Mailbox Monday #181

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch. This month’s host is Burton Book Review.

The meme allows bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received:

1.  The Year of the Gadfly by Jennifer Miller, which I won from Under My Apple Tree.

Storied, fiercely competitive Mariana Academy was founded with a serious honor code; its reputation has been unsullied for decades. Now a long-dormant secret society, Prisom’s Party, threatens its placid halls with vigilante justice, exposing students and teachers alike for even the most minor infraction.

Iris Dupont, a budding journalist whose only confidant is the chain-smoking specter of Edward R. Murrow, feels sure she can break into the ranks of The Devil’s Advocate, the Party’s underground newspaper, and there uncover the source of its blackmail schemes and vilifying rumors. Some involve the school’s new science teacher, who also seems to be investigating the Party. Others point to an albino student who left school abruptly ten years before, never to return. And everything connects to a rare book called Marvelous Species. But the truth comes with its own dangers, and Iris is torn between her allegiances, her reporter’s instinct, and her own troubled past.

2. 15 Seconds by Andrew Gross from the publisher.

15 seconds can tear your life apart . . .

Henry Steadman didn’t know what was about to hit him when he pulled up to a red light. A successful Florida plastic surgeon, he is in town to deliver a keynote address at a conference when suddenly his life becomes an unrelenting chase to stay alive.

Stopped by the police for a minor traffic violation, the situation escalates and he is pulled from his vehicle, handcuffed and told he is under arrest. Several other police cars arrive and the questioning turns scary, but just as Henry is released and about to move on, a blue sedan pulls up and the officer is suddenly killed. As the car speeds away, there is only one suspect left behind–Henry. In that moment, his idyllic life becomes a free fall into hell as he becomes the target of a police manhunt, as well as being pursued by a cunning, unnamed perpetrator bent on some kind of vengeance.

When Henry turns to a close friend for help, and he, too, ends up dead, Henry realizes he’s being elaborately framed. But in a chilling twist, the stakes grow even darker, and he is unable to go to the police to clear his name, without bringing on dire and deadly consequences.

With breakneck pacing and nonstop action, 15 Seconds shows what can happen when even the best life is turned upside down in an instant. It is also the story of an innocent man, framed for murder, who has to save the person he loves the most, all while being drawn closer and closer to an inevitable face-to-face standoff with a man determined to destroy his life.

3. After the Fog by Kathleen Shoop, which I won from Peeking Between the Pages.

The sins of the mother… In the mill town of Donora, Pennsylvania, site of the infamous 1948 “killing smog,” headstrong nurse Rose Pavlesic tends to her family and neighbors. Controlling and demanding, she’s created a life that reflects everything she missed growing up as an orphan. She’s even managed to keep her painful secrets hidden from her loving husband, dutiful children, and large extended family. When a stagnant weather pattern traps poisonous mill gasses in the valley, neighbors grow sicker and Rose’s nursing obligations thrust her into conflict she never could have fathomed. Consequences from her past collide with her present life, making her once clear decisions as gray as the suffocating smog. As pressure mounts, Rose finds she’s not the only one harboring lies. When the deadly fog finally clears, the loss of trust and faith leaves the Pavlesic family—and the whole town—splintered and shocked. With her new perspective, can Rose finally forgive herself and let her family’s healing begin?

4. Kino by Jurgen Fauth, which I bought at Novel Places.

When the long lost, first-ever silent film from visionary director Kino arrives mysteriously on his granddaughter Mina’s doorstep, the mission to discover the man she barely knew begins. As Kino’s journals plunge the reader into the depraved glamour and infectious panic of 1920s and ’30s Germany, Mina turns her life upside down to redeem her grandfather’s legend.

With a cast of characters that includes Joseph Goebbels, Fritz Lang and Leni Riefenstahl, Fauth concocts a genre-busting blend of German history, film, and art into a fast, sinister tale of redemption. The tightly woven narrative is filled with thuggish darkness and back alley shadows running neck-and-neck with cinematic light and intrigue.

5. The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown, which I bought at Novel Places.

Three sisters have returned to their childhood home, reuniting the eccentric Andreas family. Here, books are a passion (there is no problem a library card can’t solve) and TV is something other people watch. Their father-a professor of Shakespeare who speaks almost exclusively in verse-named them after the Bard’s heroines. It’s a lot to live up to.

The sisters have a hard time communicating with their parents and their lovers, but especially with one another. What can the shy homebody eldest sister, the fast-living middle child, and the bohemian youngest sibling have in common? Only that none has found life to be what was expected; and now, faced with their parents’ frailty and their own personal disappointments, not even a book can solve what ails them…

6. Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith, which I bought from Novel Places.

With allusions to David Bowie and interplanetary travel, Life on Mars imagines a soundtrack for the universe to accompany the discoveries, failures, and oddities of human existence. In these brilliant new poems, Tracy K. Smith envisions a sci-fi future sucked clean of any real dangers, contemplates the dark matter that keeps people both close and distant, and revisits the kitschy concepts like “love” and “illness” now relegated to the Museum of Obsolescence. These poems reveal the realities of life lived here, on the ground, where a daughter is imprisoned in the basement by her own father, where celebrities and pop stars walk among us, and where the poet herself loses her father, one of the engineers who worked on the Hubble Space Telescope. With this remarkable third collection, Smith establishes herself among the best poets of her generation.

7. Time Life Books — Recipes: The Cooking of Spain and Portugal, which I received as a surprise from my book club buddy, Erin.

8. Time Life Books — The Cooking of Scandinavia, which Erin also gave me.

What did you receive?


  1. We are reading THE WEIRD SISTERS for book club next month. I liked it a lot.

  2. You know I’m going to have to borrow Kino!

  3. The only one I’m familiar with is The Weird Sisters, but they all look like fun.

  4. Nice mailbox! I think I have The Weird Sisters in two forms: audio and ebook – now I need to find time to read/listen to it. Have a great week!

  5. After the Fog and The Weird Sisters are a couple that I’ve had my eye on. Enjoy your new goodies!

  6. Can’t wait to read Year of the Gadfly. I’m #1 on the WL for it at Paperbackswap so I’m hoping to get my hands on it soon 🙂 Happy reading!

  7. Looks like some really good books. I want to read Gadfly and Weird Sisters one of these days. I hope you enjoy After the Fog as I did!

  8. After The Fog sounds interesting, enjoy! your books.


  9. Congratulations on the great wins! I think you’re going to love The Weird Sisters!

  10. I’m supposed to get The Year of the Gadfly soon…and I loved The Weird Sisters. Enjoy your books!


  11. I really liked the Year of the Gadfly – intelligent read but also engrossing.

    I purchased Weird Sisters recently too – I only hear great things about it!

  12. After the Fog sounds real good to me. You got some great looking books this week, Serena. Have a wonderful week and happy reading!

  13. Looking forward to the top (2) myself –enjoy

  14. What a range of reads! enjoy them all.