Category Archives: Weekly Event

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?

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?


Mailbox Monday – August 11, 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…a fantastic array of genres.

WeAreWaterThe good folks at Harper Collins sent me an Advance Readers Edition of the newest novel by Wally Lamb. We Are Water is due for release in October 2013 and it looks amazing. I enjoyed I Know This Much is True (read my review), and found much to like about The Hour I First Believed despite its cumbersome weight (read my review) so I’m looking forward to Lamb’s latest work. The publisher describes We are Waters asa disquieting and ultimately uplifting novel about a marriage, a family, and human resilience in the face of tragedy.” This layered portrait of marriage, family, and the inexorable need for understanding and connection, is told in the alternating voices of the Ohs—nonconformist, Anna; her ex-husband, Orion, a psychologist; Ariane, the do-gooder daughter, and her twin, Andrew, the rebellious only son; and free-spirited Marissa, the youngest. It is also a portrait of modern America, exploring issues of class, changing social mores, the legacy of racial violence, and the nature of creativity and art.

Wally Lamb is the author of the New York Times and national bestseller The Hour I First Believed, as well as the novels She’s Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True, both #1 New York Times bestsellers and Oprah’s Book Club selections. He lives in Connecticut with his family.

DaysIntheHistoryFrom Other Press came Days in the History of Silence by Merethe Lindstrom (translated from the Norwegian by Anne Bruce) which is being released this month. I am very fond of books in translation, and this literary fiction novel looks particularly good. From the publisher:

Eva and Simon have spent most of their adult lives together. He is a physician and she is a teacher, and they have three grown daughters and a comfortable home. Yet what binds them together isn’t only affection and solidarity but also the painful facts of their respective histories, which they keep hidden even from their own children. But after the abrupt dismissal of their housekeeper and Simon’s increasing withdrawal into himself, the past can no longer be repressed. Lindstrøm has crafted a masterpiece about the grave mistakes we make when we misjudge the legacy of war, common prejudices, and our own strategies of survival.

Publisher’s Weekly writes about the book:

This remarkable novel explores the theme of silence in many different forms – a children’s game, a refuge, a lie, a punishment, a solution – and shows its impact on those who long to be spoken to…The prose is simple and elegant, revealing an extraordinary talent.”

Merethe Lindstrøm has published several novels and collections of short stories, and a children’s book. She was nominated for the Nordic Council Literature Prize and for the Norwegian Critics’ Award in 2008 for her short-story collection The Guests. The same year, she received the Doubloug Prize for her entire literary work. Days in the History of Silence is her most recent novel, nominated for the Norwegian Channel 2 Listeners’ Novel Prize, and winner of the Nordic Council Literature Prize and the Norwegian Critics’ Prize. She lives in Oslo, Norway.

Anne Bruce has degrees in Norwegian and English from Glasgow University covering both Nynorsk and Bokmål, classic and modern texts, written and spoken Norwegian, as well as Old Norse, Icelandic, Swedish, and Danish. She has traveled extensively throughout Scandinavia on lecture and study visits, and undertaken translation and interpretation for visiting groups from Norway. She has translated Wencke Mühleisen’s I Should Have Lifted You Carefully Over, Jørn Lier Horst’s Dregs, and Anne Holt’s Blessed Are Those Who Thirst.

MotherMotherMother, Mother: A Novel by Koren Zailckas (September 2013) arrived from Crown Publishers. Written with the style, dark wit and shrewd psychological insight that made Smashed a bestseller, Zailckas’s first novel promises to be unforgettable. This is the terrifying story of a mother’s love gone too far. From the publisher:

Josephine Hurst has her family under control. With two beautiful daughters, a brilliantly intelligent son, a tech-guru of a husband and a historical landmark home, her life is picture perfect. She has everything she wants; all she has to do is keep it that way. But living in this matriarch’s determinedly cheerful, yet subtly controlling domain hasn’t been easy for her family, and when her oldest daughter, Rose, runs off with a mysterious boyfriend, Josephine tightens her grip, gradually turning her flawless home into a darker sort of prison.

Resentful of her sister’s new found freedom, Violet turns to eastern philosophy, hallucinogenic drugs, and extreme fasting, eventually landing herself in the psych ward. Meanwhile, her brother Will shrinks further into a world of self-doubt. Recently diagnosed with Aspergers and epilepsy, he’s separated from the other kids around town and is home schooled to ensure his safety. Their father, Douglas, finds resolve in the bottom of the bottle—an addict craving his own chance to escape. Josephine struggles to maintain the family’s impeccable façade, but when a violent incident leads to a visit from child protective services, the truth about the Hursts might finally be revealed.

Koren Zailckas is an internationally bestselling writer, and has contributed to The Guardian, U.S. News & World Report, Glamour, Jane, and Seventeen magazine. She currently lives with her family in the Catskills mountains of New York.

HumanRemainsHuman Remains by Elizabeth Haynes arrived from Harper Collins (August 2013). I read Into the Darkest Corner last year and ended up enjoying it quite a bit (read my review), so I am eager to read this latest novel by Haynes which “explores our darkest fears, showing how vulnerable we are—and how easily ordinary lives can fall apart when no one is watching.” Book description from the publisher:

Police analyst Annabel wouldn’t describe herself as lonely. Her work and the needs of her aging mother keep her busy. But Annabel is shocked when she discovers her neighbor’s decomposing body in the house next door, and she is appalled to think that no one, including herself, noticed the woman’s absence. Annabel sets out to investigate, despite her colleagues’ lack of interest, and discovers that such cases are frighteningly common in her hometown.

Elizabeth Haynes is a police intelligence analyst, a civilian role that involves determining patterns in offending and criminal behavior. Dark Tide is her second novel; rights to her first, Into the Darkest Corner, have been sold in twenty-five territories. Haynes lives in England in a village near Maidstone, Kent, with her husband and son. Learn more about Haynes and her work by visiting the author’s website.

GodsBeastsReagan Arthur Books (Hachette Book Group) sent me a hardcover edition of Gods and Beasts by Denise Mina (February 2013), the third book in the Alex Morrow series which I have been reading this summer with BOOK CLUB. Read my reviews of the first two books: Still Midnight and The End of Wasp Season. In Gods and Beasts, it is the week before Christmas when a lone robber bursts into a busy Glasgow post office carrying an AK-47. An elderly man suddenly hands his young grandson to a stranger and wordlessly helps the gunman fill bags with cash, then carries them to the door. He opens the door and bows his head; the robber fires off the AK-47, tearing the grandfather in two. Enter DS Alex Morrow who begins to search for the killer and discovers a hidden, sinister political network.

Denise Mina is the author of Deception, the Garnethill trilogy, and Field of Blood. She lives in Glasgow, Scotland, with her family. Learn more about Mina and her work by visiting the author’s website.

StrongRainFallingFinally, from Tor Forge came the latest Caitlin Strong novel by Jon Land. Strong Rain Falling (August 2013) is being lauded as an action packed tale with a gutsy, resourceful, flawed and vulnerable heroine. From the publisher:

Mexico, 1919:  The birth of the Mexican drug trade begins with opium being smuggled across the U.S. border, igniting an all-out battle with American law enforcement in general and the Texas Rangers in particular.

The Present:  Fifth Generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong and her lover Cort Wesley Masters both survive terrifying gun battles.  But this time, it turns out, the actual targets were not them, but Masters’ teenage sons.

That sets Caitlin and Cort Wesley off on a trail winding through the past and present with nothing less than the future of the United States hanging in the balance.  Along the way they will confront terrible truths dating all the way back to the Mexican Revolution and the dogged battle Caitlin’s own grandfather and great-grandfather fought against the first generation of Mexican drug dealers.

Jon Land is the critically acclaimed author of thirty novels, including the bestselling series featuring female Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong: Strong Enough to Die, Strong Justice, Strong at the Break and Strong Vengeance. In addition, he is that author of the nonfiction bestseller Betrayal. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island. Learn more about Land and his work by visiting the author’s website.

Did any wonderful books arrive at YOUR house this week?

Mailbox Monday – July 29, 2013

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

This was another great week in books for me:

HypotheticalGirlOther Press sent me The Hypothetical Girl: Stories by Elizabeth Cohen (August 2013) which looks so good. The stories which make up this collection explore the world of on-line dating. From the publisher: “Alternating between quirky humor, painful awkwardness, and the outright painful, Elizabeth Cohen offers an insightful, heartrending, and comical look at love in the age of the internet.” This collection has been receiving some fantastic early praise form Publishers Weekly, The Millions, and Shelf Awareness (to name a few). The New York Times Book Review calls the writing “frank, funny…courageous,” while Kirkus Reviews found the language “light, beautiful, and razor sharp.”

Elizabeth Cohen is an assistant professor of English at Plattsburgh State University. Her memoir, The Family on Beartown Road (Random House, 2003) was a New York Times Notable Books, and her articles, stories, and poetry have appeared in Newsweek, New York Time Magazine, Salon, Tablet, and the Yale Review.

WeddingGiftSt. Martin’s Press sent me an Advance Readers Edition of The Wedding Gift by Marlen Suyapa Bodden (September 2013). When prestigious plantation owner Cornelius Allen gives his daughter Clarissa’s hand in marriage, she takes with her a gift: Sarah—her slave and her half-sister. Both women bring secrets and desires with them to their new home, igniting events that spiral into a tale beyond the imaginable. Narrated through the alternating viewpoints of Sarah and Theodora Allen, Cornelius’ wife, the novel promises to explore the complicated and compelling bonds of women.

Marlen Syuapa Bodden is a lawyer at The Legal Aid Society in New York City, the nation’s oldest and largest law firm for the poor. She drew on her knowledge of modern and historical slavery, human trafficking, and human rights abuses to write The Wedding Gift, her first novel. Marlen is a graduate of New York University School of Law and Tufts University. In 2012, the University of Rhode Island awarded Marlen an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. Learn more about Bodden and her work by visiting the author’s website.

419Pintail sent me an Advance Readers Edition of the 2012 Giller prize winning novel 419 by Will Ferguson (September 2013). A car tumbles down a snowy ravine. A woman without a name walks out of a dust storm in sub-Saharan Africa. A criminal cartel sours the internet looking for victims from the heat of Lagos City. How do these singular events connect with each other? When Laura Curtis discovers her father has died because of an online swindle, she sets out to find her father’s killer. But she has no idea how dangerous her search is, and how high the stakes are in her quest to uncover a murderer.

Will Ferguson is the author of several award-winning books. His work has also been nominated for both an IMPAC Dublin Award and a Commonwealth Writer’s Prize. Learn more about Ferguson and his work by visiting the author’s website.

ChildrenofJacarandaTreeFrom Atria’s Galley Grab, came Children of the Jacaranda Tree by Sahar Delijani (June 2013). From the publisher:

Sold in 70 countries around the world, translated into 25 languages, hailed by Khaled Hosseini, author of And the Mountains Echoed and The Kite Runner, who calls it “a celebration of the human heart’s eternal yearning for freedom.” This is Children of the Jacaranda Tree. Neda is born in Tehran’s Evin Prison, where her mother is allowed to nurse her for a few months before the arms of a guard appear at the cell door one day and, simply, take her away. In another part of the city, three-year-old Omid witnesses the arrests of his political activist parents from his perch at their kitchen table, yogurt dripping from his fingertips. More than twenty years after the violent, bloody purge that took place inside Tehran’s prisons, Sheida learns that her father was one of those executed, that the silent void firmly planted between her and her mother all these years was not just the sad loss that comes with death, but the anguish and the horror of murder.

Sahar Delijani was born in Tehran’s Evin Prison in 1983 and grew up in California, where she graduated from the University of California, Berkeley. Her work has been published in a broad spectrum of literary journals and publications, including The Battered Suitcase, Tryst, Slice Magazine, Prick of the Spindle, and , Perigee. She was nominated for the 2010 and 2011 Pushcart Prize and was for a time a regular contributor to Iran-Emrooz (Iran of Today) Political and Cultural Journal. She makes her home with her husband in Turin, Italy. Children of the Jacaranda Tree is her first novel. Learn more about Delijani and her work by visiting the author’s website.

MyHusbandPenguin UK sent me My Husband Next Door by Catherine Alliott (August 2013) which is described as “the perfect piece of escapism for all women from eighteen to eighty.” When Ella’s marriage to the celebrated artist Sebastian Montclair turns into the very definition of an unconventional set-up (Sebastian lives in an outhouse across the lawn from Ella’s ramshackle farmhouse), Ella finds comfort in the company of the very charming gardener, Ludo. But is he really the answer to her prayers? And when Sebastian decides to move away, Ella must now deal with what really destroyed her marriage – the secret she continues to keep.

Catherine Alliott is a top ten bestselling author with over 1.6 million sales in the UK alone. She lives in Hertfordshire with her family and menagerie of horses, cows, chickens and dogs.  Learn more about Alliott and her work by visiting the author’s website.

Finally, another book from the a fantastic summer giveaway over at She Reads arrived:

WishingTreeThe Wishing Tree by Marybeth Whalen arrived from Harper Collins Christian Publishing. From the publisher:

Savvy, determined Ivy Marshall discovers that her husband has cheated on her on the very same day her sister’s perfect boyfriend proposes on national television. When Ivy’s mother asks her to return to her family’s beach home to plan her sister’s upcoming wedding, she decides to use the excuse to escape from the pain of her broken heart. When her return to Sunset Beach, North Carolina, brings Ivy face to face with her former fiance, old feelings are rekindled and she wonders if there is a future for them. However, when Ivy refuses to talk to her husband, he resorts to tweeting to her, expressing his remorse and making it clear he doesn’t want to give up on their marriage. As she helps prepare the wishing tree for her sister’s wedding, she must examine her dreams for her own future and what true love should be.

Marybeth Whalen is the wife of Curt and the mom of six children. She is the director of She Reads, an online book club focused on spotlighting the best in women’s fiction. She is the author of The Mailbox and The Guest Book. She lives in North Carolina. Learn more about Whalen and her work by visiting the author’s website.

Did any great books find their way to you last week?

Mailbox Monday – July 22, 2013

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

I received some great books this week.

RaceAcross the SkyRace Across the Sky by Derek Sherman (July 2013) arrived from Plume for a TLC Book Tour in August. When I read the description of this novel, it really appealed to me. Caleb Oberest is an ultra marathon runner, who severed all ties to his family to race brutal 100-mile marathons across mountains. Shane Oberest is a sales rep for a biotechnology firm, and has spent his life longing to connect with his older brother. When Caleb falls in love with a member of his running group and discovers her infant daughter has a fatal genetic disease, he reaches out to Shane. Shane comes up with a plan to help, but it requires both brothers to risk everything. For more information about Race Across the Sky, visit the book’s website.

Derek Sherman works in advertising as a writer and Creative Director. His work has received every major industry award, and been named among the best of the last 25 years by Archive Magazine. He is a co-founder of the Chicago Awesome Foundation, a charity dedicated to awarding micro-grants. He lives in Chicago with his wife and children. This is his first novel.

The good folks from Hogarth sent me two books:

ForgivenThe Forgiven by Lawrence Osborne (June 2013). In this novel, the reverberations of a random accident on the lives of Moroccan Muslims and Western visitors who converge on a luxurious desert villa for a decadent weekend-long party are explored. From the publisher: “David and Jo Henniger, a doctor and a children’s book author, in search of an escape from their less than happy lives in London, accept an invitation to attend a bacchanal at their old friends’ home, deep in the Moroccan desert. But as a groggy David navigates the dark desert roads, two young men spring from the roadside, the car swerves…and one boy is left dead. When David and Jo arrive at the party, the Moroccan staff, already disgusted by the rich, hedonistic foreigners in their midst, soon learn of David’s unforgivable act. Then the boy’s irate Berber father appears, and events begin to spin beyond anyone’s control.” Osborne’s prose is described as “spare, evocative, and with searing eroticism.

Lawrence Osborne is the author of one previous novel, Ania Malina, and six books of nonfiction, including the memoir Bangkok Days. His journalism and short stories have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the New Yorker, Newsweek, Forbes, Tin House, Harper’s, Conde Nast Traveler, and many other publications. Osborne has led a nomadic life, residing for years in France, Italy, Morocco, the United States, Mexico, and Thailand. He currently lives in Istanbul. Learn more about Osborne and his work by visiting the author’s website.

peopleThe People of Forever are not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu (June 2013). The novel is set in an Israeli village and centers around teenagers Yael, Avishag, and Lea. These young women have no idea how their lives will change when they are conscripted into the army. “Yael trains marksmen and flirts with boys. Avishag stands guard, watching refugees throw themselves at barbed-wire fences. Lea, posted at a checkpoint, imagines the stories behind the familiar faces that pass by her day after day. They gossip about boys and whisper of an ever more violent world just beyond view. They drill, constantly, for a moment that may never come. They live inside that single, intense second just before danger erupts.” Described as “relentlessly energetic and arresting” the book promises to capture “that unique time in a young woman’s life when a single moment can change everything.

Shani Boianjiu served in the Israeli Defense Forces for two years. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, The New Yorker, Zoetrope, Vice, the Wall Street Journal, and the Guardian. Shani is the youngest recipient ever of the National Book Foundation’s 5 under 35, and The People of Forever Are Not Afraid is her first novel. Read (or listen to) an interview on NPR with the author.

Also, earlier this month I was the winner in a fantastic summer giveaway over at She Reads. I won six novels, and they have started arriving:

AllTheSummerGirlsAll the Summer Girls by Meg Donohue (May 2013) arrived from William Morrow. This is a coming-of-age tale set on the New Jersey shore. Three former best friends, their lives rapidly unraveling, are reunited at the beach town of their past—where the ambience of summer encourages them to explore new experiences they would never otherwise attempt. Kate, Vanessa, and Dani begin to realize just how much their lives—and friendships—have been shaped by the choices they made one fateful summer night years ago. In the hope of finally moving forward, the women turn to one another for forgiveness—but how can they forgive each other when they can’t forgive themselves?

Meg Donohue is the author of How to Eat a Cupcake. She has an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University and a BA in comparative literature from Dartmouth College. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she now lives in San Francisco with her husband, their two young daughters, and their dog. Learn more about Donohue and her work by visiting the author’s website.

Glass WivesThe Glass Wives by Amy Sue Nathan (May 2013) arrived from St. Martin’s Press. This is a debut novel about what happens between two women, Evie and Nicole, when a tragic car accident ends the life of Richard Glass. There’s no love lost between the widow and the ex. but when they both find themselves strapped for cash, Evie cautiously agrees to share living expenses—and her home—with Nicole and her baby. This is a story about what makes a family.

Amy Sue Nathan lives and writes near Chicago where she hosts the popular blog, Women’s Fiction Writers. She has published articles in Huffington Post, Chicago Tribune and New York Times Online among many others.  Amy is the proud mom of a son and a daughter in college, and a willing servant to two rambunctious rescued dogs. Learn more about Nathan and her work by visiting the author’s website.

GuestHouseThe Guest House by Erika Marks (Penguin, June 2013) arrived direct from the author…and it was personalized and signed for me!

For generations, the natives of Harrisport have watched wealthy summer families descend on their Cape Cod town, inhabiting the massive cottages along the town’s best stretches of beachfront. But when rich Southerner Tucker Moss breaks the heart of local girl Edie Wright in the summer of 1966, an enduring war starts between the two families that lasts for generations….

When Edie’s youngest child, Lexi falls in love withTucker’s son, Hudson—she soon finds herself jilted when Hudson breaks off their engagement. Eleven years later, Lexi returns home after two years away studying architectural photography, just in time for yet another summer on the Cape. When Hudson’s younger brother, Cooper, arrives to sell the seaside estate after the death of his father and Lexi is hired to photograph it, an unlikely attraction forms. Renovations at the Moss guest house reveal a forty-six-year-old declaration of love carved into a piece of framing—and a startling truth emerges that will force two women and the men who love them to confront the treacherous waters of their pasts.

Erika Marks is a native New Englander who was raised in Maine and has worked as an illustrator, cake decorator, and carpenter. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband, a native New Orleanian, their two daughters, and their dog. Learn more about Marks and her work by visiting the author’s website.

Market StreetMarket Street by Anita Hughes (St. Martin’s Press, March 2013) also arrived direct from the author. This novel is described as “a delicious story of a department store heiress, her messy marriage, and her passion for food.” Description by the publisher:

Cassie Blake seems to lead a charmed life as the heiress to Fenton’s, San Francisco’s most exclusive department store. But when she discovers her husband, Aidan, a handsome UC Berkeley professor, has had an affair with a student, she flees to the comfort of her best friend Alexis’s Presidio Heights mansion, where she wonders if she should give their marriage one more chance.

Whether or not she can forgive Aidan is not the only choice Cassie has to make. Cassie’s mother is eager to have her oversee the opening of Fenton’s new Food Emporium, which Fenton’s hopes will become San Francisco’s hottest gourmet shopping destination. Cassie’s true passion has always been food, not fashion, and Cassie suspects her mother might be trying to lure her into the Fenton’s fold by entrusting her with such an exciting opportunity. And then there is James, the architect designing the Emporium, who is quietly falling in love with her…

Anita Hughes is also the author of Monarch Beach. She attended UC Berkeley’s Masters in Creative Writing Program, and has taught Creative Writing at The Branson School in Ross, California. Hughes lives in Dana Point, California, where she is at work on her next novel. Learn more about Hughes and her work by visiting the author’s website.

Did any terrific books arrive at YOUR house this week?