Quantcast

Mailbox Monday #659

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 its 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.

Velvet, 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.

This is what we received:

The Drowning House by John Sibley Williams for review.

THE DROWNING HOUSE by John Sibley Williams is the winner of the 2020 Elixir Press Annual Poetry Award. Contest judge, John A. Nieves, had this to say about it: “In the dark and shifting world of THE DROWNING HOUSE, Sibley Williams dives deep to try to understand the ghosts of our country and our historyóthe violence inherent in displacement, in wiping away. The poems that populate this doomed architecture reach out in every direction to try to find purchase on truths that often shift a quickly as tides. Whether music or fire or flesh, these poems find the worn seams of our nation and our world and lay them bare, or as Sibley Williams writes: ‘Skin can be its own broken republic.’ This collection explores the depths it engages and challenges us all not to look away.”

Your Words Your World by Louise Belanger for review.

Poetry For Your Soul – Stunning Photographs

Zoom to Heaven
The most beautiful love poem
Where God is not there
Promises…
A handful of cloud
Clowns…
During the night

These are some of the titles of the poetry you will read in this beautiful, inspiring collection complemented by captivating nature photographs.

Read poems about God and having a relationship with Him. Poems about trust, missing a loved one, childhood memories, Christmas, Heaven, Easter…

Other poems are lovely stories, the length of a page.

The poetry is easy to understand. It is for everyone whether poetry is your genre or not, you will enjoy it.

Ariadne Awakes, Instructions for the Labyrinth by Laura Costas for review.

Labyrinthian prose poems that question the Minotaur legend and who is the actual hero.

 

 

Useful Junk by Erika Meitner for review.

In her previous five collections of poetry, Erika Meitner has established herself as one of America’s most incisive observers, cherished for her remarkable ability to temper catastrophe with tenderness. In her newest collection Useful Junk, Meitner considers what it means to be a sexual being in a world that sees women as invisible—as mothers, customers, passengers, worshippers, wives. These poems render our changing bodies as real and alive, shaped by the sense memories of long-lost lovers and the still thrilling touch of a spouse after years of parenthood, affirming that we are made of every intimate moment we have ever had. Letter poems to a younger poet interspersed throughout the collection question desire itself and how new technologies—Uber, sexting, Instagram—are reframing self-image and shifting the ratios of risk and reward in erotic encounters.

With dauntless vulnerability, Meitner travels a world of strip malls, supermarkets, and subway platforms, remaining porous and open to the world, always returning to the intimacies rooted deep within the self as a shout against the dying earth. Boldly affirming that pleasure is a vital form of knowledge, Useful Junk reminds us that our selves are made real and beautiful by our embodied experiences and that our desire is what keeps us alive.

Each Tiny Spark by Pablo Cartaya, purchased for my daughter.

Emilia Torres has a wandering mind. It’s hard for her to follow along at school, and sometimes she forgets to do what her mom or abuela asks. But she remembers what matters: a time when her family was whole and home made sense. When Dad returns from deployment, Emilia expects that her life will get back to normal. Instead, it unravels.

Dad shuts himself in the back stall of their family’s auto shop to work on an old car. Emilia peeks in on him daily, mesmerized by his welder. One day, Dad calls Emilia over. Then, he teaches her how to weld. And over time, flickers of her old dad reappear.

But as Emilia finds a way to repair the relationship with her father at home, her community ruptures with some of her classmates, like her best friend, Gus, at the center of the conflict.

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden, purchased for my daughter.

After suffering a tragic loss, eleven-year-old Ollie who only finds solace in books discovers a chilling ghost story about a girl named Beth, the two brothers who loved her, and a peculiar deal made with “the smiling man”—a sinister specter who grants your most tightly held wish, but only for the ultimate price.
Captivated by the tale, Ollie begins to wonder if the smiling man might be real when she stumbles upon the graves of the very people she’s been reading about on a school trip to a nearby farm. Then, later, when her school bus breaks down on the ride home, the strange bus driver tells Ollie and her classmates: “Best get moving. At nightfall they’ll come for the rest of you.” Nightfall is, indeed, fast descending when Ollie’s previously broken digital wristwatch begins a startling countdown and delivers a terrifying message: RUN.
Only Ollie and two of her classmates heed these warnings. As the trio head out into the woods—bordered by a field of scarecrows that seem to be watching them—the bus driver has just one final piece of advice for Ollie and her friends: “Avoid large places. Keep to small.”
And with that, a deliciously creepy and hair-raising adventure begins.

Dead Voices by Katherine Arden, purchased for my daughter.

Having survived sinister scarecrows and the malevolent smiling man in Small Spaces, newly minted best friends Ollie, Coco, and Brian are ready to spend a relaxing winter break skiing together with their parents at Mount Hemlock Resort. But when a snowstorm sets in, causing the power to flicker out and the cold to creep closer and closer, the three are forced to settle for hot chocolate and board games by the fire.

Ollie, Coco, and Brian are determined to make the best of being snowed in, but odd things keep happening. Coco is convinced she has seen a ghost, and Ollie is having nightmares about frostbitten girls pleading for help. Then Mr. Voland, a mysterious ghost hunter, arrives in the midst of the storm to investigate the hauntings at Hemlock Lodge. Ollie, Coco, and Brian want to trust him, but Ollie’s watch, which once saved them from the smiling man, has a new cautionary message: BEWARE.

With Mr. Voland’s help, Ollie, Coco, and Brian reach out to the dead voices at Mount Hemlock. Maybe the ghosts need their help–or maybe not all ghosts can or should be trusted.

Spider-Ham: Great Power, No Responsibility by Steve Foxe and Shadia Amin, purchased for my daughter.

Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham (and breakout character from Into the Spider-Verse), arrives in this all-new, original graphic novel for younger readers!

Experience a laugh-out-loud day in the life of Spider-Ham! After long being derided by the citizens of New York, Spider-Ham has finally been recognized for his outsized contribution to the city’s safety, and receives the key to the city from none other than the mayor (and, being a cartoon universe, the key actually unlocks New York City’s political and financial institutions). Sure, it’s just a publicity stunt for the beleaguered mayor-and yeah, maybe every single other super hero was busy that day — but an award is an award!

Of course, Spider-Ham isn’t paying attention to the fine print telling him he didn’t actually get to keep the key, and he swings off without returning the highly coveted oversized object. The next day, when the mayor’s office finally gets in touch to ask for the key back, Spider-Ham realizes he must have dropped it sometime in the last 24 hours. YIKES.

Now, our notoriously empty-headed hero must retrace his steps from the past day, following his own trail to discover where he dropped the key before it falls into villainous hands. Did he lose it during a rooftop chase with the Black Catfish? Drop it in the middle of a tussle with the Green Gobbler? Leave it behind while visiting Croctor Strange’s magic mansion? Accidentally store it next to May Porker’s vacuum cleaner? Who knows? You’ll have to read to find out! But one thing’s for sure — Great Power, No Responsibility is an action-packed, hilarious adventure perfect for younger readers.

Any Dumb Animal by A.E. Hines, which I purchased as part of the pre-sale fundraiser for The Trevor Project, as it toured with Poetic Book Tours.

Any Dumb Animal (Main Street Rag, 2021), the debut poetry collection by AE Hines, presents a memoir-in-verse as told by a gay man raised in the rural South who comes of age during the AIDS crisis. Flashing back and forth in time, a cast of recurring characters and circumstances are woven into a rich tale of survival and redemption, exploring one man’s life as a queer son, father, and husband, over a span of more than thirty years. Editorial Reviews: “The poems in AE Hines’ debut collection, Any Dumb Animal, move deftly in time, like the best of memoirs, shuttling back and forth between past and present. I was amazed over and over at the bravery of these poems, never shying from the difficult moments in life, and all the while staying true to the clear-eyed, fearless vision of their author.” ~James Crews “AE Hines’s finely made memoir-in-verse explores the ways we inherit and overcome the lingering hurts of family, from a father grown “cold like the hood of his Pontiac,” to the isolation of a marriage in distress, to a “gay divorce,” in which the couple’s shared sock collection stands in for what cannot be neatly divided. With a strong gift for storytelling and an eye attuned to detail, Hines ultimately shows us the beauty and knowledge made of experience: “that’s how the light finally gets in / and the soul gets out.” ~Richie Hofmann “In riveting autobiographical poems, AE Hines tells of growing up gay in a homophobic, evangelical family that—in demanding conformity—can “only love a man / down on his knees.” And Hines “can never be that man.” No. Never. This compellingly candid work speaks the language of his courage, of breath-taking transcendence. Finely crafted, Any Dumb Animal is a remarkable debut collection. Take note, world: a powerful lyric poet has emerged. Take note and rejoice!” ~Paulann Petersen

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #658

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 its 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.

Velvet, 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.

This is what we received:

The Great World of Days: A Collection of Poetry Published in Bourgeon 2007-2021 edited by Gregory Luce, Anne Becker, and Jeffrey Banks from Day Eight, tentatively scheduled to publish in March 2022.

This is a compilation of poems from Bourgeon Online, and one of my poems is included.

Mikko Hakon Valitut Runot by Aino Kukkonen (toim.), which I received from a Finnish relative.

It is a collection of Mikko Hakko’s poems. He is a distant relative in my family tree. I will need to find a translator, as all the poems are in Finnish. But Mikko is partially referenced in my poem, Family History, which was nominated for the 2021 Pushcart.

Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner for review. You may remember my earlier cover reveal post.

Bloomsbury Books is an old-fashioned new and rare book store that has persisted and resisted change for a hundred years, run by men and guided by the general manager’s unbreakable fifty-one rules. But in 1950, the world is changing, especially the world of books and publishing, and at Bloomsbury Books, the girls in the shop have plans:

Vivien Lowry: Single since her aristocratic fiance was killed in action during World War II, the brilliant and stylish Vivien has a long list of grievances–most of them well justified and the biggest of which is Alec McDonough, the Head of Fiction.

Grace Perkins: Married with two sons, she’s been working to support the family following her husband’s breakdown in the aftermath of the war. Torn between duty to her family and dreams of her own.

Evie Stone: In the first class of female students from Cambridge permitted to earn a degree, Evie was denied an academic position in favor of her less accomplished male rival. Now she’s working at Bloomsbury Books while she plans to remake her own future.

As they interact with various literary figures of the time–Daphne Du Maurier, Ellen Doubleday, Sonia Blair (widow of George Orwell), Samuel Beckett, Peggy Guggenheim, and others–these three women with their complex web of relationships, goals and dreams are all working to plot out a future that is richer and more rewarding than anything society will allow.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #657

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 its 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.

Velvet, 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.

This is what we received:

What Mothers Withhold by Elizabeth Kropf, which I purchased after it toured with Poetic Book Tours.

The poems of “what mothers withhold” are songs of brokenness and hope in a mother’s voice, poems of the body in its fierceness and failings. Elizabeth Kropf’s poems revel in peeling back silence, and invite us to witness a complicated and traumatic world that is also filled with love.

-Cindy Huyser, poet and editor, author of Burning Number Five: Power Plant Poems

With these visceral poems, poet and mother Elizabeth Kropf has composed a chant of the vocabulary of vulnerability. From fertility to conception to birth-or not-and into motherhood, Kropf’s recounting of her experiences compels the reader to enter and acknowledge the power of what mothers endure and withhold.

-Anne McCrady, author of Letting Myself In and Along Greathouse Road

Water Shedding by Beth Konkoski for GBF.

“Water Shedding” is a chapbook of poems committed to a vision of marriage and family life that is real, sometimes even deeply lost and uncertain. The images do not avoid problems, do not create a façade in the way of our social media personas. Instead the poet journeys through the aging of her children, her marriage, and her sense of self with an awareness of missteps and a sense of joy for the small moments she can claim.

So Much of Everything by Jenn Koiter for GBF.

So Much of Everything is the debut poetry collection by Jenn Koiter, 2021 winner of the DC Poet Project. David Keplinger wrote, “In this utterly gorgeous debut collection, Jennifer Koiter has arrived as a poet whose voice is only matched by her remarkable intelligence.”

The Bennet Women by Eden Appiah-Kubi for review.

In this delightfully modern spin on Pride and Prejudice, love is a goal, marriage is a distant option, and self-discovery is a sure thing.

Welcome to Bennet House, the only all-women’s dorm at prestigious Longbourn University, home to three close friends who are about to have an eventful year. EJ is an ambitious Black engineering student. Her best friend, Jamie, is a newly out trans woman studying French and theatre. Tessa is a Filipina astronomy major with guy trouble. For them, Bennet House is more than a residence—it’s an oasis of feminism, femininity, and enlightenment. But as great as Longbourn is for academics, EJ knows it can be a wretched place to find love.

Yet the fall season is young and brimming with surprising possibilities. Jamie’s prospect is Lee Gregory, son of a Hollywood producer and a gentleman so charming he practically sparkles. That leaves EJ with Lee’s arrogant best friend, Will. For Jamie’s sake, EJ must put up with the disagreeable, distressingly handsome, not quite famous TV actor for as long as she can.

What of it? EJ has her eyes on a bigger prize, anyway: launching a spectacular engineering career in the “real world” she’s been hearing so much about. But what happens when all their lives become entwined in ways no one could have predicted—and EJ finds herself drawn to a man who’s not exactly a perfect fit for the future she has planned?

Woodrow on the Bench: Life Lessons from a Wise Old Dog by Jenna Blum, which I purchased and may end up sobbing while reading.

Since she adopted him as a puppy fifteen years earlier, Jenna Blum and Woodrow have been inseparable. Known to many as “the George Clooney of dogs” for his good looks and charm, Woodrow and his “Mommoo” are fixtures in their Boston neighborhood.

But Woodrow is aging. As he begins to fail, the true nature of his extraordinary relationship with Jenna is revealed. Jenna may be the dog parent, but it is Woodrow, with his amazing personality and trusting nature, who has much to teach her. A divorcée who has experienced her share of sadness and loss, Jenna discovers, over the months she spends caring for her ailing dog, what it is to be present in the moment, and what it truly means to love.

Aided by an amazing group of friends and buoyed by the support of strangers, Jenna and Woodrow navigate these precious final days together with kindness, humor, and grace. Their unforgettable love story will reaffirm your belief in kindness, break your heart, and leave your spirit soaring.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #656

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 its 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.

Velvet, 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.

This is what we received:

Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci, which I purchased.

Stanley Tucci grew up in an Italian American family that spent every night around the kitchen table. He shared the magic of those meals with us in The Tucci Cookbook and The Tucci Table, and now he takes us beyond the savory recipes and into the compelling stories behind them.​

Taste is a reflection on the intersection of food and life, filled with anecdotes about his growing up in Westchester, New York; preparing for and shooting the foodie films Big Night and Julie & Julia; falling in love over dinner; and teaming up with his wife to create meals for a multitude of children. Each morsel of this gastronomic journey through good times and bad, five-star meals and burned dishes, is as heartfelt and delicious as the last.

Written with Stanley’s signature wry humor, Taste is for fans of Bill Buford, Gabrielle Hamilton, and Ruth Reichl—and anyone who knows the power of a home-cooked meal.

Granddaughter of Dust by Laura Williams for review.

In Granddaughter of Dust, brilliant debut poet Laura Williams presents a compelling collection of poems whose perspective demonstrates an original outlook and heartfelt emotions. Williams has crafted a deeply moving collection that addresses themes of religion, culture, and a personal journey of growth. Bringing a unique voice to familiar characters from our collective experience, Williams provides the reader with an unexpected view, and her readers will connect to the raw emotion and depth of feeling found in these verses. Williams’ free form style and use of rhythmic repetition evoke a lyrical feeling which lingers long after the page is turned.

Jane and the Year Without a Summer by Stephanie Barron for review.

May 1816: Jane Austen is feeling unwell, with an uneasy stomach, constant fatigue, rashes, fevers and aches. She attributes her poor condition to the stress of family burdens, which even the drafting of her latest manuscript—about a baronet’s daughter nursing a broken heart for a daring naval captain—cannot alleviate. Her apothecary recommends a trial of the curative waters at Cheltenham Spa, in Gloucestershire. Jane decides to use some of the profits earned from her last novel, Emma, and treat herself to a period of rest and reflection at the spa, in the company of her sister, Cassandra.

Cheltenham Spa hardly turns out to be the relaxing sojourn Jane and Cassandra envisaged, however. It is immediately obvious that other boarders at the guest house where the Misses Austen are staying have come to Cheltenham with stresses of their own—some of them deadly. But perhaps with Jane’s interference a terrible crime might be prevented. Set during the Year without a Summer, when the eruption of Mount Tambora in the South Pacific caused a volcanic winter that shrouded the entire planet for sixteen months, this fourteenth installment in Stephanie Barron’s critically acclaimed series brings a forgotten moment of Regency history to life.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #655

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 its 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.

Velvet, 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.

This is what we received:

Liberty-Loving Lafayette: How “America’s Favorite Fighting Frenchman” Helped Win Our Independence by Dorothea Jensen for review.

“An ode to the great Lafayette, beautifully told and richly illustrated…” —Alan R. Hoffman, Translator, Lafayette in America in 1824 and 1825: Journal of a Voyage to the United States, and President,The American Friends of Lafayette.

“A great addition to the [Lafayette] canon” —Diane Shaw, Director Emerita of Special Collections & College Archives, Lafayette College

“Dorothea Jensen brings Lafayette to life for all ages”—Chuck Schwam, Publisher, American Friends of Lafayette Gazette 

Inspired by the Broadway hit, HAMILTON, and by Longfellow’s “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere,” author Dorothea Jensen wrote this short rhyming narrative about the Marquis de Lafayette and his crucial role in our Revolutionary War.

A glossary and extensive endnotes supply further information about the historical figures and events mentioned in the poem. This playful historical account is aimed at middle schoolers, as well as young and older adults. It would be entertaining and educational to perform in a classroom or other settings, such as events celebrating the upcoming bicentennial of Lafayette’s 1824-5 Farewell Tour of America.

A Few Things You Will Learn from this Book:

  • Who the unlikely person was who inspired Lafayette to help America
  • How Lafayette’s powerful father-in-law tried to discourage his plan
  • Why such a high rank was given to an inexperienced 19-year-old
  • How Lafayette helped strengthen the crucial French Alliance
  • What Lafayette’s key successes were as a military commander in America

Jensen has previously written two historical novels for young readers (middle graders and young adults) about Lafayette and about the American Revolution. These are entitled A BUSS FROM LAFAYETTE, and THE RIDDLE OF PENNCROFT FARM.

The Rescue of Elizabeth Bennet: A Pride and Prejudice Variation (Pride and Prejudice Variations) by Bella Breen, which was free on Kindle.

Elizabeth will marry Mr. Collins even if Mrs. Bennet has to drag her to the altar.

When Mr. Bennet dies, Mr. Collins takes over Longbourn. He shows his true character when he vows to force the Bennets from their home unless he is given Elizabeth Bennet’s hand in marriage.

Elizabeth, who has promised only to marry for love, refuses. But as her mother and sisters take increasingly drastic steps to force Elizabeth to wed, how long can she resist?

Will Elizabeth make the ultimate sacrifice to save her family from being cast out?

Mr. Darcy fights his attraction to Elizabeth, but when he discovers Elizabeth is set to marry Mr. Collins, the next day, he must face his feelings before his love slips away. Can he rescue Elizabeth before it’s too late? And if so, will the pair of them survive Mr. Collins’ revenge?

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #654

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 its 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.

Velvet, 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.

This is what we received:

Kaddish by Jane Yolen for Gaithersburg Book Festival.

Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, is recited in a time of deep sorrow. In it, the sacredness of the Almighty One is affirmed. In her new gathering of sixty poems, award-winning author Jane Yolen gives us a feminist view of Biblical themes and personalities such as Eve, Sarah, David and Goliath. The poems then morph into those about the Holocaust and after. Yolen’s unflinching and stark record of the many death camp horrors serve as reminders of that era’s brutality and the unrelenting suffering visited upon an innocent people. “Knowing means remembrance,” Yolen writes–as each poem becomes a memorial, a teaching, a warning for our and future generations. Her book concludes: “… no Jew truly escapes/that time, those places,/unscarred, unscathed./I have no numbers on my arms,/But I have studied the charts,/the cities, the deaths,/till I know them by heart.”

Inheritance of Aging Self by Lucinda Marshall, which I purchased.

Lucinda Marshall’s debut poetry collection, Inheritance Of Aging Self, explores our inherited understanding and experience of illness, death, grief, and sense of place.

In poems that she began to write during the final years of her parents’ lives, Lucinda Marshall’s debut poetry collection, Inheritance Of Aging Self, is an exploration of aging, illness, and death, as we witness them in the lives of our elders and loved ones, of grieving and ultimately the impact this heritage has on our sense of identity and place as we in turn age.

The title poem of the collection was included in the Maryland State Arts Council’s “Identity” exhibit in 2021 and “Winter Beach” was the first-place winner in Montgomery Magazine’s 2019 “Montgomery Writes” contest.

When Your Wife has Tommy John Surgery by E. Ethelbert Miller for Gaithersburg Book Festival.

Much-honored Washington, D.C. poet activist E. Ethelbert Miller delights and surprises us with his deft imaginings and portraits. Ethelbert’s poems play out in baseball rhythm and express the joy of living, despite the bitter challenges in today’s world. These poems define our time and allow us to see ourselves as human through the lens of baseball, family and music.

When Your Wife Has Tommy John Surgery and Other Baseball Stories is Miller’s second book of baseball poems. Here he touches new bases. There are poems about Marcel Duchamp and Ornette Coleman as well as Whitey Ford and Don Larsen. Miller’s poems move the outdoor game indoors where there are moments of disappointment and despair. Baseball can be a blues game. Tommy John surgery is a way of holding onto hope. Many of these poems were written during the Covid pandemic. They beckon fans back to the ballpark. They remind us to enjoy a game that is precious  and maybe even essential to our wellness. Coming after If God Invented Baseball, Miller seems to emerge from a literary dugout after a brief rain delay, ready to celebrate the American pastime again.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #653

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 its 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.

Velvet, 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.

This is what we received:

The Storyteller by Dave Grohl, which my mom bought me the hardcover of since I couldn’t find it. I’ll take Halloween gifts any day.

So, I’ve written a book.

Having entertained the idea for years, and even offered a few questionable opportunities (“It’s a piece of cake! Just do four hours of interviews, find someone else to write it, put your face on the cover, and voila!”) I have decided to tell these stories just as I have always done, in my own voice. The joy that I have felt from chronicling these tales is not unlike listening back to a song that I’ve recorded and can’t wait to share with the world, or reading a primitive journal entry from a stained notebook, or even hearing my voice bounce between the Kiss posters on my wall as a child.

This certainly doesn’t mean that I’m quitting my day job, but it does give me a place to shed a little light on what it’s like to be a kid from Springfield, Virginia, walking through life while living out the crazy dreams I had as young musician. From hitting the road with Scream at 18 years old, to my time in Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, jamming with Iggy Pop or playing at the Academy Awards or dancing with AC/DC and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, drumming for Tom Petty or meeting Sir Paul McCartney at Royal Albert Hall, bedtime stories with Joan Jett or a chance meeting with Little Richard, to flying halfway around the world for one epic night with my daughters…the list goes on. I look forward to focusing the lens through which I see these memories a little sharper for you with much excitement.

In Essentials by Helen Williams from Meryton Press.

Five months after Fitzwilliam Darcy’s disastrous proposal to Elizabeth Bennet, he discovers that the woman he ardently loves is suffering from a grave illness.

Despite an affliction that has left her altered, Elizabeth is still the same person in essentials: witty, sanguine, and obstinate. However, her future is uncertain, and she struggles to maintain her equanimity—especially when Mr. Darcy returns to Netherfield and seems determined to improve her opinion of him. Now she must decide whether she is brave enough to trust him and embrace happiness—however fleeting it might prove to be.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #652

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 its 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.

Velvet, 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.

This is what we received:

Riffs and Improvisations by Gregory Luce, which I purchased and is possible candidate for Gaithersburg Book Festival.

Music’s ineffable power has never been so lyrically rendered as in Gregory Luce’s new collection. Erik Satie, John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, Charles Mingus, Richard Strauss, Nick Cave—such masters and many more appear here. Luce’s carefully crafted poems are as elegant as the songs which they so deftly capture. – Nathan Leslie, Author of Hurry Up and Relax, Sibs, and Best Small Fictions Series Editor

“That torpedo had our names / on it from the start,” Gregory Luce writes at the end of “Improvisation: Sunk,” one of many urgent and poignant poems navigating to the tune of destiny and knowing loss in Riffs & Improvisations. This wondrous collection gifts us inspired poetic “riffs” infused with musical sensibility, “cascading like / notes,” off the page “like Trane / soloing filigrees.” He paints vivid internal and external lyric landscapes: hospital waiting rooms, dance floors, and transports us to Paris 1920 with a breeze that “wafts over the piano.” Luce plunges into language with an arsenal of truths composing a score from the muses of lived experience—a luminous book propelling a voice we crave. -Ava C. Cipri, Author of Leaving the Burdened Ground and Queen of Swords

The stunning poems in Gregory Luce’s Riffs & Improvisations know ecstasy. They pulse, ache, and rejoice. These poems live in kitchens, juke joints, symphony halls, and most importantly, the human heart. Luce conducts masterfully. We feel the beat in a crowded Metro Station, we dance, mistaking our breathing for another’s. These poems take us into the marrow of music, where rhythm recognizes its relatives in our bones. These poems take us into cold purgatory and a river of bourbon. Luce gives us Coltrane, and much more, which means, his poems save us. – Joseph Ross, Author of Ache and Raising King

The Storyteller by Dave Grohl, purchased on Audible, though I still want the actual hardcover. I couldn’t find the book at the local Target, which said they would have it.

So, I’ve written a book.

Having entertained the idea for years, and even offered a few questionable opportunities (“It’s a piece of cake! Just do four hours of interviews, find someone else to write it, put your face on the cover, and voila!”) I have decided to tell these stories just as I have always done, in my own voice. The joy that I have felt from chronicling these tales is not unlike listening back to a song that I’ve recorded and can’t wait to share with the world, or reading a primitive journal entry from a stained notebook, or even hearing my voice bounce between the Kiss posters on my wall as a child.

This certainly doesn’t mean that I’m quitting my day job, but it does give me a place to shed a little light on what it’s like to be a kid from Springfield, Virginia, walking through life while living out the crazy dreams I had as young musician. From hitting the road with Scream at 18 years old, to my time in Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, jamming with Iggy Pop or playing at the Academy Awards or dancing with AC/DC and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, drumming for Tom Petty or meeting Sir Paul McCartney at Royal Albert Hall, bedtime stories with Joan Jett or a chance meeting with Little Richard, to flying halfway around the world for one epic night with my daughters…the list goes on. I look forward to focusing the lens through which I see these memories a little sharper for you with much excitement.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #651

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 its 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.

Velvet, 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.

This is what we received:

Road Out of Winter by Alison Stine, which I purchased.

In an endless winter, she carries seeds of hope

Wylodine comes from a world of paranoia and poverty—her family grows marijuana illegally, and life has always been a battle. Now she’s been left behind to tend the crop alone. Then spring doesn’t return for the second year in a row, bringing unprecedented, extreme winter.

With grow lights stashed in her truck and a pouch of precious seeds, she begins a journey, determined to start over away from Appalachian Ohio. But the icy roads and strangers hidden in the hills are treacherous. After a harrowing encounter with a violent cult, Wil and her small group of exiles become a target for the cult’s volatile leader. Because she has the most valuable skill in the climate chaos: she can make things grow.

Urgent and poignant, Road Out of Winter is a glimpse of an all-too-possible near future, with a chosen family forged in the face of dystopian collapse. With the gripping suspense of The Road and the lyricism of Station Eleven, Stine’s vision is of a changing world where an unexpected hero searches for where hope might take root.

Drowning in the Floating World by Meg Eden for the Gaithersburg Book Festival.

Drowning in the Floating World by Meg Eden immerses us into the Japanese natural disaster known as 3/11: the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, and subsequent Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Relentless as the disaster itself, Eden seizes control of our deepest emotional centers, and, through insightful perspective, holds us in consideration of loss, helplessness, upheaval, and, perhaps most stirring, what do make of, and do with, survival. This poetry collection is also a cultural education, sure to encourage further reading and research. Drowning in the Floating World is, itself, a tsunami stone—a warning beacon to remind us to learn from disaster and, in doing so, honor all that’s lost.

For Her Name’s Sake by Monica Leak for the Gaithersburg Book Festival.

Poetry? Seriously? Who reads poetry these days, right?

With so much happening in our world with political and racial unrest, economic downturn, high unemployment, and a full-blown pandemic, why read poetry?

We read poetry because it gives us a frame for the events happening in our world and times. Words paint pictures. Words create our world. This collection of poetry is designed to bring awareness to stories of marginalized, criminalized, and brutalized women of color that deserve more than a thirty-second sound bite on local or national news.

The blood and mistreatment of women of color cries from the ground. Their voices have often gone unheard, silenced in death by systems of police brutality and the “isms” that are the result of race, poverty, and gender. This collection of poetry is an effort to give a voice to those women who were unable to share the stories. Through my words, I share their stories to ensure that we honor their memory through a commitment to advocacy and change until freedom for all is realized.

As you read, I challenge you to identify ways in which they can live out the words of the prophet Micah who said, “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8 NKJV)?

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #650

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 its 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.

Velvet, 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.

This is what we received:

The Parisian Dancer by Doron Darmon, a Kindle freebie.

Based on a true story, this is an unforgettable novel about a brave woman and her heroic actions, which provided pure hope in a world of darkness.

Paris, 1939: Marek and Annette, who escaped from Poland following the pogroms against the Jews, lead a simple and happy life in France’s capital, together with their two young children. Their Christian neighbor, Helena, an immigrant from Italy who dances at the Folies Bergère nightclub for a living, develops a close relationship with the couple, at the center of which is a secret affair with Marek.

When the Nazis enter Paris, the family’s life, as well as Helena’s, is about to change. Marek embarks on a mission to arrange for his family’s escape but soon disappears without a trace. Annette realizes that time is not on her side, and surrenders her children to the protection of the Dubois family, owners of the neighborhood bakery.

As the Nazis strengthen their hold on the city of Paris, aided by French collaborators, the Dubois family becomes exceedingly more anxious of their situation, until finally, they turn to Helena and beg her to provide a safe home for the children. Bravely, and without hesitation, Helena fulfills her promise to protect her friends’ children at any cost.

But will the beautiful dancer be enough to save them from a terrible fate?

Change Sings by Amanda Gorman, illustrated by Loren Long, which I pre-ordered and am very excited to read.

A lyrical picture book debut from #1 New York Times bestselling author and presidential inaugural poet Amanda Gorman and #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator Loren Long

“I can hear change humming
In its loudest, proudest song.
I don’t fear change coming,
And so I sing along.”

In this stirring, much-anticipated picture book by presidential inaugural poet and activist Amanda Gorman, anything is possible when our voices join together. As a young girl leads a cast of characters on a musical journey, they learn that they have the power to make changes—big or small—in the world, in their communities, and in most importantly, in themselves.

With lyrical text and rhythmic illustrations that build to a dazzling crescendo by #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator Loren Long, Change Sings is a triumphant call to action for everyone to use their abilities to make a difference.

Geographies of the Heart by Caitlin Hamilton Summie for review.

Sarah Macmillan always puts her family first, but as she ages, she can’t quite stretch her arms wide enough to hold on to everyone: her career-minded and inattentive younger sister, Glennie; their grandparents, who are slowly fading; or the late-in-life pregnancy Sarah desperately wanted. But it’s her tumultuous relationship with Glennie that gives Sarah the greatest worry. She’d always believed that their relationship was foundational, even unbreakable. Though blessed with a happy marriage to Al, whose compassion and humor she admires, Sarah grows increasingly bitter about Glennie’s absences, until one decision forces them all to decide what family means, and who family is. Narrated by the chorus of their three voices, this elegantly told and deeply moving novel examines the pull of tradition, the power of legacies, and the fertile but fragile ground that is family, the first geography to shape our hearts.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #649

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 its 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.

Velvet, 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.

This is what we received:

Crooked Smiling Light by Alan King for the Gaithersburg Book Festival.

Alan King’s 3rd collection is both a departure from his previous books and a continuation of his observations and experiences living in the United States as a Black man.

“To read Alan King’s Crooked Smiling Light is to get an honest take on what it means to be a grown ass Black man in a world with little love, or even use, for grown ass Black men. In this latest collection, King riffs on such varied themes as fatherhood and family, poetry and ambition, sex and sacrifice, with the same insight and style, the same blue candor, longtime readers have come to expect. Fans of Drift and Point Blank will find in this volume a wonderful addition to the King cannon. New readers will wonder why nobody has pulled their coat until now.” –John Murillo, author of Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry.

“Poetry is a context for our wounds. And what if a wound becomes courage; and what if that courage becomes language, and then language starts shining — vindicating everything, making our lives clear and beautiful in the telling. A favorite poet, Alan King, shows us how to do it —in his stunning new book.”

Grace Cavalieri, Maryland Poet Laureate

I find myself rewarded for a patient reading. The poems are never far from the themes of family, parenting, and legacy.

—Steven Leyva, Washington Independent Review of Books,

“King’s third collection is multi-faceted and multi-layered in its themes and within the questions it asks of itself, of the speaker, and of the reader. King references mythic Jedi temples, suicidal bees, and the perpetually liminal late-night diner in a collection that serves as reflection on what it means to be a Black husband, father, protector, provider, and survivor in this world.”

Auburn Avenue

Check out the intro video:

The Death of a Migrant Worker by Gil Arzola from Rattle.

Gil Arzola’s father was a migrant worker raised in Bustamante, Mexico, who crossed like so many others when he was fifteen. His mother was born and raised in Robstown, Texas, to a cobbler father and a mother who died when she was eleven. Together they found their way to Northwest Indiana and a migrant camp, working their way north in the back of trucks and old cars. One day they stopped. And stayed. The poems are drawn from Gil’s memory, not necessarily the most important days but the ordinary days where we spend most of our lives. They are about people like so many others who carve out lives without applause and hope to leave their children a better life. The Death of a Migrant Worker is a gift and monument of words to Gil’s parents. It is a way of saying “these people passed through this way, and here’s what they did.”

A Mother’s Tale & Other Stories by Khanh Ha for review in November.

A Mother’s Tale is a tale of salvaging one’s soul from received and inherited war-related trauma. Within the titular beautiful story of a mother’s love for her son is the cruelty and senselessness of the Vietnam War, the poignant human connection, and a haunting narrative whose set ting and atmosphere appear at times otherworldly through their land scape and inhabitants.

Captured in the vivid descriptions of Vietnam’s country and culture are a host of characters, tortured and maimed and generous and still empathetic despite many obstacles, including a culture wrecked by losses. Somewhere in this chaos readers will find a tender link between the present-day survivors and those already gone. Rich and yet buoyant with a vision-like quality, this collection shares a common theme of love and loneliness, longing and compassion, where beauty is discovered in the moments of brutality, and agony is felt in ecstasy.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #648

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 its 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.

Velvet, 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.

This is what we received:

Lord Harpenden’s Daughter by Elin Eriksen, free on Kindle.

*Thou, to whose eyes I bend…

Rumours about the imminent arrival of the beautiful daughters of the reclusive Earl of Harpenden had reached the superior society of London. It was the talk of the town; not even Mr Darcy could avoid hearing about it, with his best friend’s loquacious sister in tow.

The sisters, dressed in their mourning garb, do not quite meet the expectations of the fastidious Mr Darcy, who soon finds himself in the unenviable position of trying to rectify a poor first impression. But then a dramatic event forces them to unite against a common enemy—a master of deception—to save their sisters.

A chaste Pride and Prejudice variation of approximately 63 000 words, appropriate for adults due to graphic descriptions of nonsexual violence. A forced marriage scenario with no compromise.

*Henry and Emma, a poem by Matthew Prior (1664-1721)

The Gentlemen Are Detained by Heather Moll, a Kindle freebie.

“Will Elizabeth welcome the renewal of our acquaintance or will she draw back from me?”

This Pride and Prejudice short story imagines what could happen if Mrs. Bennet kept Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy to supper after an evening party at Longbourn. Following the gentlemen’s return to Hertfordshire after Lydia’s marriage, both Elizabeth and Darcy wonder if they have reason to hope the other loves them.

Elizabeth is eager to hint to Darcy that her feelings for him have changed, but how can they have a private conversation at a crowded party? Will Darcy learn if Elizabeth can ever love him or will he leave Meryton and return to London brokenhearted?

More Than He Seems: Reinventing P&P’s George Wickham by Renata McMann and Summer Hanford, a Kindle freebie.

Could George Wickham, Jane Austen’s most notorious villain, be a hero?

Faced with the choice of keeping his good name or serving King and Country, George Wickham puts aside love, acceptance and family in service of the Crown. Never does he dream he will prove so adept at deceit that one act of service will turn into years of falsehood. Or that the lie he perpetuates for the good of all will drive a wedge between him and everyone he values.

More Than He Seems runs parallel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice with a portrayal of George Wickham as you never dreamed to see him. Join him through trials of fidelity and love, and through danger and redemption. Discover if this famous villain can truly be more than he seems.

What did you receive?