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Mailbox Monday #614

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:

Emerge by Francesca Marais for review.

Out of the crushing comfort of the womb-dark ocean, the poems in Francesca Marais’s Emerge rise up to the surface and breathe deeply. “Blood surges through my body, / Refusing to gently creep into the shores / Of my heart’s quiet,” she says. Untangling the tentacles of family and romance and imagination, the poet carries the reader along on a journey toward self-love and acceptance. Her advice to us? “Cherish then savour / The salt of the pain, / Lick your fingers dry.” Salt of tears, of stinging wounds, of breaking waves—to know the self requires all of these. There is ache here, but also nourishment. Emerge shows us how to stop holding our breath; how to see our own reflection in the ocean’s blue eyes.

The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve, which I purchased.

In October 1947, Grace Holland is experiencing two simultaneous droughts. An unseasonably hot, dry summer has turned the state of Maine into a tinderbox, and Grace and her husband, Gene, have fallen out of love and barely speak. Five months pregnant and caring for two toddlers, Grace has resigned herself to a life of loneliness and domestic chores. One night she awakes to find that wildfires are racing down the coast, closer and closer to her house. Forced to pull her children into the ocean to escape the flames, Grace watches helplessly as everything she knows burns to the ground. By morning, her life is forever changed: she is homeless, penniless, awaiting news of her husband’s fate, and left to face an uncertain future in a town that no longer exists. With courage and stoicism, Grace overcomes devastating loss and, through the smoke, is able to glimpse the opportunity to rewrite her own story.

How to Raise a Reader by Pamela Paul and Maria Russo, which I purchased.

Do you remember your first visit to where the wild things are? How about curling up for hours on end to discover the secret of the Sorcerer’s Stone? Combining clear, practical advice with inspiration, wisdom, tips, and curated reading lists, How to Raise a Reader shows you how to instill the joy and time-stopping pleasure of reading.

Divided into four sections, from baby through teen, and each illustrated by a different artist, this book offers something useful on every page, whether it’s how to develop rituals around reading or build a family library, or ways to engage a reluctant reader. A fifth section, “More Books to Love: By Theme and Reading Level,” is chockful of expert recommendations. Throughout, the authors debunk common myths, assuage parental fears, and deliver invaluable lessons in a positive and easy-to-act-on way.

Who’s Your Daddy by Arisa White, which I purchased and reviewed.

A lyrical, genre-bending coming-of-age tale featuring a queer, Black, Guyanese American woman who, while seeking to define her own place in the world, negotiates an estranged relationship with her father.

“This beautifully, honestly conceived genius of a book shook me to the core.” —Dara Wier

“What she gives us are archives, allegories, and wholly new songs.”—Terrance Hayes

“In these crisply narrative poems, which unreel like heart-wrenching fragments of film, Arisa White not only names that gaping chasm between father and daughter, but graces it with its true and terrible face.” —Patricia Smith

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #613

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:

The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs: 100+ Recipes that You’ll Love to Cook and Eat from America’s Test Kitchen Kids, which I purchased for my daughter.

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.

The Young Chef: Recipes and Techniques for Kids Who Love to Cook from the The Culinary Institute of America, which my daughter received from my cousin for Christmas.

Aspiring chefs turn to The Culinary Institute of America for top-tier training—and now younger cooks can too. Coauthored by chef-instructor (and parent) Mark Ainsworth, this book is for kids ages ten to fourteen who love to cook or who want to learn how, from the perspective of the nation’s best culinary college. It begins with techniques—from key cooking methods to staying safe in the kitchen to how food fuels your body—then augments those lessons with more than one hundred recipes for dishes that kids (and their families and friends) will love, from Chinese “Takeout” Chicken and Broccoli to Mexican Street Corn Salad to DIY Hummus to Raspberry Shave Ice. These recipes are easy enough that beginners can try them with confidence, but are loaded with insider tips, fun facts, kitchen vocab, and other teaching moments so that more adventurous junior cooks can use them as a springboard to take their skills to the next level, express their culinary creativity, and have fun in the kitchen!

love, loss and the enormity of it all by Kelly Catharine Bradley for review.

This book is for the heartbroken and grieving. I see you.“let’s… sit close with gentleness and compassion to heal our grieving hearts together …”

“love, loss and the enormity of it all” addresses themes of grief, joy, love, heartbreak and perseverance.

Valuing: Poems by Christopher Kondrich for review.

In his second collection, Christopher Kondrich navigates the link between what we see as our inner value and the external world that supplies it. Valuing’s deeply personal poems explore faith, love, ethics, and mortality from a variety of angles and through a variety of poetic forms as a means of questioning the origination of one’s own value system. Does it come from the belief in a god, from the love one gives or receives, or from the diminution of the self and its desires? If “you cannot sneak through your life,” as the speaker of one of Valuing’s poems proclaims, then how might one ensure that the noise a life inevitably makes is an echo of the values one holds dear?

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #612

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:

Carpe F*cking Diem, a gift from Anna at Diary of an Eccentric. (She seems to know me too well!)

A journal to stop the bullsh*t and seize the f*cking day―the perfect undated journal for every thought, list, note, or entry!

Packed with profanity and the IDGAF spirit, this is the perfect journal to say it like it is and get back to what matters. Finally ditch the anxiety, shake off the stress, and take a moment each day to focus on the number one f*cking person in your life―you! Based on the bestselling Carpe F*cking Diem Planner, this is the perfect undated journal to replace your tired old notebook and up your stationery game.

With journal pages, space for list-making, and laugh-out-loud swears, this is the journal that encourages you to embrace the c’est la f*cking vie attitude and focus on your happiness.

Hilarious and with a self-care attitude that tells you to take a damn nap and eat that f*cking ice cream, this is the perfect gift for the sweary person in your life and the ideal journal to carry with you all damn day.

Out of No Way: Madam C.J. Walker & A’Lelia Walker, a poetic drama by Roje Augustin, which I purchased.

Author, producer, and emerging poet Rojé Augustin has written a groundbreaking debut collection of dramatic poems about hair care entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker and her daughter, A’Lelia. Rojé’s singular and accomplished work is presented through the intimate lens of the mother-daughter relationship via different poetic forms — from lyric to haiku, blackout to narrative. (One poem takes its inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven.) Written in tribute to Walker, Out of No Way deftly and beautifully explores themes of race, motherhood, sacrifice, beauty, and the meaning of success in Jim Crow America.

Raising King by Joseph Ross, which I purchased.

Poetry. RAISING KING urges readers to walk beside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from Montgomery to Memphis, past police dogs, mobs, and fire hoses. Listen to his thoughts, hopes, and fears. You’ll also hear from heroes including Abernathy, Shuttlesworth, and Coretta Scott King.-Joseph Ross

In his beautiful collection of poems evoking the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, Joseph Ross offers his readers hope and inspiration for our own difficult times. These poems call us to revive our courage, moral convictions, and belief in the ultimate redemption of humanity.-Susannah Heschel

Everyday Mojo Songs of Earth: New and Selected Poems, 2001-2021 by Yusef Komunyakaa for review from the publisher.

New and selected poems from the Pulitzer Prize–winning poet

These songs run along dirt roads
& highways, crisscross lonely seas
& scale mountains, traverse skies
& underworlds of neon honkytonk,
Wherever blues dare to travel.

Everyday Mojo Songs of Earth brings together selected poems from the past twenty years of Yusef Komunyakaa’s work, as well as new poems from the Pulitzer Prize winner. Komunyakaa’s masterful, concise verse conjures arresting images of peace and war, the natural power of the earth and of love, his childhood in the American South and his service in Vietnam, the ugly violence of racism in America, and the meaning of power and morality.

The new poems in this collection add a new refrain to the jazz-inflected rhythms of one of our “most significant and individual voices” (David Wojahn, Poetry). Komunyakaa writes of a young man fashioning a slingshot, workers who “honor the Earth by opening shine / inside the soil,” and the sounds of a saxophone filling a dim lounge in New Jersey. As April Bernard wrote in The New York Times Book Review, “He refuses to be trivial; and he even dares beauty.”

The Gospel according to H.L. Hix for review.

Literary Nonfiction. Religion. First we have to talk about the elephant in the room–though that might not be the most polite term for Jesus! For many millions of people around the world, Jesus is the Son of God, the divine source of their salvation, his story told in the familiar four gospels of the Bible, and any tampering with that story understandably will be met with suspicion, distrust, even hostility. So let’s begin with what this book isn’t. H. L. Hix covers this in detail in his Introduction to “The Gospel,” but for now it’s enough to say that this isn’t Jesus Christ, Superstar, or The Last Temptation of Christ. Nothing in this Gospel secularizes or desacralizes Jesus Christ. You don’t get less of the divine Jesus here, you get more. That’s because Hix has gone back to the original source materials, both the canonical and noncanonical gospels and histories and stories of the life of Jesus, and created out of them a single, more comprehensive and nuanced narrative. A good analogy is to film editing. Most movie directors shoot more film than ever makes it into the version we see on the screen, film that ends up on the editing room floor, the result of commercial decisions often far removed from the director’s vision of the film. Occasionally the director gets the chance to re-edit the film to restore that lost material, producing a “Director’s Cut” that may be very different from the commercial film release. So we can think of “The Gospel” as an ultimate “Director’s Cut” of the story of Jesus, with all of those bits that didn’t make the official version (edited by early church leaders to serve a specific agenda) at last restored. Something for those enthusiasts who want to dig deeper, to know more. But that’s not all he’s done. Among other virtues of his “Gospel,” Hix has restored the meanings of essential words as they would have been understood by contemporary audiences when the source materials were first written, overcoming what he calls “translation inertia”, the tendency to retain a translation over time even after the sense of the word has changed for current readers. Thus “Lord” becomes “Boss”, and the apostles “apprentices”, changes that allow for a novel understanding of the role of Jesus and of believers’ relationship to him. Also of crucial importance, Hix has eliminated gendered language wherever possible, in the process inventing new terms that decouple our understanding of Jesus and divinity from the limitations of gendered human bodies and relationships. Thus “Son” becomes “Xon”, for example, a form of literary transubstantiation that renders the divine even more transcendent, in the process opening the Gospel and its promise of salvation to greater inclusivity. Gospel, of course, means “good news.” And the very good news of THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO H. L. HIX  for believers and for non-believers alike, is that what has been called “the greatest story ever told,” the life of Jesus, just got greater.

Incandescent Visions by Lee Hudspeth for review.

Having written numerous works of nonfiction, this is Lee Hudspeth’s debut book of poetry. Incandescent Visions explores the meaning of the human experience, as the author encourages his readers to ponder the universe and their place within it and to catalyze their own creative potential. From the sublime shores of the Mediterranean to the majestic expansiveness of deep space, this book contemplates nostalgia, perspective and the gift of love. Through five short yet powerful, thought-provoking chapters of contemporary poems—and a dash of elegant, evocative haiku—Hudspeth takes his readers on a journey across the inner landscape of struggle, triumph, self-realization, and imagination.

Made of Air by Naomi Thiers for review.

The poems in Made of Air argue for a deeper, more woman-centric definition of courage, a courage borne of the long haul. There are poems on the deaths of loved ones and mothering a teenager. One remarkable sonnet relates how a mother makes a U-turn off a ramp just before a bridge collapses in an earthquake. These poems celebrate the lives of women and girls and commemorate the daily ways they navigate through potential disaster—and come through dancing.

Kim Roberts, editor of By Broad Potomac’s Shore: Poems from the Early Days of Our Nation’s Capital and author of five poetry collections, including The Scientific Method

Naomi Thiers shows women and girls who hold things together. From the “cliff-high condo where we eat” to those sheltering in “a concrete pocket of unremarkable hidden things,” her characters emerge, vulnerable as a flame in a dry season. Like Thiers’ previous collections, her new work transfigures ordinary, “silenced people,” as Tillie Olsen called them, “consumed in the hard, everyday essential work of maintaining human life.” Can we bear to look at who we are now? Thiers’ poetry says yes—and we must, to help each other hold together.

Rose Marie Berger, Senior Editor, Sojourners magazine and author of Bending the Arch: Poems

Naomi Thiers’ Made of Air is a story of courage—or, more to the point, many such stories. It is a chronicle of endurance: the “ordinary women” in the book’s first section endure homelessness, illness, abuse, the murder of their children, and in doing so, become extraordinary. Thiers’ compassion and insight shine through in language that is vivid and luminous. The ending of her poem “Old People Waking” sums up the theme of the entire book: “And if everything hurts, it means / the current is flowing; we hiss inside: / Live. Live.

Miles David Moore, author of The Bears of Paris and founder of the IOTA Poetry Series

Everyone Disappears by W. Luther Jett, which I purchased.

In this follow-up to his earlier chapbook, Not Quite: Poems Written in Search of My Father (FLP, 2015), Luther Jett confronts the ephemeral nature of our lives, the process of grief, and the endurance of memory. Jett draws upon recollections of family, as well as historical events and forces to weave a tapestry of image and reflection. Loss “… comes with the ticking of clocks …” the author reminds us in his title poem, “… and that is why the ocean tastes of tears.” Jett writes of ghostly grandfather clocks that walk in the night, of forgotten toys scattered in an unmown lawn, of the importance and the hidden dangers of holding on to memory. “What can I sing to tell your feast?” Jett asks in the poem “Seamus”, adding in his later poem, “One by One”, “I chant the names of things long after they have gone.”

Maryland’s Poet Laureate, Grace Cavalieri says of Jett’s work: “[N]ever have the dead been more alive …. Subtle and intelligent stories, realized through the power of Jett’s voice, make life appear on every page.” In this time of world-wide pandemic and upheaval, “Everyone Disappears” may take on additional resonance as we grope for understanding in the face of tragedy and uncertainty.

A Promised Land by Barack Obama, which I received as a gift.

In the stirring, highly anticipated first volume of his presidential memoirs, Barack Obama tells the story of his improbable odyssey from young man searching for his identity to leader of the free world, describing in strikingly personal detail both his political education and the landmark moments of the first term of his historic presidency—a time of dramatic transformation and turmoil.

Obama takes readers on a compelling journey from his earliest political aspirations to the pivotal Iowa caucus victory that demonstrated the power of grassroots activism to the watershed night of November 4, 2008, when he was elected 44th president of the United States, becoming the first African American to hold the nation’s highest office.

Reflecting on the presidency, he offers a unique and thoughtful exploration of both the awesome reach and the limits of presidential power, as well as singular insights into the dynamics of U.S. partisan politics and international diplomacy. Obama brings readers inside the Oval Office and the White House Situation Room, and to Moscow, Cairo, Beijing, and points beyond. We are privy to his thoughts as he assembles his cabinet, wrestles with a global financial crisis, takes the measure of Vladimir Putin, overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds to secure passage of the Affordable Care Act, clashes with generals about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, tackles Wall Street reform, responds to the devastating Deepwater Horizon blowout, and authorizes Operation Neptune’s Spear, which leads to the death of Osama bin Laden.

A Promised Land is extraordinarily intimate and introspective—the story of one man’s bet with history, the faith of a community organizer tested on the world stage. Obama is candid about the balancing act of running for office as a Black American, bearing the expectations of a generation buoyed by messages of “hope and change,” and meeting the moral challenges of high-stakes decision-making. He is frank about the forces that opposed him at home and abroad, open about how living in the White House affected his wife and daughters, and unafraid to reveal self-doubt and disappointment. Yet he never wavers from his belief that inside the great, ongoing American experiment, progress is always possible.

This beautifully written and powerful book captures Barack Obama’s conviction that democracy is not a gift from on high but something founded on empathy and common understanding and built together, day by day.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #611

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:

Randolph the Christmas Moose by Gerry Gibson for review.

Randolph the Moose lives with his mother in the Great White North. After a chance encounter with the reindeer from Santa Claus’ sleigh-pulling team, Randolph finds new joy in trail running as he trains to join the reindeer in Santa’s flight school. But when the head elf places him at the workshop loading dock instead (due to his tremendous bulk), Randolph has to use his brains and work ethic to earn respect at his new job… and even save Christmas.

Imagine Rudolf the red-nosed reindeer, except…

  • Randolph has a healthy self-image
  • Randolph has a more positive outlet for his feelings
  • Randolph runs, but not away from his problems
  • Randolph is pro-active, refusing to let Santa’s workshop define him as a moose

BE YOUR OWN MOOSE!

The Magic Home by Isabella Cassina for review.

The Magic Home is a story for those who believe in magic, to turn fear into bravery and let fantasies run wild! This is a tale of a little boy that lives with his family, plays happily in the courtyard with his brother, sister, a brown dog and a fluffy white rabbit, and cannot wait to start school. Suddenly he has to leave for an unpredictable journey…

The Magic Home offers psycho-educational support for children, parents and childhood professionals who are assisting children through the difficult transition of displacement. The author presents a guide for caregivers grounded in the principles of Play Therapy that allows children to be engaged in a dynamic and engaging process based on their capacities and the objectives defined by a caring adult. The book is ideal for easy reading with individuals and groups, and the suggested activities can be used between parent and child, at school, in a healthcare agency or any other place where children spend time.

Dos Idiomas, One Me by Maggy Williams for review.

Dos Idiomas, One Me is the story of a young girl who feels torn between two languages. At home, she speaks Spanish, at school, she speaks English, and she finds herself resenting the fact that she has to translate her thoughts and feelings. Then, she realizes that being bilingual is a gift. She begins to have fun navigating the space of inclusivity and starts to relish the role of teacher and translator.

By equally incorporating Spanish and English, Dos Idiomas, One Me promotes biliteracy. As young readers see their experiences reflected in the story of another dual-language speaker, they can feel encouraged to embrace all aspects of themselves.

Lucky G and the Melancholy Quokka by Amy Wilinski-Lyman for review.

This book grabs you from the outset and takes you on a hopeful journey: A colorful, spunky raven (with a Ph.D.) travels to Australia to meet a quokka who has lost his true smile, finds it hard to move and isn’t hanging out with friends anymore. Dr. G knows that depression is the culprit, and extends a listening ear and helping hand, all the while reassuring the quokka that lots of adults and kids feel depression, too!

We’re All Not the Same, But We’re Still Family by Theresa Fraser and Eric E. Fraser for review.

This story was written for adoptive families to explore the benefits of adoption openness. The main character, Deshaun, loves his family but always wondered about his biological family. Does he look like them? Did they love him? With the support of his adoptive parents, Deshaun gets to meet his biological family. They develop an ongoing relationship, so Deshaun feels more stable in his adoptive family, but also develops a comfortable relationship with his birth family. Deshaun and his family are reminded (as we all are) that family can include biological, adopted, foster and kin members.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #610

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:

Suburban Souls by Maria Espinosa for review.

Against the vibrant and liberated backdrop of 1970’s San Francisco, a husband and wife-both Jewish immigrants indelibly traumatized by their childhoods in Nazi Germany-face the turbulence of an increasingly sterile marriage. Saul, an emotionally withdrawn scientist, escapes into New Age mysticism with Shivaya, a self-styled clairvoyant Danish healer. Gerda drifts in and out of psychiatric care as her loosening grip on reality leaves its mark on their teenage daughter, Hannah. In this unflinching portrait of a woman’s downward spiral into the nightmare of modern domesticity, Maria Espinosa weaves a deceptively simple tale about the terror of abandonment and the mysterious nature of suffering.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #609

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:

A story of THE WORLD before the FENCE by Leeya Mehta, which I purchased from Finishing Line Press.

A Story of The World Before The Fence is a lush, lyrical study of memory and history.  These poems move deftly between the mystical and the known, inviting readers to travel backwards in time and forwards into themselves.  Each of us struggles with the heavy-handedness of the past: its merciless shaping of the larger world and, of course, its unrelenting squeeze on our individual lives.  Through intense reflection and beautiful invention, Leeya Mehta’s poems offer a kind of second sight.

–Tim Seibles

Whether tracing the 10th century journey of religious refugees from Persia to a tender but continually ambivalent asylum in India or dwelling in the complicities and solidarities of our own era, this is a troubled look at belonging, where belonging is ever “like loving a corpse” among “history’s sad funerals”. Mehta’s compassion and clear, unhurried tone leaven the seriousness and ambition of the work’s intellectual horizons, and an emotional power and turbulence as deep as that in certain moods of its Anacostia River: “brown knot of sludge, // a dragon aching.”

–Vivek Narayanan

Through centuries and across continents, Leeya Mehta evokes the transgenerational trauma of her ancestors, the Zoroastrian Parsis, to narratively structure an intimate, feminocentric experience of cultural and personal displacement. Her haunting poems, with their hard-won wisdom and exquisite imagery, serve as “a warning that the screws of love sit deep in the bone” despite—yet, perhaps, because of—the various forms of exile that complicate identities, relationships, and senses of place.  A Story of the World Before the Fence acknowledges “how barriers can keep / wandering spirits separate from those they love,” but it nevertheless consoles us with the miracle that is laughter: a universal language that can still anchor us to one another and help us learn to forgive ourselves for what we have lost along the way.

–Randi Ward

Warbler by Jane Schapiro

Steeped though it is in grief and loss, glory shines through in Jane Schapiro’s new poetry collection, Warbler. As she writes in the book’s epigraph, Tears are the soul bathing itself. There is much melancholy beauty in the book’s dirges, and toward the end, splendor has the last word. In the book’s penultimate poem, azaleas bloom in an explosion of color, from the dark “tangle of shrubs / that spawned such a glorious sight.”

—Rennie McQuilkin, CT Poet Laureate (2015-2018)

Warbler, Jane Schapiro’s new book of poems, is an achingly beautiful paean to family, friendship, love, and memory. It is also a searing reminder that loss, illness, and grief must play their parts as well.

The book has an organic feel, from line to line, from poem to poem. We are pulled into human connection and human frailty. We hear the rabbi say, “Even the blank spaces / are God given” so we keep looking as we move into middle age for peace, for less anxiety, for less pain. Some days “in the mirror, / she’ll spot her former self like a star, / reflecting a fire long since burned out.” And then, “the veil lifts, / reveals the world as a luminous bride . . . / Ah, sweet life. Sweet, inviting life. ”These poems stay in the mind and heart and invite rereading again and again. Warbler sings of hard and beautiful truths in a singular voice.

—Deirdre Neilen, Editor The Healing Muse

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #608

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:

Man on Terrace with Wine by Miles David Moore.

Miles Moore’s poems sing and think at the same time. Theme, vision, and form coalesce into fluid work never far from humor, always seeking the truth. Man on Terrace with Wine teaches us how to survive in this trying world. It is a magnificent collection.

Pablo Medina, author of The Cuban Comedy

Miles David Moore is back with his best book of poetry yet. Man on Terrace with Wine is a dark but always hopeful carnival that juggles both sonnet and emoticon with the ease of a poet who has been at it for a long time. This is life in the center ring, with all the tenderness and sting that comes along with it, from Godzilla in 3D to a lonely ride on an intercity bus, from Elvis in heaven to Hitler in hell. You may not know whether to laugh or cry, but that’s precisely the point. Miles Moore is a master, and Man on Terrace will stay with you long after the show is over.

James C. Hopkins, author of Ex-Violinist in Kathmandu

Miles David Moore is one of the hardest-working poets I know. Each of his poems is carefully crafted with a keen eye on a lucidity of language enriched with a deep diversity of emotions ranging from the commonplace to haunting, deeply personal recollections of times past. These poems read like a map of a tireless soul’s celebration of moments, places, and people we clearly recognize in our own lives. I recommend Man on Terrace with Wine without reservation.

Steven B. Rogers, Ph.D., historian, and editor of A Gradual Twilight: An Appreciation of John Haines

Raising King by Joseph Ross.

Poetry. RAISING KING urges readers to walk beside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from Montgomery to Memphis, past police dogs, mobs, and fire hoses. Listen to his thoughts, hopes, and fears. You’ll also hear from heroes including Abernathy, Shuttlesworth, and Coretta Scott King.-Joseph Ross

In his beautiful collection of poems evoking the spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, Joseph Ross offers his readers hope and inspiration for our own difficult times. These poems call us to revive our courage, moral convictions, and belief in the ultimate redemption of humanity.-Susannah Heschel

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #607

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:

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

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. Rosenblatt’s poetic reflections on these vital life lessons offer a tonic for these perilous and fearful times, and attest to the value of our very existence. Cold Moon: a book to offer purpose, to focus the attention on life’s essentials, and to lift the spirit.

Political AF: A Rage Collection by Tara Campbell

Unlikely Books is thrilled to release Political AF: A Rage Collection by Tara Campbell. The past few years have been fertile ground for work in the field of protest writing. Political AF: A Rage Collection is a hybrid chapbook of poetry and prose. The collection focuses on topics such as race, corruption, gun violence, police brutality, Confederate monuments, reproductive freedom, and the sexual harassment and abuse of women. While the current POTUS and his league of enablers are addressed in some works the bulk of the collection is, sadly, evergreen.

Brain Candy 2

So you know that the speed of light is fast: 229,792,458 miles per second. But what does that really mean? It means that at the speed of light, you could reach the moon in 1.3 seconds. How long to travel to the sun? Just 8 minutes. And in 4.6 hours, you could reach Pluto at 4.6 billion miles away! If you like seeing far-out facts in a new light, the second book in the colorful Brain Candy series takes a deep (and delicious) dive into numbers, fun facts, and cool trivia on all kinds of topics. It’s a novel approach to feeding kids smart snackable bites about the world and is sure to be an addictive addition to the bookshelves of Weird But True! and Just Joking fans.

The Coolest Stuff on Earth: A Closer Look at the Weird, Wild, and Wonderful

Did you know that dogs can shake off a pound of water in less than a second? That some sand dunes whistle and sing? That the U.S. dollar bill is full of hidden symbols related to the number 13? Our world is filled with strange, bizarre, and weird happenings. But what do they mean? WHY are they important? And what secrets are behind them?

These secrets and MORE are revealed through cool stories, action-packed photos, fantastic infographics, and exciting Q&As with in-the-field experts. Discover the secrets of sharkskin, the mysteries behind incredible island animals, the power behind lightning, how a rare gemstone changes color, and more. Kids will be captivated by this fresh way of looking at our amazing planet.

What did you receive?

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?

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?

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?

Mailbox Monday #603

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:

Pink by Sylvie Baumgartel for review.

A sharp, visceral new collection of poetry that touches on art, history, sex, bodies, language, and the color pink

The sack of Rome,
The siege of Florence.
The lights twinkle pink in Fiesole.
Pink furls, pink buds.
Wet pink veiny hearts in spring.
Pink can mean so many things.

Sylvie Baumgartel’s Pink moves from the shadow of the Ponte Vecchio to a mission church in Santa Fe, from Daily Mail reports to a photograph of a girl from Tierra del Fuego, from a grandmother’s advice (“Don’t go to Smith and don’t get fat”) to legs wrapped around “a man who calls me cake.”

Baumgartel, a poet of fierce, intimate, wry language, delivers a second collection about art, history, violence, bodies, fear, pain, reckoning, and transcendence. The poems travel back to the historical, linguistic, and emotional sources of things while surging forward with a stirring momentum, creating a whirlwind of birth and destruction.

What did you receive?