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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?

Best Books of 2016

2016 had a great many books that thrilled me, and others that delighted. The rest of the year I could have done without —  so many deaths and a horribly long election and a range of backlash to terrify anyone.

For those interested, these are the best books I read in 2016, though not all were published in 2016.

Best Series:

March by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and artist Nate Powell (March: Book One, March: Book Two, March: Book Three)

Best Photography:


Photographs from the Edge: A Master Photographer’s Insights on Capturing an Extraordinary World by Art Wolfe, Rob Sheppard

Best Memoir:

Bukowski in a Sundress by Kim Addonizio

Best Children’s Book:


Science Verse by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith

Best Young Adult Fiction:


The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Best Short Story Collection: (I only read 3 and these 2 tied)


Heirlooms: Stories by Rachel Hall (this one has remained on my mind more than expected)


Fall of Poppies: Stories of Love and the Great War by Jessica Brockmole, Hazel Gaynor, Evangeline Holland, Marci Jefferson, Kate Kerrigan, Jennifer Robson, Heather Webb, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig

Best Jane Austen Fiction: (this is a three-way tie)


A Moment Forever by Cat Gardiner


Darcy’s Hope: Beauty from Ashes by Ginger Monette


The Courtship of Edward Gardiner by Nicole Clarkston

Best Poetry: (another tie)


Field Guide to the End of the World by Jeannine Hall Gailey


Obliterations by Heather Aimee O’Neill and Jessica Piazza

Best Fiction: (a three-way tie)


The Secrets of Flight by Maggie Leffler


My Last Continent by Midge Raymond


This is the Story of You by Beth Kephart

What books were your favorites this year?

March: Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 246 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

March: Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and artist Nate Powell is the third graphic memoir in the trilogy of John Lewis’ time in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. Lewis has had a number of close calls throughout the movement, and he has lost a number of friends and colleagues to the violence. And although he does have moments in which he breaks down emotionally, his faith in a nonviolent movement remains strong and propels him through some tough times and disagreements with his fellow Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) members and leaders.

One of the most ironic parts of the book recounts events at the 1964 Republican National Conventions in which Nelson Rockefeller warned the party of Lincoln that it needed to stand up against a growing subversive influence of conservative extremists, who were becoming a “radical, well-financed, and highly disciplined minority” within the party. Given the current state of our government and the path it is headed toward, these statements seem to have been ignored by the Republican party as far back as 1964.

The final book concludes with the march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., and the signing of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. Lewis and many of those in the movement, young and old, knew that there were different tactics that could have been used to achieve their goals, but they strove to maintain respect and work within the confines of the system to have their voices heard. There were others who did other things, but the focus of these books has been on the power of a people standing together no matter their personal differences or their different philosophies to achieve something for the greater good. In many ways, the movement itself symbolizes the freedom America stands for.

March: Book Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and artist Nate Powell is gripping, emotional, and inspiring. It should broaden the appeal of history to younger generations — those who have not had to march in the streets. It stands as a testament to all the lives lost during the movement and the good that came be achieved when we come together as a people — as Americans — no matter our color, religion, or beliefs. Struggle continues, but together we can overcome anything.

RATING: Cinquain

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

John Robert Lewis is the U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 5th congressional district, serving since 1987 and is the dean of the Georgia congressional delegation. He was a leader in the American Civil Rights Movement and chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), playing a key role in the struggle to end segregation. He is a member of the Democratic Party and is one of the most liberal legislators.

March: Book Two by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 189 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

***If you missed my review for March: Book One, this review could contain spoilers.***

March: Book Two by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and artist Nate Powell is the second part of John Lewis’ graphic memoir that shifts from the Civil Rights movement in 1960-63 to 2009 when President Barack Obama is inaugurated — the first black President of the United States. The backdrop helps to frame the entire movement and its struggle — a struggle that continues to this day as discrimination continues, though in more camouflaged ways.

Lewis pulls no punches in this one, and as part of a civil disobedience movement that adheres to a philosophy of nonviolence in protest, he faces beatings, arrests, and more. One stroke of luck most likely saved his very life, though many of his other colleagues were either killed or harmed most profoundly. Powell’s artistry is sharp and detailed. This only adds to the dark events that face these young black men and women, and their white colleagues. Espousing love in the midst of violent actions by others takes great resolve and will power, though there are some who falter.

March: Book Two by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and illustrated by Nate Powell would complement any course on the civil rights movement, offering a first-hand account of the violence and hatred that permeated much of the south. It also stands as a testament to the power of love and peaceful protect in large numbers. Lewis’ books could make excellent book club selections.

RATING: Cinquain

Other Reviews:

March: Book One

About the Author

John Robert Lewis is the U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 5th congressional district, serving since 1987 and is the dean of the Georgia congressional delegation. He was a leader in the American Civil Rights Movement and chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), playing a key role in the struggle to end segregation. He is a member of the Democratic Party and is one of the most liberal legislators.

March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and artist Nate Powell

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 128 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and artist Nate Powell, won the National Book Award and the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award – Special Recognition. This graphic memoir blends the appeal of graphic novels with the history lived by one of our greatest civil rights movement members and leaders. Lewis tells his story through flashbacks and stories told to others, mirroring the oral tradition of many who have come before us. Each story offers a compelling narrative of life at the beginning of the movement and the drive to overcome a system meant to oppress.

Lewis is not just retelling his past to offer a lesson for the future, but he’s providing a framework for those in today’s society looking for ways to improve America for themselves and others. He sees chickens not as objects, but as individuals with their own emotions and goals. Lewis then has to confront his lack of emotional attachment when chickens are available for purchase and he does not have to care for them as he did on the farm. In many ways, this is how we view strangers — while we know they are individuals and human, we are distant from them because we fail to interact with them and get to know them — to build connections.

He talks of kindness and a need to help others learn to connect with one another and to become kinder. Lewis, however, never glosses over the violence or the hatred he experienced and the chances he took. Powell’s artistry is vivid even in black-and-white and readers will see the fear pour off in sweat. They will face the ugliness of hatred manifest in beatings and more.  March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and artist Nate Powell is a graphic memoir and more — it is history, it is humanity, and it is a powerful reminder of how far we’ve come and how far we have stepped backward.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

John Robert Lewis is the U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 5th congressional district, serving since 1987 and is the dean of the Georgia congressional delegation. He was a leader in the American Civil Rights Movement and chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), playing a key role in the struggle to end segregation. He is a member of the Democratic Party and is one of the most liberal legislators.

Mailbox Monday #404

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:

March, Vol. 1-3 by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell, which I purchased.

Congressman John Lewis (GA-5) is an American icon, one of the key figures of the civil rights movement. His commitment to justice and nonviolence has taken him from an Alabama sharecropper’s farm to the halls of Congress, from a segregated schoolroom to the 1963 March on Washington, and from receiving beatings from state troopers to receiving the Medal of Freedom from the first African-American president.

The Performance of Becoming Human by Daniel Borzutzky, which I purchased.

Winner of the 2016 National Book Award in Poetry. Daniel Borzutzky’s new collection of poetry, The Performance of Becoming Human, draws hemispheric connections between the US and Latin America, specifically touching upon issues relating to border and immigration policies, economic disparity, political violence, and the disturbing rhetoric of capitalism and bureaucracies. To become human is to navigate these borders, including those of institutions, the realities of over- and under-development, and the economies of privatization, in which humans endure state-sanctioned and systemic abuses. Borzutzky, whose writing Eileen Myles has described as “violent, perverse, and tender” in its portrayal of “American and global horror,” adds another chapter to a growing and important compilation of work that asks what it means to a be both a unitedstatesian and a globalized subject whose body is “shared between the earth, the state, and the bank.”

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen, which I purchased.

The winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, as well as five other awards, The Sympathizer is the breakthrough novel of the year. With the pace and suspense of a thriller and prose that has been compared to Graham Greene and Saul Bellow, The Sympathizer is a sweeping epic of love and betrayal. The narrator, a communist double agent, is a “man of two minds,” a half-French, half-Vietnamese army captain who arranges to come to America after the Fall of Saigon, and while building a new life with other Vietnamese refugees in Los Angeles is secretly reporting back to his communist superiors in Vietnam. The Sympathizer is a blistering exploration of identity and America, a gripping espionage novel, and a powerful story of love and friendship.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, which I purchased.

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all the slaves but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood – where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned and, though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.

In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor – engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven – but the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. Even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.

The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy by Beau North and Brooke West, a giveaway win.

After Elizabeth Bennet rejects his marriage proposal, Fitzwilliam Darcy finds himself in the most unusual of circumstances. At first believing the extraordinary turn of events has granted him an inexplicable boon, he is eager to put the humiliating proposal behind him.

He soon discovers that he is trapped in the same waking dream with no end in sight and no possible escape. All that he holds dear—his name, his home, his love—remains ever out of reach. How will he find his way back to his normal life? Will one mistake haunt the rest of his days? It will take all of his fortitude to weather the storms of his strange new fate, and all of his courage to grasp the promise of his future.

What did you receive?