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Literary Book Gifts & Promo Code for You

I wanted to share with you a unique gift find for the book lover in your life. Have you ever wanted to find that perfect t-shirt or tote bag for your best friend?

Literary Book Gifts might have just the thing for you and your friends.

I talked with Melissa about her store and she’s generously offering my readers a 20% discount on their orders. You’ll find out the promo code later on.

Why did you start your shop?

I started my shop because I love the stories that come out of novels. Books are rarely expressed in the visual medium. Book covers often capture the essence of a novel, but these days with the rise of eBooks you don’t often see many book covers around. Wearing a book on your shirt or on a tote bag makes it tangible and allows you to experience the artwork during your daily life. A simple reminder of our attachment to the narratives of our own lives.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by the ability of some of the stories to make it’s readers feel such complex and often powerful emotions.

What’s unique about your gifts?

The massive variety of sizes and colors makes these gifts really unique in the industry. Each print is available in tons of colors, anywhere from about 8 to 15 (it varies based on the design itself). And women’s shirt sizes range from XS – 3XL and men’s sizes from S – 5XL. Beyond the print itself, I think color and sizing are the most important factors involved when buying clothing.

Why you think people should buy them?

Self expression is a primary part of the human experience. It allows for you to connect with others on a more intimate level than simply not expressing yourself at all by wearing a blank shirt. However, you cannot just wear any random clothing, you must feel as though it matches your personal style, and that is what these shirts are aiming to do.

Thanks, Melissa. I agree, self-expression is a big part of what makes us human.

Now, for the promo code and details, dear readers. I know you’re salivating.

The promo code SAVVYVERSEANDWIT20 is good for 20% off anything in the store, no minimum, and can be used unlimited times.

Go shop.

Mailbox Monday #493

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Martha of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what we received:

Eraser by Anna Kang, illustrated by Christopher Weyant, a Kindle freebie

Eraser is always cleaning up everyone else’s mistakes. Except for Ruler and Pencil Sharpener, none of the other school supplies seem to appreciate her. They all love how sharp Pencil is and how Tape and Glue help everyone stick together. Eraser wants to create so that she can shine like the others. She decides to give it a try, but it’s not until the rubber meets the road that Eraser begins to understand a whole lot about herself.

Inspired by a school essay their daughter Kate wrote in the third grade, the author and illustrator behind Theodor Seuss Geisel Award–winner You Are (Not) Small have created a desktop drama about figuring out who you are, finding happiness, and the importance of second, third, and maybe even fourth chances.

No Such Thing as Luck by Nicole Clarkston, a Kindle freebie.

John Thornton is facing the collapse of everything he has worked for all of his life. Through his banker, he hears about a potential business opportunity that could save the mill. He decides to investigate, even if it means traveling from home when he can least afford it.

Margaret Hale, now living in London, learns that her godfather Mr Bell is visiting her brother Frederick in Cadiz. Bell is dying, and asking to see her before it is too late. She is determined to sail, regardless of the risk.

An accident on the docks leaves Margaret injured, and throws both together on the same ship. Thornton, resolved to protect Margaret’s honour despite their painful history, claims to be her brother to keep her safe. Unfortunately, pretending to be Margaret’s brother proves more difficult- and more dangerous- than he might have expected.

None But You by Sarah Shuff, a Kindle freebie.

Lyme 1806: While studying medicine in Edinburgh, Benjamin Whitehorn receives news of his father’s death and suspends his studies to attend the funeral. Upon his arrival, he comes face-to-face with Matilda Dyson, whom he saves from near catastrophe. He knows instantly that she is above him in social standing but he is unable to get her out of his mind.

After discovering his brother is on the verge of being sent to debtors’ prison, Benjamin goes against his principles and reluctantly accepts an offer from Captain Crawford for employment as a doctor aboard The Hadrian, a slave ship.

When he finds himself stranded in the West Indies without a penny to his name, he encounters Captain Wentworth of the Royal Navy who offers him a position aboard The Asp. What will Benjamin find when he returns to England after months away …

What did you receive?

Guest Post & Giveaway: Writing as Surgery by Caitlin Hamilton Summie

Last year, I read one of the most well-crafted short stories collections out there, and it was written by Caitlin Hamilton Summie, who many in the blogging world know for her marketing savvy for indie authors.

To Lay to Rest Our Ghosts is one year old today. It was on my best of list last year, and I still love it today. It is a collection that is poetic and holds imagery to a higher standard as each story is pregnant with emotion, particularly different forms of grief. Read the full review.

After reading short stories by Chekhov this year, I’m beginning to think that Caitlin Hamilton Summie is our modern Chekhov.

We often have guests talk about their writing process or their writing spaces, but we rarely hear about the after-publication process. In honor of this book’s anniversary, I asked Caitlin if she’d like to write up a guest post about her after publication experience as a short-story writer.

I think you’ll love this guest post and don’t forget to enter the giveaway.

Please give Caitlin a warm welcome:

Recently, in work correspondence, a reviewer let me know that she had wanted once to work in publishing or to be a surgeon. What came to my mind was how much surgery and creative writing have in common: they share a focus on precision, on cause and effect, on getting to the root of things. I imagine, though I cannot know, that there is an artistry in performing surgery that echoes the artistry in writing.

I have never wanted to be a surgeon, but I do believe in the power of stories to heal and connect, to make us empathize and reconsider.

In the year since I published my first book, a collection of short stories called TO LAY TO REST OUR GHOSTS, I have received a number of reviews that speak to the root-level emotional engagement the stories provide, to how deeply-felt they are. One reviewer said my stories made him/her feel less alone. I’ll never forget that review or cease to be overwhelmed by it.

I do write straight from the heart, and this is where I think many readers live, too— valuing stories that get to our very cores, get to the heart of the matter. We want characters we love as much as we want a gripping tale. We want to connect.

One year past publication, with reviews and interviews still coming in, with events still being offered, I am deeply grateful—for the connections with people I will never know over matters of the heart that are shared in my stories, written like a surgeon might operate, carefully excavating through each character the love and forgiveness that gets them—and us—through the days.

Enter the Giveaway by Aug. 19, 11:59 p.m. EST.

About the Author:

Caitlin Hamilton Summie earned an MFA with Distinction from Colorado State University, and her short stories have been published in Beloit Fiction Journal, Wisconsin Review, Puerto del Sol, Mud Season Review, and Long Story, Short. She spent many years in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Colorado before settling with her family in Knoxville, Tennessee. She co-owns the book marketing firm, Caitlin Hamilton Marketing & Publicity, founded in 2003.

Mailbox Monday #492

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Martha of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what we received:

Dreams of Falling by Karen White, which came from the publisher.

On the banks of the North Santee River stands a moss-draped oak that was once entrusted with the dreams of three young girls. Into the tree’s trunk, they placed their greatest hopes, written on ribbons, for safekeeping–including the most important one: Friends forever, come what may.

But life can waylay the best of intentions….

Nine years ago, a humiliated Larkin Lanier fled Georgetown, South Carolina, knowing she could never go back. But when she finds out that her mother has disappeared, she realizes she has no choice but to return to the place she both loves and dreads–and to the family and friends who never stopped wishing for her to come home.

Ivy, Larkin’s mother, is discovered badly injured and unconscious in the burned-out wreckage of her ancestral plantation home. No one knows why Ivy was there, but as Larkin digs for answers, she uncovers secrets kept for nearly fifty years–whispers of love, sacrifice, and betrayal–that lead back to three girls on the brink of womanhood who found their friendship tested in the most heartbreaking ways.

Tiffany Blues by M.J. Rose, which came from the publisher.

New York, 1924. Twenty‑four‑year‑old Jenny Bell has escaped her past… her hard-hearted stepfather, murder, and the dank hallways of Canada’s notorious Andrew Mercer Reformatory for Women where she spent 2 years.

Now as one of a dozen burgeoning artists invited to Louis Comfort Tiffany’s prestigious artists’ colony. Gifted and determined, Jenny vows to avoid distractions and romantic entanglements and take full advantage of the many wonders to be found at Laurelton Hall.

But Jenny’s can’t help but be inextricably drawn to Oliver, Tiffany’s charismatic grandson.

As the summer shimmers on, and the competition between the artists grows fierce as they vie for a spot at Tiffany’s New York gallery, a series of suspicious and disturbing occurrences suggest someone knows enough about Jenny’s childhood trauma to expose her.

Supported by her closest friend Minx Deering, a seemingly carefree socialite yet dedicated sculptor, and Oliver, Jenny pushes her demons aside. Between stolen kisses and stolen jewels, the champagne flows and the jazz plays on until one moonless night when Jenny’s past and present are thrown together in a desperate moment, that will threaten her promising future, her love, her friendships, and her very life.

Button Man by Andrew Gross, which came from the publisher.

After a string of New York Times bestselling suburban thrillers, Andrew Gross has reinvented himself as a writer of historical thrillers. In his latest novel, Button Man, he delivers a stirring story of a Jewish family brought together in the dawn of the women’s garment business and torn apart by the birth of organized crime in New York City in the 1930s.

Morris, Sol, and Harry Rabishevsky grew up poor and rough in a tiny flat on the Lower East Side, until the death of their father thrust them into having to fend for themselves and support their large family. Morris, the youngest, dropped out of school at twelve years old and apprenticed himself to a garment cutter in a clothing factory; Sol headed to accounting school; but Harry, scarred by a family tragedy, fell in with a gang of thugs as a teenager. Morris steadily climbs through the ranks at the factory until at twenty-one he finally goes out on his own, convincing Sol to come work with him. But Harry can’t be lured away from the glamour, the power, and the money that come from his association with Louis Buchalter, whom Morris has battled with since his youth and who has risen to become the most ruthless mobster in New York. And when Buchalter sets his sights on the unions that staff the garment makers’ factories, a fatal showdown is inevitable, pitting brother against brother.

This new novel is equal parts historical thriller, rich with the detail of a vibrant New York City in the 1920s and 1930s, and family saga, based on Andrew Gross’s own family story and on the history of the era, complete with appearances by real-life characters like mobsters Louis Lepke and Dutch Schultz and special prosecutor Thomas Dewey, and cements Gross’s reputation as today’s most atmospheric and original historical thriller writer.

The Girl in the Pink Raincoat by Arlene Hughes, a blog giveaway win.

When a factory girl and a Jewish businessman fall in love it seems that the whole world is against them.

Manchester, 1939. On the eve of war Gracie Earnshaw is working in Rosenberg’s Raincoat factory – a job she hates – but her life is about to be turned upside down when she falls in love with Jacob, the boss’s charismatic nephew.

Through Jacob, with his ambitions to be a writer, Gracie glimpses another world: theatre, music and prejudice. But their forbidden romance is cut short when Jacob is arrested and tragedy unfolds.

Gracie struggles with heartbreak, danger and old family secrets, but the love of her first sweetheart comes back to her in an unexpected way giving her the chance of a new life and happiness.

What did you receive?

Guest Post & Giveaway: Our Heroine Elizabeth Bennet by Ann Galvia


Welcome to the What’s Past Is Prologue blog tour!

We’re the first stop on the blog tour, and I’m very excited to welcome Ann Galvia to talk about her version of Elizabeth Bennet. Stay tuned for the giveaway details at the end of the post, and don’t forget to comment.

First, I wanted to share a bit about the book with you. I hope to find time to read this one someday soon. It sounds wonderful.

About the Book:

Elizabeth Darcy has her eye on the future.

Before her marriage, she saw herself making the best possible choice. Her husband saved her family from ruin. All he asked in return was her hand. Secure in his good opinion, Elizabeth married him. Only with hindsight and his cryptic warnings that passion is not immutable does Elizabeth question her decision. Her solution? Give him a son as soon as possible. Once his lust for her has been slaked, this service she has rendered him will ensure her value.

The newlyweds are summoned to Rosings Park almost the moment they are married. Though the estate can boast of beautiful grounds, Elizabeth and Darcy arrive to find devastation. A flood has swept away Lady Catherine’s last hopes of hiding debt and years of mismanagement. She expects Darcy to shoulder the recovery efforts.

The effort to save Rosings strains the already tense relationship between Elizabeth and her husband. To make matters worse, her presence is met with disdain and disinterest from the family. As the days in the besieged estate drag on, Elizabeth slowly untangles the histories and secrets of her new relations.

Like Elizabeth’s marriage, the crisis at Rosings is the culmination of past events. Disaster need not be the result of only bad choices; good principles have led them astray as well. As for Elizabeth, she barely knows her husband, and loving him might be impossible. Yet, she is determined to save all that she can—her marriage and the estate—and somehow, create the future she longs for.

Please welcome Ann Galvia:

I want to thank Serena for kicking off the “What’s Past Is Prologue” blog tour here at Savvy Verse and Wit! This is a particularly auspicious place to start because I want to focus today on WPIP’s heroine and central character, the witty Elizabeth.

And by talk, I mean….break out your pen and paper, folks, it’s time for a pop quiz! It’s not for a grade. You don’t even have to turn it in (but I think the comments section will be more fun if you do) because no one is taking attendance. It’s all essay questions (boo!), but you can use the book (yay!), Jane Austen’s incomparable “Pride and Prejudice!”

1. What do you consider Elizabeth Bennet’s greatest virtue, and why?
2. What do you consider Elizabeth Bennet’s largest flaw, and why?
3. How does growing up with such role models–wait, that is too  respectful–with such “ “ “role models” ” ” as Mr and Mrs Bennet affect the perspective of someone who grew up with them and a questionable amount of experience beyond their neighborhood?

Now, your answers may vary (and really, that’s what makes this an interesting exercise) but when you go playing with someone else’s toys, first we have to look at how they set up the shelf. Gotta put ‘em back when we’re done.

Me, I think Elizabeth’s greatest virtue is her compassion. She has an incredible ability to just not care about her own problems. The entail? She feels no urgency to try and secure her future through a marriage. Losing Wickham to Mary King? She doesn’t feel too bad, decides that means she never loved him and breezes forward. Elizabeth doesn’t start losing any sleep until she’s lost Darcy and Lydia both in the span of an afternoon. Now, other people’s problems? Other people’s problems hurt. She made herself sick over Jane’s heartbreak.

“The agitation and tears which the subject occasioned brought on a headache; and it grew so much worse towards the evening that, added to her unwillingness to see Mr. Darcy, it determined her not to attend her cousins to Rosings, where they were engaged to drink tea. Mrs. Collins, seeing that she was really unwell, did not press her to go, and as much as possible prevented her husband from pressing her; but Mr. Collins could not conceal his apprehension of Lady Catherine’s being rather displeased by her staying at home.”

Charlotte cautioned her to not make an enemy out of Darcy over Wickham, but damn if her righteous indignation on Wickham’s behalf didn’t lead her to try!

He made no answer, and they were again silent till they had gone down the dance, when he asked her if she and her sisters did not very often walk to Meryton? She answered in the affirmative; and, unable to resist the temptation, added, “When you met us there the other day,
we had just been forming a new acquaintance.”

The effect was immediate. A deeper shade of hauteur overspread his features, but he said not a word, and Elizabeth, though blaming herself for her own weakness, could not go on. At length Darcy spoke, and in a constrained manner said, “Mr. Wickham is blessed with such happy manners as may ensure his making friends — whether he may be equally capable of retaining them, is less certain.”

“He has been so unlucky as to lose your friendship,” replied Elizabeth with emphasis, “and in a manner which he is likely to suffer from all his life.”

Refusing Darcy wreaks havoc on her.

The tumult of her mind was now painfully great. She knew not how to support herself, and from actual weakness sat down and cried for half an hour.

And, of course, we know she’s someone who doesn’t think twice about walking through three miles of mud because her sister has a cold.

Now, what leads her astray?

Well, she tends to do this Thing where she formulates a snap judgement and refuses to re-evaluate after learning new information or hearing the opinions of other people.

Consider, for example, the clues that Darcy liked her that she simply never picked up on…

Elizabeth could not help observing, as she turned over some music books that lay on the instrument, how frequently Mr. Darcy’s eyes were fixed on her. She hardly knew how to suppose that she could be an object of admiration to so great a man; and yet that he should look at her because he disliked her was still more strange. She could only imagine, however, at last, that she drew his notice because there was a something about her more wrong and reprehensible, according to his ideas of right, than in any other person present.

Yes, Elizabeth, men stare at women because they are reprehensible.

More than once did Elizabeth, in her ramble within the Park, unexpectedly meet Mr. Darcy. She felt all the perverseness of the mischance that should bring him where no one else was brought, and, to prevent its ever happening again, took care to inform him at first that it was a favourite haunt of hers. How it could occur a second time, therefore, was very odd! Yet it did, and even a third. It seemed like wilful ill-nature, or a voluntary penance, for on these occasions it was not merely a few formal enquiries and an awkward pause and then away, but he actually thought it necessary to turn back and walk with her. He never said a great deal, nor did she give herself the trouble of talking or of listening much; but it struck her in the course of their third rencontre that he was asking some odd unconnected questions — about her pleasure in being at Hunsford, her love of solitary walks, and her opinion of Mr. and Mrs. Collins’s happiness; and that in speaking of Rosings, and her not perfectly understanding the house, he seemed to expect that whenever she came into Kent again she would be staying there too. His words seemed to imply it. Could he have Colonel Fitzwilliam in his thoughts? She supposed, if he meant anything, he must mean an allusion to what might arise in that quarter. It distressed her a little, and she was quite glad to find herself at the gate in the pales opposite the Parsonage.

Sure, Elizabeth, he wants to hang out at your favorite places and talk about you and the things you like — and also let’s rate how happy your married friends are and fyi, next time you visit, you’ll stay with his family, probably — because someone else wants to marry you.

Which leads me to the Elizabeth we find in What’s Past Is Prologue. She made a choice rooted in compassion — marry Darcy instead of turn him away a second time. She knows her ideas of who he is were wrong, but has not had much opportunity to replace with it with something better. She has only his own account to go by. How does he describe himself to Elizabeth?

“No,” said Darcy, “I have made no such pretension. I have faults enough, but they are not, I hope, of understanding. My temper I dare not vouch for. It is, I believe, too little yielding — certainly too little for the convenience of the world. I cannot forget the follies and vices of others so soon as I ought, nor their offences against myself. My feelings are not puffed about with every attempt to move them. My temper would perhaps be called resentful. My good opinion once lost is lost for ever.”

So she’s compassionate; he’s resentful, and once you’ve lost him, you’re not gonna get him back. Not that he has anything to resent her over —

His sense of her inferiority — of its being a degradation — of the family obstacles which judgment had always opposed to inclination, were dwelt on with a warmth which seemed due to the consequence he was wounding, but was very unlikely to recommend his suit.

Oh.

Oh, right.

And she jumps to inaccurate conclusions without folding new information into her ideas until really forced to do so.

And she comes from a family where the husband regretted his choice.

Elizabeth, however, had never been blind to the impropriety of her father’s behaviour as a husband. She had always seen it with pain; but respecting his abilities, and grateful for his affectionate treatment of herself, she endeavoured to forget what she could not overlook, and to banish from her thoughts that continual breach of conjugal obligation and decorum which, in exposing his wife to the contempt of her own children, was so highly reprehensible.

What is a girl to do when her future happiness and respectability lies in the hands of husband who owns he is resentful, and has been verbose in the past about some reasons why you might incite his ire? Elizabeth loves to ignore a problem, but this is a big one and she’s gonna have to solve it…

About the Author:

Ann Galvia started writing sometime before she knew how letters functioned. Her first books were drawings of circus poodles heavily annotated with scribbles meant to tell a story. Upon learning how letters were combined to represent words, she started doing that instead. This has proven to be much more successful.

Sometime after that, she decided she wanted to study Anthropology and sometime after that, she decided she liked cats more than dogs. And sometime after that, she decided to become an educator and teach a new generation of kids how to combine letters to represent words, and use those words express ideas.

And sometime after that, she realized all she really wanted to do was write, which probably should have been evident from the beginning.

Connect with Ann at the following places Ann: Twitter | Facebook | Blog

GIVEAWAY:

Meryton Press is offering eight eBooks of What’s Past is Prologue

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions:

Readers may enter the drawing by tweeting once a day and daily commenting on a blog post or a review that has a giveaway attached for the tour. Entrants must provide the name of the blog where they commented. If an entrant does not do so, that entry will be disqualified.

One winner will be selected per contest. Each winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter and the giveaway is international. Good LUCK!

Rest of the Blog Tour Schedule:

August 1 / Savvy Verse & Wit / Guest Post & Giveaway

August 2 / Of Pens & Pages / Book Review & Giveaway

August 3 / Babblings of a Bookworm / Book Review & Giveaway

August 4 / Just Jane 1813 / Book Excerpt & Giveaway

August 5 / Liz’s Reading Life / Author Interview & Giveaway

August 6 / From Pemberley to Milton / Book Review & Giveaway

August 7 / More Agreeably Engaged / Guest Post & Giveaway

August 8 / My Vices and Weaknesses / Book Review & Giveaway

August 9 / Diary of an Eccentric / Book Review & Giveaway

August 10 / Austenesque Reviews / Book Excerpt & Giveaway

August 11 / Margie’s Must Reads / Book Review & Giveaway

August 12 / My Love for Jane Austen / Book Excerpt & Giveaway

August 13 / So Little Time… / Guest Post & Giveaway

Mailbox Monday #491

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Martha of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what I received:

Sold on Monday by Kristina McMorris from the publisher for review.

2 CHILDREN FOR SALE

The scrawled sign, peddling young siblings on a farmhouse porch, captures the desperation sweeping the country in 1931. It’s an era of breadlines, bank runs, and impossible choices.

For struggling reporter Ellis Reed, the gut-wrenching scene evokes memories of his family’s dark past. He snaps a photograph of the children, not meant for publication. But when the image leads to his big break, the consequences are devastating in ways he never imagined.

Haunted by secrets of her own, secretary Lillian Palmer sees more in the picture than a good story and is soon drawn into the fray. Together, the two set out to right a wrongdoing and mend a fractured family, at the risk of everything they value.

Inspired by an actual newspaper photo that stunned readers across the nation, this touching novel explores the tale within the frame and behind the lens — a journey of ambition, love and the far-reaching effects of our actions.

Beautiful Exiles by Meg Waite Clayton, a freebie from Amazon.

Key West, 1936. Headstrong, accomplished journalist Martha Gellhorn is confident with words but less so with men when she meets disheveled literary titan Ernest Hemingway in a dive bar. Their friendship—forged over writing, talk, and family dinners—flourishes into something undeniable in Madrid while they’re covering the Spanish Civil War.

Martha reveres him. The very married Hemingway is taken with Martha—her beauty, her ambition, and her fearless spirit. And as Hemingway tells her, the most powerful love stories are always set against the fury of war. The risks are so much greater. They’re made for each other.

With their romance unfolding as they travel the globe, Martha establishes herself as one of the world’s foremost war correspondents, and Hemingway begins the novel that will win him the Nobel Prize for Literature. Beautiful Exiles is a stirring story of lovers and rivals, of the breathless attraction to power and fame, and of one woman—ahead of her time—claiming her own identity from the wreckage of love.

What did you receive?

How the Elephant Got Its Trunk and Other Wild Animal Stories by Rudyard Kipling (audio)

Source: Purchased
Audiobook, 4+ hours
I am an Amazon Affiliate

How the Elephant Got Its Trunk and Other Wild Animal Stories by Rudyard Kipling, narrated by Virginia McKenna, is a delightful rendition of Kipling’s Just So Stories, which provide imaginative answers to simple questions, like how did the elephant get its long trunk?

In the first story in the collection, a curious elephant drives his parents crazy with his incessant questions and curiosities, until they and his other relatives send him away on his own to find out the answer to a question he’s asked. Kipling’s stories have a dark lining too them, but they also have a fantastical and humorous way of looking at the world.

McKenna narrates as a mother would to her child, engaging them with the vivid animal kingdom’s cast of characters — good and bad, king and ferocious. Her voice undulates as the stories unwind.

How the Elephant Got Its Trunk and Other Wild Animal Stories by Rudyard Kipling, narrated by Virginia McKenna, would be even more delightful to listen to with a full-color book to share with your children. Vivid imagery like the sunset cover of this Audible version attests to how well these stories could be rendered in color and illustration. Thoroughly enjoyable world of animals and the simple questions asked by children.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Joseph Rudyard Kipling was an English journalist, short-story writer, poet, and novelist. He was born in India, which inspired much of his work.

Hourglass Museum by Kelli Russell Agodon

Source: Purchased
eBook, 108 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Hourglass Museum by Kelli Russell Agodon creates its own gallery of art in which human interaction with artists’ work, ranging from Andy Warhol to Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keefe, is on display for readers to generate yet another level of interaction and interpretation. These poems are similar to the recursive style of painting in which a painter is seen painting himself inside of painting, etc., or something similar.

Agodon leaves readers with a number of verses to think on, including: “You said, Sometimes I still want to be needed, so I let our kitchen become a flood of time and you” and “To be master of your own fate means sometimes you have to rip up the instruction manual” and “to know the theme parks in our minds are really just a hall of mirrors.”

Even as she explores art that is recognizable, she’s also exploring human behaviors and how in some ways we self-sabotage and in others we seek solace and find little. I found many lines rang true, especially: “Poem: a form of negotiation for what haunts us.”

Hourglass Museum by Kelli Russell Agodon has an apt title in which human interaction with art is explored and the reality remains that our time is finite. She raises questions about societal norms, including the urge to thank fathers for taking their daughters by friends and teachers as if those fathers are not related to their children and not equally responsible for their care. Such innate reactions to simple acts of parenting bring this collection to life, grounding it in the personal.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Poet:

Kelli Russell Agodon is the author of Hourglass Museum (White Pine Press, 2014). She lives in the Seattle area and is the cofounder of Two Sylvias Press. Visit her website.

Mailbox Monday #490

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Martha of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what I received:

Pride & Precipitation by Heather Horrocks, a Kindle freebie.

Breezy Jones is crazy about the weather, rain or shine, which makes her job as the local television station’s meteorologist perfect. She’s even hoping the new buyers of her Aspen Grove station will make some positive changes.

That’s before she meets the attractive new general manager, Noah Drake, who is determined to repackage everything—including Breezy’s down-home delivery and casual, girl-next-door appearance that seems too

Pollyanna for him. He replaces her with a high-powered diva weathercaster and makes Breezy her off-screen assistant.

With a flood of angry emails from the community, plummeting ratings, and incessant demands from the diva, it doesn’t take long for Noah to see which way the wind is blowing.

Will the station survive the competitive clash between pride and precipitation?

More importantly, can their blossoming attraction survive?

What did you receive?

Selected Stories of Anton Chekhov translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 496 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Selected Stories of Anton Chekhov translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, which was out June book club selection, demonstrates the best of Chekhov’s short story writing. He uses an economy of words to depict the every day lives of clerks, former actresses, professors, young boy orphans, and so much more. His stories carefully illustrate the mundane lives of these Russian people and the struggles they faced. There are tales of lost love, actresses who want more than to be a pretty face, and men who strive to be more than they are and fail.

For the book club, we chose to read and discuss 10 of the stories in this collection: The Death of a Clerk, Small Fry, The Huntsman, The Malefactor, Panikhida, Anyuta, Easter Night, Vanka, The House with the Mezzanine, and The Lady with the Little Dog. I have read the others since the meeting, except “The Boring Story” that I had previously and had turned me off Chekhov until college when we read his plays.

What I love about Chekhov is his sparse language and his ability to paint a full picture of someone’s life in so few words. Each word matters, and he often will choose words for a dual purpose, like the use of the word “stranger” in “The Huntsman.” It can literally be someone who is unknown to you or someone you haven’t seen in a long time and you feel that they have become a stranger. I found this translation very readable and the stories relatable even today — these stories were written in the late 1800s.

Selected Stories of Anton Chekhov translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky will keep readers on their toes, as some situations can be a bit odd. However, the concepts of lost love, jobs that are unsatisfying, and husbands who become strangers to their wives are issues that persist even today.

RATING: Quatrain

What the book club thought:

We found a great deal to discuss in these stories, even though some were just 2-5 pages. It is fascinating how so few words can generate so much discussion, even for stories that we barely understood.We had a great deal of discussion about “Chekhov’s Gun” about the functionality of every element in a story and the idea that promises are made and should be kept.

Everyone seemed to find reading these short stories worthwhile, even if not all of them were enjoyable. There are some fascinating pieces in this collection.

About the Author:

Anton Chekhov was a Russian playwright and short-story writer, who is considered to be among the greatest writers of short fiction in history.

Mailbox Monday #489

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Martha of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what I received:

Our mailbox was empty this week!

What did you receive?

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman

Source: Publisher
Hardcover, 44 pgs.
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All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman celebrates inclusiveness and diversity, sending the message to parents and kids that everyone is welcome in their school, in their class, and even outside the confines of school. The colorful illustrations remind kids that the world is a rainbow and that as individuals come together we are a beautiful kaleidoscope.

The simple rhymes will be easy for younger children to follow as their parents read to them, and reading for beginning learners will be smooth. Although the kids will not see the names of the children depicted, there are kids like themselves drawn in these pages — those with dark skin, light skin, full head coverings, curly hair, straight hair, wheelchairs, and so much more. This is a book that reflects the reality of not only the United States but the world.

It’s not a book that points out differences for inspection, but demonstrates the fun that can be had together in a group even if we are different. The focus is on the things we can do together — games on the playground, art and music created, the class participation when the teacher asks questions, the discoveries that can be made.

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman, which emerged from a poster that went viral, is delightful, colorful, and just what kids need to remind them that divisiveness is unnecessary and not the way to live.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Authors:

Alexandra Penfold is the author of Eat, Sleep, Poop (Knopf, 2016) and the forthcoming picture books The Littlest Viking (Knopf) and Everybody’s Going to the Food Truck Fest (FSG). She is also a literary agent at Upstart Crow, where one of her clients is Suzanne Kaufman! Learn more about Alex on Twitter at @agentpenfold.

Suzanne Kaufman is an author, illustrator, and animator. Over the years she’s done everything from animating special effects for Universal Television and the Discovery Channel to animating award-winning video games for children. She’s the illustrator of a number of books for children including Samanthasaurus Rex by B. B. Mandell, the forthcoming Naughty Claudine by Patrick Jennings, 100 Bugs by Kate Narita and her own book, Confiscated! among others. Learn more about Suzanne online at suzannekaufman.com or on Twitter at @suzannekaufman.