafted little books and, once again, I was not disappointed with the content (read my review). Krall survived WWII hiding in a cupboard, and in her slim book she has crafted fiction which was inspired by real life. The writing is simple, yet poetic. It is sad, but there is also humor. She gives voice to the thousands who perished at the hands of the Nazis, but also to those who survived in spite of the odds. If you love literary and translated fiction, you won’t want to miss this little gem.

QuietDellBrowsing through Barnes and Noble one rainy day earlier this month, I was drawn to Quiet Dell by Jayne Anne Phillips. I have her award winning book Lark and Termite on my stacks to be read…and I have heard such good things about her writing. Quiet Dell is based on a true story – that of serial killer Henry Powers who lured women to their deaths through lonely hearts ads during the Great Depression. Phillips spent some of her childhood in the town where the murders took place and her memories of that time are stark (even though she was only six years old). Quiet Dell is her ode to the victims – it is both fiction and nonfiction, interwoven. I found the book compelling and one of the best of the year (read my review).

AdeI finished Ade by Rebecca Walker early in the month for a TLC Book Tour which I post this Tuesday. This is another slim, but powerful book and I really loved it. You can read my review on the 26th…in the meantime, you can read what others have thought by visiting the tour page and clicking through to the reviews listed there. I am also offering a giveaway of this book. The giveaway will be open for one week, and Canadian and US readers are encouraged to enter for a chance to win. Come back here on the 26th to enter.

AfterHerMy current read is another novel based (loosely) on a true case. Those of you living in Northern California may remember the Trailside Killer who stalked the trails of Mt. Tamalpais and other parks in the 1970s. Joyce Maynard’s latest novel, After Her, centers around two sisters whose father is heading up the investigation into murders happening on Mt. Tamalpais. The girls spend a lot of time on the mountain – it is their playground…and the eldest child wants to help her father solve the case. Maynard’s writing is great and I’m nearly 100 pages into the book and should finish it soon as I can’t seem to put this one down for long!

Later today I am going for a bike ride with my husband and I’ll be sewing – working on some gifts for Christmas. I also hope to find a little time to read. What about you? What are YOU doing this lovely Sunday in November?


Mailbox Monday – November 4, 2013

AutumnMailboxWelcome to this week’s Mailbox Monday and which is hosted by Crystal at I Totally Paused. Visit the dedicated blog for the meme to see the complete tour schedule in the right sidebar. Also please note: Marcia is looking for someone to take over the running of this meme – see her most recent post on the dedicated blog for more information.

I have been really remiss at posting weekly Mailboxes – and I am sorry for that, but life seems to be getting in the way of blogging these days. This Mailbox includes all the books I’ve received since the last time I post on October 14th.

HeatOfTheSunThe good people at Picador sent me The Heat of the Sun by David Rain ((October 2013). This debut novel promises to be “a high-wire act of sustained invention—as playful as it is ambitious, as moving as it is theatrical, and as historically resonant as it is evocative of powerful bonds of friendship and of love.” Ben “Trouble” Pinkerton is the son of Lieutenant Benjamin Pinkerton and the geisha Madame Butterfly, and is now being raised in the United States by Senator Pinkerton and his upper-class wife, Kate. He is involved in many important events of the twentieth century: from Greenwich Village in the roaring twenties, through WPA work during the Great Depression; from secret government work outside Los Alamos, to a revelation on a Nagasaki hillside by the sea.

David Rain is an Australian writer who lives in London. He has taught literature and writing at universities, including Queen’s University of Belfast, University of Brighton, and Middlesex University, London. Learn more about Rain and his work by visiting the author’s website.

FairyTaleOther Press sent me an Advanced Readers Edition of A Fairy Tale by Jonas T. Bengtsson and translated from the Danish by Charlotte Barslund (April 2014). From the publisher:

In a Europe without borders, where social norms have become fragile, a son must confront the sins of his father and grandfather, and invent new strategies for survival.  A young boy grows up with a loving father who has little respect for the law. They are always on the run, and as they move from place to place, the boy is often distraught to leave behind new friendships. Because it would be dicey for him to go to school, his anarchistic father gives him an unconventional education intended to contradict as much as possible the teachings of his own father, a preacher and a pervert. Ten years later, when the boy is entering adulthood, with a fake name and a monotonous job, he tries to conform to the demands of ordinary life, but the lessons of the past thwart his efforts, and questions about his father’s childhood cannot be left unanswered.

The novel spans the mid-1980s to early-twenty-first-century in Copenhagen, and is a coming-of-age novel which examines what it means to be a stranger in the modern world, and how, for better or for worse, a father’s legacy is never passed on in any predictable fashion.

Jonas T. Bengtsson has published two previous novels: his 2005 literary debut, Amina’s Letters, winner of the Danish Debutant Award and BG Bank First Book Award; and Submarino, the film adaptation of which took the 2010 Nordic Council Film Prize. He has also received the P.O. Enquist Literary Prize and was nominated for the Weekendavisens Literature Prize. He lives in Copenhagen.

DogsOfChristmasTor Forge sent me W. Bruce Cameron’s latest novel: The Dogs of Christmas (October 2013). The novel is described as “a charming and heartwarming holiday tale that explores the power of love, trust, and a basket full of puppies.” From the publisher:

While nursing a broken heart, Josh Michaels is outraged when a neighbor abandons his very pregnant dog, Lucy, at Josh’s Colorado home. But Josh can’t resist Lucy’s soulful brown eyes, and though he’s never had a dog before, he’s determined to do the best he can for Lucy—and her soon-to-arrive, bound-to-be-adorable puppies. Soon in over his head, Josh calls the local animal shelter for help, and meets Kerri, a beautiful woman with a quick wit and a fierce love for animals.

W. Bruce Cameron is the New York Times bestselling author of A Dog’s Purpose, A Dog’s Journey, and 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, which was turned into the hit ABC series. He lives in California. Learn more about Cameron and his work by visiting the author’s website.

PleasuresOfAutumnAnd finally, from Penguin UK, Evie Hunter’s latest erotic novel: The Pleasures of Autumn (October 2013). From the publisher:

When museum curator Sinead O’Sullivan is charged with stealing the Fire of Autumn, a dazzling ruby with a history of violence and treachery, bail is set at one million Swiss francs. Investigator Niall Moore is hired to stop her fleeing and to find the jewel.

Their sexual chemistry is electric but logic says to ignore it. Desperate as she is to convince Niall of her innocence, Sinead cannot reveal everything she knows. And the feisty red-head’s improbable tale tells him that she is not to be trusted.

Yet it’s impossible to ignore the carnal heat between them. Niall, an expert interrogator, uses every trick of the trade – and every weapon in his erotic armoury – to get at the truth. Sinead, a fast learner, counters his every move with one of her own. Thief and thief-taker fight for dominance and there can be only one winner.

But what happens in their red-hot game of cat-and-mouse when criminals chasing the precious jewel come after Sinead … and the stakes become deadly?

Evie Hunter  is actually two authors, Caroline McCall and Eileen Gormley, who met at a creative writing workshop in Dublin in 2010. On discovering that they shared a passion for erotic fiction, they became the best of friends. In early 2012 they got a chance to co-write a series of erotic novellas for an American publisher. They are the authors of The Pleasures of Winter. Learn more about McCall and Gormley by visiting the authors’ website.

Did any great books arrive at YOUR house this week?


Mailbox Monday – October 14, 2013

AutumnMailboxWelcome to this week’s Mailbox Monday and which is hosted by Gina @ Book Dragon’s Lair. Visit the dedicated blog for the meme to see the complete tour schedule in the right sidebar.

The last time I posted a mailbox was way back on September 23rd. I’ve been out of the country on a fabulous trip to Italy (we were gone 18 days), and hope to be posting some updates on that trip soon – but today I get to share some books with you which arrived while I’ve been gone.

SomeNerveJust a day before leaving on my trip, Lydia from Riverhead Books sent me a signed copy of Some Nerve: Lessons Learned While Becoming Brave by Patty Chang Anker (October 2013) which is a designated a memoir. From the publisher:

Patty Chang Anker grew up eager to please and afraid to fail. But after thirty-nine years, she decided it was time to stop being a chicken. Motivated initially to become a better role model for her two young daughters, she vowed to face the fears that had taken root like weeds, choking the fun and spontaneity out of life. She learned to dive into a swimming pool, ride a bike, do a handstand, and surf. As she shared her experiences, she discovered that most people suffer from their own secret terrors—of driving, flying, heights, public speaking, and more. It became her mission to help others do what they thought they couldn’t, and to feel for themselves the powerful sense of being alive that is the true reward of becoming brave.

Patty Chang Anker blogs for‘s Anxiety section and her own award-winning blog Facing Forty Upside Down.  Her work has appeared in O Magazine, Marie Claire, Good Housekeeping, iVillage, The Huffington Post and in numerous other publications and websites. She has been named a  Good Housekeeping ”Blogger We Love” and a “Top 25 Funny Mom” on Circle of Moms. Some Nerve is Anker’s first book. She is a former Director of Media Relations for The New York Times and veteran book publicist for W.W. Norton, Taunton Press and Basic Books. Her campaigns include the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times series “How Race is Lived in America.” She lives in a village north of New York City with her husband and two daughters. Learn more about Anker and her work by visiting the author’s website.

WhatTheDogKnowsI was really excited to receive a finished copy of What the Dog Knows: The Science and Wonder of Working Dogs by Cat Warren published by Simon & Schuster October 2013. Most people who read my blog know that its name comes from my working dog, Caribou – and when I read about Cat Warren and her cadaver dog Solo, I knew I would want to read this book. From the publisher:

In What the Dog Knows, Warren uses her ongoing work with Solo as a way to explore a captivating field that includes cadaver dogs, drug- and bomb-detecting K9s, tracking and apprehension dogs—even dogs who can locate unmarked graves of Civil War soldiers and help find drowning victims more than two hundred feet below the surface of a lake. Working dogs’ abilities may seem magical or mysterious, but Warren shows the multifaceted science, the rigorous training, and the skilled handling that underlie the amazing abilities of dogs who work with their noses.

Warren interviews cognitive psychologists, historians, medical examiners, epidemiologists, and forensic anthropologists, as well as the breeders, trainers, and handlers who work with and rely on these remarkable and adaptable animals daily. Along the way, she discovers story after story that proves the impressive capabilities—as well as the very real limits—of working dogs and their human partners. Clear-eyed and unsentimental, Warren explains why our partnership with dogs is woven into the fabric of society and why we keep finding new uses for their wonderful noses.

Check out the book trailer:

Cat Warren is an associate professor at North Carolina State University, where she teaches science journalism, editing, and reporting courses. She lives with her German shepherd, Solo, and new puppy, Coda, in Durham, North Carolina. Learn more about Warren and her work by visiting the author’s website.

AdeAde: A Love Story by Rebecca Walker (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, October 2013) is a debut novella about the power of love and the limitations of the human heart. From the publisher:

When Farida, a sophisticated college student, falls in love with Adé, a young Swahili man living on an idyllic island off the coast of Kenya, the two plan to marry and envision a simple life together—free of worldly possessions and concerns. But when Farida contracts malaria and finds herself caught in the middle of a civil war, reality crashes in around them. The lovers’ solitude is interrupted by a world in the throes of massive upheaval that threatens to tear them apart, along with all they cherish.

Rebecca Walker is the author of the best-selling memoirs Black, White and Jewish and Baby Love, and editor of the anthology Black Cool. Learn more about Walker and her work by visiting the author’s website.

Three books arrived from Other Press:

AllRussiansAll Russians Love Birch Trees by Olga Grjasnowa, translated from the German by Eva Bacon (January 2014) is the winner of the Kuhne Prize, the Anna Seghers Prize, and long-listed for the German Book Prize 2012. This debut novel is set in Frankfurt, and follows a young immigrant named Masha. From the publisher:

Fluent in five languages and able to get by in several others, Masha lives with her boyfriend, Elias. Her best friends are Muslims struggling to obtain residence permits, and her parents rarely leave the house except to compare gas prices. Masha has nearly completed her studies to become an interpreter, when suddenly Elias is hospitalized after a serious soccer injury and dies, forcing her to question a past that has haunted her for years.

[This novel]… tells the story of a headstrong young woman for whom the issue of origin and nationality is immaterial—her Jewish background has taught her she can survive anywhere. Yet Masha isn’t equipped to deal with grief, and this all-too-normal shortcoming gives a particularly bittersweet quality to her adventures.

Olga Grjasnowa was born in 1984 in Baku, Azerbaijan, grew up in the Caucasus, and has spent extended periods in Poland, Russia, and Israel. She moved to Germany at the age of twelve and is a graduate of the German institute for Literature/Creative Writing in Leipzig. In 2010 she was awarded the Dramatist Prize of the Wiener Wortstätten for her debut play, Mitfühlende Deutsche (Compassionate Germans). She is currently studying dance science at the Berlin Free University.

I'llBeRightI’ll Be Right There by Kyung-Sook Shin, translated from the Korean by Sora Kim-Russell (April 2014) is a somber and reflective look at how nostalgia can be both a dagger and a balm in times of personal and social crisis. Set in 1980s South Korea, the novel follows Jung Yoon, a highly literate twenty-something woman, as she recounts her own tragic personal history, as well as those of her three intimate college friends. Love, friendship and solitude are the same everywhere, and this book promises to make this “poignantly clear.

Kyung-Sook Shin is the author of seventeen works of fiction and is one of South Korea’s most widely read and acclaimed novelists. Her best seller, Please Look After Mom, has been translated into more than thirty languages. She has been honored with the Man Asian Literary Prize, the Manhae Prize, the Dong-in Literary Award, the Yi Sang Literary Prize, adn France’s Prix de l’Inapercu as well as the Ho-Am Prize which recognized her body of work for general achievement in Korean culture and arts.

CurseA Curse on Dostoevsky by Atiq Rahimi, translated from the French by Polly McLean (March 2014) is a novel which “flirts with literature” and “ponders the roles of rin, guilt, and redemption in the Muslim world.” When Rassoul, a student of Russian literature in Leningrad, kills the wealthy old lady who prostitutes his beloved, Sophia, he recalls reading Crime and Punishment. Out of principle, he gives himself up to the police. But his country, after years of civil war, has fallen into chaos and in Kabul there is only violence, absurdity, and deafness. Rassoul’s desperate attempt for redemption turns into a farce. The novel is being described as “a nostalgic ode to the magic of Perssian tales and a satire on the dire reality of now.” It also promises to “portray the resilience and wit of Afghani women.

Atiq Rahimi was born in Afghanistan in 1962, and fled to France in 1984. There he has become renowned as a maker of documentary and feature films, and as a writer. The film of his novel Earth and Ashes was in the Official Selection at Cannes in 2004 and has won a number of prizes. A Thousand Rooms of Dream and Fear has also been adapted for the screen. His adaptation of The Patience Stone, which he co-wrote and directed, was also recently made into a feature film. Since 2001 Rahimi has returned to Afghanistan to set up a Writers’ House in Kabul and to offer support and training to young Afghan writers and filmmakers. He lives in Paris.

From Plume, two books with the central focus on dogs arrived:

Genius of dogsThe Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter Than You Think by Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods (October 2013) promises to be “a tale of revolutionary research, funny and moving adventures in the field, and useful insights into what your dog is actually thinking.” From the publisher:

In the past decade, we have learned more about how dogs think than in the last century. Breakthroughs in cognitive science, pioneered by Brian Hare have proven dogs have a kind of genius for getting along with people that is unique in the animal kingdom. Brian Hare’s stunning discovery is that when dogs domesticated themselves as early as 40,000 years ago they became far more like human infants than their wolf ancestors. Domestication gave dogs a whole new kind of social intelligence. This finding will change the way we think about dogs and dog training—indeed, the revolution has already begun.

Vanessa Woods is a research assistant, journalist, and author of children’s books. A member of the Hominoid Psychology Research Group, she works with Duke University as well as Lola Ya Bonobo in Congo. She is also a feature writer for the Discovery Channel, and her writing has appeared in publications such as BBC Wildlife and Travel Africa. Her first book, It’s Every Monkey for Themselves, was published in Australia in 2007. Woods lives in North Carolina with her husband, scientist Brian Hare.

Dr. Brian Hare is associate professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University in North Carolina and a member of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, which is a division of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University, founded the Hominoid Psychology Research Group while at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and subsequently founded the Duke Canine Cognition Center when arriving at Duke University. His research has consistently received national and international media coverage over the last decade and has been featured in the Daily Mail, The Telegraph, The Economist, The New York Times, The New Yorker, National Geographic, Time, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Nature, Wired, Science magazine, CNN and ABC (Australia). In 2004 the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation named him a recipient of the Sofja Kovalevskaja Award, Germany’s most prestigious award for scientists under age 40. In 2007 Smithsonian magazine named him one of the top 37 U.S. scientists under 36. Learn more about Hare and his work by visiting the author’s website.

ThrowthedamnballThrow the Damn Ball: Classic Poetry by Dogs by R.D. Rosen, Harry Prichett, and Rob Battles (October 2013) is an anthology of timeless and humorous poetry from the authors of the bestselling books Bad Dog, Bad Cat and Bad President. The book borrows heavily from classic poets including Yeats, Dickinson and Frost and reflects on “dog’s concerns” such as: love, loss, friendship and mealtime.

R.D. Rosen is the Edgar Award winning author of Strike Three You’re Dead and other Harvey Blissberg mysteries, plus several nonfiction books. He once wrote for Saturday Night Live and starred in comedy specials for PBS and HBO. Learn more about Rosen and his work by visiting the author’s website.

Harry Prichett has written and performed for the improv comedy group Chicago City Limits, created the off-off-Broadway show Work=Pain=Success, and is a voice of television commercials. Learn more about Prichett and his work by visiting the author’s website.

Rob Battles has written and produced for public radio stations and NPR, and is a senior vice president for a large, forward-looking media company.

Finally, two books arrived Random House imprints:

DrowningHouseThe Drowning House by Elizabeth Black (Anchor Books, October 2013) is a debut novel set in Glaveston, Texas. Mourning for her daughter and her crumbling marriage, photographer Clare Porterfield returns to her childhood home hoping to find distraction in mounting an exhibition featuring the island’s vivid history. From the publisher:

Things haven’t changed much during her decade away: her relationship with her mother and older sister is still fraught and competitive, and their neighbors, the Carradays, wield the same moneyed influence they have for generations. But Clare finds that she is now an outsider, out of step with the unique rhythms of Galveston life. As she copes with her grief by digging deeper into the past, she discovers secrets that have grown and multiplied like the wildflowers that climb up Island walls and fences—secrets that will give her a new understanding of her own history.

Elizabeth Black was born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island and now lives in Houston, Texas. The Drowning House is her first novel.

TwelveTribesThe Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis (Vintage Books, October 2013) is set in 1923, and centers around fifteen-year-old Hattie Shepherd who is swept up by the tides of the Great Migration. From the publisher:

Full of hope, she settles in Philadelphia to build a better life. Instead she marries a man who will bring her nothing but disappointment, and watches helplessly as her firstborn twins are lost to an illness that a few pennies could have prevented. Hattie gives birth to nine more children, whom she raises with grit, mettle, and not an ounce of the tenderness they crave. She vows to prepare them to meet a world that will not be kind. Their lives, captured here in twelve luminous threads, tell the story of a mother’s monumental courage—and a nation’s tumultuous journey.

Ayana Mathis is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is a recipient of the Michener-Copernicus Fellowship. Her first novel, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, was a New York Times Bestseller and was selected by Oprah Winfrey as the second pick for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. Originally from Philadelphia, she lives in Brooklyn. Learn more about Mathis and her work by visiting the author’s website.

Whew – that’s it for now (I still need to pick up mail at the post office, so I don’t know if there are more books waiting for me there!).

Did any amazing books arrive at YOUR house this week?

Mailbox Monday – September 23, 2013

mailboxsummerWelcome to this week’s Mailbox Monday and which is hosted by Yolanda @ Notorious Spinks Talks Bob @ Beauty in Ruins today. Visit the dedicated blog for the meme to see the complete tour schedule in the right sidebar.

The last time I posted a mailbox was way back on August 25th – just about one month ago. If you’re wondering why, read this post. So today I will share with you what has arrived over the last few weeks.

The wonderful folks at Picador sent me two books:

ItsFineIt’s Fine By Me by Per Petterson, translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett (September 2013) promises to be another gem by this fantastic literary fiction author. I’ve read Out Stealing Horses (read my review) and I Curse the River of Time (read my review) by this author – loved one and was luke warm on the other…so I am hoping I love this one. It’s Fine by Me revisits the protagonist, Arvid Jansen, from I Curse the River of Time. Arvid is a youth who befriends a boy named Audun who lives with his mother in a working-class district of Oslo. Audun is a complex character who at first refuses to talk, then spends hours discussing Jack London and Ernest Hemingway while wondering if school is the right path for him. Described as “spare, slim, and haunting” by author Caroline Leavitt, the novel promises to be both tender and brutal.

Per Petterson won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for his novel Out Stealing Horses, which has been translated into more than thirty languages.

Don Bartlett lives in England and works as a freelance translator of Scandinavian literature.

PenumbraMr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (September 2013) has been named a Best Book of the Year by NPR, the Los Angeles Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle. It won the Alex Award and was a finalist for the Lost Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction. Set during the Great Recession, the book focuses on Clay Jannon who has left his job as a web-design drone in San Francisco to work at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But the store is odd and Clay is determine to uncover its secrets. Described as “surreal” and “part technological meditation, part thrilling adventure, part requiem,” the novel is about passion for books, history and the future.

Robin Sloan grew up in Michigan and splits his time between San Francisco and the Internet. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is his first novel. Learn more about Sloan and his work by visiting the author’s website.

SidewalkDancingAtticus Books sent me a novel in short stories. Sidewalk Dancing by Letitia Moffitt (November 2013). The book is described as “a careful exploration of a diverse family’s dynamics told with the subtle wrist bends and brush strokes of a perpetual outsider.” It is a series of linked stories of a multi-ethnic family’s search for stamina and identity in a world of onlookers.” The stories take the reader to China, to Hawaii, to New York City, to Ireland and are classified as “autobiographical fiction.”

Letitia L. Moffitt was born and raised in Hawaii. She received her doctoral degree in English and Creative Writing from Binghamton University in New York and currently teaches creative writing as an associate professor at Eastern Illinois University. Her work – fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction – has been published in literary journals. Learn more about Moffitt and her work by visiting the author’s website.

Did any amazing books arrive at YOUR house this week?


Mailbox Monday – August 25, 2013

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

Last week I did not manage to get a Mailbox post up, so this week includes the books that have arrived at my home over the last two weeks.

LastWinterof DaniLancingCrown Publishers sent me an Advance Readers Edition (via Library Thing’s Early Review program) of The Last Winter of Dani Lancing by P.D. Viner (October 2013). This debut novel is described as “a gritty and powerful crime thriller that explores the dark, dangerous line that separates grief, violence, loss, and revenge.” Twenty years ago, college student Dani Lancing was kidnapped and brutally murdered. The killer was never found; the case has long-gone cold and her parents, Patty and Jim, were utterly devastated, their marriage destroyed. Tom Bevans, Dani’s childhood sweetheart, has become a detective intent on solving murders of other young women…and he finds an opening on Patty’s case which changes everything.

P.D. Viner is an award-winning film-maker who has studied and worked in the USA, New Zealand, Russia and Japan. He now lives in Brighton, UK. This is his first novel. Learn more about Viner and his work by visiting the author’s website.

BellmanandBlackAtria Books sent me an Advance Readers Edition of Bellman & Black by Diane Setterfield (October 2013). I read Setterfield’s debut novel, The Thirteenth Tale, and loved it…so I was excited to see she had a new novel coming out. When William Bellman recklessly aims his slingshot at a rook resting on a branch, and kills the bird instantly, it is a small but cruel act, and is soon forgotten. Now grown, with a wife and children of his own, William has put the whole incident behind him. But rooks don’t forget . . . and when a stranger mysteriously enters William’s life, his fortunes begin to turn—and the terrible and unforeseen consequences of his past indiscretion take root.

Diane Setterfield is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Thirteenth Tale, and a former academic, specializing in twentieth-century French literature, particularly the works of Andre Gide. She lives in Yorkshire, England.

ChasingKingofHeartsI was thrilled to receive the newest release from Peirene Press. Chasing the King of Hearts by Hanna Krall (September 2013) is translated from the Polish by Philip Boehm and is the winner of the English Pen Award 2013. This novella is described by the publisher as “a remarkable true story of love and survival” and is set in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942. When Izolda’s husband, Shayek, is imprisoned, she sets out to release him. She changes her name, her hair, her religion. Eventually she is captured and deported to Auschwitz. But even there, she trusts that her love will save them both.

Hanna Krall was born in 1935 in Poland and survived the Second World War hiding in a cupboard. She began her writing career as a prize-winning journalist. Since the early ’80s she has worked as a novelist. She has received numerous Polish and international awards, such as the underground Solidarity Prize, Polish PEN Club Prize and the German Würth Preis for European Literature 2012. Translated into 17 languages, her work has gained widespread  recognition. In 2007 Król kier znów na wylocie (Chasing the King of Hearts) was shortlisted for the Angelus Central European Literary Award.

Philip Boehm  is the author of more than two dozen translations of novels and plays by German and Polish writers, including Nobelist Herta Müller, Christoph Hein, Bertolt Brecht and Stefan Chwin. Nonfiction translations include A Woman in Berlin by Anonymous and Words to Outlive Us, a collection of eyewitness accounts from the Warsaw Ghetto. For his work as a translator he has received numerous awards, most recently the Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize (UK), the Helen and Kurt Wolff Prize (US), and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He also works as a playwright and theater director, and is the Founding Artistic Director of Upstream Theater in St. Louis.

GoodWifeSt. Martin’s Press sent me an Advance Readers Edition of How to Be A Good Wife by Emma Chapman (October 2013). This is a debut novel in the tradition of Emma Donoghue’s Room and S.J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep and is about a woman who begins having visions that make her question everything she knows. Publisher description:

Marta and Hector have been married for a long time. Through the good and bad; through raising a son and sending him off to life after university. So long, in fact, that Marta finds it difficult to remember her life before Hector. He has always taken care of her, and she has always done everything she can to be a good wife—as advised by a dog-eared manual given to her by Hector’s aloof mother on their wedding day. But now, something is changing. Small things seem off. A flash of movement in the corner of her eye, elapsed moments that she can’t recall. Visions of a blonde girl in the darkness that only Marta can see. Perhaps she is starting to remember—or perhaps her mind is playing tricks on her. As Marta’s visions persist and her reality grows more disjointed, it’s unclear if the danger lies in the world around her, or in Marta herself. The girl is growing more real every day, and she wants something.

Emma Chapman was born in 1985 and grew up in Manchester, England. She studied English Literature at the University of Edinburgh, followed by a Masters in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London.  After university, she travelled solo in Scandinavia, where she learned to camp, bathe in fjords, and carry everything she needed.  She is currently living in Perth, Western Australia. How To Be a Good Wife is her first novel. Learn more about Chapman and her work by visiting the author’s website.

ExilesReturnPicador sent me and Advance Readers Edition of The Exiles Return by Elisabeth de Waal (January 2014). This novel is set in post-world War II Vienna and follows the lives of four people as they return home fifteen years after being exiled by Hitler’s regime. de Waal’s writing is described as sensitive which makes sense given that she was an exile herself. The Exiles Return is considered a masterpiece of European literature.

Elisabeth de Waal was the grandmother of Edmund de Waal (author of the memoir The Hare with Amber Eyes). He discovered her unpublished autobiographical novel The Exiles Return in 2005. Elisabeth was born in 1899 into a Jewish family living in Vienna. She studied philosophy, law and economics at the University of Vienna, completing her Doctorate in 1923. She was also a poet. She lived in Paris, Switzerland, and England and wrote five unpublished novels. She died in 1991.

ProfessorOfTruthOther Press sent me a copy of The Professor of Truth by James Robertson (September 2013). The novel is described as “a literary spellbinder about one man’s desperate attempt to deal with grief by unmasking the terrorists responsible for the act that killed his wife and daughter.”
From the publisher:

Twenty-one years after his wife and daughter were killed in the bombing of a plane over Scotland, English lecturer Alan Tealing persists in trying to discover what really happened on that terrible night. Over the years, he obsessively amasses documents, tapes, and transcripts to prove that the man who was convicted was not actually responsible, and that the real culprit remains at large. When a retired American intelligence officer arrives on Alan’s doorstep on a snowy night, claiming to have information about a key witness in the trial, a fateful sequence of events is set in motion. Alan decides he must confront this man, in the hope of uncovering what actually happened. While Robertson writes with the narrative thrust of a thriller, The Professor of Truth is also a graceful meditation on grief, and the lengths we may go to find meaning in loss.

James Robertson is a multiple prize-winning Scottish author and poet. He has published four previous novels: The Fanatic; Joseph Knight, which won the Scottish Book of the Year Award and the Saltire Prize; The Testament of Gideon Mack, which was a Booker Prize finalist and a Richard & Judy book club pick, and has sold more than 250,000 copies in the UK; and his most recent novel, And the Land Lay Still, winner of the Saltire Prize.

Did any amazing books arrive at YOUR house this week?