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Mailbox Monday #665

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:

Poems from the Asylum by Martha H. Nasch, introduction by Jodi Nasch Decker, edited by Janelle Molony from the editor for review.

Anthology of harrowing and insightful poems written by Martha Hedwig Nasch, patient-inmate #20864 at the St. Peter State Hospital for the Insane.

After noticing something strange from a secret medical procedure in 1927, St. Paul, Minnesota, Martha Nasch’s doctor claimed she just had a “case of nerves.” With a signature from her adulterous husband, Martha was committed against her will to the asylum. She spent nearly seven years in the Minnesota hospital during the Great Depression and tried to escape twice. Martha’s poems from behind bars include shocking eyewitness accounts of patient treatment and a long-suffering adoration for her only child, now being raised alone by her deceiving spouse.

When not a soul believed Martha’s story, she sought an explanation for her mysterious condition that led her to a spiritual answer for the mystifying curse. Would her findings make her a metaphysical guru of the Breatharian lifestyle, or would she become the laughingstock of her Depression-era family?

Editing and arrangement by Martha’s great-granddaughter, Janelle Molony, with an introduction by Jodi Nasch Decker, granddaughter and family historian. More than fifty photographs and illustrations are included with the historical research that accompanies this beautiful collection of poems.

Run by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, which I purchased.

The sequel to the #1 New York Times bestselling graphic novel series March—the continuation of the life story of John Lewis and the struggles seen across the United States after the Selma voting rights campaign.

To John Lewis, the civil rights movement came to an end with the signing of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. But that was after more than five years as one of the preeminent figures of the movement, leading sit–in protests and fighting segregation on interstate busways as an original Freedom Rider. It was after becoming chairman of SNCC (the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) and being the youngest speaker at the March on Washington.

It was after helping organize the Mississippi Freedom Summer and the ensuing delegate challenge at the 1964 Democratic National Convention. And after coleading the march from Selma to Montgomery on what became known as “Bloody Sunday.” All too often, the depiction of history ends with a great victory.

But John Lewis knew that victories are just the beginning. In Run: Book One, John Lewis and longtime collaborator Andrew Aydin reteam with Nate Powell—the award–winning illustrator of the March trilogy—and are joined by L. Fury—making an astonishing graphic novel debut—to tell this often overlooked chapter of civil rights history.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #664

HAPPY NEW YEAR! Welcome to 2022!

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:

Admit This to No One by Leslie Pietrzyk, which I purchased.

In Admit This to No One, we meet a group of women connected to a central figure either personally or professionally, and for better or for worse―an all-powerful and elusive Speaker of the House, whose political career has only stopped short of being Presidential due to his myriad extra-marital affairs. The Speaker’s daughters from his several failed marriages have a complicated relationship with him to say the least―alternating between longing for his affection or bristling with resentment, and occasionally relief at being left out of the spotlight.

His oldest daughter Lexie, from his “real family, the first one,” once his favorite who knew the real him, is now an adult who has blown up her career due to a sex scandal of her own. His long-time fixer and keeper of secrets, Mary-Grace, is relentless and uncompromising in her devotion to him, making the lives of the interns and aides under her purview in the Capitol miserable. When the Speaker’s life is in danger, the disparate women in his life will collide for the first time, but can their relationships be repaired?

These stories show us how Washington, D.C.’s true currency is power, but power is inextricable from oppression― D.C. is a city divided, not just by red or blue, right or left, but Black and white. Segregated by income and opportunity, but also physically by bridges and rivers, and police vehicles, Leslie Pietrzyk casts an unflinching and exacting gaze on her characters, as they grapple with the ways they have upheld white supremacy and misogyny. Shocking and profound, Pietrzyk writes with an emotional urgency about what happens when the bonds of family and duty are pushed to the limit, and how if individuals re-evaluate their own beliefs and actions there is a path forward.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #663

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

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

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

This is what we received:

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #662

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:

Red Widow by Alma Katsu, which I purchased from Audible.

Lyndsey Duncan worries her career with the CIA might be over. After lines are crossed with another intelligence agent during an assignment, she is sent home to Washington on administrative leave. So when a former colleague – now chief of the Russia Division – recruits her for an internal investigation, she jumps at the chance to prove herself. Lyndsey was once a top handler in the Moscow Field Station, where she was known as the “human lie detector” and praised for recruiting some of the most senior Russian officials. But now, three Russian assets have been exposed – including one of her own – and the CIA is convinced there’s a mole in the department. With years of work in question and lives on the line, Lyndsey is thrown back into life at the agency, this time tracing the steps of those closest to her.

Meanwhile, fellow agent Theresa Warner can’t avoid the spotlight. She is the infamous “Red Widow”, the wife of a former director killed in the field under mysterious circumstances. With her husband’s legacy shadowing her every move, Theresa is a fixture of the Russia Division, and as she and Lyndsey strike up an unusual friendship, her knowledge proves invaluable. But as Lyndsey uncovers a surprising connection to Theresa that could answer all of her questions, she unearths a terrifying web of secrets within the department, if only she is willing to unravel it….

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #661

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:

Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman, which was a surprise in the mail.

Formerly titled The Hill We Climb and Other Poems, the luminous poetry collection by #1 New York Times bestselling author and presidential inaugural poet Amanda Gorman captures a shipwrecked moment in time and transforms it into a lyric of hope and healing. In Call Us What We Carry, Gorman explores history, language, identity, and erasure through an imaginative and intimate collage. Harnessing the collective grief of a global pandemic, this beautifully designed volume features poems in many inventive styles and structures and shines a light on a moment of reckoning. Call Us What We Carry reveals that Gorman has become our messenger from the past, our voice for the future.

the moon won’t be dared by Anne Leigh Parrish for review.

the moon won’t be dared is a poetry collection by award-winning author Anne Leigh Parrish that features artwork by Lydia Selk. In this momentous debut collection, the poet harnesses language to give readers a new vision of nature, the impossible plight of womanhood, love, aging, and beauty. Being a woman in a male-dominated society affords Anne Leigh Parrish the space to witness the world on an uneven keel. Parrish pays tribute to beauty, but also weaves the harsh truths of betrayal and brutality into the filaments holding the collection together.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #660

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:

Model Home by Jay Carpenter for review.

“As you visit Jay Hall Carpenter’s Model Home, be sure to savor the window dressings, the freshly painted walls, the pine-beamed attic and that deeply dug root cellar.  Enjoy the rhyming sounds in the trees out back.  Pay attention to the whispers inside the garage — the cobwebs and spills.  Yes, his house of poems opens wide doors of yearning and wonder, hosts you and your memories with welcoming acceptance and with filled-full basins of understanding.  Especially enjoy poems such as “Like Kids” or “Day Lilies” or “Open Book.”  They are hallway mirrors that won’t let you walk by without a long, long look.”  

– Hiram Larew, Undone

“From its opening pages Jay Hall Carpenter’s collection, Model Home, lives up to its ironic title. The poet blends Biblical allusions with modern sensibilities in such poems as “Loaves and Fishes,” in which Christ appears as a blissed-out hippie. The speaker’s assertion that “A lotta folks walked around/In a beard and sandals that summer” lends immediacy to the familiar story. Carpenter’s mastery of diction shows up again in “Job Search”:  formal language is both fussy and funny in the mouth of a 21st-century grammarian.  The poet’s attention to language shows up in sonnets, odes, and carefully observed portraits such as the clever “Would-be Robot,” an examination of the truism that we never turn out exactly as our parents wish.  Model Home is a funny, frightening look at the physical and emotional wounds of our first families.”

– Laura Shovan, Takedown

“Jay Carpenter writes with an irreverence that can only come from having deep reverence for the things that make us most human—loves, losses, regrets, pain, joy, bodies used well and misused heartbreakingly.  It’s not often that a few lines can make you laugh, ache, and then say, aloud, “Wow,” in a kind of awed and gutted way. Carpenter is a poet who knows that irreverence is the only way to approach the most holy things.”

-Faith Salie, Approval Junkie, Emmy winner

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #659

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

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

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

This is what we received:

The Drowning House by John Sibley Williams for review.

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

Your Words Your World by Louise Belanger for review.

Poetry For Your Soul – Stunning Photographs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Useful Junk by Erika Meitner for review.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden, purchased for my daughter.

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

Dead Voices by Katherine Arden, purchased for my daughter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #658

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

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

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

This is what we received:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #657

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

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

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

This is what we received:

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

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

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

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

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

Water Shedding by Beth Konkoski for GBF.

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

So Much of Everything by Jenn Koiter for GBF.

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

The Bennet Women by Eden Appiah-Kubi for review.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #656

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

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

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

This is what we received:

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

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

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

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

Granddaughter of Dust by Laura Williams for review.

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

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

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

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

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #655

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

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

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

This is what we received:

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Few Things You Will Learn from this Book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #654

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

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

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

This is what we received:

Kaddish by Jane Yolen for Gaithersburg Book Festival.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What did you receive?