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Mailbox Monday #421

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.

****Also, if you haven’t signed up, please do for the National Poetry Month blog tour****

Here’s what I received:

The Honorable Mr. Darcy by Jennifer Joy, narrated by Nancy Peterson, a giveaway win from Diary of an Eccentric.

Lieutenant George Wickham is dead.

The shot rings out in Wickham’s tent as the good citizens of Meryton dance the night away at Mr. Bingley’s Netherfield ball. The only person who can confirm Fitzwilliam Darcy’s alibi faces the loss of her reputation and her freedom if she comes forward.

Convinced that her sole motive is the pursuit of justice – and not her growing attraction to Mr. Darcy – Elizabeth Bennet begins an investigation to clear his name and evade an unwanted marriage.

If Darcy didn’t shoot Wickham in cold blood, who did? Which of Longbourn’s neighbors is not who they seem?

With a killer on the loose, can Elizabeth avoid being the next victim as she comes closer to revealing the truth?

Listen to The Honorable Mr. Darcy today to satisfy your craving for a fast-paced mystery interwoven with a heartwarming, sweet romance

One Good Thing by Wendy Wax for review.

Embroiled in a battle to regain control of their renovation-turned-reality TV show, Do Over, Maddie, Avery, Nikki, and Kyra find themselves holding tight to the frayed ends of their friendship and relationships.

Maddie must face the realities of dating a rock star once again topping the charts and dealing with her hapless ex-husband, while Avery is caught up in family drama even as she attempts to transform a tiny cottage into a home for the newly impoverished heiress who helped bankroll their last renovation. Put on bedrest, a hugely pregnant Nikki can’t quite believe love can last, or trust in her own maternal instinct. And Kyra, who has secretly put Bella Flora at risk in an attempt to salvage Do Over, must decide whether to accept a desperately needed bail out from her son’s famous father that comes with far too many strings attached…

But friendship is made for times like these, to keep each other—and their dreams—from crumbling.

Guzzle by Temple Cone, which I purchased.

The poems in GUZZLE are the Americanized cousins of the classic Arabic ghazal. Loose, shaggy beasts, their three-lined stanzas leap from celebration to skepticism to wild laughter. The poems reflect on the nature of language, environmental collapse, the presence of God, erotic desire, genius and madness, fatherhood, fame, and the pleasures of poetry, and they evoke artists and thinkers ranging from Whitman to Wittgenstein, Olivier Messiaen to Sally Mann. Forever stretching the ghazal form to compass the borders of postmodern reality, GUZZLE is a meditation on the ways that “we ourselves are holy timber, waiting to be joined, / Tongue and groove, to raise up the house of the beautiful.”

Darcy’s Ultimatum: A Pride & Prejudice Variation (The Cousins Book 1) by Jennifer Joy, a free Kindle download.

When Fitzwilliam Darcy’s arranged life falls to pieces, his father, Mr. George Darcy, gives him an ultimatum: Marry by the end of the London Season or risk disinheritance. Can Darcy cast aside society’s frigid attitude toward marriage and find true love? Or will his desire to honor his deceased mother’s memory hold him back?

Elizabeth Bennet faces the greatest challenge of her life: Find a husband by the end of the London Season or be forced to marry the heir apparent of her family home, Mr. Collins. A romantic at heart, will Elizabeth find a gentleman to meet her high expectations?

After a disastrous meeting, Darcy and Elizabeth determine not to like each other. But, the London Season has only begun…

Flying by the Seat of My Knickers (The Travel Mishaps of Caity Shaw Book 1) by Eliza Watson, a Kindle download.

Why run from your troubles when you can fly instead?

When Caity Shaw is fired from her first job that doesn’t require an elf uniform, her older sister, Rachel, an event planner, hires her to work a meeting in Dublin. Caity jumps at the opportunity to travel abroad and escape her pathetic life. However, even four thousand miles from home, there’s no avoiding debt collectors, an overbearing mother, and haunting memories of a controlling ex.

While in Dublin, Caity suffers a series of humiliating mishaps, causing her to lose even more faith in herself. Caity struggles to earn Rachel’s respect—and to keep Declan, her hot Irish coworker, at arm’s length. Declan repeatedly saves Caity’s butt and helps boost her self-confidence, making it difficult to keep her distance from the charming womanizer. When Declan helps her research her Irish grandmother, Caity discovers the mysterious past of the courageous woman she barely knew might hold the answers to her future.

Mr. Darcy’s Promise by Jeanna Ellsworth, a free Kindle download.

Jane Austen’s classic Regency story comes alive again in a tale of pride, prejudice, and a promise. Georgiana Darcy makes her way to Netherfield Park to meet the woman her brother so admires. While at first Georgiana’s presence smooths the course of true love between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, the ghosts of her past appear to wreak havoc on all of them. Unhappily, Elizabeth finds herself placed in the care of the Darcy family at Pemberley. Assuming he knows the cause of Elizabeth’s distress, Mr. Darcy makes a promise on his gentleman’s honor. The promise, although made with good intentions, becomes nearly impossible to keep for Mr. Darcy, and somewhat vexing for Elizabeth. Some promises are made to be broken but will the ever-trustworthy gentleman let go enough to secure Elizabeth’s heart?

One Love – Two Hearts – Three Stories: A Pride & Prejudice Anthology: The Library, Married!, Ramsgate by J Dawn King, a free Kindle download.

“One Love”, legendary in proportions, unites the “Two Hearts” of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. Delight in the sweet romance of “Three Stories” from J. Dawn King’s what-if variations inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

The Library becomes the set of a comedy of errors which just might open up the path to endearing confessions between these two hearts as Mr. Darcy takes a golden opportunity to command Elizabeth’s attention while at Netherfield Park. (Novella)

Married! Elizabeth Bennet is thrown into a misadventure when she successfully assists a fellow maiden in distress only to find her own reputation jeopardized. When the only solution is to marry a man she just met, can she find happiness with the kind-hearted, but imperfect stranger? Is love a faraway dream in her new life as Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy? (Novel)

When Darcy receives not one letter, but two from Ramsgate, he immediately drops everything to rush to his sister’s rescue. What will he find at the end of the road? While expecting the worst, this might possibly be the best thing to ever happen to him. (Novella)

The Library and Married! have both been voted reader favorites at Jaffrecs.com. J. Dawn King has also written Amazon bestsellers A Father’s Sins and Compromised!

Mr. Darcy’s Secret: A Mister Darcy series comedic mystery by Barbara Silkstone, a free Kindle download.

Based on the enduring characters created by Jane Austen, this is a contemporary spin on a classic tale of love denied, and love discovered. Each novella is part of the Mister Darcy series but each adventure can be read as a stand alone.

The mysterious Mister Darcy enlists the aid of dog psychologist Lizzie Bennet in his secret quest. Lizzie soon finds herself deep in his battle where familiar villains join forces to stop Darcy at all costs. Darcy’s true feelings for Lizzie bubble to the surface but can she reciprocate? And what about that peanut butter kiss?

Mister Darcy’s Dogs ~ Book One
Mister Darcy’s Christmas ~ Book Two
Mister Darcy’s Secret ~ Book Three
Pansy Cottage ~ Book Four
Mister Darcy’s Templars ~ Book Five
Mister Darcy’s Honeymoon ~ Book Six
Happy Christmas from the Darcy’s ~ Book Seven
Mister Darcy’s Maltese Falcon ~ Book Eight

Barbara Silkstone’s comedy mysteries feature goodhearted heroines caught up in screwball situations. Silkstone’s Mister Darcy series of comedic mysteries based on Jane Austen’s classic, Pride and Prejudice now includes eight adventures – with more coming! She is also the author of two Regency novels: The Gallant Vicar and The Return of the Gallant Vicar. The Witches of Longbourn is a series of three lighthearted episodes that weave one tale of love and magic with a charming happy ending.

Look for another Regency romance featuring Darcy and Elizabeth coming this fall.

Silkstone is also the author of the popular Wendy Darlin Tomb Raider series. Her writings have been compared to the works of Douglas Adams and Monty Python.

An Encounter at Pemberley: A Pride And Prejudice Variation by Isabelle Mayfair, a free Kindle download.

While touring Derbyshire with her aunt and uncle, Elizabeth Bennet is horrified to discover they intend to visit Pemberley, the home of Mr Darcy. She had hoped never to meet him again after rejecting his proposal months before. But assured that he is not home, Elizabeth decides to take the opportunity to explore Pemberley Woods while her aunt and uncle are out. There, alone in the woods, she is the victim of an accident.

Mr Darcy discovers her lying unconscious and must think quickly to get her to shelter before a storm begins. He takes her to his hunting lodge to tend to her injuries, realising he will have compromised her reputation and be obliged to marry her if word gets out. But Elizabeth is suffering from amnesia as a result of her accident and is intrigued by the kind, generous man who tends to her.

Is this Mr Darcy’s last chance to show her the man he can be? And as for Elizabeth, she is astonished to discover that the warm, caring man she’s starting to fall in love with was someone she disliked intensely before her accident. But just why was her dislike for him so strong?

When word gets out of them spending the night together, Lizzy’s reputation is compromised and the only way out is to agree to marry Mr Darcy. But can she accept him for the man he is now? And can she truly love a man she cannot remember?

Darcy and Elizabeth: A Beau Bon-Bon Christmas (A Pride and Prejudice Winter’s Tale) by Kate Bedlow, a free Kindle download.

It is 1815. Elizabeth Darcy returns to Hertfordshire to see her family at Christmas, but a silly quarrel between Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley threatens everybody’s pleasure.

The war is over, but Meryton is anything but peaceful. The neighborhood ladies are each determined her cook will win first prize in the Beau Bon-Bon charity baking competition, and Mrs. Bennet is determined to get the new tenant of Netherfield Park for Kitty—but Commodore Harrington might have other plans.

And there is a bit with a dog…

What did you receive?

Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella (audio)

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

Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella, the 8th book in this series, is narrated admirably by Clare Corbett, and believe it or not, Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) has matured a little. You really have to read Book 7 to get into this book because it picks up right where the previous book left off. (spoilers below)

Becky, her husband, Suze, and her mom are off to find Becky’s father and Suz’s husband, who have vanished. They track them down to Las Vegas, and the adventures they have are hilarious and ridiculous as they leave Los Angeles in search of them. Becky’s mother is at her wit’s end and believes her husband has another woman in his life, while Suze is determined to save her “brainwashed” husband from a gold-digging new-age coach. And it seems that Becky is the only practical and level-headed one in this bunch, at least until Becky feels her friendship with Suze is threatened by her long-time nemesis Alicia, who also happens to be along for this roadtrip.

Becky’s stint at the new age retreat in California has really gotten her thinking about her spending habits, and she’s so blocked by her guilt over the roadtrip and the disappearance of her father, that she can’t even let her friend Suze buy her a pair of cowboy boots or even spend $2.50 on a pencil. Kinsella has finally matured Becky enough to ensure readers will stick with her through this roadtrip adventure into her father’s past, and the antics and machinations of these characters will have readers agog and laughing. Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella, narrated by Clare Corbett, is pure fun, and is just what the doctor ordered in the current political climate.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

About the Author:

Madeleine Wickham is a bestselling British author under her pseudonym, Sophie Kinsella. Educated at New College, Oxford, she worked as a financial journalist before turning to fiction. She is best known for writing a popular series of chick-lit novels. The Shopaholic novels series focuses on the misadventures of Becky Bloomwood, a financial journalist who cannot manage her own finances. The books follows her life from when her credit card debt first become overwhelming (“The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic”) to the latest book on being married and having a child (“Shopaholic & Baby”). Throughout the entire series, her obsession with shopping and the complications that imparts on her life are central themes.

My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella (audio)

Source: Audible
Audiobook, 9 CDs
I am an Amazon Affiliate

My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella, narrated by Fiona Hardingham, is a feel-good, fun-filled, novel in which a young junior assistant is able to get revenge on that incredibly flighty, inconsiderate, and mean boss who fires her. But there is so much more to Katie Brenner’s story. She’s leading a double-life — her Instagram account is full of happy pictures, events, and wonders from her life in London but her real life is less than stellar. She looks around her at her colleagues and wishes she could have their ultra-cool, happening lives, but the one she truly admires is her boss, Demeter. Her visions of the perfect life are shattered when her boss fires her out of the blue.

When she is forced to return to Somerset to regroup, she falls into a project she never expected to take off — a glamping business at her father’s farm. Katie is that wide-eyed young professional with dreams of hitting it big in the city, or at least meeting new friends and having fun. Like many young professionals, reality hits them head on and they must learn to rebalance their expectations and revise their career plans. Kinsella shines at comedy, and this novel is no exception. From spying on business meetings with a drone to walking around on a rooftop in stilts, Brenner is ready to grab whatever life throws at her in the branding business — especially a cute hunk like Alex.

Fiona Hardingham is the perfect narrator for this novel; her comic timing is spot on. When you need a break from your own reality, don’t hesitate to pick up My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella. It’s sure to have you laughing and secretly cheering on Brenner as she gets revenge on her former boss.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

Madeleine Wickham is a bestselling British author under her pseudonym, Sophie Kinsella. Educated at New College, Oxford, she worked as a financial journalist before turning to fiction. She is best known for writing a popular series of chick-lit novels. The Shopaholic novels series focuses on the misadventures of Becky Bloomwood, a financial journalist who cannot manage her own finances. The books follows her life from when her credit card debt first become overwhelming (“The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic”) to the latest book on being married and having a child (“Shopaholic & Baby”). Throughout the entire series, her obsession with shopping and the complications that imparts on her life are central themes.

Mailbox Monday #418

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:

My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella, narrated by Fiona Hardingham, purchased from Audible.

Katie Brenner has the perfect life: a flat in London, a glamorous job, and a super-cool Instagram feed.

Ok, so the real truth is that she rents a tiny room with no space for a wardrobe, has a hideous commute to a lowly admin job, and the life she shares on Instagram isn’t really hers.

But one day her dreams are bound to come true, aren’t they?

Until her not-so perfect life comes crashing down when her mega-successful boss Demeter gives her the sack. All Katie’s hopes are shattered. She has to move home to Somerset, where she helps her dad with his new glamping business.

Then Demeter and her family book in for a holiday, and Katie sees her chance. But should she get revenge on the woman who ruined her dreams? Or try to get her job back? Does Demeter – the woman with everything – have such an idyllic life herself? Maybe they have more in common than it seems.

Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella, narrated by Clare Corbett, from Audible.

Becky is on a major rescue mission through the American West to Las Vegas! Her father has vanished from Los Angeles on a mysterious quest with the husband of Becky’s best friend, Suze. Becky’s mum is hysterical; Suze is flat-out desperate. Worse, Becky must tolerate an enemy along for the ride, who she’s convinced is up to no good.

Determined to get to the bottom of why her dad has disappeared, help Suze, contain the dreaded Alicia, and reunite her fractured family, Becky knows that she must marshal all her trademark ingenuity. The result: her most outrageous and daring plan yet!

But just when her family needs her more than ever, can Becky pull it off?

Wonder Woman Psychology: Lassoing the Truth by Trina Robbins, Travis Langley, and Mara Wood, an unexpected surprise.

For 75 years, Wonder Woman has served as an inspiration to people everywhere. Wonder Woman Psychology examines this powerful superhero—who was created by famous psychologist William Moulton Marston—through 20 essays. This collection will analyze:

Marston’s important role in the history of forensic psychology
How Diana’s relationship with her mother and Amazonian sisters shapes her to become a leader and the heroine called Wonder Woman
The ways differences in culture and gender can contribute to alienation but also to personal empowerment. What roles emotion, strengths, virtues, and culture shock play in heroic behavior

Animal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures photographs by Joel Sartore, poems by Kwame Alexander for review.

A howling wolf, a stalking tiger, a playful panda, a dancing bird – pairing the stunning photography of National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore with the delicate poetry of Newbery award-winning author Kwame Alexander, this lush picture book celebrates the beauty, diversity, and fragility of the animal world.

Featuring more than 40 unique animal portraits, the pages invite kids to explore each creature’s markings, textures, and attributes in stunning detail, while calling on all of us to help protect each and every one. Three picture-packed gatefolds inside showcase even more familiar and exotic species. These images are part of Sartore’s lifelong project to photograph every animal in the world, with special attention given to disappearing and endangered species.

What did you receive?

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher (audio)

Source: Purchased
Audible: 5+hrs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher, read by herself and her daughter Billie Lourd, is a memoir about her time during the filming of the first Star Wars movie and her rise to fame.  Based upon the diaries she found of her time on the set and during her tryst with her co-star (the Nerf herder), Fisher looks back on her teen self, who dropped out of drama school in London to be in the film, and how her time on the set revealed her insecurities.

Of the three memoirs I’ve read by Fisher, this is the best told by her with the fewest digressions and haphazard comments.  Like the previous two, there is a rehashing of information about her parents and their celebrity, etc., but it is not as bothersome as it may be reading the other two because the focus here is more on Fisher herself and her own experiences as a young actress on a movie set.  She was clearly young, and despite her celebrity family, had very little set experience and it showed.

Including her actual diary entries read by her daughter and Fisher’s recounting of her fan experiences, the memoir is funnier because it is closer to her real life experiences and less like a comedic sketch she created from her experiences.  The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher was fun, introspective, and endearing.  Readers will love that she keeps some things private and that she can find connections with complete strangers in autograph lines.  She was a woman who had deep empathy for others, which likely stems from her family and life experiences after her iconic performance.

RATING: Cinquain

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

Carrie Fisher (1956 – 2016) was an American actress, screenwriter and novelist, most famous for her portrayal of Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy.

Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher (audio)

Source: Purchased
Audible, 4+ hrs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher, which she narrates, is a much more linear memoir than Wishful Drinking, which was narrated more like a series of comedic sketches. Fisher has turned more introspective about her life, her memory, and the relationship to her parents, particularly her father and her one-time step-mother Elizabeth Taylor.

Some of these stories are similar to ones that she told in her previous memoir, but there are new anecdotes about Michael Jackson and Elizabeth Taylor. In many ways, the two books could have been combined. What is new here is her reflections on her life, shock therapy, and her parents. Fisher has given a great deal of thought to her escapades and how she, like her father, is happy and loves to live life. She lives and loves hard, like he did. There is a sense that laughter is important to her and how she deals with the not-so-pleasant events in her life.

Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher is a much more measured examination of her past addictions, her Electroconvulsive Therapy, and the side-effects of parental abandonment and fame. She does a lot less woe-is-me type stories in here and focuses on her learning experiences and her own examinations of her life and how she has lived it.

RATING: Quatrain

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

Carrie Fisher (1956 – 2016) was an American actress, screenwriter and novelist, most famous for her portrayal of Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy.

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher (audio)

Source: Purchased
Audiobook, 3+ hrs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher, who narrates, is an entertaining listen even as the story is no where near linear and Fisher often takes detours to tell her tales. In some ways, this memoir is more like a comedic routine, leaving readers wondering if the events are true or merely anecdotes she tells to make her readers pay attention. From the marriage scorecard to the chart of Hollywood inbreeding, Fisher has a unique way of examining her life as a child of Hollywood stars. In midst of her wacky examinations, it is clear this would work wonderfully on stage as a show, which is how writing the book began (in her words) — it also works well on audio.

What shines in this audio are her one-liners and her jabs at Star Wars, but it also is clear that she loves her mother and her daughter. She has a deep love for her family, but she also sees them as part of how she became who she is. And while she does see genetics as part of the problem with her addiction and mental illness, she also indicates that it also is how she chose to cope with those issues. There is a lot about addiction and mental illness, but it is treated with the distance of wit and comedy, leaving the memoir lighter than readers may expect.

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher is short and in may ways a bit too light. However, listening to the audio, readers will get a clear sense that she has learned to let go of her tragedies and to move forward even though the road has been rough.

RATING: Tercet

About the Author:

Carrie Fisher (1956 – 2016) was an American actress, screenwriter and novelist, most famous for her portrayal of Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy.

Mailbox Monday #410

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 purchased:

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher on Audible.

In Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher tells the true and intoxicating story of her life with inimitable wit. Born to celebrity parents, she was picked to play a princess in a little movie called Star Wars when only 19 years old. “But it isn’t all sweetness and light sabers.”

Alas, aside from a demanding career and her role as a single mother (not to mention the hyperspace hairdo), Carrie also spends her free time battling addiction, weathering the wild ride of manic depression and lounging around various mental institutions. It’s an incredible tale – from having Elizabeth Taylor as a stepmother, to marrying (and divorcing) Paul Simon, from having the father of her daughter leave her for a man, to ultimately waking up one morning and finding a friend dead beside her in bed.

Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher on Audible.

Infused with Carrie Fisher’s trademark incisive wit and on the heels of Wishful Drinking’s instant New York Times bestselling success, Shockaholic takes readers on another rollicking ride into her crazy life.

There is no shortage of people flocking to hear what Princess Leia has to say. Her previous hardcover, Wishful Drinking, was an instant New York Times bestseller and Carrie was featured everywhere on broadcast media and received rave reviews from coast to coast, including People (4 stars; one of their top 10 books of the year), Entertainment Weekly, New York Times, and scores of others.

Told with the same intimate style, brutal honesty, and uproarious wisdom that placed Wishful Drinking on the New York Times bestseller list for months, Shockaholic is the juicy account of Carrie Fisher’s life, focusing more on the Star Wars years and dishing about the various Hollywood relationships she’s formed since she was chosen to play Princess Leia at only nineteen years old. Fisher delves into the gritty details that made the movie—and herself—such a phenomenal success, admitting, “It isn’t all sweetness and light sabers.”

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher, purchased from Audible.

The Princess Diarist is Carrie Fisher’s intimate, hilarious and revealing recollection of what happened behind the scenes on one of the most famous film sets of all time, the first Star Wars movie.

When Carrie Fisher recently discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved—plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Today, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a (sort-of) regular teenager.

With these excerpts from her handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time—and what developed behind the scenes. And today, as she reprises her most iconic role for the latest Star Wars trilogy, Fisher also ponders the joys and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty. Laugh-out-loud hilarious and endlessly quotable, The Princess Diarist brims with the candor and introspection of a diary while offering shrewd insight into the type of stardom that few will ever experience.

Ulysses by James Joyce, purchased for the informal February read-a-long with Ti from Book Chatter.

The revised edition follows the complete and unabridged text of ULYSSES as corrected and reset in 1961. Like the first American edition of 1934, it also contains the original foreword by the author and the historic court ruling by Judge John M. Woolsey to remove the federal ban on ULYSSES. It also contains page references to the 1934 edition, which are indicated in the margins.

For Review:

Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey by Ginger Monette for review in February.

1917. Captain Fitzwilliam Darcy has won the heart of Elizabeth Bennet. Finally.

Then she disappears.

When tragedy strikes on the battlefield, Darcy is sent to Donwell Abbey to recover. There he is coaxed back to life by an extraordinary nurse determined to teach him how to live and love again. A woman whose uncanny similarities to Elizabeth breach his walls and invite his admiration.

His heart tells him to hold on to Elizabeth. His head tells him to take a chance with his nurse.

But Donwell Abbey holds a secret that just might change everything.

What did you receive?

Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen (audio)

Source: Purchased
Audible, 18+ hours
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen is probably best told by its author. Springsteen is never afraid to speak his truth about his upbringing in New Jersey, the hard relationship with his father, and his incredible drive to become the musician he heard and envisioned in his own mind. Fans of Springsteen will be more aware of the bands he speaks of and the people in the music business than I am, but this did not detract from my enjoyment in his story. In some places the names and bands slow the pace a little, but that might be more of an issue in a print copy than in the audio.

Springsteen is the perfect narrator for his life, and it is clear that as he reads he is taken back in time to those early days as a musician playing in clubs and being told he is no singer. In many ways, this memoir is not about the past and what happened, but about how each experience helped him grow and learn — to be a good father, to be a better musician than even he dreamed, and to reach out to the working class homes of his past. He strove to become as successful as he could, focusing on his guitar skills and his songwriting at first before eventually using his voice to tell the stories in his songs.

He’s always been a storyteller, and he’s telling this story as part of the legacy for his own children. He wants them to know their roots, where they come from … but he also wants to provide them with a sketch of his mind and how he handled things, even when he made mistakes. Readers will love how he praises those who were patient with him, and they will see how he’s not afraid to hold a mirror up to his faults.

Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen is a memoir that gives an inside look into one of the longest surviving bands, the music industry, and one of the most memorable songwriters of all time. The thought he put into each song’s lyrics and atmosphere, and staging, etc., is nothing short of inspiring. It is clear that his early determination to make music served him well.

RATING: Quatrain

***Please visit The 3Rs Blog: Reading, ‘Riting, and Randomness for an even better review. Seriously!***

About the Author:

Bruce Springsteen is an American songwriter, singer and guitarist. He has frequently recorded and toured with the E Street Band. Springsteen is most widely known for his brand of heartland rock infused with pop hooks, poetic lyrics, and Americana sentiments centered around his native New Jersey. His eloquence in expressing ordinary, everyday problems has earned him numerous awards, including twenty Grammy Awards and an Academy Award, along with an international fan base. His most famous albums, Born to Run and Born in the U.S.A., epitomize his penchant for finding grandeur in the struggles of daily life. He has sold over 64 million albums in the U.S. alone.

The First Book of 2017 and One Word

Sheila at Book Journey has been doing this for a long time, and I always seem to jump on the bandwagon late.

I had thought I would be absorbed in a short story collection, Sandlands by Rosy Thornton, but it turns out that I’m too absorbed in the audio of Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run.

Sheila also has become a powerhouse supporter of the One Word resolution, and if you read her entries and how she comes up with her word, you’ll know why. There is a certain serendipity to her selection process.

I have tried to come up with a word before and failed to do so due to commitments and other issues that end up taking over. This year, however, my word is DELIBERATE.

  • Adjective: done consciously and intentionally
  • Verb: engage in long and careful consideration

I’ve had a rough year of over-committing myself, and it led to a lot of disappointments. I want to take more time to consider the opportunities before me before I commit to them. If I take too long to think and miss out on something, so be it. It was probably not right for me.

I love to help people. It’s part of who I am, but it shouldn’t be all I am. I need to do things that make me happy, too. One of those things is a renewed focus on finishing writing projects (I may not finish them all, but finishing one would be a huge step forward).

I also need to be more deliberate in my word choices and actions. I need to mean what I say and practice what I mean. I need to do this for myself and my family. It’s going to be a hard road this year, but I’m up for the challenge, so long as I carefully weigh all that is before me.

What’s your first book and one word this year?

United States of Books: Geek Love by Katherine Dunn (audio)

Entertainment Weekly chose Geek Love for Oregon. The magazine said, “A twisted couple populate their freak show with their own children in this modern classic. It’s weird, carnivalesque, and unnerving: not unlike Portland on a given night. Need more? Kurt Cobain was a fan.”

Source: Audible
Audiobook, 15+ hours
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Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, narrated by Christina Moore, is a family saga of love, obsession, and revenge among the freaks at the Binewski traveling show. In many ways this novel reminded me of American Horror Story: Freak Show. Al and Lil populate the show with their own children, those they have disfigured by ensuring Lil drinks and subjects herself to all manner of poisons, insecticides, and other torturous devices. Their efforts to save the traveling carnival from bankruptcy requires more than traditional dwarfs and extraordinarily tall men and women. The Binewskis have concluded that the rise of basketball and other entertainments have made these traditional freak show participants obsolete.

Much of this is narrated by Oly, an albino hunchback, as she recalls the past and her brother Arturo the Aquaboy, who became so consumed with jealousy, that he would do anything to be on top and take over the carnival from his father. Oly, despite being a hunchback, is on the outside of the clan, and she’s treated more as a servant than a family member, even by the brother she loves beyond all reason. While her relatives seek to get by under Arturo’s reign or escape it, Oly seeks to bind herself to him in the only way she knows.

Dunn’s novel examines the love inside a family of freaks, but it really could apply to any family, especially if jealousies are allowed free reign and grow out of control. What’s interesting is how much Oly is unlike her family in that she sees the “norms” as not something to be despised, but as something that could be loved. Her transformation and distance from her family is complete later on in the novel when she gives birth.

Christina Moore does an admirable job with the narration, and it is easy to follow each character. However, the setting in Oregon is not front-and-center and many times, readers will forget that the carnival is even in the state, particularly when other cities in other states are more frequently mentioned like Spokane. Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, narrated by Christina Moore, takes a while to get used to, and there is some very strong language and sexual content that some readers would not prefer. Overall, the novel was just plain odd.

RATING: Tercet

About the Author:

Katherine Dunn is best known for her beloved novel “Geek Love,” which was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1989. She is also the author of the novels “Attic” (1970) and “Truck” (1971). A fourth novel, entitled “The Cut Man,” has been in-progress for decades and was purportedly scheduled for a September 2008 release.

Dunn is also known as a prolific sports journalist in the field of boxing, and has written several articles on the subject.

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Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Source: Public Library
Paperback, 463 pgs.
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Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, which was our banned book selection for book club, was a re-read for me. The book was initially banned in Ohio because the language was considered indecent and considered objectionable. While there is objectionable language and graphic sexual situations, this is a book about the absurdity of war and it is a satire about World War II.

Catch-22: a dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions.

Yossarian is a bombardier who is an excellent shot, who achieves a second pass and earns a medal, but Colonel Cathcart has plans and continues to raise the number of missions his crew must fly. This bombardier and the colonel are in a silent battle, as Yossarian seeks out any number of reasons to get admitted to the hospital, or be declared insane, anything that will get him out of flying more dangerous missions. He’s almost like a clown bumbling around to disguise his strategy for escape.

“Colonel Cathcart cracked his knuckles violently. Colonel Korn, a stocky, dark, flaccid man with a shapeless paunch, sat completely relaxed on one of the benches in the front row, his hands clasped comfortably over the top of his bald and swarthy head. His eyes were amused behind his glinting rimless spectacles.” (pg. 148)

The shifting nature of this book mirrors the chaos of war on a smaller scale, leaving the reader in a whirlwind of activity and nonsense. Despite the horrors of war and the deaths around them, there’s a levity to these characters and their interactions. Frustration with superiors and bureaucracy is typical of many war novels, but Heller carefully demonstrates the back-stabbing, the all-for-myself moves of men in power, and the utter disbelief of soldiers at the very bottom of the power structure when the rug is pulled from beneath them. As in war, readers are unlikely to form strong attachments for the characters interacting in Heller’s novel — despite the incident with Snowden — making the war seem even more distant even more ridiculous.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller is a fun ride that never disappoints. From Yossarian’s struggles within the system to Milo’s triumph outside the hierarchy of military power, Heller has created a novel that speaks to the overall chaos and disharmony of war, the futile attempts to make life for soldiers seem normal by the military through order and discipline, and the machinations of those with their own agendas and how they can place everyone in jeopardy.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Joseph Heller was born in Brooklyn in 1923. In 1961, he published Catch-22, which became a bestseller and, in 1970, a film. He went on to write such novels as Good as Gold, God Knows, Picture This, Closing Time (the sequel to Catch-22), and Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man. Heller died in December 1999.

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