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My 2017 Favorites

No preamble. Let’s get to my favorite reads in 2017:

This is also tied with his chapbook, Story Problems.

WHAT BOOKS WERE ON YOUR LIST OF FAVORITES FOR 2017?

Conceit & Concealment by Abigail Reynolds

Source: the author
ebook, 354 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Conceit & Concealment by Abigail Reynolds is Pride & Prejudice set in an alternate history in which Napoleon successfully invaded England. It has been six years since the invasion, and it is clear that England has not succumbed to foreign rule quite yet. When Elizabeth Bennet meets Fitzwilliam Darcy for the first time, she is told he is a French sympathizer. Although not like other wealthy men who have struck deals with the occupying rulers, Darcy faces Lizzy’s condemnation, even as she finds his company pleasant.  The French in charge of Meryton are less than civil, with one commander making illicit passes at the Bennet sisters, forcing one into hiding.

Even as Wickham lurks among the French soldiers, Darcy is unphased by his presence because he has more conflicting emotions to deal with.  He’s slipped in his conversations with Lizzy, and he’s even allowed Georgiana to spend time with her and her sister, Jane.  It’s been a long road of protecting his sister from harm, but all could come apart if he continues to trust Lizzy with his secrets.  Too much hangs in the balance for Georgiana and the fate of England.  When Darcy is no longer able to care for Georgiana, he is forced to make a leap of faith, one that could leave Lizzy’s reputation in tatters.

Reynolds’ latest novel is wildly creative and engaging — espionage, uprisings, and alternate history — that will leave readers on edge as beloved characters are arrested as traitors and subjected to torture at the hands of the French.  The secrets are swirling around Hertfordshire and London, and Darcy’s family is at the center of most of it.  Readers will have a hard time not reading into the wee hours of the night.  Conceit & Concealment by Abigail Reynolds is one of my favorites and highly recommended. Another for Best of list consideration.

RATING: Cinquain

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

Abigail Reynolds may be a nationally bestselling author and a physician, but she can’t follow a straight line with a ruler. Originally from upstate New York, she studied Russian and theater at Bryn Mawr College and marine biology at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole. After a stint in performing arts administration, she decided to attend medical school, and took up writing as a hobby during her years as a physician in private practice.

A life-long lover of Jane Austen’s novels, Abigail began writing variations on Pride & Prejudice in 2001, then expanded her repertoire to include a series of novels set on her beloved Cape Cod.Her most recent releases are Conceit & Concealment, the national bestsellers Alone with Mr. Darcy and Mr. Darcy’s Noble Connections, and Mr. Darcy’s Journey. Her books have been translated into five languages. A lifetime member of JASNA, she lives on Cape Cod with her husband, her son and a menagerie of animals. Her hobbies do not include sleeping or cleaning her house.

Mailbox Monday #433

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

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

Here’s what I received:

Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams for review.

The New York Times bestselling author of A Certain Age transports readers to sunny Florida in this lush and enthralling historical novel—an enchanting blend of love, suspense, betrayal, and redemption set among the rumrunners and scoundrels of Prohibition-era Cocoa Beach.

Burdened by a dark family secret, Virginia Fortescue flees her oppressive home in New York City for the battlefields of World War I France. While an ambulance driver for the Red Cross, she meets a charismatic British army surgeon whose persistent charm opens her heart to the possibility of love. As the war rages, Virginia falls into a passionate affair with the dashing Captain Simon Fitzwilliam, only to discover that his past has its own dark secrets—secrets that will damage their eventual marriage and propel her back across the Atlantic to the sister and father she left behind.

Five years later, in the early days of Prohibition, the newly widowed Virginia Fitzwilliam arrives in the tropical boomtown of Cocoa Beach, Florida, to settle her husband’s estate. Despite the evidence, Virginia does not believe Simon perished in the fire that destroyed the seaside home he built for her and their young daughter. Separated from her husband since the early days of their marriage, the headstrong Virginia plans to uncover the truth, for the sake of the daughter Simon never met.

Simon’s brother and sister welcome her with open arms and introduce her to a dazzling new world of citrus groves, white beaches, bootleggers, and Prohibition agents. But Virginia senses a predatory presence lurking beneath the irresistible, hedonistic surface of this coastal oasis. The more she learns about Simon and his mysterious business interests, the more she fears that the dangers that surrounded Simon now threaten her and their daughter’s life as well.

National Geographic Kids: Weird But True! Know-it-All U.S. Presidents by Brianna Dumont for review from Media Masters Publicity.

What’s so weird about U.S. presidents? Plenty! Did you know that Abraham Lincoln was a great wrestler? That Ulysses S. Grant got a speeding ticket riding his horse – twice! Or that Benjamin Harrison was afraid of electricity? And let’s not forget that President McKinley had a pet parrot that whistled “Yankee Doodle Dandy” duets with him! In this new single-subject Weird But True book, you’ll have a blast learning that there’s a lot of substance – and weirdness – in every president’s past.

Benjamin Franklin’s Wise Words by K.M. Kostyal for review from Media Masters Publicity.

Discover history through the eyes of one of the smartest, funniest, and coolest figures from America’s past. This book presents 50 of Benjamin Franklin’s famous “wise words” from Poor Richard’s Almanack, his personal letters, and other writings, with sage advice on everything from good citizenship and manners to friendship and being happy. Sayings are paired with hilarious illustrations and witty translations for modern audiences. It’s a great go-to for inspirational and innovative ways to practice mindfulness, industriousness, and self-improvement.

Conceit & Concealment by Abigail Reynolds from the author for review.

Six years after Napoleon’s invasion of England…

Fitzwilliam Darcy is a traitor. He even admits to collaborating with Napoleon’s troops. And Elizabeth Bennet despises all traitors.

But she can’t make sense of Darcy. He doesn’t act like a traitor. He risks his own safety to save young women from the French. And how can she despise a man who loves puppies? Something about him doesn’t add up – and she finds him far too attractive.

Then Darcy’s carefully constructed world crumbles, and he must entrust his closest-held secret to Elizabeth. To protect that secret, Elizabeth must disappear entirely, leaving her family and Darcy behind, to plunge herself into the dizzying world of fashionable London and the dangers of the Loyalist Resistance. Nothing will ever be the same again.

Darcy is determined to find Elizabeth. Now that she knows the truth about him, there’s nothing to keep them apart – nothing, that is, until the day Darcy is forced to choose between his country and the life of the woman he loves…

What did you receive?

Mr. Darcy’s Journey: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Abigail Reynolds

Source: the author
ebook, 293 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Mr. Darcy’s Journey: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Abigail Reynolds is a wildly imaginative variation that takes place during the Sheffield food riot of 1812 when the Luddites begin to rail against those aristocrats in power, as their food sources and funds grew scarcer as machines began to show up in mills across the northern parts of Britain. Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet become swept up in the chaos even as they struggle with their own feelings for one another and the multiple misunderstandings that happen between them.

“He crumpled up his first attempt and tossed it in the fireplace. He never had to rewrite letters; it was something he prided himself upon. But Elizabeth would hold this note, her elegant fingers touching the same paper he touched now, and she would think of him. It must be perfect.”

Unlike many other variations, the Fitzwilliam clan (Lord and Lady Matlock and their children) take center stage, and Colonel Fitzwilliam has a surprise in store for his parents that could rock the family to the core. His sister Frederica needs Darcy’s shielding as the ton has begun to shun her after being jilted, while Elizabeth tends to her sister at Gracechurch street following Bingley’s abandonment. These parallel story lines reinforce one another, showcasing how little recourse women had during that time should a man choose to abandon a lady without explanation, even if they are wealthy. In line with that, the cause for the Rights of Man taken up by Darcy’s friend from Cambridge, Sir Anthony Duxbury, who somehow knows Elizabeth — his Elizabeth.

Mr. Darcy’s Journey: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Abigail Reynolds provides an excellent glimpse into the politics of the time, and it also exposes Darcy to concerns beyond Pemberley and how those concerns can impact the nation. While the journey North is dangerous, Elizabeth and Darcy prove to be strong enough to withstand the riots, but can they withstand the machinations of the Fitzwilliam clan and overcome their own prejudices to find their way into each other’s arms? Reynolds has taken on a lot in this variation, and readers may wish it had been longer.

RATING: Quatrain

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

Abigail Reynolds has spent the last fifty years asking herself what she wants to be when she grows up. This month she is a writer, a mother and a physician in a part-time private practice. Next month is anybody’s guess. Originally from upstate New York, she indecisively studied Russian, theater, and marine biology before deciding to attend medical school, a choice which allowed her to avoid any decisions at all for four years.

She began writing Pride & Prejudice variations in 2001 to spend more time with her very favorite characters. Encouragement from fellow Austen fans convinced her to continue asking ‘What if…?’, which led to seven other Pemberley Variations and two modern novels set on Cape Cod.

Mailbox Monday #387

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links. Leave yours too.

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

Here’s what I received:

SARIS AND A SINGLE MALTSaris and a Single Malt by Sweta Srivastava Vikram, which I purchased. Follow the blog tour with Poetic Book Tours.

Saris and a Single Malt is a moving collection of poems written by a daughter for and about her mother. The book spans the time from when the poet receives a phone call in New York City that her mother is in a hospital in New Delhi, to the time she carries out her mother’s last rites. The poems chronicle the author’s physical and emotional journey as she flies to India, tries to fight the inevitable, and succumbs to the grief of living in a motherless world. Divided into three sections, (Flight, Fire, and Grief), this collection will move you, astound you, and make you hug your loved ones.

Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War by Artemis Joukowsky, Ken Burns, which I won from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

Official companion to the Ken Burns film premiering September 20, 2016, on PBS tells the little-known story of the Sharps, an otherwise ordinary couple whose faith and commitment to social justice inspired them to undertake dangerous rescue and relief missions across war-torn Europe, saving the lives of countless refugees, political dissidents, and Jews on the eve of World War II.

In 1939, Rev. Waitstill Sharp, a young Unitarian minister, and his wife, Martha, a social worker, accepted a mission from the American Unitarian Association: they were to leave their home and young children in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and travel to Prague, Czechoslovakia, to help address the mounting refugee crisis. Armed with only $40,000, the Sharps quickly learned the art of spy craft and covertly sheltered political dissidents and Jews, and helped them escape the Nazis. After narrowly avoiding the Gestapo themselves, the Sharps returned to Europe in 1940 as representatives of the newly formed Unitarian Service Committee and continued their relief efforts in Vichy France. This compulsively readable true story offers readers a rare glimpse at high-stakes international relief efforts during WWII. Defying the Nazis is a fascinating portrait of resistance as told through the story of one courageous couple.

Mr. Darcy’s Journey by Abigail Reynolds for review from the author.

Mr. Darcy is at his wits’ end. Elizabeth Bennet, the woman he can’t live without, overhears him insulting her family. Now she won’t even listen to his apologies. Then his old friend Sir Anthony Duxbury tells him two of their friends are in terrible danger. If Darcy wants to help them, they have to leave for Yorkshire immediately.

But something doesn’t add up. Elizabeth claims to know Sir Anthony, too – but by a different name. What game is his old friend playing? And is it dangerous?

Even Sir Anthony says the trip is dangerous. The Luddite rebels are on the verge of armed revolt – and he should know, because he’s one of them. Darcy’s cousin Lady Frederica decides she’s going with them anyway, and insists on bringing Elizabeth. Could this be Darcy’s chance to earn Elizabeth’s forgiveness and her love?

Elizabeth would rather face a squad of Napoleon’s soldiers than spend three days trapped in a carriage with Darcy and his headstrong cousin, but she has her own reason for agreeing to come. If she can just manage to keep her temper, she may be able to rescue her uncle from financial ruin.

But when a Luddite riot erupts around them, it’s Darcy and Elizabeth who need rescuing – from each other.

What did you receive?

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The Great Smoky Mountains

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When you go on vacation, you need some good reading and a variety.  Fun books, books you can dip into and out of in a pinch, and books that can hold your attention before bed.

I haven’t had a vacation in a long while that wasn’t back to Massachusetts, so I’m really looking forward to seeing a new place — Tennessee — and enjoying some non-review copies…

Here’s a list of what I’m thinking of taking — any suggestions, should I nix any of these? Should I take only 2?

Too many, right?  Some are ebook, so they take up less room. What kinds of books do you take on vacation?  Do you read them?  Am I overly ambitious?

My other option is just to bring 1-2 books and write my own stuff.  What say you?

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Mr. Darcy’s Refuge: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Abigail Reynolds (audio)

Source: Purchased
Audible, 9+ hrs
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Mr. Darcy’s Refuge: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Abigail Reynolds, narrated by Pearl Hewitt, is a variation that begins in a flood — a flood of the river near Hunsford during the disastrous proposal of Mr. Darcy and a flood of emotion.  Thankfully, Darcy’s proposal is interrupted by the villagers who seek refuge at the house and in the nearby barn, requiring Darcy to focus his energies on those he deems it his duty to protect and care for, including Miss Elizabeth Bennet, who happened to be at Hunsford because of a headache.  Reynolds carries the characteristic banter and misunderstandings through this variation, but given the current situation, Miss Bennet may be viewed as compromised unless Darcy marries her.

An entertaining variation, but it could be viewed coolly by some readers who prefer certain characters to remain as they view them in Austen’s original work.  Mr. Bennet, for example, is not his laid back, mocking self so much as an ogre spurred by adolescent grudges from his own past, and Colonel Fitzwilliam, who is jovial, seems a bit less enamored with Miss Bennet than readers may expect.  Despite these character changes, the kernel of Austen’s characters remains beneath the surface.  Readers, however, will most likely object to Jane Bennet’s new perspective and on Bingley’s less than amiable nature.  Of all the variations available, Reynolds is testing her readership’s preconceptions and she’s forcing them to consider something very new.

The narrator does a commendable job, but at the beginning, I was less-than-impressed by her voice for Mr. Darcy — he sounded very angry all of the time, but that tapered off about halfway through.  Her narration of the other characters was wonderfully done, though Charlotte sounded very high-pitched and very similar to the young girl rescued during the flood.

Mr. Darcy’s Refuge: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Abigail Reynolds, narrated by Pearl Hewitt, will test readers’ notions about Austen’s characters.  Most of the plot centers on Darcy and Elizabeth, as readers would expect, but the subplots — especially those involving Jane, Bingley, and the Colonel — seemed rushed and under-developed.  This was a satisfying listen over a few days in the summer heat, but this reader wanted more from the secondary characters and the bit about the rescued girl seemed very rushed.

RATING: Tercet

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

Abigail Reynolds has spent the last fifty years asking herself what she wants to be when she grows up. This month she is a writer, a mother and a physician in a part-time private practice. Next month is anybody’s guess. Originally from upstate New York, she indecisively studied Russian, theater, and marine biology before deciding to attend medical school, a choice which allowed her to avoid any decisions at all for four years.

She began writing Pride & Prejudice variations in 2001 to spend more time with her very favorite characters. Encouragement from fellow Austen fans convinced her to continue asking ‘What if…?’, which led to seven other Pemberley Variations and two modern novels set on Cape Cod.

Mailbox Monday #383

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links. Leave yours too.

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

Here’s what I received:

Mr. Darcy’s Refuge: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Abigail Reynolds purchased from Audible.

Trapped for three days by a flood, and trapped forever by society because of it….

The river isn’t the only thing overflowing in Hunsford when a natural disaster forces Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy to work together. The residents of flood-stricken Hunsford, seeking refuge in the parsonage atop the hill, are unaware they are interrupting Darcy’s disastrous proposal. Even worse, the flood has washed out the only bridge to Rosings Park, stranding Darcy with the woman who has just refused his offer of marriage. But it may already be too late to redeem Elizabeth’s reputation….

In this Pride & Prejudice variation, the lane dividing the Hunsford parsonage from Rosings Park has been replaced by one of the flood-prone Kentish rivers. The storms are real – the spring of 1811 was remarkable for numerous thunderstorms in Southeast England.

Disinheritance: Poems by John Sibley Williams for review in September.

A lyrical, philosophical, and tender exploration of the various voices of grief, including those of the broken, the healing, the son-become-father, and the dead, Disinheritance acknowledges loss while celebrating the uncertainty of a world in constant revision. From the concrete consequences of each human gesture to soulful interrogations into “this amalgam of real / and fabled light,” these poems inhabit an unsteady betweenness, where ghosts can be more real than the flesh and blood of one’s own hands.

“In John Sibley William’s “amalgam of real /and fabled light” one is able to believe again in the lyric poem as beautiful-if difficult-proof of private space. Disinheritance contends intimately with loss, to be sure – but it also proposes the poem as a way to remember, to persist, to be oneself, to believe. And to persist when belief may not be possible within the bounds of the shores the seas impose upon us.” -Joan Naviyuk Kane

In Remembrance of the Life by Jane Rosenberg LaForge for review from the poet.

A chapbook by Jane Rosenberg LaForge. 25 elegiac and unflinching poems that harvest a transformative beauty from the fields of memory and loss. “Rosenberg LaForge points toward the beauty of inevitability; death is less an end than a step toward ‘the infinite, and you can/ no longer resist the distance.’ Reading these poems is often akin to “diving into a rainbow of saffron and petrol,” where the choices one makes may not be choices at all.”

What did you receive?

Alone with Mr. Darcy: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Abigail Reynolds (audio)

Source: Audible
Audiobook: 9+ hours
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Alone with Mr. Darcy: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Abigail Reynolds, narrated by Elizabeth Klett, is swoon-worthy.  Mr. Darcy is in a dire struggle with his emotions for Elizabeth Bennet, and even as he has resolved to not act on those feelings, fate steps in and changes his course.  Elizabeth happens upon him in a blizzard, and she cannot in good conscience leave him on the roadside to perish.  Alone with Mr. Darcy is the last place she wants to be given his perplexing manner and his pride, but she has little choice as the snow gets deeper and deeper.  As the snow levels on the ground rise, Lizzy finds herself in deeper than she ever expected where it concerns Mr. Darcy, who is injured and confused.  Despite the damage to her reputation, she remains with him for several days in a secluded cabin, with little to keep them apart.

Klett does a commendable job voicing all of the female and male characters, each of them easily discernible.  She’s got the accents right and the attitudes correct for each character.  Her rendition of the banter between Lizzy, Darcy, Richard, Charlotte, and Darcy’s steward will have readers laughing at the absurdity of it all, especially regarding all of Darcy’s well thought out plans without his own knowledge.  Reynolds understands that there is a need not only for social observation in a Pride & Prejudice variation but also witty banter.

Alone with Mr. Darcy: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Abigail Reynolds, narrated by Elizabeth Klett, is a nice re-imagining in which Lizzy and Darcy not only prevent themselves from giving in to their feelings, but the best intentions of family and friends end up throwing more obstacles in their way.  Reynolds has created another charming variation of these beloved characters.

Rating: Quatrain

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

Abigail Reynolds has spent the last fifty years asking herself what she wants to be when she grows up. This month she is a writer, a mother and a physician in a part-time private practice. Next month is anybody’s guess. Originally from upstate New York, she indecisively studied Russian, theater, and marine biology before deciding to attend medical school, a choice which allowed her to avoid any decisions at all for four years.

She began writing Pride & Prejudice variations in 2001 to spend more time with her very favorite characters. Encouragement from fellow Austen fans convinced her to continue asking ‘What if…?’, which led to seven other Pemberley Variations and two modern novels set on Cape Cod.

Mailbox Monday #365

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

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

Here’s what I received:

Alone with Mr. Darcy: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Abigail Reynolds, which I obtained with my Audible credit.

Alone with Mr. Darcy….

Elizabeth Bennet can’t imagine anything worse than being stranded by a blizzard in a tiny cottage with proud and unpleasant Mr. Darcy. But being trapped there for days – and nights – with an injured and confused Mr. Darcy who keeps saying the oddest things about her is even worse. At least he possesses the useful ability of lighting a fire to keep them from freezing to death. But when he puts his arms around her, she discovers the hearth isn’t the only place he knows how to build a fire. And the little half-frozen kitten he finds in a woodpile isn’t proving to be much of a chaperone.

She doesn’t really believe his promises to marry her if anyone finds out they spent two nights alone together, especially after learning he was betrayed by another woman in the past. When her worst fears are realized and her reputation is in tatters, she isn’t surprised to discover Mr. Darcy has vanished into thin air, leaving her no choice but to find a husband as soon as possible before her whole family is ruined. Any husband will have to do, no matter how much she dislikes him. Even if she can’t stop thinking of Mr. Darcy.

National Geographic Kids Look and Learn: Farm Animals for review from Media Masters Publicity.

Young readers will meet their favorite farm animals and learn more about them through simple, age-appropriate language in this colorful board book.

Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Easter: With Colored Eggs, Flowers, and Prayer from Media Masters Publicity.

The joyous celebration of Easter is seen through a global perspective in this National Geographic volume featuring over 25 vibrant photographs. Witness the holiest day on the Christian calendar as it is celebrated throughout the world: from the famous Easter Egg Roll at the White House to the traditional bonfires throughout Europe, to colorful customs, to the universally popular dying of eggshells worldwide.

The first-person narrative leads young readers through the origins and traditions of this springtime festival of rebirth and hope. Reverend George Handzo gives parents and teachers a historical and cultural background in his informative note.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #304

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

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

Here’s what I received:

1.  Revival by Stephen King for Christmas from my parents.

In a small New England town, over half a century ago, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs. Jacobs; the women and girls feel the same about Reverend Jacobs — including Jamie’s mother and beloved sister, Claire. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond based on a secret obsession. When tragedy strikes the Jacobs family, this charismatic preacher curses God, mocks all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.

2.  One Thing Stolen by Beth Kephart, a happy surprise!

Set in Florence, Italy, One Thing Stolen follows Nadia Cara as she mysteriously begins to change. She’s become a thief, she has secrets she can’t tell, and when she tries to speak, the words seem far away.

 

3.  Wet by Toni Stern from Saichek Publicity for review.

Toni Stern enjoyed a highly productive collaboration with the singer-songwriter Carole King. Stern wrote the lyrics for several of King’s songs, most notably “It’s Too Late” for the album Tapestry. Now, through the expansive medium of poetry, she continues her spirited exploration of contemporary life.

4.  Paradise Drive by Rebecca Foust from the author for review.

5.  River House by Sally Keith from Milkweed Editions for review.

These are poems of absence. Written in the wake of the loss of her mother, River House follows Sally Keith as she makes her way through the depths of grief, navigating a world newly transfigured. Incorporating her travels abroad, her experience studying the neutral mask technique developed by Jacques Lecoq, and her return to the river house she and her mother often visited, the poet assembles a guide to survival in the face of seemingly insurmountable pain. Even in the dark, Keith finds the ways we can be “filled with this unexpected feeling of living.”

6. The Red List by Stephen Cushman from Louisiana State University Press for review.

The “red list” of Stephen Cushman’s new volume of poetry is the endangered species register, and the book begins and ends with the bald eagle, a bird that bounded back from the verge of extinction. The volume marks the inevitability of such changes, from danger to safety, from certainty to uncertainty, from joy to sadness and back again. In a single poem that advances through wordplay and association, Cushman meditates on subjects as vast as the earth’s fragile ecosystem and as small as the poet’s own deflated fantasy of self-importance: “There aren’t any jobs for more Jeremiahs.” Simultaneously teasing the present and eulogizing what has been lost, Cushman speaks like a Shakespearean jester, freely and foolishly, but with penetrating insight.

7.  The Heroes’ Welcome by Louisa Young from Harper for review.

The Heroes’ Welcome is the incandescent sequel to the bestselling R&J pick My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You. Its evocation of a time deeply wounded by the pain of WW1 will capture and beguile readers fresh to Louisa Young’s wonderful writing, and those previously enthralled by the stories of Nadine and Riley, Rose, Peter and Julia.

 

 

8.  Intermezzo: A Pride & Prejudice Variation by Abigail Reynolds from the author.

“Intermezzo” is a short story and is available in an expanded version along with 4 other short stories in A Pemberley Medley by Abigail Reynolds.

 

 

9. A Sudden Light by Garth Stein from Anna and her family.

When a boy tries to save his parents’ marriage, he uncovers a legacy of family secrets in a coming-of-age ghost story by the author of the internationally bestselling phenomenon, The Art of Racing in the Rain.

In the summer of 1990, fourteen-year-old Trevor Riddell gets his first glimpse of Riddell House. Built from the spoils of a massive timber fortune, the legendary family mansion is constructed of giant, whole trees, and is set on a huge estate overlooking Puget Sound. Trevor’s bankrupt parents have begun a trial separation, and his father, Jones Riddell, has brought Trevor to Riddell House with a goal: to join forces with his sister, Serena, dispatch Grandpa Samuel—who is flickering in and out of dementia—to a graduated living facility, sell off the house and property for development into “tract housing for millionaires,” divide up the profits, and live happily ever after.

What did you receive?

Who Are Your Auto-Buy Authors?

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Hello everyone! The holidays are nearly here, but I have a treat for you! If you haven’t liked the Savvy Verse & Wit Facebook page yet, go do it now.

Beginning Dec. 12 (sometime this afternoon the first pick will be revealed), I’ll reveal one of the books on my Best of 2014 book list, through Dec. 24.

That’s one book from the list per day, with a tidbit about why I loved the book and a link to where you can buy it.

Today, I wanted to talk about those authors we love so much that we buy their books automatically no matter what the subject.  I used to have just a few of those authors, but my list is now growing!  I thought today would be a good day to share not only the older ones on the list, but also the newer ones that have joined the ranks.

My previous list:

  1. Yusef Komunyakaa
  2. Tim O’Brien
  3. Stephen King
  4. Anita Shreve
  5. Amy Tan
  6. Isabel Allende
  7. James Patterson
  8. Anne Rice
  9. Mary Oliver
  10. Billy Collins

My additions to the list:

  1. Beth Kephart
  2. Jeannine Hall Gailey
  3. Jane Odiwe
  4. Syrie James
  5. Abigail Reynolds
  6. Karen White
  7. Beth Hoffman
  8. Jill Mansell
  9. Janel Gradowski
  10. Diana Raab
  11. C.W. Gortner
  12. John Shors

I find it interesting that there are many more female authors being added to my auto-buy list. 

I’m not really sure why so many great female authors are being added to my auto-buy list these days.  It isn’t that I haven’t read some great male authors, but perhaps I need to read more of them to get a true sense of their work and whether I want to buy it automatically no matter the subject.

Do you have auto-buy authors? Who are they?  What attracts you to their work?

Don’t forget to like the Savvy Verse & Wit Facebook page to find out over the next 12 days which books made the 2014 Best list.