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Mailbox Monday #606

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:

By Broad Potomac’s Shore: Great Poems from the Early Days of Our Nation’s Capital edited by Kim Roberts

Following her successful Literary Guide to Washington, DC, which Library Journal called “the perfect accompaniment for a literature-inspired vacation in the US capital,” Kim Roberts returns with a comprehensive anthology of poems by both well-known and overlooked poets working and living in the capital from the city’s founding in 1800 to 1930. Roberts expertly presents the work of 132 poets, including poems by celebrated DC writers such as Francis Scott Key, Walt Whitman, Frederick Douglass, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Ambrose Bierce, Henry Adams, and James Weldon Johnson, as well as the work of lesser-known poets–especially women, writers of color, and working-class writers. A significant number of the poems are by writers who were born enslaved, such as Fanny Jackson Coppin, T. Thomas Fortune, and John Sella Martin.

The book is arranged thematically, representing the poetic work happening in our nation’s capital from its founding through the Civil War, Reconstruction, World War I, and the beginnings of literary modernism. The city has always been home to prominent poets–including presidents and congressmen, lawyers and Supreme Court judges, foreign diplomats, US poets laureate, professors, and inventors–as well as writers from across the country who came to Washington as correspondents. A broad range of voices is represented in this incomparable volume.

The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs: 100+ Recipes that You’ll Love to Cook and Eat by America’s Test Kitchen Kids for someone’s present.

For the first time ever, America’s Test Kitchen is bringing their scientific know-how, rigorous testing, and hands-on learning to KIDS in the kitchen!

Using kid-tested and approved recipes, America’s Test Kitchen has created THE cookbook every kid chef needs on their shelf. Whether you’re cooking for yourself, your friends, or your family, The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs has delicious recipes that will wow!

  • Recipes were thoroughly tested by more than 750 kids to get them just right for cooks of all skill levels―including recipes for breakfast, snacks and beverages, dinners, desserts, and more.
  • Step-by-step photos of tips and techniques will help young chefs feel like pros in their own kitchen
  • Testimonials (and even some product reviews!) from kid test cooks who worked alongside America’s Test Kitchen will encourage young chefs that they truly are learning the best recipes from the best cooks.

By empowering young chefs to make their own choices in the kitchen, America’s Test Kitchen is building a new generation of confident cooks, engaged eaters, and curious experimenters.

What did you receive?

Book Spotlight: …but that’s not me.: Fitting the pieces together. The pieces of us all. by Erika Shalene Hull and Dr. Cheryl Lejewell Jackson

New in December! …but that’s not me.: Fitting the pieces together. The pieces of us all.

Detailing the journeys of multiple women as they entered, endured, and escaped a wide range of domestic abuse, …but that’s not me. is a bold and powerful homage to strength, courage, and resilience. Stories are intertwined with hard-hitting truths about what domestic abuse is, how we find ourselves in abusive situations, the perpetuation of abuse, and the path to recovery.

The problem is not the amount or availability of information but the ability to recognize what is happening in the moments of the abuse. By telling the stories of average, hard-working women in middle-America, Hull and Jackson invite you into an awareness traditionally silenced, bringing attention to painful realities of abuse that will linger, etched on your heart, long after the book is closed.

Hull and Jackson write: “We aren’t out to hurt anyone, and it would be a lot safer and more comfortable to not tell these stories at all. But when we look at the faces of our children, our friends, and those suffering in silence, we can’t quietly sit back any longer. By having these uncomfortable conversations, we hope to encourage you to believe in yourself, learn to set better boundaries, and know that you are worthy and deserving of so much more.”

To me, these stories are important reminders that we need to care for our mental health and learn to establish boundaries that will keep us healthy and protected.

The Magic Doll: A Children’s Book Inspired by African Art by Adrienne Yabouza, illustrated by Élodie Nouhen

Source: Media Masters Publicity

Hardcover, 32 pgs

I am an Amazon Affiliate

The Magic Doll: A Children’s Book Inspired by African Art by Adrienne Yabouza, illustrated by Élodie Nouhen, is an inspirational tale of a family in a small village in West Africa in which a girls explains the special way in which she was born. Unlike other newlyweds, her mother and father struggled to conceive a child in their first years of marriage. The father suggests that she have a carved doll made to hasten the fertility process. The mother does so and carries the wooden child around with her.

This story is touching in how it tackles the struggles of fertility and the traditions of Akua-Ba fertility figures of the Akan people of Ghana. My daughter asked a lot of questions about these dolls and what was going on, and many of these questions were answered in the back of the book. We had a good discussion about this cultural tradition. We loved the collage-like images and the colors. It was a gentle story complimented by the color-scheme chosen by the illustrator.

The Magic Doll: A Children’s Book Inspired by African Art by Adrienne Yabouza, illustrated by Élodie Nouhen, was a wonderful story about family, fertility, and relationships between mothers and their children.

RATING: Quatrain

The Little Dancer: A Children’s Book Inspired by Edgar Degas by Géraldine Elschner, illustrated by Olivier Desvaux

Source: Media Masters Publicity

Hardcover, 32 pgs.

I am an Amazon Affiliate

The Little Dancer: A Children’s Book Inspired by Edgar Degas by Géraldine Elschner, illustrated by Olivier Desvaux, is the perfect holiday gift for the ballerina’s in your family, as well as the artists. Not only will children see ballet through the eyes of a young child who’s a ballerina, but they will also see the wonder captured by the hands and eyes of Edgar Degas.

Jeanne’s mother sacrifices everything to move to Paris to help her daughter achieve her dreams, but while ballet is not precisely what she’s after, her role in the background on stage catches the eye of Degas. Marie, another ballet dancer in the corps, has taken ill and Jeanne is asked to stand in as a model until her return. This will mean additional money for her family.

Degas’ techniques are explored, and the illustrations are gorgeous reproductions of his art. The entire book is similar to his style. While the book focuses on the awe of ballet and art, it does not shy away from the desperate times many of these ballerina’s faced as members of poor families.

My daughter and I loved this book, and it probably doesn’t hurt that her favorite movie that we’ve seen a million times is Leap! about a girl facing similar choices, and not always making the best ones. Here, Jeanne seems to have a good head on her shoulders and makes some good choices to earn her family more money. While we do not know exactly what happens to her career, it does provide a look at the ballet corps’ use of children to fill the backstage and the unique opportunities some of them found there.

The Little Dancer: A Children’s Book Inspired by Edgar Degas by Géraldine Elschner, illustrated by Olivier Desvaux, is definitely a book you’ll want to share with your artists and ballerinas.

RATING: Cinquain

Mailbox Monday #605

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:

1932 by Karen M. Cox, purchased from Audible.

During the upheaval of the Great Depression, Elizabeth Bennet’s life is torn asunder. Her family’s relocation from the bustle of the big city to a quiet family farm has changed her future, and now, she must build a new life in rural Meryton, Kentucky.

William Darcy suffered family turmoil of his own, but he has settled into a peaceful life at Pemberley, the largest farm in the county. Single, rich, and seemingly content, he remains aloof—immune to any woman’s charms.

Until Elizabeth Bennet moves to town.

As Darcy begins to yearn for something he knows is missing, Elizabeth’s circumstances become more dire. Can the two put aside their pride and prejudices long enough to find their way to each other?

Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey, purchased from Audible.

I’ve been in this life for 50 years, been trying to work out its riddle for 42, and been keeping diaries of clues to that riddle for the last 35. Notes about successes and failures, joys and sorrows, things that made me marvel, and things that made me laugh out loud. How to be fair. How to have less stress. How to have fun. How to hurt people less. How to get hurt less. How to be a good man. How to have meaning in life. How to be more me.

Recently, I worked up the courage to sit down with those diaries. I found stories I experienced, lessons I learned and forgot, poems, prayers, prescriptions, beliefs about what matters, some great photographs, and a whole bunch of bumper stickers. I found a reliable theme, an approach to living that gave me more satisfaction, at the time, and still: If you know how, and when, to deal with life’s challenges – how to get relative with the inevitable – you can enjoy a state of success I call “catching greenlights”. So I took a one-way ticket to the desert and wrote this book: an album, a record, a story of my life so far. This is 50 years of my sights and seens, felts and figured-outs, cools and shamefuls. Graces, truths, and beauties of brutality. Getting away withs, getting caughts, and getting wets while trying to dance between the raindrops. Hopefully, it’s medicine that tastes good, a couple of aspirin instead of the infirmary, a spaceship to Mars without needing your pilot’s license, going to church without having to be born again, and laughing through the tears. It’s a love letter. To life. It’s also a guide to catching more greenlights – and to realizing that the yellows and reds eventually turn green, too. Good luck.

Cold Moon: On Life, Love, and Responsibility by Roger Rosenblatt, borrowed.

The Cold Moon occurs in late December, auguring the arrival of the winter solstice. Approaching the winter solstice of his own life, Roger Rosenblatt offers a book dedicated to the three most important lessons he has learned over his many years: an appreciation of being alive, a recognition of the gift and power of love, and the necessity of exercising responsibility toward one another. In a rough-and-tumble journey that moves like the sea, Rosenblatt rolls from elegy to comedy, distilling a lifetime of great tales and moments into a tonic for these perilous and fearful times. Cold Moon: a book to offer purpose, to focus the attention on life’s essentials, and to lift the spirit.​

Now We’re Getting Somewhere by Kim Addonizio for review.

An essential companion to your practice of the Finnish art of kal-sarikännit—drinking at home, alone in your underwear, with no intention of going out—Now We’re Getting Somewhere charts a hazardous course through heartache, climate change, dental work, Dorothy Parker, John Keats, Outlander, semiotics, and more. The poems are sometimes confessional, sometimes philosophical, weaving from desolation to drollery. A poet whose “voice lifts from the page, alive and biting” (San Francisco Book Review), Kim Addonizio reminds her reader, “If you think nothing and no one can / listen I love you joy is coming.”

Made to Explode by Sandra Beasley for review.

In her fourth collection, acclaimed poet Sandra Beasley interrogates the landscapes of her life in decisive, fearless, and precise poems that fuse intimacy and intensity. She probes memories of growing up in Virginia, in Thomas Jefferson’s shadow, where liberal affluence obscured and perpetuated racist aggressions, but where the poet was simultaneously steeped in the cultural traditions of the American South. Her home in Washington, DC, inspires prose poems documenting and critiquing our capital’s institutions and monuments.

In these poems, Ruth Bader Ginsberg shows up at the Folger Shakespeare Theatre’s show of Kiss Me Kate; Albert Einstein is memorialized on Constitution Avenue, yet was denied clearance for the Manhattan Project; as temperatures cool, a rain of spiders drops from the dome of the Jefferson Memorial. A stirring suite explores Beasley’s affiliation with the disability community and her frustration with the ways society codes disability as inferiority.

Quintessentially American and painfully timely, these poems examine legacies of racism and whiteness, the shadow of monuments to a world we are unmaking, and the privileges the poet is working to untangle. Made to Explode boldly reckons with Beasley’s roots and seeks out resonance in society writ large.

Space Encyclopedia, 2nd Edition: A Tour of Our Solar System and Beyond published by National Geographic Kids for review.

The updated and expanded edition of the hit Space Encyclopedia presents the most up-to-date findings on space exploration and research and breathtaking views of the universe, as captured by the latest and greatest technology, including the recent first ever image of a black hole. This complete reference contains everything kids need to know about our sun and planets including the new dwarf planets, the formation of the universe, space travel, the possibility of life beyond Earth, and more. Authored by David A. Aguilar, an internationally recognized astronomer and former Director of Science Information and Public Outreach at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, it is an authoritative and beautifully illustrated must-have for every family, providing both accessible information for school reports and compelling reading on the mysteries beyond our planet.

Nerdlet: Animals published by National Geographic Kids for review.

Sometimes big nerdiness comes in a small package–and this little book is an animal nerd’s dream! Meet animals of all kinds–from sharks and moles to orangutans and okapis– in this quirky, jam-packed original from National Geographic Kids. If you thought you were brainy, take a look at the incredible critters in this book. Inside, you’ll find a spider that spends its whole life in a bubble and birds that build nests so big, they’re like avian apartment complexes! (And we’re just getting started!) In this little animal “Nerdlet” you’ll learn about the weirdest, coolest, most amazing creatures in the animal kingdom–and what makes them so complex. Plus, you’ll have some of your most burning animal questions answered, such as What’s the deal with crocodile tears? And you’ll meet people who get to be around animals for a living and travel to animal destinations around the world. You’ll also find personality quizzes, fun facts, animal superheroes, and even a Star Wars reference … or two.

What did you receive?

COVID Chronicle #2

COVID-19 is here to stay for the foreseeable future, but there is some good news — Pfizer may have a vaccine that’s 90% effective.

Even as I say that and after reading the study, the sample size is small and doesn’t include severe cases of COVID or the elderly, but I’m going to be hopeful about it. We all need some of that these days.

Rather than lament the things we’ve lost or the frustrations I have most days, I’m going to share with you some good things that have and will be happening this month.

  1. My daughter had her first swim meet (in a separate pool from the competition)
  2. Join us for the Facebook Launch of The Beltway Poetry Quarterly: Art in Times of Crisis Vol. 2 on Nov. 14 at 3 p.m. Please register in advance.
  3. I’ll be reading my poems from The Plague Papers anthology on Nov. 17 at 5 p.m. EST, want to join? Email for the Zoom link:[email protected]

I would love to hear what good things are going on in your world, despite the lock downs and the craziness of the world around us.

Guest Post: Ben Teeter Shares His Poetic Inspiration for Falling Into All

Please welcome today’s guest, poet Ben Teeter.

He’ll be sharing a couple of poems and the inspiration behind those poems from Falling Into All, which will be published February 2021.

But first, I wanted to share a little bit about the collection, which could provide some of you with solace in these turbulent times.

Book Synopsis:

Falling into All details the essence of knowing, and the seeking out of truth, inspired by the author’s study of spiritual teachings across cultures and the ages.

Falling into All was written in the morning quiet, meditated on, and is sprung from words always stirring within the heart of the poet, and now ready for the world. The words within are meant to be shared, to encourage others to look inside themselves, and to open a way to understanding beauty and truth, so it may spread to all who seek it.

Do you have a spiritual artist in your heart?

Are you seeking to be closer to a higher sense of Self?

Open the pages, awaken your mind, and fall into the waiting divine.

Please welcome, Ben:

What inspired me to write this assembly of poetry?

Over the years of reading the literature of the spiritual-minded among us, I have often felt the frustration of the words’ failure to capture and express what is meant, or to actually convey an experience, for it to be truly shared.

Often, there was a broad vagueness, or an over- complexity, or perhaps a most important idea locked away in an antiquated word that does not crack open.

Yet I feel that these spiritual things are truly the most important things to be expressed, and realized, about this, our Life.

So I have spent some years in a practice of trying to capture for myself the Subtle and to wrap it in words, going for clarity, and the distinct sharing of what is felt.

That has been my inspiration and that is what I have tried to do here with the book, Falling Into All.

Here are two pieces from Falling Into All which exemplify how one of the themes may occur and then recur, in the flow of ideas and words.

 

People
Work and move
Surrounded in a mind
Aflow with daily care
And often seem to miss the
Big Where.
But, notice
Where we are!
Here
I stop and
Stare.

(pg. 47)

When you shift your focus to
Infinity all around you,
Like a snow of jewels,
Without surcease,
Instead of a form or two:
A job, a meal, some words,
Then Heart’s eye flutters open,
Pouring Gratitude,
Impaled in Peace.

(pg. 73)

Falling Into All will be available in February, 2021.

If someone would like to see more of this work, in the meantime, there is a small book called Forever Free, currently available for free download as an Ebook at WiseWordWind.com.

Thank you, Ben, for sharing these poems and your work with us.

About the Poet:

Ben R. Teeter was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Maryland, amidst the blended cultures of his dad’s old Appalachian ways, of tough work and nature’s beauty, and his mom’s more jolly family life of prosperous, rural Americana. At John Hopkins University, in the midst of the late 1960s cultural shifts, his focus moved to the spiritual, metaphysical, and transcendental. From there he began his life-long pursuit of searching for deep wisdom and understanding, and has practiced internal yoga and Akido, the latter of which he has taught to others for over 30 years. He is a creative designer of houses and an experienced mason and master carpenter. He lives in San Diego, CA. Visit his website.

Veteran’s Day 2020

Interview with Mimi Matthews, author of Gentleman Jim

Today, I have a special guest in the historical fiction sub-genre and while not Austen-related, it caught my attention because it reminded me of one of my favorite books (though they are both quite different). Hidden identities always fascinate me, and this novel has that and more.

Book Synopsis:

She Couldn’t Forget…

Wealthy squire’s daughter Margaret Honeywell was always meant to marry her neighbor, Frederick Burton-Smythe, but it’s bastard-born Nicholas Seaton who has her heart. Raised alongside her on her father’s estate, Nick is the rumored son of notorious highwayman Gentleman Jim. When Fred frames him for theft, Nick escapes into the night, vowing to find his legendary sire. But Nick never returns. A decade later, he’s long been presumed dead.

He Wouldn’t Forgive…

After years spent on the continent, John Beresford, Viscount St. Clare has finally come home to England. Tall, blond, and dangerous, he’s on a mission to restore his family’s honor. If he can mete out a bit of revenge along the way, so much the better. But he hasn’t reckoned for Maggie Honeywell. She’s bold and beautiful– and entirely convinced he’s someone else. As danger closes in, St. Clare is torn between love and vengeance. Will he sacrifice one to gain other? Or, with a little daring, will he find a way to have them both?

This reminds me of the Scarlet Pimpernel in some ways. This could be an escape for those who need it most.

Let’s chat with Mimi Matthews:

What inspired you to write Gentleman Jim?

Mimi Matthews: Gentleman Jim was inspired by two historical novels: Henry Fielding’s 1749 novel The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, and Alexandre Dumas’s 1844 novel The Count of Monte Cristo. It’s my attempt at a swashbuckling Regency adventure novel, with lots of romance and revenge.

Your novels are usually set in the Victorian era, why did you decide to set this one in the Regency?

MM: The Regency era was much less restrictive than the Victorian era. There wasn’t as much restraint to it, and Gentleman Jim is a story that doesn’t have a great deal of restraint between the characters, whether they’re dueling, brawling, or falling passionately in love.

Though still closed door, this is your hottest novel to date. Is this going to be a trend going forward?

MM: The heat level of my stories very much depends on the characters. For this novel, it had to be hotter. That’s just the kind of romance the hero and heroine have. They’re both incredibly passionate, hot-tempered people.

The title of this novel is similar to a recent HBO series, Gentleman Jack. Do the stories have any similarities?

MM: None at all. The fact is, I wrote the first 1/3 of Gentleman Jim many years ago. Then, it was actually titled Gentleman Jack. By the time I got around to finishing it, the HBO series had already come out, so I knew I’d have to change my title. I just tried to keep it as close to my original as possible.

Any plans to write a sequel to Gentleman Jim?

MM: Actually, I do have a few ideas for the children of the hero and heroine. It all depends on my writing schedule, and—of course—how well Gentleman Jim sells!

What’s next for you?

MM: Right now, I’m working on The Siren of Sussex, the first book in a new Victorian series I’m writing for the Berkley imprint at Penguin Random House. It’s the story of Ahmad Malik, a half Indian habit-maker in 1860s London, and Sussex- born Evelyn Maltravers, the bold bluestocking equestrienne who becomes his love and his muse. Ahmad was a supporting character in my USA Today bestselling Parish Orphans of Devon series.

Thank you, Mimi, for joining us today and sharing some insight into Gentleman Jim.

About the Author:

USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews writes both historical nonfiction and award-winning proper Victorian romances. Her novels have received starred reviews in Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, and Kirkus, and her articles have been featured on the Victorian Web, the Journal of Victorian Culture, and in syndication at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes a retired Andalusian dressage horse, a Sheltie, and two Siamese cats. Her next romance, The Siren of Sussex, will be out in 2022 from Berkley/Penguin Random House. Follow her on GoodReads, BookBub, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter.

Follow the rest of the blog tour (Nov. 9 to Dec. 6) with the hashtags: #GentlemanJim, #HistoricalRomance, #HistoricalFiction, #RegencyRomance, #SwashbucklingHero, #MimiMatthews, #BlogTour

Check out the previous tour stops at Relz Reviewz for a Character Spotlight, a review at Life of Literature, and a review at Austenprose—A Jane Austen Blog.

Also today, check out the review at Greenish Bookshelf.

Mailbox Monday #604

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:

Elizabeth: Obstinate Headstrong Girl edited by Christina Boyd from Audible.

Each anthology in the Quill Collective series is a stand-alone book.“Obstinate, headstrong girl!” For over two hundred years, the heroine of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, Elizabeth Bennet has enchanted and inspired readers by being that “obstinate, headstrong girl” willing to stand up to the arrogance and snobbery of her so-called betters. Described by Austen as having a “lively, playful disposition,” Elizabeth embodies the perfect imperfections of strong-willed women everywhere: she is spirited, witty, clever, and loyal. In this romance anthology, ten Austenesque authors sketch Elizabeth’s character through a collection of re-imaginings, set in the Regency through contemporary times. In ELIZABETH: OBSTINATE, HEADSTRONG GIRL, she bares her most intimate thoughts, all the while offering biting social commentary about life’s absurdities. Elizabeth overcomes the obstacles of others’ opinions, not to mention her own flaws, to find a love truly worthy of her—her Mr. Darcy—all with humor and her sparkling charm. “I think her as delightful a character as ever appeared in print…” wrote Jane Austen in a letter to her sister Cassandra, January 1813―and we think so too! Foreword by NY Times & USA Today bestselling author Tessa Dare. Stories by: Elizabeth Adams, Christina Boyd, Karen M Cox, J. Marie Croft, Amy D’Orazio, Leigh Dreyer, Jenetta James, Christina Morland, Beau North, and Joana Starnes.

Drawing Mr. Darcy: Sketching His Character by Melanie Rachel from JAFF Writer/Reader Get Together goodie bag.

When Thomas Bennet’s childless aunt and uncle ask that one of his five daughters come to stay with them, he knows just which girl to send. Bright, energetic, and endlessly inquisitive, his little Lizzy is poised to become the apple of her father’s eye and the target of her mother’s fears. Neither will promote family harmony.

When she returns to Longbourn as a young woman, Elizabeth Bennet Russell has had an unconventional upbringing. She is in possession of an important name, a fine education, a good fortune, and a love of drawing. When her parents ask her not to use her Russell surname while she is home, she reluctantly agrees. After all, nobody she knows will meet her in Hertfordshire.

She’s mostly right.

Drawing helps Elizabeth to literally sketch people’s character, and she’s become rather good at it. But she’s about to face her greatest challenge yet. Netherfield Park is let at last, and her good friend’s much older brother–whom she has yet to meet–has arrived as a guest.

It will take Elizabeth more than a drawing to help her understand Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.

Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Surprise by Debra-Ann Kummoung from the JAFF Writer/Reader Get Together goodie bag.

Mr. Darcy is grieving and a young lady is desperate to cheer him.

Can Elizabeth Bennet help Mr. Darcy with the assistance of friends and a puppy in time for Christmas?

Previously released as part of Most Ardently – A Jane Austen Inspired Christmas Anthology.

The Long Road to Longbourn by Renata McMann and Summer Hanford from the JAFF Writer/Reader Get Together goodie bag.

Fitzwilliam Darcy has nearly everything a gentleman could want. Looks, wealth, connections. He lacks but one aspect of a perfect life, a bride. He’s chosen Miss Elizabeth Bennet to fill the role but when he proposes, to his utmost chagrin, she refuses him in no uncertain terms. His heart stomped on by a country miss who is by no societal measure his equal, he can’t imagine a worse moment.

Elizabeth Bennet does not care for Mr. Darcy and his highhanded, supercilious ways and wants nothing more to do with him. She hopes, in view of her vehement refusal of his proposal, to never set eyes on him again. After all, a man with Mr. Darcy’s pride can hardly be expected to bear her company after the strong words she’s issued.

Fate, however, has more plans for Elizabeth and Darcy. The moment before they mean to separate forever, both are abducted and whisked away on a harrowing journey. To save themselves and return home, they must band together to surmount perils, overcome obstacles and decide whom to trust. Join Darcy and Elizabeth on their journey as they take the long road back to Longbourn… and to love.

From Ashes to Heiresses by Renata McMann and Summer Hanford from the JAFF Writer/Reader Get Together goodie bag.

With the rest of their family gone and their home destroyed, Elizabeth and Jane are taken in by their aunt and uncle in Meryton. Concerned about the two surviving Bennet sisters’ situation, Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley come to Hertfordshire, but not before Mr. Wickham attempts to use the situation to his advantage.

What did you receive?

America the Beautiful: A Story in Photographs

Source: TLC Book Tours

Hardcover, 400 pgs.

I am an Amazon Affiliate

America the Beautiful: A Story in Photographs, published by National Geographic, tells the story of our country in photographs and is broken down by region: the West and Pacific, the East and mid-Atlantic, the South and Caribbean, and the Midwest and central plains. Katharine Lee Bates and her work are the spine holding the volume together from her poem/song “America, the Beautiful” to her 1893 pilgrimage across the United States. Like the divisions in America today politically, Bates saw much the same debates and divisions on her journey, but she saw the merciless beauty in all of it, and documented her journey in a diary. What’s beautiful about the poem and this collection is that it not only praises the beauty of our country but never fails to criticize its flaws and call for evolution/improvement. “America! America!/God mend thine ev’ry flaw.”

The photographs in this collection are stunning. Some state photographs are accompanied by stories from authors, actors, and others who are from those states, including Tara Westover and Maya Rudolph. The glorious gray wolves in their natural habitat and the Zuni women of Arizona in their finery and dresses awaiting a celebration. Imagine yourself flying high in the traditional blanket toss in Alaska during whaling festival. Hear about the glories of Las Vegas beyond the gambling and the Neon lights from Wayne Newton. Even Barack Obama makes an appearance to share his memories of Hawaii, and the celebration of the Harlem Hellfighters in a photograph of a granddaughter holding her grandfather’s portrait, draped in an American flag. Some of my favorites are the portraits in sepia; they are gorgeous and there is so much depth in these American faces.

There is a serene calm of Walden Pond in Massachusetts, contrasted with the crowded beaches of New Jersey (at least before COVID-19). Play hide-and-seek with a young boy in Idaho in his father’s cornfield. So much joy in these photographs and stories told in captions and quotations. Fruit so bountiful and children joyous in the streets of Washington, D.C., as they take the summer heat in stride. Tattoo artists, American flags in a field, gray seals playing in the ocean, the weary faces of coal miners in West Virginia the sleepy faces of Appalachian Trail hikers, the camouflage of an alligator in duckweed, the fields of cabbage in Arkansas provide a snapshot of America and all of its faces and landscapes.

America the Beautiful: A Story in Photographs, published by National Geographic, is a love story for our nation. There is beauty in the harvest of Kansas, as rows of wheat give away to what begins to look like a race track, alongside the children in Illinois sharing the spray of water in Chicago’s Millennium Park. Photographs speak a thousand words, and what this collection tells me is that America may have differences and at times be at war with itself, but we are more similar than we think. We are one nation, something we need to remember.

RATING: Cinquain

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill (audio)

Source: Purchased

Audible, 11+ hours

I am an Amazon affiliate

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill, narrated by Stephen Lang, is a ghost story from the beginning to the end, but Judas Coyne (formerly Justin Cowzynski) is an unlikable character with a penchant for collecting macabre items. This penchant is what gets him into a big mess — all of his sins come to roost as he battles the unseen man tied to a suit he buys online in a heart-shaped box. He has effectively retired from public life after his bandmates have either killed themselves or died, but little else has changed with his life — still moving from woman to woman and collecting oddities on the underground web.

Lang is a decent narrator no matter the character and he has the timbre to create a creepy atmosphere.

Jude and his latest woman (like all his women are called by their former state of residence) find that they are locked together in a battle against a ghostly man who is out for revenge. It’s clear this ghost hasn’t had a lot of practice with revenge from beyond the grave, but Jude gets some help from his former girlfriend who has been dead for some time. Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill, narrated by Stephen Lang, is a dark tale of beyond-the-grave revenge.

RATING: Quatrain