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Mailbox Monday #484

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

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

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

Here’s what I received this week:

Austensistan edited by Laaleen Sukhera

Heiress Kamila Mughal is humiliated when her brother’s best friend snubs her to marry a social climbing nobody from Islamabad. Roya discovers her fiance has been cheating on her and ends up on a blind date on her wedding day. Beautiful young widow Begum Saira Qadir has mourned her husband, but is she finally ready to start following her own desires? Inspired by Jane Austen and set in contemporary Pakistan, Austenistan is a collection of seven stories; romantic, uplifting, witty, and heartbreaking by turn, which pay homage to the world’s favourite author in their own uniquely local way.

Mr. Darcy to the Rescue by Victoria Kincaid, an audible freebie.

When the irritating Mr. Collins proposes marriage, Elizabeth Bennet is prepared to refuse him, but then she learns that her father is ill. If Mr. Bennet dies, Collins will inherit Longbourn and her family will have nowhere to go. Elizabeth accepts the proposal, telling herself she can be content as long as her family is secure. If only she weren’t dreading the approaching wedding day…

Ever since leaving Hertfordshire, Mr. Darcy has been trying to forget his inconvenient attraction to Elizabeth. News of her betrothal forces him to realize how devastating it would be to lose her. He arrives at Longbourn intending to prevent the marriage, but discovers Elizabeth’s real opinion about his character. Then Darcy recognizes his true dilemma…

How can he rescue her when she doesn’t want him to?

The Outsider by Stephen King, an audible purchase.

An unspeakable crime. A confounding investigation. At a time when the King brand has never been stronger, he has delivered one of his most unsettling and compulsively readable stories.

An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.

As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge, King’s propulsive story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face? When the answer comes, it will shock you as only Stephen King can.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #483

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

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

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

Here’s what I received this week:

Wild Blues by Beth Kephart and illustrated by William Sulit, which I purchased.

The threat of two escaped convicts and a missing friend lead Lizzie on a harrowing journey through the wilds of the Adirondacks in this stunning novel from National Book Award finalist Beth Kephart.

Thirteen-year-old Lizzie’s favorite place in the world is her uncle’s cabin. Uncle Davy’s renovated schoolhouse cabin, filled with antiques and on the edge of the Adirondacks, disconnected from the rest of the world, is like something out of a fairy tale. And an escape from reality is exactly what Lizzie needs. Life hasn’t been easy for Lizzie lately. Her father abandoned their family, leaving Lizzie with her oftentimes irresponsible mother. Now, her mom has cancer and being unable to care for Lizzie during her chemotherapy, Mom asks her where she’d like to spend the summer. The answer is simple: Uncle Davy’s cabin.

Lizzie loves her uncle’s home for many reasons, but the main one is Matias, Uncle Davy’s neighbor and Lizzie’s best friend. Matias has proportionate dwarfism, but that doesn’t stop him and Lizzie from wandering in the woods. Every day they go to their favorite nook where Matias paints with watercolors and Lizzie writes. Until one day when Matias never arrives.

When news breaks about two escaped convicts from the nearby prison, Lizzie fears the worst. And when Uncle Davy goes missing, too, Lizzie knows she’s the only one who knows this area of woods well enough to save them. Armed with her trusted Keppy survival book, Lizzie sets out into the wilds of the Adirondacks, proving just how far she’ll go to save the people she loves.

Too Much Space! (Beep and Bob) by Jonathan Roth from an author visit to my daughter’s school.

Meet space-school attendee Bob and his alien bestie Beep in this start to an outrageously funny and action-packed chapter book series that’s great for “kids who love funny stories but may be too young for books like ­Diary of a Wimpy Kid” (School Library Journal) from debut author Jonathan Roth!

Astro Elementary is a school near Saturn attended by the bravest, brightest, most elite kids in the galaxy…and Bob. Bob never wanted to go to fourth grade in dark, dangerous space. He even tried to fail the admissions test by bubbling in “C” for every answer—and turned out to be the only kid on Earth to get a perfect score!

Party Crashes (Beep and Bob) by Jonathan Roth from a school event.

Beep and his best friend Bob get blamed for a robbery on a fancy spaceship in this second book in the hilarious, action-packed Beep and Bob series!

It’s Bob’s friend Lani’s birthday, and she’s having her party on a super luxury space cruiser called the Starship Titanic, whose motto is “The 100% safest ship in the galaxy.” The Titanic boasts three water parks, sixteen amusement parks, and twelve-million hyper-show channels on TV! Beep and Bob pack their favorite swimsuits and their favorite TV watching gear.

When Beep and Bob arrive on the ship, however, they realize they forgot the most important item: a birthday gift for Lani. Not only that, but Lani’s parents are super rich and expect everyone to wear a suit to dinner (not the bathing suit that Bob wore by mistake). But that’s not their biggest problem. No, that happens when the lights dim and guests’ jewelry is stolen from right under their noses—and Beep and Bob get blamed for the crime!

Things go from bad to worse when Beep and Bob discover that their “indestuctable” ship is headed right for the ice rings of Neptune—and then starts plummeting toward the planet below! Can Beep and his squishy alien buddy save the Starship Titanic? Or will this be their last party ever?

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #482

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

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

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

Here’s what I received this week:

Elizabeth by Christie Capps, which I won from Diary of an Eccentric.

He could have anything he wanted…except her.

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy finds himself in the unusual position of chasing a woman rather than being chased.
Miss Elizabeth Bennet is exasperated as Mr. Darcy, the rudest man of her acquaintance, is being nice—to her! How can she continue to despise a man who apologizes so well?

Based on Jane Austen’s classic novel, Pride & Prejudice, Mr. Darcy’s arrogance and pride are equally matched by Miss Elizabeth’s prejudice. In this fast-paced novella set in Regency England, can they both overcome strongly entrenched personalities to discover peace and happiness? Of course, they can. This is Mr. Darcy and his Elizabeth, he hopes.

Lost & Found by Christie Capps, which was a bonus win from Diary of an Eccentric.

Miss Elizabeth Bennet is missing—vanishing without a trace from the library at Rosings Park.

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy feels duty-bound to find the most frustrating young lady of his acquaintance. He is Elizabeth’s sworn enemy. Yet, when he comes to her rescue, she is forced to rethink her opinion.

Trapped together for hours, each layer of their character is revealed until their masks are gone, and their worst fears are shared. Will Mr. Darcy’s arrogant pride keep him from finding tender affection and happiness? Will her prejudice withstand trials so a man worthy of her affection will not be lost?

In this sweet, angst-filled Regency variation of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, our dear couple overcome all odds to find a love for the ages…or do they?

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #481

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

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

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

Here’s what I received this week:

What Should Be Wild by Julia Fine, who I heard speak about the book at Gaithersburg Book Festival.

Cursed. Maisie Cothay has never known the feel of human flesh: born with the power to kill or resurrect at her slightest touch, she has spent her childhood sequestered in her family’s manor at the edge of a mysterious forest. Maisie’s father, an anthropologist who sees her as more experiment than daughter, has warned Maisie not to venture into the wood. Locals talk of men disappearing within, emerging with addled minds and strange stories. What he does not tell Maisie is that for over a millennium her female ancestors have also vanished into the wood, never to emerge—for she is descended from a long line of cursed women.

But one day Maisie’s father disappears, and Maisie must venture beyond the walls of her carefully constructed life to find him. Away from her home and the wood for the very first time, she encounters a strange world filled with wonder and deception. Yet the farther she strays, the more the wood calls her home. For only there can Maisie finally reckon with her power and come to understand the wildest parts of herself.

Poe: Stories and Poems: A Graphic Novel by Gareth Hind, who was at the same book festival.

It is true that I am nervous. But why will you say that I am mad?

In “The Cask of Amontillado,” a man exacts revenge on a disloyal friend at carnival, luring him into catacombs below the city. In “The Masque of the Red Death,” a prince shielding himself from plague hosts a doomed party inside his abbey stronghold. A prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition, faced with a swinging blade and swarming rats, can’t see his tormentors in “The Pit and the Pendulum,” and in “The Tell-Tale Heart,” a milky eye and a deafening heartbeat reveal the effects of conscience and creeping madness. Alongside these tales are visual interpretations of three poems — “The Raven,” “The Bells,” and Poe’s poignant elegy to lost love, “Annabel Lee.” The seven concise graphic narratives, keyed to thematic icons, amplify and honor the timeless legacy of a master of gothic horror.

Punishment by Nancy Miller Gomez, which I received from Rattle magazine.

Nancy Miller Gomez entered Salinas Valley State Prison with a backpack of poems and a fear of being caught in a lockdown. What she discovered was compassion and human connection. The poems and essays in this collection, Gomez’s first, were inspired by her experience teaching writing workshops in jails and prisons. Punishment explores the stories of people serving time in the criminal justice system. It demonstrates the ways creative expression can mend emotional wounds, bridge differences, and reconnect us to our humanity. Punishment is a moving tribute to the redemptive power of poetry.

Freedom City by Philip Becnel, which my dad who never reads bought at the book festival.

After President Trump unceremoniously dies from natural causes, four misfits from Washington, D.C. who call themselves the Fearless Vampire Killers sever the heads of Confederate statues and wage a comedic guerrilla war on post-Trump America. When President Pence enlists droves of fascist volunteers to crush the “alt-left” uprising, the rebels must risk their lives to run the fascists out of D.C.

What follows is not only a battle for survival—but a desperate search for remnants of what once made America great.

Chrysalis: Collected Poems of Joe LoBell by Joe Lobell, which was free on lulu.com.

A collection of thirty-nine poems spanning 1986 through 2016. PRAISE FOR THE POETRY AND PERFORMANCE OF JOE LOBELL: “Lobell is a true original and turns a mean phrase…. His work casts a spell like Lou Reed’s early work or the early readings of Jim Carroll or Patti Smith.” — THE HERALD “With a hipster’s cool detachment Joe Lobell prowls through the mean streets underbelly of New York City speaking words as vivid as a flashing neon light.” —DOWNTOWN EXPRESS “This stuff is excellent.” —ERIC BOGOSIAN “Lobell’s readings contain some of the elements present in the celebrated Beat Generation jazz renderings…. His recitations lock into the rhythms of free-flow rock music and fasten on gritty situations from storytellers loom.” —DAILY FREEMAN

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #480

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

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

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

Here’s what I received this week:

Pemberley: Fitzwilliam Stays at Rosings by Margaret Lynette Sharp, Kindle freebie.

His stay at Rosings has brought Fitzwilliam Darcy, Jr, a measure of both delight and anguish as he realises that not only has he become even more attached to the charming daughter of Mr Collins – Miss Emily – but also that his rival, John King, is planning a serious step in order to secure his own future with the beautiful maiden. Where do Emily’s affections really lie?

This is yet another absorbing tale in the ‘Longbourn’ series of Jane Austen fan fiction pieces by prolific Australian author Margaret Lynette Sharp

Lies That Bind Us by Andrew Hart, Kindle freebie.

Jan needs this. She’s flying to Crete to reunite with friends she met there five years ago and relive an idyllic vacation. Basking in the warmth of the sun, the azure sea, and the aura of antiquity, she can once again pretend—for a little while—that she belongs. Her ex-boyfriend Marcus will be among them, but even he doesn’t know the secrets she keeps hidden behind a veil of lies. None of them really know her, and that’s only part of the problem.

Then again, how well does she know them?

When Jan awakens in utter darkness, chained to a wall, a manacle around her wrist, her echoing screams only give her a sense of how small her cell is. As she desperately tries to reconstruct what happened and determine who is holding her prisoner, dread covers despair like a hand clamped over her mouth. Because, like the Minotaur in the labyrinth in Greek myth, her captor will be coming back for her, and all the lies will catch up to her…

Incandescent by Georgina Young-Ellis, 99 cent deal.

The Elliots are Hollywood Royalty – a family of actors going back three generations. Annie Elliot has been cast to play Elizabeth Bennet in a new movie adaptation of Pride and Prejudice that takes place during the Belle Epoque, circa 1910, with a multi-racial cast. But who will her Mr. Darcy be?

Prada & Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard, a library sale find.

To impress the popular girls on a high school trip to London, klutzy Callie buys real Prada heels. But trying them on, she trips, conks her head, and wakes up in the year 1815!

There Callie meets Emily, who takes her in, mistaking her for a long-lost friend. As she spends time with Emily’s family, Callie warms to them, particularly to Emily’s cousin Alex, a hottie and a duke, if a tad arrogant.

But can Callie save Emily from a dire engagement, and win Alex’s heart, before her time in the past is up?

More Cabot than Ibbotson, Prada and Prejudice is a high-concept romantic comedy about finding friendship and love in the past in order to have happiness in the present.

What did you receive?

*** The Gaithersburg Book Festival was over the weekend, so you’ll have to wait until next week to see what goodies I picked up. ***

Mailbox Monday #479

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog. To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links. Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Martha, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what we received:

The Minor Territories by Danielle Sellers, which I purchased.

In Danielle Sellers’ The Minor Territories, a past has never really passed, it follows you from state to state and across continents; its memories are as fresh as the revelations of old love letters, those missives so full of missing. Every poem feels so rich with intimate potential, from the unspoken truths between two people to the most fragile details of a shared life—a spider’s silky filaments, peach tree saplings, butter coppering in a pan. This book manages to hold with an open hand all the loves I want and fear to lose—the ones who knew me, the one who knows me, the one who grew from the past into the brightest now.
—Traci Brimhal, author of Saudade

The Minor Territories, the second collection from Danielle Sellers, powerfully affirms the practice of keen and patient seeing. Time and again in these poems, life deals pain, but the poet pays attention until pain gives way to curiosity and curiosity to gratitude. Winter strips the willows, yes, but “through their bare branches / a church spire. Were it spring, I would have not seen it.” A little girl waits all day on a porch for her long-lost father. “He never returns,” but she does glimpse “three monarchs / and a praying mantis.” In one poem, the speaker says of her lover, “I wanted him / to see me. Really see me.” While the pain of going unseen racks the world of this book, Sellers takes care to see whatever has been missed, to really see it. To borrow a phrase from Yeats, everything here has been steeped in the heart.
—Greg Brownderville, author of A Horse with Holes in It

Danielle Sellers’ The Minor Territories is intellectually lush and emotionally resonant. Sellers is a born storyteller, and this book, in the end, is a succession of love stories that reveal, over its course, a deep, surprising, and complicated love between the speaker and the world she makes and remakes for herself. These poems are necessary, dynamic, heartbreaking, redemptive, and smart. They bring you in, hold you close, and tell the truth.
—Carrie Fountain, author of Burn Lake

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #478

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog. To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links. Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Martha, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what we received:

Silver Girl by Leslie Pietrzyk, which I won in an Instagram contest from Curtis Brown Ltd.

A nameless young woman starts her freshman year of college with one goal in mind: survival.

Newly transplanted to the big city of Chicago, she is one of the rare few to leave her small working-class town in Iowa, let alone for a prestigious university. She is not driven by academic ambition, nor is she a social butterfly. Her true gift is an ability to understand the needs of others and to reflect back the version of themselves they wish to see, rendering herself invisible.

Deftly, she conceals her deeply troubled past – especially from her charismatic yuppie-in-the-making best friend and roommate. For a while she assimilates, living a new life not in any way her own. But the mask she wears cannot hide her secrets forever, and at some point she will be truly seen, possibly for the first time in her life.

Set in the early ’80s, against the backdrop of a city terrorized by the Tylenol Killer, a local psychopath rumored to be stuffing cyanide into drugstore meds, Silver Girl is a deftly psychological account of the nuances of sisterhood. Contrasting obsession and longing, need versus desire, Leslie Pietrzyk delves into the ways class and trauma are often enmeshed to dictate one’s sense of self and how a single relationship can sometimes lead to redemption.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #477

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog. To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links. Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Martha, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what we received:

Ten Women by Marcela Serrano, a free Kindle.

For nine Chilean women, life couldn’t be more different. There is the teenage computer whiz confronting her sexual identity. A middle-aged recluse who prefers the company of her dog over that of most humans. A housekeeper. A celebrity television personality. A woman confronting the loneliness of old age.

Of disparate ages and races, these women represent the variety of cultural and social groups that Chile comprises. On the surface, they seem to have nothing in common…except for their beloved therapist, who brings them together. Yet as different as they all are, each woman has a story to share.

As the women tell their stories, unlikely common threads are discovered, bonds are formed, and lives are transformed. Their stories form an intricate tale of triumph, heartache, and healing that will resonate with women from all walks of life.

The Light of the Fireflies by Paul Pen, a Kindle freebie.

For his whole life, the boy has lived underground, in a basement with his parents, grandmother, sister, and brother. Before he was born, his family was disfigured by a fire. His sister wears a white mask to cover her burns.

He spends his hours with his cactus, reading his book on insects, or touching the one ray of sunlight that filters in through a crack in the ceiling. Ever since his sister had a baby, everyone’s been acting very strangely. The boy begins to wonder why they never say who the father is, about what happened before his own birth, about why they’re shut away.

A few days ago, some fireflies arrived in the basement. His grandma said, There’s no creature more amazing than one that can make its own light. That light makes the boy want to escape, to know the outside world. Problem is, all the doors are locked. And he doesn’t know how to get out…

The Question of Red by Laksmi Pamuntjak, Kindle freebie.

In this sweeping saga of love, loss, revolution, and the resilience of the human spirit, Amba must find the courage to forge her own path.

Amba was named after a tragic figure in Indonesian mythology, and she spends her lifetime trying to invent a story she can call her own. When she meets two suitors who fit perfectly into her namesake’s myth, Amba cannot help but feel that fate is teasing her. Salwa, respectful to a fault, pledges to honor and protect Amba, no matter what. Bhisma, a sophisticated, European-trained doctor, offers her sensual pleasures and a world of ideas. But military coups and religious disputes make 1960s Indonesia a place of uncertainty, and the chaos strengthens Amba’s pursuit of freedom. The more Amba does to claim her own story, the better she understands her inextricable bonds to history, myth, and love.

The Gray House by Mariam Petrosyan, Kindle freebie.

The Gray House is an astounding tale of how what others understand as liabilities can be leveraged into strengths.

Bound to wheelchairs and dependent on prosthetic limbs, the physically disabled students living in the House are overlooked by the Outsides. Not that it matters to anyone living in the House, a hulking old structure that its residents know is alive. From the corridors and crawl spaces to the classrooms and dorms, the House is full of tribes, tinctures, scared teachers, and laws—all seen and understood through a prismatic array of teenagers’ eyes.

But student deaths and mounting pressure from the Outsides put the time-defying order of the House in danger. As the tribe leaders struggle to maintain power, they defer to the awesome power of the House, attempting to make it through days and nights that pass in ways that clocks and watches cannot record.

Last Train to Istanbul by Ayse Kulin, a Kindle freebie.

As the daughter of one of Turkey’s last Ottoman pashas, Selva could win the heart of any man in Ankara. Yet the spirited young beauty only has eyes for Rafael Alfandari, the handsome Jewish son of an esteemed court physician. In defiance of their families, they marry, fleeing to Paris to build a new life.

But when the Nazis invade France and begin rounding up Jews, the exiled lovers will learn that nothing—not war, not politics, not even religion—can break the bonds of family. For after they learn that Selva is but one of their fellow citizens trapped in France, a handful of brave Turkish diplomats hatch a plan to spirit the Alfandaris and hundreds of innocents, many of whom are Jewish, to safety. Together, they must traverse a war-torn continent, crossing enemy lines and risking everything in a desperate bid for freedom.

The Great Passage by Shion Miura, a Kindle freebie.

Kohei Araki believes that a dictionary is a boat to carry us across the sea of words. But after thirty-seven years of creating dictionaries, it’s time for him to retire and find his replacement.

He discovers a kindred spirit in Mitsuya Majime—a young, disheveled square peg with a penchant for collecting antiquarian books and a background in linguistics—whom he swipes from his company’s sales department.

Along with an energetic, if reluctant, new recruit and an elder linguistics scholar, Majime is tasked with a career-defining accomplishment: completing The Great Passage, a comprehensive 2,900-page tome of the Japanese language. On his journey, Majime discovers friendship, romance, and an incredible dedication to his work, inspired by the words that connect us all.

Still Waters by Viveca Sten, a Kindle freebie.

On a hot July morning on Sweden’s idyllic vacation island of Sandhamn, a man takes his dog for a walk and makes a gruesome discovery: a body, tangled in fishing net, has washed ashore.

Police detective Thomas Andreasson is the first to arrive on the scene. Before long, he has identified the deceased as Krister Berggren, a bachelor from the mainland who has been missing for months. All signs point to an accident—until another brutalized corpse is found at the local bed-and-breakfast. But this time it is Berggren’s cousin, whom Thomas interviewed in Stockholm just days before.

As the island’s residents reel from the news, Thomas turns to his childhood friend, local lawyer Nora Linde. Together, they attempt to unravel the riddles left behind by these two mysterious outsiders—while trying to make sense of the difficult twists their own lives have taken since the shared summer days of their youth.

The House by the River by Lena Manta, a Kindle freebie.

Theodora knows she can’t keep her five beautiful daughters at home forever—they’re too curious, too free spirited, too like their late father. And so, before each girl leaves the small house on the riverside at the foot of Mount Olympus, Theodora makes sure they know they are always welcome to return.

Having survived World War II, the Nazi occupation of Greece, and her husband’s death, Theodora now endures the twenty-year-long silence of her daughters’ absence. Her children have their own lives—they’ve married, traveled the world, and courted romance, fame, and even tragedy. But as they become modern, independent women in pursuit of their dreams, Theodora knows they need her—and each other—more than ever. Have they grown so far apart that they’ve forgotten their childhood home, or will their broken hearts finally lead them back again?

A River in Darkness by Masaji Ishikawa, a Kindle freebie.

Half-Korean, half-Japanese, Masaji Ishikawa has spent his whole life feeling like a man without a country. This feeling only deepened when his family moved from Japan to North Korea when Ishikawa was just thirteen years old, and unwittingly became members of the lowest social caste. His father, himself a Korean national, was lured to the new Communist country by promises of abundant work, education for his children, and a higher station in society. But the reality of their new life was far from utopian.

In this memoir translated from the original Japanese, Ishikawa candidly recounts his tumultuous upbringing and the brutal thirty-six years he spent living under a crushing totalitarian regime, as well as the challenges he faced repatriating to Japan after barely escaping North Korea with his life. A River in Darkness is not only a shocking portrait of life inside the country but a testament to the dignity—and indomitable nature—of the human spirit.

The Phantom’s Apprentice by Heather Webb, which I purchased.

Christine Daaé sings with her violinist father in salons all over Paris, but she longs to practice her favorite pastime—illusions. When her beloved Papa dies during a conjurer’s show, she abandons her magic and surrenders to grief and guilt. Life as a female illusionist seems too dangerous, and she must honor her father’s memory.

Concerned for her welfare, family friend Professor Delacroix secures an audition for her at the Opéra de Paris—the most illustrious stage in Europe. Yet Christine soon discovers the darker side of Paris opera. Rumors of murder float through the halls, and she is quickly trapped between a scheming diva and a mysterious phantom. The Angel of Music.

But is the Angel truly a spirit, or a man obsessed, stalking Christine for mysterious reasons tangled in her past?

As Christine’s fears mount, she returns to her magical arts with the encouragement of her childhood friend, Raoul. Newfound hope and romance abounds…until one fateful night at the masquerade ball. Those she cares for—Delacroix, the Angel, and even Raoul—aren’t as they seem. Now she must decide whom she trusts and which is her rightful path: singer or illusionist.

To succeed, she will risk her life in the grandest illusion of all.

Almost Invisible by Kateema Lee, which I purchased.

When I say that Kateema Lee’s work is illuminating, I mean that it is conveyed with an impeccable ear for sound and sense. I mean that her poems foreground what are often the least looked-upon flowers: veterans and addiction and working hands and women. I mean that they bear witness in the tradition of women who used their voices to establish that what seems almost invisible to much of the world merits recognition as a world itself.

—Keith S. Wilson

Kateema Lee’s poems hit hard where poetry matters most, in the gut. The music of her poems is personal as speech, the toughness of her outlook made keener by her tenderness. Unpretentious, genuine, full of life and its sorrows, her vision has breadth and breath, a measure which tracks the distance between the street and the sky. What do we ask of poetry, of art, if not to put us in actual touch with the difficulty of human existence? Kateema Lee’s poems answer that need with craft & cunning; how I admire what they offer us.

—Joshua Weiner

The irony of the title of Kateema Lee’s remarkable chapbook, Almost Invisible, is immediately apparent as a reader finds herself in a world, made visible, of blue eye shadow, Jehovah’s Witnesses, a grandmother’s garden, a kitchen beauty shop, and a father’s war stories, all of which Lee renders with a compassionate but unforgiving eye in a taut and supple free verse.

—Michael Collier

The Night the Lights Went Out by Karen White, a blog win from Diary of an Eccentric.

Recently divorced, Merilee Talbot Dunlap moves with her two children to the Atlanta suburb of Sweet Apple, Georgia. It’s not her first time starting over, but her efforts at a new beginning aren’t helped by an anonymous local blog that dishes about the scandalous events that caused her marriage to fail.

Merilee finds some measure of peace in the cottage she is renting from town matriarch Sugar Prescott. Though stubborn and irascible, Sugar sees something of herself in Merilee—something that allows her to open up about her own colorful past.

Sugar’s stories give Merilee a different perspective on the town and its wealthy school moms in their tennis whites and shiny SUVs, and even on her new friendship with Heather Blackford. Merilee is charmed by the glamorous young mother’s seemingly perfect life and finds herself drawn into Heather’s world.

In a town like Sweet Apple, where sins and secrets are as likely to be found behind the walls of gated mansions as in the dark woods surrounding Merilee’s house, appearance is everything. But just how dangerous that deception can be will shock all three women….

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #476

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog. To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links. Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Martha, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what we received:

Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild, narrated by Suzanne Toren from Audible for Book Club — I missed this one in February.

In Strangers in Their Own Land, the renowned sociologist Arlie Hochschild embarks on a thought-provoking journey from her liberal hometown of Berkeley, California, deep into Louisiana bayou country – a stronghold of the conservative right. As she gets to know people who strongly oppose many of the ideas she famously champions, Hochschild nevertheless finds common ground and quickly warms to the people she meets, among them a Tea Party activist whose town has been swallowed by a sinkhole caused by a drilling accident – people whose concerns are actually ones that all Americans share: the desire for community, the embrace of family, and hopes for their children.

Strangers in Their Own Land goes beyond the commonplace liberal idea that these are people who have been duped into voting against their own interests. Instead Hochschild finds lives ripped apart by stagnant wages, a loss of home, an elusive American dream – and political choices and views that make sense in the context of their lives. Hochschild draws on her expert knowledge of the sociology of emotion to help us understand what it feels like to live in “red” America. Along the way she finds answers to one of the crucial questions of contemporary American politics: Why do the people who would seem to benefit most from “liberal” government intervention abhor the very idea?

Georgia Darcy: A Venetian Romance: A Contemporary Pride and Prejudice Variation Novella by Charlotte Kingsley, a Kindle freebie.

In this companion novella to “Senator Darcy,” we get a glimpse of Georgia Darcy’s life in Venice.

Far away from home at her exclusive boarding school, Georgia Darcy is swept away by the romance of Italy, and the attentions of a handsome young man. But after her ill treatment at the hands of George Wickham, she has trouble trusting strange men who might only be after her money or her brother’s influence.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #475

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog. To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links. Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Martha, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what we received:

The Hunger by Alma Katsu, which I purchased from One More Page Books.

Evil is invisible, and it is everywhere.

That is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the wagon train known as the Donner Party. Depleted rations, bitter quarrels, and the mysterious death of a little boy have driven the isolated travelers to the brink of madness. Though they dream of what awaits them in the West, long-buried secrets begin to emerge, and dissent among them escalates to the point of murder and chaos. They cannot seem to escape tragedy…or the feelings that someone–or something–is stalking them. Whether it’s a curse from the beautiful Tamsen Donner (who some think might be a witch), their ill-advised choice of route through uncharted terrain, or just plain bad luck, the ninety men, women, and children of the Donner Party are heading into one of one of the deadliest and most disastrous Western adventures in American history.

As members of the group begin to disappear, the survivors start to wonder if there really is something disturbing, and hungry, waiting for them in the mountains…and whether the evil that has unfolded around them may have in fact been growing within them all along.

Effortlessly combining the supernatural and the historical, The Hunger is an eerie, thrilling look at the volatility of human nature, pushed to its breaking point.

Ache by Joseph Ross, which I purchased.

“Walt Whitman writes: I am he attesting sympathy. Joseph Ross could say the same. The poems in Ache flow from a fountain of compassion for those so often denied these sacred waters: immigrants crossing the border at their peril, people of color murdered by police now and half a century ago, the martyrs whose names we know–from Trayvon Martin to Archbishop Romero–and whose names we do not know. In one breath, the poet speaks in the voice of Nelson Mandela, addressing the mother of lynching victim Emmett Till; in the next breath, he speaks of his own high school student, a young Black man spat upon by an officer of the law. In clear, concise language, Joseph Ross praises and grieves the world around him, the music as well as the murder. He also engages in prophecy: If you leave your country in the wrong hands, / you might return to /see it drowning in blood, / able to spit / but not to speak. Yes, indeed.” – Martin Espada

On That One-Way Trip to Mars by Marlena Chertock, which I purchased.

ON THAT ONE-WAY TRIP TO MARS is a version of the Voyager’s Grand Tour, if the spacecraft had skeletal dysplasia. It is a space journey that includes sexual encounters with astronomers, the increasing warmth of the sun, and zero gravity to give aching bones a break. These poems travel the solar system. Blast into orbit and head on that one-way journey with them.

Crumb-Sized: Poems by Marlena Chertock, which I purchased.

With frank humor, Chertock takes on varied and critical aspects of identity―femininity, gender, sexuality―as they relate (or don’t relate) to her disability, somehow succeeding in making them familiar and universal. Her poetry is one that challenges us to see our limitations, not as individuals but as people together, all of us, ultimately, crumb-sized. Born in 1991, Chertock’s is an exciting and contemporary voice―brutally honest, deeply humane and ultimately triumphant.

PR For Poets: A Guidebook To Publicity And Marketing by Jeannine Hall Gailey, purchased for myself since I was interviewed for this book!

PR For Poets provides the information you need in order to get your book into the right hands and into the worlds of social media and old media, librarians and booksellers, and readers. PR For Poets will empower you to do what you can to connect your poetry book with its audience!

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #474

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog. To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links. Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Martha, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what we received:

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls from Audible for book club.

The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette’s brilliant and charismatic father captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn’t want the responsibility of raising a family.

The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.

Monsoon Mansion by Cinelle Barnes, purchased.

Cinelle Barnes was barely three years old when her family moved into Mansion Royale, a stately ten-bedroom home in the Philippines. Filled with her mother’s opulent social aspirations and the gloriously excessive evidence of her father’s self-made success, it was a girl’s storybook playland. But when a monsoon hits, her father leaves, and her mother’s terrible lover takes the reins, Cinelle’s fantastical childhood turns toward tyranny she could never have imagined. Formerly a home worthy of magazines and lavish parties, Mansion Royale becomes a dangerous shell of the splendid palace it had once been.

In this remarkable ode to survival, Cinelle creates something magical out of her truth—underscored by her complicated relationship with her mother. Through a tangle of tragedy and betrayal emerges a revelatory journey of perseverance and strength, of grit and beauty, and of coming to terms with the price of family—and what it takes to grow up.

Aided by Austen by Vaishnavi Nair Kolli, Kindle freebie.

At twenty-seven, Jane Cotton cannot identify with any literary heroines, except one – Anne Elliot of Persuasion, whom she has long loved. Jane however, with her executive job, is no Anne; there is no lost love nor long regrets and at least Anne in Regency England did not have to deal with the small town gossip of Summerfield, where everybody knows everybody. Cautious Jane can only take comfort in her art of staying low! But when she is unexpectedly persuaded into the Annual Summerfield musical, Jane must realize that heroines become so, not as they watch from the sidelines, but as they wade knee deep into life’s hubbubs… perhaps her chance now with trials, confidantes (even suitors gasp!) and Austen-esque triumphs, might finally make for a life worthy of a novel?!

Mr Darcy & Elizabeth: Unexpected Affection by Cassandra Knightley, a Kindle freebie.

Lady Catherine’s objections will be the least of their concerns when compared with the nasty schemes of Mr Wickham, not to mention the scandals posed by Elizabeth’s own relations! Can Mr Darcy handle the chaos that is the Bennet Family? Can Elizabeth put aside her hurt pride long enough to allow her true feelings to shine? Will these two withstand scandal and scorn to finally discover their happily ever ?

Hell’s Princess: The Mystery of Belle Gunness, Butcher of Men by Harold Schechter, purchased.

In the pantheon of serial killers, Belle Gunness stands alone. She was the rarest of female psychopaths, a woman who engaged in wholesale slaughter, partly out of greed but mostly for the sheer joy of it. Between 1902 and 1908, she lured a succession of unsuspecting victims to her Indiana “murder farm.” Some were hired hands. Others were well-to-do bachelors. All of them vanished without a trace. When their bodies were dug up, they hadn’t merely been poisoned, like victims of other female killers. They’d been butchered.

Hell’s Princess is a riveting account of one of the most sensational killing sprees in the annals of American crime: the shocking series of murders committed by the woman who came to be known as Lady Bluebeard. The only definitive book on this notorious case and the first to reveal previously unknown information about its subject, Harold Schechter’s gripping, suspenseful narrative has all the elements of a classic mystery—and all the gruesome twists of a nightmare.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #473

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog. To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links. Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Martha, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what we received:

The Assistant by Riana Everly, a gift.

A tale of love, secrets, and adventure across the ocean

When textile merchant Edward Gardiner rescues an injured youth, he has no notion that this simple act of kindness will change his life. The boy is bright and has a gift for numbers that soon makes him a valued assistant and part of the Gardiners’ business, but he also has secrets and a set of unusual acquaintances. When he introduces Edward to his sparkling and unconventional friend Miss Grant, Edward finds himself falling in love.

But who is this enigmatic woman who so quickly finds her way to Edward’s heart? Do the deep secrets she refuses to reveal have anything to do with the appearance of a sinister stranger, or with the rumours of a missing heir to a northern estate? As danger mounts, Edward must find the answers in order to save the woman who has bewitched him . . . but the answers themselves may destroy all his hopes.

Set against the background of Jane Austen’s London, this Pride and Prejudice prequel casts us into the world of Elizabeth Bennet’s beloved Aunt and Uncle Gardiner. Their unlikely tale takes the reader from the woods of Derbyshire, to the ballrooms of London, to the shores of Nova Scotia. With so much at stake, can they find their Happily Ever After?
The Assistant is a full-length JAFF novel of about 90 000 words

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur, which I purchased.

The book is divided into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose. Deals with a different pain. Heals a different heartache. Milk and Honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.

The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur, which I purchased.

A vibrant and transcendent journey about growth and healing. Ancestry and honoring one’s roots. Expatriation and rising up to find a home within yourself.

The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace, which I purchased.

From Amanda Lovelace, a poetry collection in four parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, and you. The first three sections piece together the life of the author while the final section serves as a note to the reader. This moving book explores love, loss, grief, healing, empowerment, and inspiration.

What did you receive?