Quantcast

Mailbox Monday #577

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

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

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

Here’s what we received:

Empty mailbox for me this week. It will be good to catch-up.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #576

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

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

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

Here’s what we received:

Magnolia Table by Joanna Gaines for review.

Following the launch of her #1 New York Times bestselling cookbook, Magnolia Table, and seeing her family’s own sacred dishes being served at other families’ tables across the country, Joanna Gaines gained a deeper commitment to the value of food being shared. This insight inspired Joanna to get back in the kitchen and start from scratch, pushing herself beyond her comfort zone to develop new recipes for her family, and yours, to gather around. Magnolia Table, Volume 2 is filled with 145 new recipes from her own home that she shares with husband Chip and their five kids, and from the couple’s restaurant, Magnolia Table; Silos Baking Co; and new coffee shop, Magnolia Press. From breakfast to dinner, plus breads, soups, and sides, Magnolia Table, Volume 2 gives readers abundant reasons to gather together. The book is beautifully photographed and filled with dishes you’ll want to bring into your own home, including Mushroom-Gruyére Quiche, Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread, Grilled Bruschetta Chicken, Zucchini-Squash Strata, Chicken-Pecan-Asparagus Casserole, Stuffed Pork Loin, Lemon-Lavender Tart, and Magnolia Press Chocolate Cake.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #575

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

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

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

Here’s what we received:

Becoming Mr. Bingley by Samantha Whitman, a Kindle freebie.

Letting the man of her dreams go would have been much harder had he been a real person. Living happily ever after with her soul mate would be much easier if reality was as uncomplicated as her dreams. And for Elizabeth Baker, the future would be much clearer if the lines between dreams and reality were not blurring yet again.

 

Letters from the Heart: A Pride and Prejudice Novella Variation (Jane Austen Re-imaginings Book 1) by Rose Fairbanks, a Kindle freebie.

The line between love and hate has never been closer.

Memories of Elizabeth Bennet torture Fitzwilliam Darcy during a winter in London. Resenting his love for her, he writes a cathartic letter intended to release his repressed feelings. When it is mistakenly mailed, there is only one thing he can do.
In Hertfordshire, Elizabeth’s mind returns again and again to the exasperating enigma of Mr. Darcy. Distraught and confused, she journals her hatred for the man but soon misplaces the letter never meant to be read.
When others presume an engagement, their paths seem sealed. However, rather than bringing about a marriage, their words of regret and anger threaten to separate them forever.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #574

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

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

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

Here’s what we received:

The Haunted Library: The Ghost Backstage by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Aurore Damant, which I purchased.

Kaz and Claire’s new detective agency is a success! Their latest case, though, is proving to be the hardest yet. When Claire’s classmate says he saw a ghost backstage while rehearsing the school play, Kaz goes to school with Claire to investigate. From the description the boy gave, Kaz is sure it’s his mom—but where has she gone? Kaz and Claire search everywhere and find no trace of her, but the mysterious ghostly activities are still happening.

The Haunted Library: The Five O’Clock Ghost by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Aurore Damant, which I purchased.

Kaz and Claire are called in for another ghostly mystery, and this ghost is always right on time. When Claire’s friend tells the young detectives about his five o’clock ghost, Kaz wonders if it could be his own missing brother, Little John. Kaz and Claire search the house up and down, but they can’t find any trace of Little John–or any other ghost. Yet when five o’clock comes along, the strange occurrences come back again.

Spectrum: Math Workbook for 3rd Grade, which I purchased.

FOCUSED PRACTICE: The Spectrum Math Workbook for Third Grade provides focused practice in math mastery for children ages 8 and 9. This 160-page, ten-chapter workbook keeps kids at the top of their math game using progressive practice, math in everyday settings, and tests to monitor progress.
CORRELATED TO CURRENT STATE STANDARDS: This engaging workbook covers fact families, adding and subtracting 4-digit numbers, multiplying and dividing, fractions, perimeter and area, graphs and line plots, and presenting data.
WHAT’S INSIDE: Includes lessons and exercises that help students to understand difficult subject matter, along with pretests, post-tests, mid-tests, and final tests. An answer key is provided to measure the student’s success.
WORKING TOGETHER: A teacher and parent-loved series, Spectrum Math Workbooks help children stay ahead in math by supplying systematic and thought-provoking practice designed to increase in complexity.

Spectrum: Critical Thinking Math for Grade 3, which I purchased.

The Spectrum® Critical Thinking for Math Workbook for third grade features 128 pages of grade-specific activities to help students think critically while building and applying math skills both in and out of the classroom.

Aligned with current state standards, this workbook helps extend learning to real-world scenarios and reinforces concepts such as adding and subtracting through four-digit numbers, multiplying and dividing, perimeter and area, fractions, working with graphs, and more. Testing sections throughout help students review and retain knowledge, while an answer key provides insight into different problem-solving methods and strategies.

Spectrum: Vocabulary for Grade 3, which I purchased.

Spectrum Vocabulary Book for grade 3 reinforces student’s language skills with the progressive lessons and practices through strategies related to word classification, context clues, root and base words and prefixes, suffixes and imported words. It includes test-taking practice sections and an answer key that helps your child systematically build and strengthen vocabulary and comprehension skills. It provides quality educational materials that support your students learning achievement with success and is a child’s path to a strong and expanding vocabulary.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #573

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

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

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

Here’s what I received:

The Haunted Library: The Ghost in the Attic by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Aurore Damant, which I purchased.

After successfully solving the mystery of the ghost in the library, Kaz and Claire land the first case for their detective agency—a haunted attic in a neighbor’s home! With a little help from Grannie, Kaz and Claire discover that what appeared to be something spooky has a much simpler explanation.

 

The Deep by Alma Katsu, which I purchased.

Someone, or something, is haunting the ship. Between mysterious disappearances and sudden deaths, the guests of the Titanic have found themselves suspended in an eerie, unsettling twilight zone from the moment they set sail. Several of them, including maid Annie Hebley, guest Mark Fletcher, and millionaires Madeleine Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim, are convinced there’s something sinister–almost otherwordly–afoot. But before they can locate the source of the danger, as the world knows, disaster strikes.

Years later, Annie, having survived that fateful night, has attempted to put her life back together. Working as a nurse on the sixth voyage of the Titanic‘s sister ship, the Britannic, newly refitted as a hospital ship, she happens across an unconscious Mark, now a soldier fighting in World War I. At first, Annie is thrilled and relieved to learn that he too survived the sinking, but soon, Mark’s presence awakens deep-buried feelings and secrets, forcing her to reckon with the demons of her past–as they both discover that the terror may not yet be over.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #572

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

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

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

Here’s what I received:

Girls Like Us by Elizabeth Hazen, which I purchased and will be on blog tour with Poetic Book Tours in May.

Girls Like Us is packed with fierce, eloquent, and deeply intelligent poetry focused on female identity and the contradictory personas women are expected to embody. The women in these poems sometimes fear and sometimes knowingly provoke the male gaze. At times, they try to reconcile themselves to the violence that such attentions may bring; at others, they actively defy it. Hazen’s insights into the conflict between desire and wholeness, between self and self-destruction, are harrowing and wise. The predicaments confronted in Girls Like Us are age-old and universal—but in our current era, Hazen’s work has a particular weight, power, and value.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #571

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

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

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

Here’s what I received:

Pride & Prejudice & Airships by Caylen McQueen, a Kindle freebie.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single woman in possession of good fortune, must be in want of a husband. Similarly, young men of meager means, such as the Bennet brothers, must be desperate to find a wife.

In an alternate universe where airships rule the sky, women govern the world. Men aren’t allowed to join the military, carry firearms, or pilot airships. In fact, a young man’s only goal is to attract a wealthy wife. For centuries, unmarried men have been labeled as “spinsirs” and treated like social pariahs. In a world where gentlemen are little more than property, Elisander Bennet longs for something more.

Elisander meets Darcy Fitzwilliam, a military captain who turns up her nose at the Bennets’ low birth. She antagonizes Elisander and his family, while secretly resisting a growing attraction to him. Meanwhile, Elisander is robbed and romanced by Georgette Wickham, a flirtatious pirate with a dark reputation.

Smitten with Sense by Keena Richins, a kindle freebie — her recent book Sense Without Sensibility was on blog tour with Poetic Book Tours to rave reviews.

Edward knew he was a lost cause. While on the outside, he had the wealth, the connections, and the prestige everyone dreamed about, but he knew he was trapped in a gilded cage. He stayed under his ruthless mother’s thumb out of desperation since her formidable reputation preserved the little freedom he had left thanks to a mistake in his past that waited to destroy him if he made any wrong moves.

Then he meets Elinor—who couldn’t be more perfect for him. He finally has a taste of what happiness could be like and despite the danger, wants to keep it. Teaming up with Frank Churchill and Miss Morton might do the trick, but breaking free will be dangerous. To keep Elinor safe, he has to be distant, but will she forgive his coldness or will he lose her no matter what he does?

While interconnected with the other books, “Smitten With Sense” can be read on its own and is a clean/sweet romance with a guaranteed happily ever after.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #570

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

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

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

Here’s what I received as Kindle freebies:

 

 

 

 

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #569

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

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

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

Here’s what I received:

Said Through Glass by Jona Colson, which I purchased as he’ll be at the upcoming Gaithersburg Book Festival in May.

Jona Colson’s debut poetry collection asks the reader to reconsider ordinary life as something curious, even fantastic. A poet of astonishing and apparently limitless range, he is sometimes whimsical, sometimes terrifying, but always contemplative, tender and wise.

 

 

The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande, which I purchased for the first Gaithersburg Reads event in March.

Reyna Grande vividly brings to life her tumultuous early years in this “compelling . . . unvarnished, resonant” (BookPage) story of a childhood spent torn between two parents and two countries. As her parents make the dangerous trek across the Mexican border to “El Otro Lado” (The Other Side) in pursuit of the American dream, Reyna and her siblings are forced into the already overburdened household of their stern grandmother. When their mother at last returns, Reyna prepares for her own journey to “El Otro Lado” to live with the man who has haunted her imagination for years, her long-absent father.

Funny, heartbreaking, and lyrical, The Distance Between Us poignantly captures the confusion and contradictions of childhood, reminding us that the joys and sorrows we experience are imprinted on the heart forever, calling out to us of those places we first called home.

A Dream Called Home by Reyna Grande, which I purchased for the first Gaithersburg Reads event in March.

As an immigrant in an unfamiliar country, with an indifferent mother and abusive father, Reyna had few resources at her disposal. Taking refuge in words, Reyna’s love of reading and writing propels her to rise above until she achieves the impossible and is accepted to the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Although her acceptance is a triumph, the actual experience of American college life is intimidating and unfamiliar for someone like Reyna, who is now estranged from her family and support system. Again, she finds solace in words, holding fast to her vision of becoming a writer, only to discover she knows nothing about what it takes to make a career out of a dream.

Through it all, Reyna is determined to make the impossible possible, going from undocumented immigrant of little means to “a fierce, smart, shimmering light of a writer” (Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild); a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist whose “power is growing with every book” (Luis Alberto Urrea, Pultizer Prize finalist); and a proud mother of two beautiful children who will never have to know the pain of poverty and neglect.

Told in Reyna’s exquisite, heartfelt prose, A Dream Called Home demonstrates how, by daring to pursue her dreams, Reyna was able to build the one thing she had always longed for: a home that would endure.

i shimmer sometimes, too by Porsha Olayiwola, which I purchased after listening to this interview.

Porsha Olayiwola’s debut poetry collection soars with the power and presence of live performance.

These poems dip their hands into the fabric of black womanhood and revel in it. Shimmer establishes Olayiwola firmly in the lineage of black queer poetics, celebrating the work done by generations of poets from Audre Lorde to Danez Smith.

Each poem is a gentle breaking and an inventive reconstruction. This is a book of self and community-care―in pursuit of building a world that will not only keep you alive but will keep you joyful.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #568

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

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

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

Here’s what I received:

This Is Not a Sky by Jessica Piazza, which I purchased.

Jessica Piazza’s THIS IS NOT A SKY begins with the seed of ekphrastic literature, then yawns, then stretches, then bursts beyond those bounds. Each of these 18 poems borrows a title from the greats—from Raphael and Turner to Warhol and Twombly—and through imagined narratives, takes the reader both inside and outside the paintings. In Piazza’s capable hands, the original art works serve as launch pads, and the poems are glorious departures. Through the guided commentary of an italicized speaker (sometimes commentator, sometimes companion, sometimes voyeur), we are taken to a long hallway wherein the reader wanders from room to room, peeking inside. Behind one door, “The ladies wore boas and nothing else; the beautiful men repeated themselves,” and behind another, “You float, no floors, no doors in the office walls, hidden heavy hook of neck, crook of knee.” THIS IS NOT A SKY is a multi-faceted sensory experience; Piazza employs QR codes in tandem with each poem to allow the reader access to the original work of art alongside its poetic departure. Through her finely tuned ear for carefully considered formal metrical structures and rhyme, Piazza merges music, painting, and poetry to breathe new, strange, and modern life into the grand themes that have long given art its universality: death, love, religion, and truth.

Partial Genius by Mary Biddinger, which I purchased.

What happens when you finally realize that you are really good, but only at unremarkable things? What value does memory hold when weighed against heavier commodities such as money and time and conventional beauty? The prose poems of Partial Genius build upon the form in a collective narrative, working in unison to craft a larger story. Post-youth and mid-epiphany, Partial Genius ponders the years spent waiting for reconciliation of past wrongs, the acknowledgment of former selves, and the desire to truly fit into one landscape or another.

“I love this book so much. A work of meticulous craft and profound originality, Mary Biddinger’s newest collection of prose poems is one of the best books I’ve read on our historical moment and the decades that led to it. PARTIAL GENIUS reads like a dossier of the psychological landscape of late capitalist America and the end of empire. In the tradition of John Ashbery, but wholly original in her own vision and voice, Biddinger draws from a deep well of poetic intellect and wit to illuminate the existential threats and imaginative possibilities of our collective self-destruction. In ‘The Subject Pool’ the speaker watches a man tattoo AU COURANT around her thigh. The tattoo artist has no idea. Every poem is chock-full of revelations in every detail. Reading this book felt like sitting by the fire in some secret location with a double agent, smoking her pipe telling tales of all that went down right in front of our faces, while we were all driven to distraction by outrage. To paraphrase Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, She’s got it all in this book.”–Heather Derr-Smith

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #567

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

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

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

Here’s what I received:

The Engagement Gift by Lauren Blakely from Audible.

Some things are better left unsaid.

Besides, I don’t need to act on every wild thought that flits through my imagination, not when my fiancé and I have the kind of life I’ve always longed for – passionate, intimate, and, oh, so real.

I can’t risk losing him, so I focus on building our life together as a couple, expanding my career as a sports reporter, and prepping for our wedding. But the more insistent my thoughts become, the closer I get to telling him what I want most…

The question though is: What will happen to our unbreakable bond when I do?

Mr. Darcy’s Fault: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary Novella by Regina Jeffers, a freebie.

What if an accident prevents Elizabeth Bennet from reading Mr. Darcy’s letter of apology? What if said letter goes missing and ends up in the hands of George Wickham? What if Mr. Wickham plans to use the evidence of both Georgiana Darcy’s ruination and Darcy’s disdain for the Bennets to his benefit? How will Darcy counter Wickham’s plans and claim happiness with Elizabeth Bennet?

When he notices his long-time enemy in the vicinity of Hunsford Cottage, FITZWILLIAM DARCY means to put an end to an assignation between ELIZABETH BENNET and Mr. Wickham, but Darcy is not prepared for the scene which greets him in Rosings Woods. Elizabeth lies injured and crumpled beneath one of trees, and in order to save her, by Society’s standards, Darcy must compromise Elizabeth. Needless to say, Darcy does not mind claiming Elizabeth to wife, but what of the lady’s affections? Can Darcy tolerate Elizabeth’s emotions being engaged elsewhere?

Compelled into an engagement she least desires, Elizabeth Bennet thinks it impossible she could ever care for the arrogant Mr. Darcy, but the man proves more irresistible than Elizabeth first assumes. Yet, just when Elizabeth begins to believe happiness is within their grasps, Mr. Wickham reappears in her life with a “proposal” Elizabeth cannot refuse, and it is all Mr. Darcy’s fault.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #566

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

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

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

Here’s what I received:

Seeking Mr. Dependable: The Jane Austen Pact by Cami Checketts, a freebie.

A broken-hearted Romeo. A wrongly-accused woman. Can he keep her safe if she puts her life in his hands?

Brooke Isaacson’s ex-fiancé pulls a gun on her and she has no choice but to run. When she runs straight to Wyoming and into the arms of Ryker Redland, she’s not sure if she’s found her Mr. Dependable or found the biggest heartbreak of her life.

A deserted cabin and a territorial grizzly tracking them will either bring them together or be their death sentence.

Love Like This by Sophie Love, a freebie.

Keira Swanson, 28, lands her dream job at Viatorum, a slick magazine in New York City, as an aspiring travel writer. But their culture is brutal, her boss is a monster, and she doesn’t know if she can last for long.

That changes when Keira, by a fluke, is handed a coveted assignment and given her big chance: to travel to Ireland for 30 days, witness the legendary Lisdoonvarna festival of love, and to debunk the myth that true love exists. Keira, cynical herself and in a rocky place with her long-term boyfriend, is all too happy to oblige.

But when Keira falls in love with Ireland and meets her Irish tour guide, who just may be the man of her dreams, she is no longer sure of anything.

A whirlwind romantic comedy that is as profound as it is funny, LOVE LIKE THIS is book #1 in the debut of a dazzling new romance series that will make you laugh, cry, and will keep you turning pages late into the night—and will make you fall in love with romance all over again.

Malcolm and Me by Ishmael Reed from Audible.

In 1960, Ishmael Reed, then an aspiring young writer, interviewed Malcolm X for a local radio station in Buffalo, New York. The encounter cost Reed his job and changed his life. In Malcolm and Me, Reed, acclaimed author of such classic novels as Mumbo Jumbo and winner of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, reveals a side of Malcolm X the public has never seen before, while exploring how the civil rights firebrand influenced his own views on working, living, speaking out, and left a mark on generations of artists and activists.

Malcolm X was one of the most influential human rights activists in history and his views on race, religion, and fighting back changed America and the world. Reed gives us a clear-eyed view of what the man was really like—beyond the headlines and the myth-making. Malcolm and Me is a personal look at the development of an artist and a testament to how chance encounters we have in our youth can transform who we are and the world we live in.

Alone with the Stars by David R. Gillham, Hillary Huber, and Emily Bauer from Audible.

In the summer of 1937, Amelia Earhart is the most famous woman in the world—a record-breaking pilot, a best-selling author, and a modern woman shattering the glass ceiling in the early days of aviation. And then she vanished.

But a series of intercepted radio signals just might save her in this historical fiction audiobook from the acclaimed, New York Times best-selling author of City of Women, David R. Gillham. Award-winning narrators Emily Bauer and Hillary Huber create an account that brings light to that specific time and place.

In Tampa, Florida, 15-year-old Lizzie Friedlander spends her afternoons glued to her father’s radio, tapping into the enormity of a world she longs to travel. Lizzie can hardly believe her ears when she picks up a radio signal from a faraway source that sets her heart racing: “Amelia Earhart calling SOS!”

As Lizzie copies down the transmissions, it’s clear that the famed Amelia Earhart is not lost at sea, as the newspapers are dreading, but alive and calling for help. In a race against time, Lizzie must convince the local Coast Guard that the radio transmissions were real and that Earhart’s life hangs in the balance. But will anyone believe her?

Written for audio by David R. Gillham, Alone with the Stars is a breathtaking and illuminating fictional tribute to a woman who risked her life in pursuit of new heights and the young girl who tried desperately to save her. Inspired by actual events, Alone with the Stars reveals, in riveting detail, the final moments in the life of a great heroine, whose courage changed the world forever.

Break Shot: My First 21 Years: An Audio Memoir by James Taylor from Audible.

“I’m James Taylor, and I’m a professional autobiographer.” So begins the tender audio memoir Break Shot: My First 21 Years. Through decades of songs by the celebrated folk legend who brought us “Fire and Rain” and “Carolina in My Mind”, James Taylor has doled out details of his life in the poetry of his work. Taylor says his early life is “the source of many of my songs”, and Break Shot is a tour of his first 21 years in rich, new detail. Combining storytelling, music and performance, this one-of-a-kind listening experience also features a crop of musical gems, including an unreleased recording of the beloved hymn “Jerusalem” and selections from his newest release, American Standard, as well as new original scoring by Taylor specially recorded for Break Shot and more.

Recorded in his home studio, TheBarn in western Massachusetts, Break Shot tells the deeply personal story of Taylor’s youth, which is entwined with the story of his family. What started as an idyllic tight unit soon became a family sent to different emotional corners – like a break shot in the game of pool, he says, “when you slam the cue ball into the 15 other balls and they all go flying off”.

Present over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist from Audible.

In this book, New York Times best-selling author Shauna Niequist invites you to consider the landscape of your own life, and what it might look like to leave behind the pressure to be perfect and begin the life-changing practice of simply being present, in the middle of the mess and the ordinariness of life.

As she puts it: “A few years ago, I found myself exhausted and isolated, my soul and body sick. I was tired of being tired, burned out on busy. And, it seemed almost everyone I talked with was in the same boat: longing for connection, meaning, depth, but settling for busy. I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, neighbor, writer, and I know all too well that settling feeling. But over the course of the last few years, I’ve learned a way to live, marked by grace, love, rest, and play. And it’s changing everything. Present Over Perfect is an invitation to this journey that changed my life. I’ll walk this path with you, a path away from frantic pushing and proving, and toward your essential self, the one you were created to be before you began proving and earning for your worth.”

In Shauna’s warm and vulnerable style, this collection of essays focuses on the most important transformation in her life, and maybe yours, too: leaving behind busyness and frantic living and rediscovering the person you were made to be. Present Over Perfect is a hand reaching out, pulling you free from the constant pressure to perform faster, push harder, and produce more, all while maintaining an exhausting image of perfection.

Shauna offers an honest account of what led her to begin this journey, and a compelling vision for an entirely new way to live: soaked in grace, rest, silence, simplicity, prayer, and connection with the people that matter most to us.

What did you receive?