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Mailbox Monday #511


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

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

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

Here’s what I received:

Just Universes by Diana Smith Bolton, which I purchased at the December DiVerse Poetry Gaithersburg reading.

A Compass for My Bones by Diana Smith Bolton, which I purchased at the December DiVerse Poetry Gaithersburg reading.

President Darcy by Victoria Kincaid, purchased with Audible.

President William Darcy has it all: wealth, intelligence, and the most powerful job in the country. Despite what his friends say, he is not lonely in the White House. He’s not. And he has vowed not to date while he’s in office. Nor is he interested in Elizabeth Bennet. She might be pretty and funny and smart, but her family is nouveau riche and unbearable. Unfortunately, he encounters her everywhere in Washington, DC – making her harder and harder to ignore. Why can’t he get her out of his mind? 

Elizabeth Bennet enjoys her job with the Red Cross and loves her family, despite their tendency to embarrass her. At a White House state dinner, they cause her to make an unfavorable impression on the president, who labels her unattractive and uninteresting. Those words are immediately broadcast on Twitter, so the whole world now knows the president insulted her. Elizabeth just wants to avoid the man – who, let’s admit it, is proud and difficult. For some reason, he acts all friendly when they keep running into each other, but she knows he’s judging her. 

Eventually, circumstances force Darcy and Elizabeth to confront their true feelings for each other, with explosive results. But even if they can find common ground, Mr. Darcy is still the president – with limited privacy and unlimited responsibilities – and his enemies won’t hesitate to use his feelings for Elizabeth against him. Can President Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet find their way to happily ever after?

Christmas at Darcy House by Victoria Kincaid, from the author through Audible for review.

Mr. Darcy hopes Christmastime will help him to forget the pair of fine eyes he left behind in Hertfordshire. When Elizabeth Bennet appears unexpectedly in London, Darcy decides to keep his distance, resolved to withstand his attraction to her. But when he learns Wickham is threatening to propose to Elizabeth, Darcy faces a crisis. 

For her part, Elizabeth does not understand why the unpleasant master of Pemberley insists on dancing with her at the Christmas ball or how his eyes happen to seek her out so often. She enjoys Mr. Wickham’s company and is flattered when he makes her an offer of marriage. On the other hand, Mr. Darcy’s proposal is unexpected and unwelcome. 

But the more Elizabeth learns of Mr. Darcy, the more confused she becomes – as she prepares to make the most momentous decision of her life. 

It’s a yuletide season of love and passion as your favorite characters enjoy Christmas at Darcy House!

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan, purchased with Audible for Book Club.

Hillary Jordan’s mesmerizing debut novel won the Bellwether Prize for fiction. A powerful piece of Southern literature, Mudbound takes on prejudice in its myriad forms on a Mississippi Delta farm in 1946. City girl Laura McAllen attempts to raise her family despite questionable decisions made by her husband. Tensions continue to rise when her brother-in-law and the son of a family of sharecroppers both return from WWII as changed men bearing the scars of combat.

These Dreams by Nicole Clarkston, from the author through Audible for review.

An abandoned bride, a missing man, and a dream that refuses to die…. 

Pride and patriotism lend fervor to greed and cruelty, and Fitzwilliam Darcy is caught at the centre of a decades-old international feud. Taken far from England, presumed dead by his family, and lost to all he holds dear, only one name remains as his beacon in the darkness: Elizabeth

Georgiana Darcy is now the heartbroken heiress to Pemberley, and Colonel Fitzwilliam her bewildered guardian. Vulnerable and unprepared, Georgiana desperately longs for a friend, while Fitzwilliam seeks to protect her from his own family. As the conspiracy around Darcy’s death widens and questions mount, Colonel Fitzwilliam must confront his own past. An impossible dream, long ago sacrificed for duty, may become his only hope. 

Newly married Lydia Wickham returns to Longbourn – alone and under mysterious circumstances. Elizabeth Bennet watches one sister suffer and another find joy, while she lives her own days in empty regrets over what might have been. Believing Darcy lost forever, she closes her heart against both pain and happiness, but finds no escape from her dreams of him.

What did you receive?

But Seriously by John McEnroe (audio)

Source: Purchased from Audible
Audiobook, 8+ hours
I am an Amazon Affiliate

But Seriously by John McEnroe, narrated by the former tennis star, is a look at his life as a tennis commentator and in television, among other things. This is his second memoir, and I caution that I have not read the first one, You Cannot Be Serious. The introduction to this memoir from his current wife, Patty Smyth, is delightful, and I almost wanted more of her.

I thoroughly enjoyed his recaps of his rivalry with Bjorn Borg and his perspective on some of tennis’ current greats, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, as well as Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, and Pete Sampras. He does talk about the Williams sisters but not as in depth. The tennis aspects of the story are melded (sometimes not well) with his adventures in television and outside the tennis world — including his own talk show. It was also fascinating to learn about his stint as an art dealer and buyer.

Because the narrative jumps around quite a bit, McEnroe’s memoir feels like it could have used some editing, particularly when he repeats things previously said in other chapters. It is clear from this memoir that he clearly still loves the game of tennis, and even though he’s no longer playing competitively, he still gets out on the court from time to time for charity or to just play around. His love of the game is apparent, especially when he comments on major tournaments.

But Seriously by John McEnroe still loves being the center of attention and commands that attention when he’s on the sidelines, in the commentator’s box, or even in charity events. His temper may have mellowed, but he’s still passionate about the sport and a number of other things. The memoir just suffered a bit from his inability to stay on one track or at least connect his train of thought better.

RATING: Tercet

Giveaway & Review: Pride & Proposals by Victoria Kincaid (audio)

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

**There will be an Audible giveaway**

Pride and Proposals by Victoria Kincaid, narrated by Erin Evans-Walker, places Mr. Darcy in an untenable situation, his Elizabeth engaged to Colonel Fitzwilliam. How can he reconcile the loss of the woman he loves to his beloved cousin and his need to see her happy? Could he endure it in silence? Would he run away? Would he fight to win her?

Elizabeth is unaware of Darcy’s feelings and seems to love Colonel Fitzwilliam and their like manners and easy way with one another makes their pairing endearing, even as Darcy is thrown into despair. Erin Evans-Walker does a commendable job of narrating the story, though there are moments where she makes Darcy seem very angry where the author may not have intended. There are moments where the action stalls and Darcy drinks overly much and scenes seem to repeat sentiments already expressed — Darcy’s despair at his loss of Elizabeth or Elizabeth commenting on how puzzling Darcy’s behavior is. While I love an independent Lizzy, I do wish she was a bit softer in this one, at least toward Darcy.

The entrance of Wickham kicked up the plot and made it much more engaging. Wickham is even more evil in this variation, and that makes the results of his machinations all the more satisfying. Pride and Proposals by Victoria Kincaid, narrated by Erin Evans-Walker, is a bumpy ride of loss for both Darcy and Elizabeth. An early death, a life as a wealthier single lady targeted by Wickham, and Darcy still unable to articulate his feelings, make this version a roller-coaster ride of emotion.  Darcy in this version is a bit tough to take and Elizabeth is a bit obtuse, though her struggle with her feelings for Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam are genuine.

RATING: Quatrain

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

The author of numerous best-selling Pride and Prejudice variations, historical romance writer Victoria Kincaid has a Ph.D. in English literature and runs a small business, er, household with two children, a hyperactive dog, an overly affectionate cat, and a husband who is not threatened by Mr. Darcy. They live near Washington DC, where the inhabitants occasionally stop talking about politics long enough to complain about the traffic.

On weekdays she is a freelance writer/editor who specializes in IT marketing (it’s more interesting than it sounds) and teaches business writing. A lifelong Austen fan, Victoria has read more Jane Austen variations and sequels than she can count – and confesses to an extreme partiality for the Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice. Visit her website. View her blog, visit her on Facebook, GoodReads, and on Amazon.

GIVEAWAY:

For those who wish to enter the giveaway, there will be 2 winners. One will receive an Audible of  Pride and Proposals and the other will receive The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth

Leave a comment and email below and a winner will be selected on Oct. 25, 2018, at 11:59 PM EST.

Good Luck!

The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth by Victoria Kincaid (audio)

Source: Audible
Audiobook, 10+ hours
I am an Amazon Affiliate

The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth by Victoria Kincaid, narrated by Stevie Zimmerman, is a variation in which Darcy and Elizabeth find they have a second chance to get to know one another in France after a disastrous proposal at Hunsford. There’s a brief lapse in the tensions between England and France, allowing the English to take holidays in France.

Here, Darcy is trying to escape his embarrassment and the loss of the woman he loves, as Colonel Fitzwilliam tempts him with parties and outings in France. Unexpectedly, he runs into Elizabeth at a ball as the Gardiners take her on holiday in France, while her uncle conducts business. Will this be a moment for Darcy to redeem himself in her eyes, or will he have to accept that she is still angry and not interested in him?

Kincaid places her characters in untenable situations, especially when Darcy and Elizabeth have to pretend they are barely acquainted when back in England thanks to Lydia and other scandalous activities of family members on both sides. Darcy is hard-pressed to keep Elizabeth happy, even as his jealousy almost reveals every secret they hold from their weeks in France before they were forced to flee when England declares war.

Zimmerman is an excellent narrator for both male and female characters. She embodies their different stations in society and their personalities well. The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth by Victoria Kincaid, narrated by Stevie Zimmerman, is a delightful story, even if it presses the bounds of society’s rules. There are moments where purists will shake their heads, but others will thoroughly enjoy these improprieties.

RATING: Quatrain

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

The author of numerous best-selling Pride and Prejudice variations, historical romance writer Victoria Kincaid has a Ph.D. in English literature and runs a small business, er, household with two children, a hyperactive dog, an overly affectionate cat, and a husband who is not threatened by Mr. Darcy. They live near Washington DC, where the inhabitants occasionally stop talking about politics long enough to complain about the traffic.

On weekdays she is a freelance writer/editor who specializes in IT marketing (it’s more interesting than it sounds) and teaches business writing. A lifelong Austen fan, Victoria has read more Jane Austen variations and sequels than she can count – and confesses to an extreme partiality for the Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice. Visit her website. View her blog, visit her on Facebook, GoodReads, and on Amazon.

The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery (audio)

Source: Audible
Audiobook, 17+ hours
I am an Amazon Affiliate

The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery, narrated by Barbara Caruso, was our September book club selection (unfortunately, I missed the meeting). Aurelia is a young girl who lives with her housekeeper mother in a Catholic school until her mother falls ill before they are set to embark with her uncle to Japan. Without her mother, she becomes despondent and longs for a home, but her uncle, a priest, is less equipped to provide that for her, even in Japan. When a fire rips through the area, Aurelia is alone and hiding in the grounds of the Shin family when the daughter, Yakako, finds her. She’s soon adopted into the family, less as a daughter and more as a servant.

Tea ceremonies are the life blood of the Shin family, but in the late-nineteenth century, the nation faces a number of political changes. Even though she is young and eventually reaches puberty in the Shin family, she becomes integral to the household and feels more at home with them than those from the West. There are still moments where she stumbles, unsure of the customs and eager to indulge Yakako’s need for freedom, until they paint themselves into a corner with her father.

Caruso’s voice is a perfect fit for a novel about tea ceremonies in Japan, a ritual only executed by men. Like many women in Japanese society, their actions are based on ceremony and deference to the men in their lives — a father and a husband — but even then, they can find small comforts among themselves. Aurelia is no different. There is much hard work, conflict with the father, and anxiety due to the changes in Japan — a westernization that could brush aside the importance of tea ceremonies.

There are moments when readers will have to suspend disbelief — how can Aurelia (Urako) learn about Japan from books in 1866? Or learn the language to make it passable just from those books and a cook on the ship over — but the interactions of Aurelia with her protector Yakako are delightful as they navigate the differences in their cultures and misunderstandings. But the narrative gets bogged down in the historical detail, leaving readers wondering what the point of it all is and why they didn’t just pick up a history book instead.

The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery, narrated by Barbara Caruso, spans about 40 years and much of the Shin family’s time is spent decrying the modernization and westernization of Japan, which is reasonable given the dedication the family has to tea ceremonies. However, Aurelia seems to merely be an observer in her life most of the time, doing little to grow other than what her benefactors tell her. A well-researched and written novel, but the plot and characters plod along in what seems to be merely a history lesson from the eyes of a westerner thrust into a the role of imposter as the Shin family adopts her as their own servant. Her return home is less than climatic.

RATING: Tercet

About the Author:

The only writer ever to have received the American Library Association Stonewall Award for Fiction twice, Ellis Avery is the author of two novels, a memoir, and a book of poetry. Her novels, The Last Nude (Riverhead 2012) and The Teahouse Fire (Riverhead 2006) have also received Lambda, Ohioana, and Golden Crown awards, and her work has been translated into six languages. She teaches fiction writing at Columbia University and out of her home in the West Village.

Mailbox Monday #500

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

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

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

Here’s what we received:

Pride and Proposals by Victoria Kincaid, narrated by Erin Evans-Walker, from Audible.

What if Mr. Darcy’s proposal was too late?

Darcy has been bewitched by Elizabeth Bennet since he met her in Hertfordshire. He can no longer fight this overwhelming attraction and must admit he is hopelessly in love. During Elizabeth’s visit to Kent, she has been forced to endure the company of the difficult and disapproving Mr. Darcy, but she has enjoyed making the acquaintance of his affable cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam.

Finally resolved, Darcy arrives at Hunsford Parsonage prepared to propose – only to discover that Elizabeth has just accepted a proposal from the colonel, Darcy’s dearest friend in the world. As he watches the couple prepare for a lifetime together, Darcy vows never to speak of what is in his heart.

Elizabeth has reason to dislike Darcy but finds that he haunts her thoughts and stirs her emotions in strange ways. Can Darcy and Elizabeth find their happily ever after?

In Good Conscience: The Final Adventure by Cat Gardiner, a paperback surprise gift from the author. Read my review here.

No man has loved a woman as much as Fitzwilliam “Iceman” Darcy loves his wife Elizabeth. His love is indestructible, insatiable, and his Achilles’ heel.

Since the whirlwind and dangerous adventure in Paris and Moscow in Without a Conscience, life at Pemberley has been a combination of idyllic repose and focused preparation and defense. Darcy’s enemy is still out there—a hair’s breadth from delivering revenge for his father’s assassination.

When the enemy strikes first, Iceman’s world comes crashing down kick starting a firestorm. How far will the gelid warrior go to protect all his loved ones? Just how much is the former Navy SEAL willing to sacrifice? Is his attritional warfare blind rage?—or are his extreme actions in good conscience?

This emotional, wild ride will take you on a breathless, white-knuckle international journey from heartbreak and revenge to survival and enduring bliss because …

No woman has loved a man like Elizabeth Darcy loves her husband Fitzwilliam. Her love is invulnerable, unyielding, and her strength.

What fell into your mailbox this week?

Silver Girl by Leslie Pietrzyk (audio)

Source: Instagram giveaway win
Audiobook; 10+ hours
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Silver Girl by Leslie Pietrzyk, narrated by Cassandra Morris, is a startling and uncomfortable novel about female friendship between an unnamed narrator from a small Iowa town and a poor family and a rich girl, Jess, in college in Chicago.What would it be like to escape a suffocating small town where nothing happens and where the only things that happen are dark and unsatisfying? Can you escape the past?

The narrative is disjointed and jumps in time – back-and-forth – as she strives to make sense of what happened. There is so much desire here — a need to belong, a need to be more, get more, and see more — and in many ways that desire takes over all rational thought and leads the narrator astray on more than one occasion. She’s a hard character to like, and in some ways you won’t. She’s striving to fill deep holes within herself, and her holes go deeper than any canyon the shallow, rich girl she rooms with could imagine.

Set during the 80s and the Tylenol poisonings in Chicago, the narrator shifts from the uncertainty in her own life to the investigations, mirroring her paranoia about someone finding out that she does not belong at this upper crust college. For all her talk about herself and her family, she fails to realize that even her roommate’s family is as screwed up as hers. As she strives to hide her true self and her home life from her roommate, she spends a lot of time judging Jess and those she encounters at school.

Silver Girl by Leslie Pietrzyk is a complex story about social class, female friendship, and feels like Plath’s Bell Jar with a main character spiraling out of control emotionally.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Leslie Pietrzyk is the author of the novel Silver Girl, released in February 2018 by Unnamed Press, and called “profound, mesmerizing, and disturbing” in a Publishers Weekly starred review. Her collection of unconventionally linked short stories, This Angel on My Chest, won the 2015 Drue Heinz Literature Prize and was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. Kirkus Reviews named it one of the 16 best story collections of the year, Her previous novels are Pears on a Willow Tree and A Year and a Day. Short fiction and essays have appeared/are forthcoming in Southern Review, Ploughshares, Gettysburg Review, Hudson Review, The Sun, Shenandoah, Arts & Letters, River Styx, Iowa Review, Washingtonian, The Collagist, Cincinnati Review, TriQuarterly, New England Review, Salon, Washingtonian, and the Washington Post Magazine. She has received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Pietrzyk is a member of the core fiction faculty at the Converse low-residency MFA program and often teaches in the MA Program in Writing at Johns Hopkins University. Raised in Iowa, she now lives in Alexandria, Virginia. Visit her website.

Mailbox Monday #495

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

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

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

Here’s what we received:

Musing of a Netflix Binge Viewer by Kateema Lee, which I purchased after hearing the poet read from the collection pre-publication.

Kateema Lee‘s Musings of a Netflix Binge Viewer is full of surprises: sonic playfulness, encounters between pop culture icons and figures from childhood, insights spoken with a sharp tongue. These poems disarm you with familiar references and then take unexpected turns inward with the guidance of an introspective speaker. Lee tricks you into feeling wistful and then hits you with “something to cut the bullshit.” These poems are skillfully dark. From page one, this collection orients you within the disorienting experience of having too many choices, but Lee’s wild imagination knows exactly what to do with them. –Jonterri Gadson, author of Pepper Girl and Blues Triumphant

In “Musings of a Netflix Binge Viewer”, Kateema Lee streams poems, image by image, where pop-culture meets the reality of daily life. She explores “the imported sparkling water in a long-stemmed glass”. Lee is a poet juggling contemporary Netflix culture with humor and charm.
–Naoko Fujimoto, The winner of Oro Fino Chapbook Competition, “Home, No Home”

Even in moments as mundane as binge-watching prime-time dramas, we find ourselves interrogating the current states of our lives. In Musings of a Netflix Binge Viewer, Kateema Lee’s poems speak through the ambient sounds of the late-night television screen, offering deceptively quiet musings on love, loneliness, and grief. And, in the breaks, creatures of nature and myth appear, serving as apt metaphors for a mind flipping through the myriad channels of its existence. Although Musings couches the bulk of its activities in the passive—watching television, observing women in public, or petting a dead father’s cats—it is a complex work that begs of us to look beyond the veneer of the ordinary and into the many frequencies of ourselves, the myriad ways in which we remain unknown and unseen to everyone around us. –Destiny Birdsong, Poet, MFA, PhD

The Frame-Up by Meghan Scott Molin, which came as a surprise in the mail.

MG Martin lives and breathes geek culture. She even works as a writer for the comic book company she idolized as a kid. But despite her love of hooded vigilantes, MG prefers her comics stay on the page.

But when someone in LA starts recreating crime scenes from her favorite comic book, MG is the LAPD’s best—and only—lead. She recognizes the golden arrow left at the scene as the calling card of her favorite comic book hero. The thing is…superheroes aren’t real. Are they?

When too-handsome-for-his-own-good Detective Kildaire asks for her comic book expertise, MG is more than up for the adventure. Unfortunately, MG has a teeny little tendency to not follow rules. And her off-the-books sleuthing may land her in a world of trouble.

Because for every superhero, there is a supervillain. And the villain of her story may be closer than she thinks…

Nevertheless We Persisted essays with a foreword from Amy Klobuchar for review from the publisher.

“Aren’t you a terrorist?” “There are no roles for people who look like you.” “That’s a sin.” “No girls allowed.” They’ve heard it all. Actress Alia Shawkat reflects on all the parts she was told she was too “ethnic” to play. Former NFL player Wade Davis recalls his bullying of gay classmates in an attempt to hide his own sexuality. Teen Gavin Grimm shares the story that led to the infamous “bathroom bill,” and how he’s fighting it. Holocaust survivor Fanny Starr tells of her harrowing time in Aushwitz, where she watched her family disappear, one by one.

What made them rise up through the hate? What made them overcome the obstacles of their childhood to achieve extraordinary success? How did they break out of society’s limited view of who they are and find their way to the beautiful and hard-won lives they live today? With a foreword by Minnesota senator and up-and-coming Democratic party leader Amy Klobuchar, these essays share deeply personal stories of resilience, faith, love, and, yes, persistence.

Walk to Run One Mile by Jaime McFaden free from Audible until Sept. 5.

Brand new to running? Tackle that first mile with the help of expert Aaptiv trainer and fitness industry veteran Jaime McFaden.

Achieving a new goal is all about taking the first step and with the help of certified personal trainer Jaime McFaden those first steps will lead to a successful first mile. In this four-week program you’ll complete 20 total classes in outdoor running, treadmill, strength, and stretching. These workouts are designed to increase your physical stamina and mental toughness. Each class is 25 minutes or less so you can train even on your busiest days.

Jaime’s encouraging and inspiring training style will have you feeling strong and confident.

The Secrets of Darcy and Elizabeth by Victoria Kincaid purchased from Audible.

What if Darcy and Elizabeth were plunged into the war between England and France?

It is 1803, and a treaty has allowed England and France to enjoy a brief moment of peace in the midst of the Napoleonic wars.

Darcy is despondent over Elizabeth’s refusal of his proposal at Hunsford, so Colonel Fitzwilliam proposes a trip to Paris as a distraction. At a ball, Darcy unexpectedly encounters Elizabeth, who is visiting Paris with the Gardiners. He sees this as his opportunity to court Elizabeth properly and rectify past mistakes.

Before he can make much progress, however, England declares war again, and Darcy must help Elizabeth flee France. As they make their way to the coast, Elizabeth and Darcy must battle brigands, French soldiers, illness, and their own mutual attraction – all without a chaperone.

When they return to England, Elizabeth and Darcy have their own secrets to conceal – even from those closest to them.

The Keeper: Mary Bennet’s Extraordinary Journey by Don Jacobson purchased from Audible.

Lizzy gripped Mary’s hands and began her speech.

“Now is the time for you. Heal now. Future only, my dearest sister.”

Mary Bennet has spent her entire life fighting to be herself. If only she knew just what that was. For years she buried her nose in the musty musing of Fordyce’s Sermons to Young Women, trying to be exceptional. She hid her light brown eyes – and herself – behind useless spectacles.

With both Jane and Lizzy married, it is time for Miss Bennet to emerge from her cocoon. Learn how a young woman of deep faith and inquisitive mind emerges. Yet, even as Mary Bennet overcomes her troubled teenage years, she is challenged by her sudden and total love for a man who mysteriously appears on the night of a great calamity. And his secret grows out of a remarkable device – the Bennet Wardrobe!

The Keeper follows the life of Mary Bennet as she matures from the prosy, moralizing caricature found in Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice into a confident young woman looking to make her mark in the rapidly changing world of the Industrial Revolution. And discover how the amazing Bennet Wardrobe makes life interesting for all Bennets.

What did you receive?

How the Elephant Got Its Trunk and Other Wild Animal Stories by Rudyard Kipling (audio)

Source: Purchased
Audiobook, 4+ hours
I am an Amazon Affiliate

How the Elephant Got Its Trunk and Other Wild Animal Stories by Rudyard Kipling, narrated by Virginia McKenna, is a delightful rendition of Kipling’s Just So Stories, which provide imaginative answers to simple questions, like how did the elephant get its long trunk?

In the first story in the collection, a curious elephant drives his parents crazy with his incessant questions and curiosities, until they and his other relatives send him away on his own to find out the answer to a question he’s asked. Kipling’s stories have a dark lining too them, but they also have a fantastical and humorous way of looking at the world.

McKenna narrates as a mother would to her child, engaging them with the vivid animal kingdom’s cast of characters — good and bad, king and ferocious. Her voice undulates as the stories unwind.

How the Elephant Got Its Trunk and Other Wild Animal Stories by Rudyard Kipling, narrated by Virginia McKenna, would be even more delightful to listen to with a full-color book to share with your children. Vivid imagery like the sunset cover of this Audible version attests to how well these stories could be rendered in color and illustration. Thoroughly enjoyable world of animals and the simple questions asked by children.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Joseph Rudyard Kipling was an English journalist, short-story writer, poet, and novelist. He was born in India, which inspired much of his work.

Mr. Darcy to the Rescue by Victoria Kincaid (audio)

Source: the author
Audiobook, 5+ hours
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Mr. Darcy to the Rescue by Victoria Kincaid, narrated by Emma Lysy, is the audio version on Kincaid’s delightful re-imagining. I’ve reviewed the paperback version previously and found it delightful. Unlike traditional tropes in which women need to be captured from dire circumstances, Kincaid creates a scenario in which Darcy does ride to Elizabeth’s rescue, but soon finds that he is the one in need of rescuing.

Lysy is a wonderful narrator; she pulls her listeners into the story as she takes on the roles of Lady Catherine, Mr. Darcy, Mr. Collins, and Elizabeth. Her inflections and intonations, effectively capture the mood of each scene and the emotions of Kincaid’s characters.

I loved revisiting Kincaid’s version of an in-love Darcy and an Elizabeth caught up in the horrifying reality of her decision to marry Mr. Collins. Mr. Darcy to the Rescue by Victoria Kincaid, narrated by Emma Lysy, is just delightful on audio.

***Please do check out the guest post from Victoria on the rescue trope found in many romance novels.***

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

The author of numerous best-selling Pride and Prejudice variations, historical romance writer Victoria Kincaid has a Ph.D. in English literature and runs a small business, er, household with two children, a hyperactive dog, an overly affectionate cat, and a husband who is not threatened by Mr. Darcy. They live near Washington DC, where the inhabitants occasionally stop talking about politics long enough to complain about the traffic.

On weekdays she is a freelance writer/editor who specializes in IT marketing (it’s more interesting than it sounds) and teaches business writing. A lifelong Austen fan, Victoria has read more Jane Austen variations and sequels than she can count – and confesses to an extreme partiality for the Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice. Visit her website. View her blog, visit her on Facebook, GoodReads, and on Amazon.

Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russel Hochschild (audio)

Source: Purchased
Audiobook, 11+ hours
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russel Hochschild, narrated by Suzanne Toren, was our book club selection for February, but I missed this meeting as well. Hochschild focuses on communities in rural Louisiana to learn more about the Right and how they come to hold somewhat contrary beliefs about the government and what it should do and how it is not helping them. Her main focus was on environmental pollution, which helped her keep the study narrower, though I’m sure more issues affect the decisions of voters identifying with the Tea Party and the conservative Right.

Many of these conservative right leaning citizens of the United States seem to be motivated by taxes, faith, and honor, she says, as well as their own personal wishes. Part of the paradox is that while some see the need for regulations to say protect the environment and themselves from toxic pollutants, they also distrust the government. Additionally, these locally rooted people view Washington, D.C., as too far away, and many believe the federal government has taken away their local identities.

Hochschild also postulates that much of the issue stems from the loss of the Confederate South’s honor and the imposition of the North’s values on the South after the Civil War and during the Civil Rights Movement. Now the Tea Party has tapped into the need for honor with those who, even though poor and struggling, identify with the rich “plantation” owners and want an end to government handouts for those they see as “cutting in line.” Many of those line cutters are strangers and the government helps them but not you, and then you are viewed as “backward,” many of these Louisianans say. In many ways, her study suggests that the Rich are seceding from the Poor, even though many of the people she talked to are not wealthy at all.

In the election process, President Donald Trump become a totem that unifies the Right and provides them with a focus on their own improvement and lifting them up from their own emotional quagmire. The hats, signs, and branding push them together in an uplifting way, while pushing out the “other,” who the groups see as “line cutters.” The rallies also freed the Right from “feeling rules” that these people saw as imposed on them by the liberal North.

Rather than consider themselves as victims, they often take pride in their struggles, no matter how emotional draining it is. They tend to view their world optimistically — they look forward — and often trust the free market to do the right thing, even though research shows companies tend not to protect workers, the environment, or other aspects of society. Telling in the book is how Blue states benefit from the lax regulations of Red states, enabling them to reap the benefits of products produced without having the waste/pollution in their own backyard.

Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russel Hochschild, narrated by Suzanne Toren, may offer a depressing view of the Right and their own paradoxes, but the book offers a sense of hope that the “empathy” wall can be overcome through conversation and practical cooperation. Although there were some repetitive pieces in this book and judgment peppered throughout, readers will find it informative as to why President Trump spoke to these people who felt like strangers in America, even though they were born here. As the media and political pundits and speakers push for division, the best medicine for democracy is cooperation and compromise — the middle ground.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Arlie Russell Hochschild is one of the most influential sociologists of her generation. She is the author of nine books, including The Second Shift, The Time Bind, The Managed Heart, The Outsourced Self, and Strangers in Their Own Land (The New Press). Three of her books have been named as New York Times Notable Books of the Year and her work appears in sixteen languages. The winner of the Ulysses Medal as well as Guggenheim and Mellon grants, she lives in Berkeley, California.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (audio)

Source: Audible
Audiobook, 10+ hours
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The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, narrated by the author, was our April book club selection. This memoir will have you wondering where child services was for most of Jeannette’s life. Her parents, Rex and Rose Mary Walls, had three other children and were often negligent in their parenting, and even dangerous — placing their kids directly in dangerous situations or failing to prevent them from being in such places. The family moved a lot in the early days until her mother inherited some money that would have allowed them to live comfortably if budgeted well, but as her parents were very bohemian, practicality was outside their comfort zone.

Each child in this family was forced to find their own way to cope and survive, and some did so better than others. In many cases, the children went their separate ways, but there were times when they defended on another from their parents and from those willing to abuse them. Clinging to one another was an option, but eventually, West Virginia’s harsh landscape and judgment on outsiders forced the older children to seek their fortunes in New York City.

Walls has some tales to tell and many of them sound like they couldn’t possibly be true — did she really cook hotdogs by herself at age 3? While I wonder about the recollection of some events, I see that her point is not the chronology but the need for her to survive on her own most of the time, even though she had both parents at home. The kids acted more like adults on some occasions and when the kids called them out for it, they were punished because they were expected to respect their elders no matter what.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls at is core is a story of hope and survival. Walls should be commended for her bravery in speaking about her childhood, especially after hiding it for so long as she climbed the ladder in the world of journalism. Well written and engaging, this is a memoir that will have you regretting anytime you fought with your less bohemian parents.

RATING: Quatrain

What the Book Club Thought:

Everyone finished the book and thought the writing was very fluid. They were appalled by how the Walls’ children were treated by their parents and how the mother and father neglected their responsibilities on so many levels. There were moments in the book where some members wanted more information, particularly about the youngest child, but agreed that maybe Jeannette did not have memories of her youngest sister’s plight beyond what she wrote. This book was well discussed and raised a lot of issue as to whether the parents had an over-arching philosophy for how they lived their lives or whether it was merely selfishness. Very good discussion book.

About the Author:

Jeannette Walls is a writer and journalist. Born in Phoenix, Arizona, she graduated with honors from Barnard College, the women’s college affiliated with Columbia University. She published a bestselling memoir, The Glass Castle, in 2005.