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Mailbox Monday #683

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

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

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

Here’s what I received:

Mustique Island by Sarah McCoy, which I purchased.

It’s January 1972 but the sun is white hot when Willy May Michael’s boat first kisses the dock of Mustique Island. Tucked into the southernmost curve of the Caribbean, Mustique is a private island that has become a haven for the wealthy and privileged. Its owner is the eccentric British playboy Colin Tennant, who is determined to turn this speck of white sand into a luxurious neo-colonial retreat for his rich friends and into a royal court in exile for the Queen’s rebellious sister, Princess Margaret—one where Her Royal Highness can skinny dip, party, and entertain lovers away from the public eye.

Willy May, a former beauty queen from Texas—who is also no stranger to marital scandals—seeks out Mustique for its peaceful isolation. Determined to rebuild her life and her relationships with her two daughters, Hilly, a model, and Joanne, a musician, she constructs a fanciful white beach house across the island from Princess Margaret—and finds herself pulled into the island’s inner circle of aristocrats, rock stars, and hangers-on.

When Willy May’s daughters arrive, they discover that beneath its veneer of decadence, Mustique has a dark side, and like sand caught in the undertow, their mother-daughter story will shift and resettle in ways they never could have imagined.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #682

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

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

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

Here’s what I received:

Finding Me: A Memoir by Viola Davis, purchased from Audible.

In my book, you will meet a little girl named Viola who ran from her past until she made a life-changing decision to stop running forever.

This is my story, from a crumbling apartment in Central Falls, Rhode Island, to the stage in New York City, and beyond. This is the path I took to finding my purpose but also my voice in a world that didn’t always see me.

As I wrote Finding Me, my eyes were open to the truth of how our stories are often not given close examination. We are forced to reinvent them to fit into a crazy, competitive, judgmental world. So I wrote this for anyone running through life untethered, desperate and clawing their way through murky memories, trying to get to some form of self-love. For anyone who needs reminding that a life worth living can only be born from radical honesty and the courage to shed facades and be . . . you.

Finding Me is a deep reflection, a promise, and a love letter of sorts to self. My hope is that my story will inspire you to light up your own life with creative expression and rediscover who you were before the world put a label on you.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #681

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

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

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

Here’s what I received:

The Fervor by Alma Katsu, which I pre-ordered because it combines my favorite things to read about.

1944: As World War II rages on, the threat has come to the home front. In a remote corner of Idaho, Meiko Briggs and her daughter, Aiko, are desperate to return home. Following Meiko’s husband’s enlistment as an air force pilot in the Pacific months prior, Meiko and Aiko were taken from their home in Seattle and sent to one of the internment camps in the Midwest. It didn’t matter that Aiko was American-born: They were Japanese, and therefore considered a threat by the American government.

Mother and daughter attempt to hold on to elements of their old life in the camp when a mysterious disease begins to spread among those interned. What starts as a minor cold quickly becomes spontaneous fits of violence and aggression, even death. And when a disconcerting team of doctors arrive, nearly more threatening than the illness itself, Meiko and her daughter team up with a newspaper reporter and widowed missionary to investigate, and it becomes clear to them that something more sinister is afoot, a demon from the stories of Meiko’s childhood, hell-bent on infiltrating their already strange world.

Inspired by the Japanese yokai and the jorogumo spider demon, The Fervor explores the horrors of the supernatural beyond just the threat of the occult. With a keen and prescient eye, Katsu crafts a terrifying story about the danger of demonization, a mysterious contagion, and the search to stop its spread before it’s too late. A sharp account of too-recent history, it’s a deep excavation of how we decide who gets to be human when being human matters most.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #680

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

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

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

Here’s what I received:

Kill It with Fire: Manage Aging Computer Systems (and Future Proof Modern Ones) by Marianne Bellotti, narrated by Katie Koster, which I downloaded for work.

Kill It with Fire examines aging computer systems, the evolution of technology over time, and how organizations can modernize, maintain, and future-proof their current systems.

“Kill it with fire”, the typical first reaction to a legacy system falling into obsolescence, is a knee-jerk approach that often burns through tons of money and time only to result in a less efficient solution. This book offers a far more forgiving modernization framework, laying out smart value-add strategies and proven incremental techniques that work equally well for ancient systems and brand-new ones.

Internationally known for restoring some of the world’s oldest, messiest computer networks to operational excellence, software engineering expert Marianne Bellotti distills key lessons and insights from her experience into practical, research-backed guidance on topics from “chaos” testing solutions to building momentum-driven teams and effective communication structures. Using clear explanations and simple exercises, she’ll help you determine when to modernize, how to organize, what migrations will add the most value, and where to focus your maintenance efforts for maximum impact. With witty, engaging prose, Bellotti explains why new doesn’t always mean better, weaving in illuminating case studies and jaw-dropping anecdotes from her work in the field.

You’ll learn:

Tips and best practices for assessing architecture and testing assumptions
How to avoid trends and pick the right modernization solutions for your specific needs
How to determine whether your migrations will add value before you invest in them
Critical considerations every organization should weigh before moving data to the cloud
Team-based strategies and motivational tricks for keeping modernization plans on track
Key outcomes and checklists for determining when a project is finished

Packed with resources, exercises, and flexible frameworks for organizations of all ages and sizes, Kill It with Fire will give you a vested interest in your technology’s future.

The No-Show by Beth O’Leary, which I purchased.

Siobhan is a quick-tempered life coach with way too much on her plate. Miranda is a tree surgeon used to being treated as just one of the guys on the job. Jane is a soft-spoken volunteer for the local charity shop with zero sense of self-worth.

These three women are strangers who have only one thing in common: They’ve all been stood up on the same day, the very worst day to be stood up—Valentine’s Day. And, unbeknownst to them, they’ve all been stood up by the same man.

Once they’ve each forgiven him for standing them up, they are all in serious danger of falling in love with a man who may have not just one or two but three women on the go….

Is there more to him than meets the eye? Where was he on Valentine’s Day? And will they each untangle the truth before they all get their hearts broken?

Memory and Desire by Gregory Luce, which I purchased.

Memory and Desire is a collection of poetry exploring the themes articulated in the title, both individually and as they are woven together. Roaming from childhood recollections to captured moments from the natural and the urban environments, the book includes poems ranging from brief lyrics to longer narratives, some humorous, others wistful.

 

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #679

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

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

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

Here’s what I received:

The Tradition by Jericho Brown, which I purchased.

Jericho Brown’s daring new book The Tradition details the normalization of evil and its history at the intersection of the past and the personal. Brown’s poetic concerns are both broad and intimate, and at their very core a distillation of the incredibly human: What is safety? Who is this nation? Where does freedom truly lie? Brown makes mythical pastorals to question the terrors to which we’ve become accustomed, and to celebrate how we survive. Poems of fatherhood, legacy, blackness, queerness, worship, and trauma are propelled into stunning clarity by Brown’s mastery, and his invention of the duplex—a combination of the sonnet, the ghazal, and the blues—is testament to his formal skill. The Tradition is a cutting and necessary collection, relentless in its quest for survival while reveling in a celebration of contradiction.

Time Is a Mother by Ocean Vuong, which I purchased.

In this deeply intimate second poetry collection, Ocean Vuong searches for life among the aftershocks of his mother’s death, embodying the paradox of sitting within grief while being determined to survive beyond it. Shifting through memory, and in concert with the themes of his novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, Vuong contends with personal loss, the meaning of family, and the cost of being the product of an American war in America. At once vivid, brave, and propulsive, Vuong’s poems circle fragmented lives to find both restoration as well as the epicenter of the break.

The author of the critically acclaimed poetry collection Night Sky With Exit Wounds, winner of the 2016 Whiting Award, the 2017 T. S. Eliot Prize, and a 2019 MacArthur fellow, Vuong writes directly to our humanity without losing sight of the current moment. These poems represent a more innovative and daring experimentation with language and form, illuminating how the themes we perennially live in and question are truly inexhaustible. Bold and prescient, and a testament to tenderness in the face of violence, Time Is a Mother is a return and a forging forth all at once.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #678

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

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

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

Here’s what I received:

Stepmotherland by Darrel Alejandro Holnes for review.

Winner of the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize, Stepmotherland, Darrel Alejandro Holnes’s first full-length collection, is filled with poems that chronicle and question identity, family, and allegiance. This Central American love song is in constant motion as it takes us on a lyrical and sometimes narrative journey from Panamá to the USA and beyond. The driving force behind Holnes’s work is a pursuit for a new home, and as he searches, he takes the reader on a wild ride through the most pressing political issues of our time and the most intimate and transformative personal experiences of his life. Exploring a complex range of emotions, this collection is a celebration of the discovery of America, the discovery of self, and the ways they may be one and the same.

Holnes’s poems experiment with macaronic language, literary forms, and prosody. In their inventiveness, they create a new tradition that blurs the borders between poetry, visual art, and dramatic text. The new legacy he creates is one with significant reverence for the past, which informs a central desire of immigrants and native-born citizens alike: the desire for a better life. Stepmotherland documents an artist’s evolution into manhood and heralds the arrival of a stunning new poetic voice.

Winter at a Summer House by Mary Beth Hines, which I purchased and toured with Poetic Book Tours in March.

The poems in Mary Beth Hines’s first collection, Winter at a Summer House, strike a wonderful balance between narratives of everyday experience and a pristine, pure poetic imagination. Always rhythmically diverse, most of the time mellifluous, and often intense, Hines’s poetry vividly paints the life of a modern self-made woman, with her worries and obligations, her family, and her dreams. In response to the heroine’s world, this poetry, never static, vibrates with all sorts of emotions: love, friendship, youthful infatuations, amorousness, jealousy, altruism. As a result, the book gives its reader all the pleasures of a novel—and of lyric novelty. -Katia Kapovich, author of Gogol in Rome and Cossacks and Bandits

Mary Beth Hines sings to us out of the staircases, back yards, and swimming pools of a life sumptuously lived, a world rife with joys and enticements, with girlhood wish and adulthood tryst. Each song lifts on the updrafts of a language passionately breathed. The poems are arrayed with such stunning craft that the art dissolves into the narrative. One forgets that one is reading and imagines that one is reliving this life. Winter at a Summer House is, in the words of one of the poems, a “gift to spark remembrance,” as if the memories had become our own. -Tom Daley, author of House You Cannot Reach

From birth/death and first/last words–– the poems in Mary Beth Hines’s collection, Winter at a Summer House, entice us into the arc of a woman’s life, and tip us into her fall from innocence into experience. The poems are dares, flirting with risk, and holding bliss and danger in a tactile bond of “teeth and ice, breath and coyotes.” They give us what we want from poetry: to be bundled up and awakened; to be reminded before the storm that the storm is coming. We must hold hands and walk under the shape-shifting sky of “old faces––familiar, before they split/and spill, erase us.” -Kelly DuMar, author of girl in tree bark, Tree of the Apple, andAll These Cures

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #677

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

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

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

Here’s what I received:

The Switch by Beth O’Leary from Audible.

When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some long-overdue rest.

Eileen is newly single and about to turn 80. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen.

So they decide to try a two-month swap.

Eileen will live in London and look for love. She’ll take Leena’s flat, and learn all about casual dating, swiping right, and city neighbors. Meanwhile, Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire: Eileen’s sweet cottage and garden, her idyllic, quiet village, and her little neighborhood projects.

But stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected. Will swapping lives help Eileen and Leena find themselves…and maybe even find true love? In Beth O’Leary’s The Switch, it’s never too late to change everything…or to find yourself.

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary from Audible.

What if your roommate is your soul mate?

A joyful, quirky romantic comedy, Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare is a feel-good audiobook about finding love in the most unexpected of ways.

Tiffy and Leon share an apartment. Tiffy and Leon have never met.

After a bad breakup, Tiffy Moore needs a place to live. Fast. And cheap. But the apartments in her budget have her wondering if astonishingly colored mold on the walls counts as art.

Desperation makes her open minded, so she answers an ad for a flatshare. Leon, a night shift worker, will take the apartment during the day, and Tiffy can have it nights and weekends. He’ll only ever be there when she’s at the office. In fact, they’ll never even have to meet.

Tiffy and Leon start writing each other notes – first about what day is garbage day, and politely establishing what leftovers are up for grabs, and the evergreen question of whether the toilet seat should stay up or down. Even though they are opposites, they soon become friends. And then maybe more.

But falling in love with your roommate is probably a terrible idea…especially if you’ve never met.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #676

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

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

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

This is what my daughter got from her Scholastic book fair:

 

No books for me this week!

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #675

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

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

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

This is what we received:

Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head by Warsan Shire from NetGalley.

Mama, I made it / out of your home / alive, raised by / the voices / in my head.

With her first full-length poetry collection, Warsan Shire introduces us to a young girl, who, in the absence of a nurturing guide, makes her own way toward womanhood. Drawing from her own life, as well as pop culture and news headlines, Shire finds vivid, unique details in the experiences of refugees and immigrants, mothers and daughters, Black women and teenage girls. In Shire’s hands, lives spring into fullness. This is noisy life, full of music and weeping and surahs and sirens and birds. This is fragrant life, full of blood and perfume and shisha smoke and jasmine and incense. This is polychrome life, full of henna and moonlight and lipstick and turmeric and kohl. The long-awaited collection from one of our most exciting contemporary poets, this book is a blessing, an incantatory celebration of resilience and survival. Each reader will come away changed.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #674

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

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

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

This is what we received:

Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella, which I purchased.

Call Ava romantic, but she thinks love should be found in the real world, not on apps that filter men by height, job, or astrological sign. She believes in feelings, not algorithms. So after a recent breakup and dating app debacle, she decides to put love on hold and escapes to a remote writers’ retreat in coastal Italy. She’s determined to finish writing the novel she’s been fantasizing about, even though it means leaving her close-knit group of friends and her precious dog, Harold, behind.

At the retreat, she’s not allowed to use her real name or reveal any personal information. When the neighboring martial arts retreat is canceled and a few of its attendees join their small writing community, Ava, now going by “Aria,” meets “Dutch,” a man who seems too good to be true. The two embark on a baggage-free, whirlwind love affair, cliff-jumping into gem-colored Mediterranean waters and exploring the splendor of the Italian coast. Things seem to be perfect for Aria and Dutch.

But then their real identities—Ava and Matt—must return to London. As their fantasy starts to fade, they discover just how different their personal worlds are. From food choices to annoying habits to sauna etiquette . . . are they compatible in anything? And then there’s the prickly situation with Matt’s ex-girlfriend, who isn’t too eager to let him go. As one mishap follows another, it seems while they love each other, they just can’t love each other’s lives. Can they reconcile their differences to find one life together?

Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane from a 2-for-1 Audible sale.

You always remember your first love…don’t you?

If there’s anything worse than being fired from the lousiest restaurant in town, it’s coming home early to find your boyfriend in bed with someone else. Reeling from the humiliation of a double dumping in one day, Georgina takes the next job that comes her way – bartender in a newly opened pub. There’s only one problem: It’s run by the guy she fell in love with years ago. And – make that two problems – he doesn’t remember her. At all. But she has fabulous friends and her signature hot pink fur coat…what more could a girl really need?

Lucas McCarthy has not only grown into a broodingly handsome man, but he’s also turned into an actual grown-up, with a thriving business and a dog along the way. Crossing paths with him again throws Georgina’s rocky present into sharp relief – and brings a secret from her past bubbling to the surface. Only she knows what happened 12 years ago, and why she’s allowed the memories to chase her ever since. But maybe it’s not too late for the truth…or a second chance with the one that got away?

The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary from a 2-for-1 Audible sale.

What if the end of the road is just the beginning?

Four years ago, Dylan and Addie fell in love under the Provence sun. Wealthy Oxford student Dylan was staying at his friend Cherry’s enormous French villa; wild child Addie was spending her summer as the on-site caretaker. Two years ago, their relationship officially ended. They haven’t spoken since.

Today, Dylan’s and Addie’s lives collide again. It’s the day before Cherry’s wedding, and Addie and Dylan crash cars at the start of the journey there. The car Dylan was driving is wrecked, and the wedding is in rural Scotland – he’ll never get there on time by public transport.

So, along with Dylan’s best friend, Addie’s sister, and a random guy on Facebook who needed a ride, they squeeze into a space-challenged Mini and set off across Britain. Cramped into the same space, Dylan and Addie are forced to confront the choices they made that tore them apart – and ask themselves whether that final decision was the right one after all.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #673

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

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

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

This is what we received:

Floating On Air (Struck By Love Book 1) by Syrie James, which I purchased.

On a hot summer’s day in 1986, Southern California radio deejay Desiree Germain is hosting a contest on the air when she’s entranced by the deeply masculine voice of caller number twelve.

Voices never matched faces. Desiree knows that better than anyone. As KICK’s hottest radio host, she has a sultry voice that leads people to expect a tall, voluptuous bombshell. Petite in every sense of the word, she hardly lives up to that image.

To Desiree’s surprise, caller number twelve turns out to be Kyle Harrison, a handsome, wealthy businessman from Seattle. Kyle has come to claim his prize—and her heart.

They are soon involved in a whirlwind love affair that makes Desiree’s heart sing. Is it worth the risk? All the rules say that long-distance romance and radio don’t mix.

But a man who is answering a siren’s call doesn’t care about rules.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #672

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

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

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

This is what we received:

None Shall Sleep by Ellie Marney, I purchased on a recommendation from LittleMissStar.

In 1982, two teenagers – serial killer survivor Emma Lewis and US Marshal candidate Travis Bell – are recruited by the FBI to interview convicted juvenile killers and provide insight and advice on cold cases. From the start, Emma and Travis develop a quick friendship, gaining information from juvenile murderers that even the FBI can’t crack. But when the team is called in to give advice on an active case – a serial killer who exclusively hunts teenagers – things begin to unravel. Working against the clock, they must turn to one of the country’s most notorious incarcerated murderers for help: teenage sociopath Simon Gutmunsson.

Despite Travis’ objections, Emma becomes the conduit between Simon and the FBI team. But while Simon seems to be giving them the information they need to save lives, he’s an expert manipulator playing a very long game…and he has his sights set on Emma.

Captivating, harrowing, and chilling, None Shall Sleep is an all-too-timely exploration of not only the monsters that live among us, but also the monsters that live inside us.

What did you receive?