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Mailbox Monday #536

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia 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:

National Geographic Kids: Weird But True: USA

Calling all patriots! Get ready to explore wacky wonders, facts, stats, tidbits, and trivia about America’s 50 states and territories! Did you know that there is a floating post office in Michigan? Or that a library book checked out by George Washington was returned to a New York City library 221 years late? Maybe you’d be amazed to discover that the ink used to print U.S. paper money is magnetic? In this latest and greatest edition of Weird But True!, you’ll encounter all kinds of bizarre people, places, events, and things that make our country great.

What did you receive?

Guest Post & Giveaway: Nicole Clarkston, Author of Nefarious,

Please welcome, Nicole Clarkston to the blog with her new variation, Nefarious.

About the Book:

He hates everything about her.
She despises him even more.
So why is his heart so determined to belong to her?

Once trapped by marriage to a woman he loathed, Fitzwilliam Darcy is finally free again. Resentful, bewildered, and angry, he is eager to begin his life over—preferably with a woman who is the exact opposite of his wife.

He never imagined a short stay in Hertfordshire would bring him face to face with his worst nightmare; a woman similar in face, form, and name. He certainly never expected her to be so impossible to ignore. Torn between what he believes he wants and what his heart cannot live without, his dignity begins to unravel. Will his desperation to escape his past drive a wedge into his closest friendship and destroy any hope of a future?

Will Miss Elizabeth Bennet prove to be as nefarious as his wife? Or, will the last woman in the world be his only chance at happiness?

Today’s guest post and stay tuned for the giveaway:

This is the last vignette in the blog tour, and I had to write it at a pivotal moment in Elizabeth and Darcy’s relationship. He has returned from London, patched things up with Bingley (spoiler!) and is now hoping to win Elizabeth’s good opinion.

This same scene is present in the book in Chapter 21, but here it is again, told this time from Elizabeth’s point of view. If you’re wondering whether they understand each other any better by now, perhaps you might try comparing their mutual embarrassment and hopes, as presented in the two accounts. For now, just enjoy Elizabeth in Love.

Thank you to everyone who has followed the blog tour, and thank you so much to Serena for hosting today! It has been great fun chatting with everyone, and good luck in the drawings!

I watched him from across the room as I poured yet another cup of tea. Fitzwilliam Darcy—the man who had been so repugnant and hateful when he first came to Hertfordshire that almost no one could speak well of him. And yet, there he stood now with Sir William, and… I blinked two or three times so I might verify what my eyes told me. He was laughing!

Had I not seen Mr Darcy in his own home or borne witness to the earnest affection with which he regarded his sister, I could not have credited it. I would have assumed his good humour to be a fabrication, designed to please in the moment for some untold purpose of his own. But I had seen him—moreover, I had heard him. I had read his words—honest, heart-felt words that still broke my heart when I read them over again. And I had seen that crushed, desolate look in his eyes when I spurned him.

My hand trembled on the pot when I sensed his gaze sweeping over me again. I looked down, hoping he would not have seen how I watched him. A moment later, when I dared to raise my eyes, I found that my mother had come to stand beside him, and that Sir William had excused himself. When I heard her gushing “Five thousand a year!” my humiliation found new lows.

Yet, Mr Darcy stood patiently speaking with my mother as she lauded Jane’s good fortune in securing Mr Bingley. He praised his friend, spoke warmly of his hopes for my sister’s happiness, and affirmed all my mother’s wishes.

I had to peer at him again. No… I was staring, open-mouthed and astonished. Occasionally, his eyes would rove beyond my mother’s face, but I was spared the mortification of discovery when, at each occasion, my mother moved to stand before him. She seemed determined to have his undivided attention, and he, with a graciousness I would not have supposed him to possess, obliged her.

Maria Lucas drew near, and I offered to fill her cup for her. She cast a glance over her shoulder, then whispered, “Lizzy, is that the same Mr Darcy we saw before?”

“Of course, it is, Maria. Did you suppose him to be a changeling?”

“No,” she hissed softly. “But I thought perhaps it was a relation. He looks like the same Mr Darcy, but then, he does not. Are you certain this is not Mr Darcy’s younger brother?”

“Quite certain, Maria. He greeted us all when he arrived, and we were not strangers to him.”

“I suppose.” She looked doubtful, then brightened. “Why, if it is the same Mr Darcy, that means he is vastly wealthy, is he not? Perhaps I ought to try to catch his notice.”

I chuckled quietly. “I wish you success, then.”

“Oh, I fancy I shall be far beneath his notice, but no more will Lydia be able to please him. Look at her, Lizzy! She has smeared some of Kitty’s paints on her gown. Oh, dear, what will your mother say when she sees it?”

I set my teeth grimly and looked down. “Likely it is Hill who will make the complaint about the stain.”

“Why, Lizzy, whatever is the matter? You look put out over something. Have I said something wrong?”

“No, Maria,” I apologised. “Do forgive me. I am not quite feeling myself this evening, that is all.”

“Oh.” She lifted her shoulders. “You must be falling ill. I suppose you will be in bed all day tomorrow with the head ache. That is how it comes on for my mother, and it is always due to some great disappointment. Are you sorry that Jane is to marry?”

“How could I be? No, Maria, I am perfectly happy for her. See how she smiles? Why, she is radiant! I shall miss her, I will confess, but I could not be more delighted for her.”

Maria looked and nodded agreeably, then found something more diverting. After she went away, I turned my ears to catch Mr Darcy’s words again when I heard my mother speaking my own name. “… But I am afraid my poor Lizzy is not quite in looks these days,” she was lamenting.

My cheeks flamed, and I gripped the sides of the tea cart for support. How could she say such a thing of me, and before him, of all people? But then, Mr Darcy’s voice lifted in my defence, and I heard his answering praise with a hope flickering in my bosom.

“Miss Elizabeth is looking exceptionally well,” he said, and I, who had come to know his tones so well, could discern a thickness to his voice that had not been present before.

“Oh, but she was so greatly diminished when she came away from London,” my mother protested. “It was the news of poor Mr Wickham going that did it, I am sure. Else she is overcome with concern for my brother, Mr Gardiner. Do you know, it is likely that he will lose his warehouse! Oh, but you mustn’t be interested in that. Surely, you need more tea. Lizzy, dear, look sharp! Mr Darcy’s cup is cold.”

My stomach was twisted into knots. How dare she slander my uncle, and in the same breath, ascribe care for that scoundrel to me! And then to pronounce her beliefs to Mr Darcy, claiming some affection for Mr Wickham!—a man I could not think of but with disrespect—it was everything intolerable. But she had tasked me to perform to our guest now, and I could not refuse with good grace—nor did I wish to permit her to continue bending his ear.

I lifted my head and steadily met his eye, but then, my mother was leaning confidentially towards Mr Darcy. She was whispering something to him, gesturing apologetically towards Lydia while directing him to receive a fresh cup from me. I saw the pained look cross his face, the dimple of his brow as he glanced once more to Lydia… and then the desperate relief when she at last permitted him to step away.

I dropped my gaze as he approached, pouring studiously, but then I thought better of the cup I had meant to serve him and drew out another. I swirled the pot so the dark richness would rise from the bottom, then poured it for him. Then, recalling how he preferred only a hint of sugar, I began to break a lump for him, but he surprised me by staying my hand. I watched in fascination as he took the whole lump and dropped it unceremoniously into his cup.

“Would it be gluttonous of me to ask for a second lump?” he asked.

I hid a smile from him—did I dare tease and jest with him as we had done in London? I glanced up once in curiosity, then looked instantly away as I gave him the sugar. Was it possible that he no longer savoured the bitter as he had once done? I wondered if that meant something more consequential than a simple alteration in his culinary tastes.

“Am I unwelcome, Miss Elizabeth?” that voice, rich as molasses, enquired. “I had dearly hoped that would not be so.”

I looked back up. “Unwelcome, sir?”

“Yes, I have been here half an hour, and you have spoken to me only once, when I first arrived. I hope my presence does not distress you.”

Distress me… oh, how it distressed me! But not in the conventional way. My tongue was an insensible mass behind my teeth, my stomach was a useless snarl of nerves, and my head felt full of light flashes and irrepressible memories of better days and worse days. I swallowed and lied, “Not at all, Mr Darcy.”

“You did encourage me to write to Mr Bingley,” he added, as if he credited me with his entire presence here in Hertfordshire.

“I did,” I confessed slowly, “and I am glad you have done so. It has made him very happy.”

My hands itched in their idleness, so I began preparing a second cup without knowing precisely who was to drink it. Perhaps I ought to be so bold, to step away from the cart and draw near to the mantel with Mr Darcy so that we might talk…

“Dare I hope he is not the only one to be made happy?” Mr Darcy asked, with a faint hitch in his voice.

I stopped pouring and caught my breath. “We ought always to rejoice when a friendship has been restored,” I answered carefully.

I wanted to say more… to welcome him with open pleasure, to call him my friend—or perhaps something infinitely more dear—but my eye happened to catch my mother across the room, as she was swatting at Lydia’s fichu and fussing that it was too low. Oh, I could not speak of lovely, important things with my own family’s impropriety forever in my mind! Best not to speak at all, or to wait… yes, perhaps I would defer the pleasure.

And so, I said all I knew to say. I tried to distract him, to dismiss him, and I ached as I said the words. “Is your tea strong enough, Mr Darcy, or would you like a different cup?”

I looked up to him again, and I could not quite read what was in his eyes. Hurt, surely. Doubt… insecurity… but there remained a flicker of hope there.

“Thank you, Miss Elizabeth, it is perfectly satisfactory,” he replied, slowly backing away.

I dipped my head. “You are welcome, Mr Darcy. Quite welcome.”

He stopped in the midst of turning away, and I offered him a careful smile. Not too revealing, not too warm, but enough, I hoped, that he might resume the conversation another day.

I stared at his back as he found my father and engaged him in a discussion about poetry. Another day… perhaps the morrow. I glanced at the window, where the sky was already beginning to grow dim for the day. If the rains did not come overnight, I would walk towards Netherfield in the morning, and hope.

GIVEAWAY: (Choose your option and leave a comment)

  1. Signed Paperback of winner’s choice (US only)
  2. $10 Amazon Gift Card plus eBook or Audiobook of winner’s choice (International)

Deadline is June 21, 2019 by 11:59 PM EST

Birthday Suit by Lauren Blakely (audio)

Source: Purchased
Audible, 7+ hours
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Birthday Suit by Lauren Blakely — narrated by Andi Arndt, Sebastian York, and many others — is an audiobook I just had to listen to after listening to the short, Lucky Suit, which involves Lulu Diamond’s best friend Cameron. Blakely’s Leo Hennessy is smokin’ hot in a suit and for some reason, Lulu is just noticing this now, at a chocolate convention, after more than 10 years of friendship and a marriage to his best friend. But Lulu is a new woman who is laser-focused on the career she’s always wanted and felt held back from, and she’s not about to let romance get in the way of that again. Leo, on the other hand, has been ripe for romance with Lulu and his opportunity is now, but will guilt hold him back?

The main narrators — Arndt and York — have a believable chemistry and I loved that this audiobook has a full cast of narrators for a lot of characters. I would love to see this as a series of romance movies with all of these characters — Hallmark would definitely have to tone down the smut though.

Leo and Lulu solving riddles together is a delight — another case of witty repartee between characters. Blakely’s dialogue is lovely, and you can see how easily these two fall back into their friendship. There’s a comfort in how well they know each other, but they also are discovering so much more.

Leo and Lulu are endearing together, and I love that they are friends who find they cannot live without each other, but will self-imposed rules get in their way? Or can they learn to reach for the golden chalice? Birthday Suit by Lauren Blakely — narrated by Andi Arndt, Sebastian York, and many others — is like decadent chocolate that you can’t tear your eyes or mouth away from.

RATING: Cinquain

Phoenix: Transformation Poems by Jessica Goody

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 102 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Phoenix: Transformation Poems by Jessica Goody offers poems of resilience and transformation, moving beyond tragedy and disappointment to a place of peace and hope. There are times when the readers is left with an ending that has no way forward, and isn’t that the way of relationships. Sometimes they just end, like in “Bitter Tea,” where a a broken relationship cannot be mended with tea.

Or in “Changeling” where it is clear a relationship has ended and while the phone is no longer ringing, the memories of laughter and intense blue eyes are still present. These are the lingering ghosts of our lives — we carry them with us as we move on. While we mourn them, we also realize that they are a part of who we are.

Goody’s poems inspired by art and paintings are vivid and conjure images in readers heads.

From “Blue Landscape” (pg. 37)

(Marc Chagall, “Couple in a Blue Landscape,” 1949)

They lie in the curve of the crescent moon,
a cosmic cradle, a gondola hovering in the sky.
He admires her lapis hair, her bare shoulders

and sodalite skin. A thousand shades of blue flicker,
rendering them luminous and ethereal as mermaids,
blue-green women with bodies as ripe as dark plums.

Her images conjure the feeling of the painting, like the brushstrokes that created it. We are inside the painting, voyeurs just at frame’s edge. While there is beauty, there is also great sadness. The poem, “Memory,” is devastatingly beautiful as a man holds the hands of a woman he loves but who no longer remembers him as her memories have faded … been stolen away. Phoenix: Transformation Poems by Jessica Goody is the embodiment of transformation — it can be beautiful, tragic, sad, and inspiring. Goody’s work is poignant and lasting.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Poet:

Jessica Goody is the award-winning author of Defense Mechanisms: Poems on Life, Love, and Loss (Phosphene Publishing, 2016) and Phoenix: Transformation Poems (CW Books, 2019). Goody’s writing has appeared in over three dozen publications, including The Wallace Stevens Journal, Reader’s Digest, Event Horizon, The Seventh Wave, Third Wednesday, The MacGuffin, Harbinger Asylum and The Maine Review. Jessica is a columnist for SunSations Magazine and the winner of the 2016 Magnets and Ladders Poetry Prize. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Follow her blog tour with Poetic Book Tours.

Mailbox Monday #535

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia 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:

Birthday Suit by Lauren Blakely, purchased from Audible.

There is no rule in the Man Code as unbreakable as this: No matter how beautiful, smart, clever, and witty she is, do not – under any circumstances – fall in love with your best friend’s woman. Yeah. So there’s that. Look, it’s not like I didn’t know I screwed up by falling for her.

Also, for the record, unrequited love sucks big time. And, I might have cut myself some slack by now, given everything that went down in the last few years, but Lulu just walked back into my life in a big way.

There are three things I’ve never been able to resist – my friends, my family, and chocolate. Leo Hennessy? He was nowhere on that list. He’s been a true friend – a friend who walked through hell and back with me. Now, I’m stepping into my new future. I didn’t expect it to include a riddle-filled, race-against-the-clock scavenger hunt across New York City. With Leo.

Suddenly, I’m looking at this man with new eyes… But my life spun out because of a man once before, and I can’t risk my fresh start, no matter what the temptation. And Leo is most definitely a temptation of the sexiest, sweetest, and most dangerous variety. More irresistibly delicious than chocolate….

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover, purchased from Audible.

Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

Along the Broken Bay by Flora J. Solomon, an Amazon freebie.

December 1941. War has erupted in the Pacific, spelling danger for Gina Capelli Thorpe, an American expat living in Manila. When the Japanese invade and her husband goes missing, Gina flees with her daughter to the Zambales Mountains to avoid capture—or worse.

Desperate for money, medicine, and guns, the resistance recruits Gina to join their underground army and smuggles her back to Manila. There, she forges a new identity and opens a nightclub, where seductive beauties sing, dance, and tease secrets out of high-ranking Japanese officers while the wildly successful club and its enemy patrons help fund the resistance.

But operating undercover in the spotlight has Gina struggling to stay a step ahead of the Japanese. She’s risked everything to take a stand, but her club is a house of cards in the eye of a storm. Can Gina keep this delicate operation running long enough to outlast the enemy, or is she on a sure path to defeat that will put her family, her freedom, or even her life at risk?

What did you receive?

 

Publication News: 2 Poems in Bourgeon

My poetry workshop group has a range of voices and advice on poems, and I’m grateful to them for their help in refining two poems — one about bullying and one about gun violence.

Bourgeon and the wonderful editor, Gregory Luce, were kind enough to select them for publication this week. This magazine is a good resource for all things art in D.C.

You can read my poems, here.

I’ve been published by this online magazine before — my Pergola poem about my vova. I’m ecstatic to be published here again.

The Daughter’s Tale by Armando Lucas Correa

Source: TLC Book Tours
Hardcover, 320 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

The Daughter’s Tale by Armando Lucas Correa is a framed story in which Elise Duval must confront a past she has forgotten. A young woman and her daughter visit Duval and return to her items that were lost after the World War II. This is just the opening of the book of Duval’s journey from the present into the past.

“She knew well that no matter how the author fashions his characters, no matter which words he chooses, it is always the reader who holds the power of interpretation.” (pg. 12)

In 1939, Amanda and Julius Sternberg are a young family who find their home in Berlin is turning into something very ugly as the Nazi’s grow more powerful. Amanda owns a bookshop. Julius is a cardiac doctor but soon finds he’s no longer allowed to practice because he’s Jewish and when he is taken away from his family, Amanda is left to make decisions on here own for herself and her two daughters. Much of the WWII history is familiar in this story, but the connection between a mother and her daughters becomes a heavy theme throughout the book.

How do you decide what is best for yourself and your children when there is pressure not only from a government that has branded you an undesirable and from those willing to help you because they feel an obligation to your arrested husband. Correa’s novel is heartbreaking for more reasons than how many people are abused, murdered, thrown out of the only homes they have ever known, and separated from their families. Amanda has to make some tough choices and place her children’s safety above her own.

“We distance ourselves from the past far too quickly,” she told herself. (pg. 86)

Fleeing to southern France, her family finds a bit of peace. Living with Claire Duval, an old family friend, the Sternbergs fall into a rhythm of helping out at the farm and going to school. This lull is only a respite from the hunters conquering those around them. Amanda is again forced to make one of the biggest decisions to save her family.

It’s very easy to fall into this story and to feel the deep rip of these decisions and the far-reaching effects of these decisions not only on the mother, but also on the daughters. Mixed into this dynamic is Claire Duval and her own daughter, Danielle, and how they act and react to the Sternbergs and the struggles they face simply because they are offering them shelter. The bonds between these mothers and their daughters are like steel, even when memories begin to fade and details get a bit fuzzy for the children as the war continues and seems endless.

The Daughter’s Tale by Armando Lucas Correa is a beautiful tale of resilience and survival. My only complaint was that I wanted more about Viera, the eldest daughter, and I wanted more about Elise after the war. Perhaps there is a sequel in the works? I would love that! This was a wonderful story and stands as a testament to the families that faced death and horror during WWII and came out the other side more resilient than anyone would have expected.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Armando Lucas Correa is an award-winning journalist, editor, author, and the recipient of several awards from the National Association of Hispanic Publications and the Society of Professional Journalism. He is the author of the international bestseller The German Girl, which is now being published in thirteen languages. He lives in New York City with his partner and their three children. Connect: Website | Facebook | Twitter

The 3-Day Effect by Florence Williams (audio)

Source: Purchased
Audiobook, 3+ hours
I am an Amazon Affiliate

The 3-Day Effect by Florence Williams is a quick look at the effects of being out in nature and how it can “calm” the brain. Cognitive neuroscientist David Strayer, who teaches and conducts research at the University of Utah, found in his studies that creativity increases after three days spent in natural settings and his subjects improved in cognitive testing.

She takes several nature trips with different groups of people. The first group of veterans tackles the obstacles and hardships of nature easily, while the second group of women who have faced abuse in the past have a harder time dealing with nature’s struggles. Williams also takes a trip in Utah with her city friend, who writes about the benefits of city living.

Williams clearly sees the benefits of nature, but the 3-day effect may not have the same impact on everyone. The veterans took to the hikes and time in nature as a way to get some peace from the PTSD they normally experience at home with their friends, family, and others. The second group of women needed a bit of modification to see the benefits of nature, as they lived in fear for many years, reinforcing those fears in the elements was not the best option. One women who had been homeless and lived outside expressed serious concerns about camping outside where wild animals would be. Williams’ friend struggled with some of the hiking and was less than convinced that the effort to reach summits was worth it.

The 3-Day Effect by Florence Williams offers some scientific data and testing, but I wouldn’t call this a scientific study as there are no control groups for comparison and many of the data sets are too small. I also wouldn’t recommend this to people who are likely to take these anecdotal experiences and drop their medications and treatments on a whim without medical advice from a professional. I did find the book interesting to listen to and see how people reacted on the hiking trail and sleeping in nature, as well as how they felt afterward and what effects the stint in nature had on their productivity and real life.

RATING: Tercet

Mailbox Monday #534

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia 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:

The 3-Day Effect by Florence Williams, an Audible original download.

Does nature really make us feel better? The 3-Day Effect takes a look at the science behind why being in the wild can make us happier, healthier, and more creative. Whether it’s rafting down Utah’s Green River, hiking in Utah’s wilderness, or walking through Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC, scientists are finding that the more exposure humans have to nature, the more we can benefit from reduced anxiety, enhanced creativity, and overall well-being.

Trek with science journalist Florence Williams and researchers as we guide former war veterans, sex trafficking survivors, and even a nature hater on three-day excursions to the wild to see how being outdoors offers something like a miracle cure for an array of serious and everyday ailments. They wire themselves up to see what happens under the vast sky.

The Child by Jan Hahn, an Audible for review.

In Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” Fitzwilliam Darcy’s proposal to Elizabeth Bennet at Hunsford is disastrous. In Jan Hahn’s “The Child,” Darcy flees England soon afterward, striving to overcome his longing for her. Upon his return two years later—while standing on the steps of St. George’s Church in Hanover Square—he spies the very woman he has vowed to forget. But who is the child holding her hand?

Darcy soon discovers that Elizabeth and her family are suffering the effects of a devastating scandal. His efforts to help the woman he still loves only worsen her family’s plight. His misguided pride entangles him in a web of falsehood, fateful alliances, and danger.

Will Elizabeth be able to forgive Darcy for his good intentions gone awry? And what effect will the child have on Darcy’s hopes to win Elizabeth’s love?

The Journey by Jan Hahn, an Audible for review.

Shortly after the Netherfield ball, Elizabeth Bennet begins a journey to visit her relations in London with her travelling companions, Mr. Bingley’s sisters and the proud, arrogant Mr. Darcy. Suddenly, their carriage is abruptly stopped, and Elizabeth hears the menacing cry, “Stand and deliver!” Abduction The leader of a band of highwaymen, Nate Morgan, a handsome, masked rogue, plans to seize Elizabeth for his amusement, but Darcy steps forward and offers himself as a hostage in her place. When his proposal fails to secure Elizabeth’s release, Darcy makes a shocking declaration-Elizabeth is his wife! Romance At a time when a woman’s future could be ruined by the slightest hint of scandal, Elizabeth’s reputation will depend not only upon the actions of a hero but a villain as well. Filled with danger, excitement, daring and passion, The Journey follows Jane Austen’s beloved characters from Pride and Prejudice as they embark on a fateful journey that changes their lives forever.

What did you receive?

As One Fire Consumes Another by John Sibley Williams

Source: the poet
Paperback, 86 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

As One Fire Consumes Another by John Sibley Williams, winner of the 2018 Orison Poetry Prize, reminds readers that beneath the ash there is enough to rebuild life. Amidst the darkness present in a society tearing itself apart, there are flashes of hope within the flames. Even the cover with its words made of matchsticks is a prime example of the fuel that sets this book afire.

Sundogs (pg. 9)
            For Charlottesville

This isn't how I'm told halos work. 
Two mock suns lighting up the low
horizon, as if competing for grace-
giving, as if at war with each other.
The borders of their brief bodies
converging in one great arc flanking
then eclipsing the real. An imagined
architecture of virtue. A pure white
history. Torchlight flickers & feasts,
flickers & feasts, flickers & feasts. 
Whatever we think they stand for,
the old gods are toppling.

Williams’ words leap off the page just as many of the tragic events in our recent history have from the deaths of immigrant detainees to white power rallies. His collection seeks to tackle some of the biggest fractures in our nation, calling attention to the destruction of our country’s ideals and dreams. “You must have arrived here by/belief, too, searching for something/you could mistake for a life,” says the narrator of “the Detainee Is Granted One Wish.” (pg. 20) It only takes the flick of a match to set it all aflame. The country may seem large and strong, but these poems remind us that it can topple as easily as a house made of matchsticks.

In “No Island Is an Island, & So Forth” (pg. 26), Williams’ narrator reminds us that we cannot cast stones or pass judgment on others without first looking at our own history, our own lives. “When/writing your obituary, make sure to/leave some space for grandfather’s/casual racism.” The poem points to the follies of humanity and its obsession with want. The narrator asks that we look beyond our desires and see how the “want” devastates the world around us and look to be someone better.

As One Fire Consumes Another by John Sibley Williams is a collection that will consume you in fire — a passionate call for change. “My children are learning all wars/begin with belief.” (“Everests,” pg. 38) Let’s break the chain, let’s be better.

RATING: Cinquain

Other Reviews:

About the Poet:

John Sibley Williams is the author of As One Fire Consumes Another (Orison Poetry Prize, 2019), Skin Memory (Backwaters Prize, University of Nebraska Press, 2019), Disinheritance, and Controlled Hallucinations. He has also served as editor of two Northwest poetry anthologies, Alive at the Center (Ooligan Press, 2013) and Motionless from the Iron Bridge (barebones books, 2013). A nineteen-time Pushcart nominee, John is the winner of numerous awards, including the Laux/Millar Prize, Wabash Prize, Philip Booth Award, American Literary Review Poetry Contest, Phyllis Smart-Young Prize, The 46er Prize, Nancy D. Hargrove Editors’ Prize, Confrontation Poetry Prize, and Vallum Award for Poetry. He serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review and works as a teacher and literary agent. Previous publishing credits include: Yale Review, Midwest Quarterly, Southern Review, Colorado Review, Sycamore Review, Prairie Schooner, Massachusetts Review, Poet Lore, Saranac Review, Atlanta Review, TriQuarterly, Columbia Poetry Review, Mid-American Review, Poetry Northwest, Third Coast, and various anthologies.

Mailbox Monday #533

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia 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:

Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy, which I purchased at the Gaithersburg Book Festival.

A bold, heartfelt tale of life at Green Gables . . . before Anne: A marvelously entertaining and moving historical novel, set in rural Prince Edward Island in the nineteenth century, that imagines the young life of spinster Marilla Cuthbert, and the choices that will open her life to the possibility of heartbreak—and unimaginable greatness.

Plucky and ambitious, Marilla Cuthbert is thirteen years old when her world is turned upside down. Her beloved mother has dies in childbirth, and Marilla suddenly must bear the responsibilities of a farm wife: cooking, sewing, keeping house, and overseeing the day-to-day life of Green Gables with her brother, Matthew and father, Hugh.

In Avonlea—a small, tight-knit farming town on a remote island—life holds few options for farm girls. Her one connection to the wider world is Aunt Elizabeth “Izzy” Johnson, her mother’s sister, who managed to escape from Avonlea to the bustling city of St. Catharines. An opinionated spinster, Aunt Izzy’s talent as a seamstress has allowed her to build a thriving business and make her own way in the world.

Emboldened by her aunt, Marilla dares to venture beyond the safety of Green Gables and discovers new friends and new opportunities. Joining the Ladies Aid Society, she raises funds for an orphanage run by the Sisters of Charity in nearby Nova Scotia that secretly serves as a way station for runaway slaves from America. Her budding romance with John Blythe, the charming son of a neighbor, offers her a possibility of future happiness—Marilla is in no rush to trade one farm life for another. She soon finds herself caught up in the dangerous work of politics, and abolition—jeopardizing all she cherishes, including her bond with her dearest John Blythe. Now Marilla must face a reckoning between her dreams of making a difference in the wider world and the small-town reality of life at Green Gables.

Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, which I purchased at the Gaithersburg Book Festival.

A piercingly raw debut story collection from a young writer with an explosive voice; a treacherously surreal, and, at times, heartbreakingly satirical look at what it’s like to be young and black in America.

From the start of this extraordinary debut, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s writing will grab you, haunt you, enrage and invigorate you. By placing ordinary characters in extraordinary situations, Adjei-Brenyah reveals the violence, injustice, and painful absurdities that black men and women contend with every day in this country.

These stories tackle urgent instances of racism and cultural unrest, and explore the many ways we fight for humanity in an unforgiving world. In “The Finkelstein Five,” Adjei-Brenyah gives us an unforgettable reckoning of the brutal prejudice of our justice system. In “Zimmer Land,” we see a far-too-easy-to-believe imagining of racism as sport. And “Friday Black” and “How to Sell a Jacket as Told by Ice King” show the horrors of consumerism and the toll it takes on us all.

Entirely fresh in its style and perspective, and sure to appeal to fans of Colson Whitehead, Marlon James, and George Saunders, Friday Black confronts readers with a complicated, insistent, wrenching chorus of emotions, the final note of which, remarkably, is hope.

Other Voices, Other Lives by Grace Cavalieri, which I purchased at the Gaithersburg Book Festival.

Other Voices, Other Lives is a selection of poems, plays, and interviews drawn from over 40 years of work by one of America’s most beloved and influential women of letters. Grace Cavalieri writes of women’s lives, loves, and work in a multitude of voices. The book also includes interview excerpts from her public radio series, The Poet & the Poem. Her incisive interviews with Robert Pinsky, Lucille Clifton, and Josephine Jacobsen offer profound insights into the writing life.

This series is devoted to career-spanning collections from writers who meet the following three criteria: The majority of their books have been published by independent presses; they are active in more than one literary genre; and they are consistent and influential champions of the work of other writers, whether through publishing, reviewing, teaching, mentoring, or some combination of these. Modeled after the “readers” popular in academia in the mid-20th centuries, our Legacy Series allows readers to trace the arc of a significant writer’s literary development in a single, representative volume.

Green Card & Other Essays by Áine Greaney for review.

In Green Card and Other Essays, Áine Greaney invites her readers to follow her three-decades’ long journey from Irish citizen and resident to new immigrant and green card holder to dual citizenship that now includes naturalized U.S. citizenship. These first-person essays offer an intimate perspective on the challenges—fear, displacement, assimilation and dueling identities—faced by many immigrants from all countries. They explore what inspires us to commit to a new country—and what holds us back. As a collection, Green Card exemplifies the power of storytelling to build bridges of understanding and a deeper joy in our shared humanity.

What did you receive?

Killer by Nature by Jan Smith (audio)

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

Are serial killers born or made? That’s one of the questions that emerges throughout the narrative of Killer by Nature by Jan Smith, narrated by Angela Griffin, Robert James-Collier, Katherine Kelly, Will Mellor, and Thomas Turgoose. This audible original drama reminded me of the old radio shows my dad and grandfather used to talk about. In this audio drama, Dr. Diane Buckley is a forensic psychologist sent to interview Alfred Dinklage, “The Playground Killer” when a series of similar murders occur while he’s behind bars. Can this killer walk through prison walls or is there a copycat striving to finish the serial killer’s work.

Dinklage is seriously creepy and can make you shiver with any nursery rhyme he utters. In her one-on-one sessions with Dinklage, Dr. Buckley must sift through the manipulations and lies to find the truth and help the police find their suspect before more murders are committed. Meanwhile, life at home is no picnic with a teenage daughter acting out at school and home, leaving little room for calm. Buckley has her hands full.

The killer is creepy throughout until the end when he appears more sympathetic, but in many ways, this is how psychologists can disarm psychotic killers — finding what button to push to either turn themselves in or do what the police want them to do. Dr. Buckley is very clinical until the end, and I fear there are layers of her character that are not addressed in this short episode. She clearly has things in her past that are not dealt with properly in this short production. It would be good to see her and her family in a longer production, even with Inspector Winterman, who also has some things in his past to deal with. These characters are too multilayered to be dealt with in such a short production, which is why the audio focuses on the search for the killer.

One complaint is that in the middle of chapters the narration repeats the title and author of the book, which can break up the narrative and take the reader out of the tense suspense. It was quite obnoxious. I’m not sure why Audible would go that route, but in future audiobooks of this nature, I hope they don’t repeat it.

Killer by Nature by Jan Smith, narrated by Angela Griffin, Robert James-Collier, Katherine Kelly, Will Mellor, and Thomas Turgoose, is suspenseful, but a bit predictable. However, the production is well rendered with music, sound effects, and splendid voice actors.

RATING: Quatrain