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The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie

Source: Audible
Audiobook, 6 hrs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie, our August book club selection, is narrated by Hugh Fraser and is the 13th book in the series.  Despite being so far into the series, it was refreshing to read a murder-mystery that was more intellectual in nature. Hercule Poirot is being taunted by the serial killer working his way through victims based on the alphabet, and beside his victims, he leaves the ABC Railway Guide open at the name of the town where the murder has taken place. Arthur Hastings, a longtime friend of Poirot, is excited to be working with his friend after a long time, and this book is told from Hastings’ point of view for the most part. The other narration is a third-person narrative created by Hastings’ reconstructions of other eye-witness accounts. Christie creates another mysterious layer this way because readers will always partially doubt the validity of those recollections.

The first three murders occur with little evidence of who the killer is, but once the killer decides to make an enemy of Poirot, he is bound to make mistakes. There also is a certain complexity of motive here, in which it is obscured again and again by other events and things that occur. While Hastings is in awe of his friend’s ability to solve cases, Inspector Crome is less than a fan. It’s interesting to see these two opinions face off, and it forces the reader to wonder is Poirot a super-detective or is he a man that gets lucky. Like many mysteries, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

The camaraderie between Poirot and Hastings is great, and the pace is spot on, even as the murders seem as though they will never be solved. A careful reader or listener can see the clues and figure out who the killer is, but Christie is adept at throwing in obstacles to obscure the truth. Hugh Fraser was a good narrator for Hastings, though at times some of the other characters got a bit muddled in the reading. The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie is a well written mystery that will have readers guessing and re-assessing.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Agatha Christie is the best-selling author of all time. She wrote eighty crime novels and story collections, fourteen plays, and several other books. Her books have sold roughly four billion copies and have been translated into 45 languages. She is the creator of the two most enduring figures in crime literature-Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple-and author of The Mousetrap, the longest-running play in the history of modern theatre.

Mailbox Monday #390

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:

Field Guide to the End of the World by Jeannine Hall Gailey from the publisher for review.

Field Guide to the End of the World, winner of the 2015 Moon City Poetry Award, delivers a whimsical look at our culture’s obsession with apocalypse as well as a thoughtful reflection on our resources in the face of disasters both large and small, personal and public. Pop-culture characters—from Martha Stewart and Wile E. Coyote to zombie strippers and teen vampires—deliver humorous but insightful commentary on survival and resilience through poems that span imagined scenarios that are not entirely beyond the realm of possibility. The characters face their apocalypses in numerous ways, from strapping on rollerblades and swearing to taking notes as barns burn on the horizon. At the end of the world, the most valuable resource is human connection—someone holding our hands, reminding us “we are miraculous.”

The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie purchased from Audible as it is the next book club selection.

There’s a serial killer on the loose, bent on working his way through the alphabet. And as a macabre calling card he leaves beside each victim’s corpe the ABC Railway Guide open at the name of the town where the murder has taken place. Having begun with Andover, Bexhill and then Churston, there seems little chance of the murderer being caught – until he makes the crucial and vain mistake of challenging Hercule Poirot to frustrate his plans.

What did you receive?

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

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

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

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

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

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

RATING: Tercet

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

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

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

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (audio)

Source: Purchased
Audible, 11+ hrs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater, narrated by Will Patton, is the fourth installment in the Raven Boys series of books, and it is a looped and twisted journey that could have readers wondering how much time has folded over onto itself.

***Read this series in order. SPOILERS below***

Stiefvater packs this installment with revelations about Blue Sargent, who is from a family of psychics and who has been told most of her life that her kiss will cause the death of her true love. Noah, Adam, Ronan, and Gansey have become a family throughout the trials of the Raven Cycle, and this tight-knit group learns to make room not only for Blue but also Henry.  They know that Gansey is fated to die and that Blue’s kiss will lead to that death, but they continue to make plans and find a way to prevent that from happening.  Amidst these plans, these young people are falling in love and tentatively walking on egg shells around one another until they can bear it no longer.  Stiefvater does a fantastic job of depicting young, tentative love.

Patton as always is a terrific narrator, and readers will never be lost as to which character is speaking and to whom. His acting skills come alive with Stiefvater’s prose, and he breathes life into the swirling magic that surrounds these characters, much of it wrapped up in the dream-forest called Cabeswater.

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater, narrated by Will Patton, is a wonderful conclusion to the series, but there is enough of an opening that should she choose, Stiefvater could return to these characters or even just some of them to begin new adventures in magic.

RATING: Quatrain

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

New York Times bestselling author of The Shiver Trilogy, The Raven Cycle, and The Scorpio Races. Artist. Driver of things with wheels. Avid reader. All of Maggie Stiefvater’s life decisions have been based around her inability to be gainfully employed. Talking to yourself, staring into space, and coming to work in your pajamas are frowned upon when you’re a waitress, calligraphy instructor, or technical editor (all of which she’s tried), but are highly prized traits in novelists and artists. She’s made her living as one or the other since she was 22. She now lives an eccentric life in the middle of nowhere, Virginia.

John Dies @ the End by David Wong

Source: Public Library and Audible
Hardcover, 362 pgs.
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John Dies @ the End by David Wong, which was our April book club selection, is like falling off the frame and into a Salvador Dalí surrealist painting and its topsy-turvy world where very little makes sense and there is no straight path to some kind of satisfactory resolution.

Wong is a long-time editor at Cracked.com, which from what I gather is a humor website, and Wong is really a pen name.  So should you take anything in his novel seriously, even if it is considered in the horror genre?  My answer would be no.

In this novel, the soy sauce is a drug that enables John and David to see ghosts, demons, and other underworld-like things, and these unsuspecting and slacker heroes are less-than-motivated to take action, unless they have to.  Our unreliable narrator, David Wong, is socially inept and ogles women everywhere he goes, but readers are not even sure if he is David or John or someone else because the names of been changed.  In B-horror movie fashion, plots are introduced, left hanging, and reworked into even more ridiculous adventures.

“‘I call it Dante’s Syndrome,’ John said.  I had never heard him call it any such thing. ‘Meaning, I think Dave and I gained the ability to peer into Hell. Only it turns out Hell is right here, it’s all through us and around us and in us like the microbes that swarm through your lungs and guts and veins. Hey, look! An owl!'” (pg. 7)

“‘But I can bless water to make it holy. The ice statue, I mean.’
John’s face brightened and he said, ‘That’s perfect!’ He thrust his index finger into the air. ‘We bless the ice, then we just have to somehow get all hundred or so of those monsters to lick the statue!'” (130 pgs.)

These examples should provide you with the humor in this book, but some of this just seemed inserted for humor’s sake and did little to add to the story.  My final impression of John Dies @ the End by David Wong — the narrator for Audible was Stephen R. Thorne — is one of being overwhelmed by the descriptive info-dumps and the absurdity.  Because of the overwhelming and topsy-turvy nature of the narrative, this one did not work well on audio at all, leaving me lost most of the time, which is why I switched to the book.

RATING: Couplet

What the book club thought:

Sounded like most everyone thought the book was OK, but was not overly excited about the book. One member who said they were not sad to have read the book, said that they were not interested in reading any of the sequels. Another member said that the book was humorous, but most members said that the book had a plot that went nowhere and where there were no consequences for anything that happened.

Yellow Brick War by Danielle Paige (audio)

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

Yellow Brick War by Danielle Paige, narrated by Devon Sorvari, is the third part of this young adult series in an alternative world to the one we grew up with in Oz. This is a series that would be hard to follow without having read the first two books in the series — Dorothy Must Die and The Wicked Will Rise.

Amy Gumm finds herself back in Kansas, but she’s not alone.  The Wicked are with her as well, and she must find something to help get them back to Oz before Dorothy destroys everything.  This is Amy’s worst nightmare — returning to high school where she’s picked on by her peers and her mother is too drunk to even care where she is or if her homework is finished.  However, the witches show her that things have changed since her disappearance, and her mother is now sober and her former bullies are nicer now that they’ve been ostracized.

In this installment, the action is much slower as Amy reunites with her mother and the peers that once tortured her.  She feels just as out of place here as she did in Oz, but at least in Oz she could use magic and had a purpose.  She meets up with the former quarterback and his former girlfriend — Amy’s nemesis — and they strive to uncover the truth about the real Dorothy from Kansas.  It’s clear that Dorothy’s story was real and that no one believed her, but there is something magic still hidden in Kansas, and Amy must find it.

Yellow Brick War by Danielle Paige, narrated by Devon Sorvari, is a unique retelling of the Oz story, and readers will enjoy the characters and plot twists.  However, the dangling cliffhanger means there is sure to be another book in this series.  When the action abruptly ends, readers can be frustrated, especially in the case here where there is a big question mark over everyone’s fate.

Rating: Tercet

About the Author:

Danielle Paige is a graduate of Columbia University and the author of Dorothy Must Die and its digital prequel novellas, No Place Like Oz and The Witch Must Burn. Before turning to young adult literature, she worked in the television industry, where she received a Writers Guild of America Award and was nominated for several Daytime Emmys. She currently lives in New York City.

The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige (audio)

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

The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige, narrated by Devon Sorvari, is book two of a series, and this is a series you’ll want to read in order. (check out my review of Dorothy Must Die)

Amy Gumm is battered and bruised and concerned about The Revolutionary Order of the Wicked, particularly about the safety of Nox, a brooding young warlock. Even though she’s failed in her mission to kill Dorothy, she is determined to complete her collection of the objects controlling the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion.

She’s still unsure who she should trust in the world of Oz, a place that’s full of fluctuating magic.  Left on her own, she finds herself face-to-face with distrustful wingless monkeys who refuse to get involved in the war against Dorothy.  She has little choice but to strike out on her own and find Nox and figure out how best to take care of Dorothy and the evil powers that rule the Emerald City.  As she enters the land of forgetfulness and digs deep to find her true self, she must struggle to keep the dark magic at bay.

Unlike the previous installment, Paige has created a very fast-paced book that provides the right balance between backstory and action, as well as character development and description.  Amy is the main focus, and as she comes into her own, readers will cheer her on, even when she’s making decisions that may not have the best outcome.  Readers will want to root for her.  Even as she still has doubts about her abilities and her role in the war, she’s coming to terms with her place in it and she’s taking action.

The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige, narrated by Devon Sorvar, does end on a cliffhanger of sorts, but readers won’t mind since they’ll be even more invested in Amy’s story by the end of this second book.

Rating: Quatrain

About the Author:

Danielle Paige is a graduate of Columbia University and the author of Dorothy Must Die and its digital prequel novellas, No Place Like Oz and The Witch Must Burn. Before turning to young adult literature, she worked in the television industry, where she received a Writers Guild of America Award and was nominated for several Daytime Emmys. She currently lives in New York City.

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: Quatrain

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

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

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

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (audio)

Source: Audible
Audiobook, 11 hrs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins — narrated by Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, and India Fisher — is a mystery in which a woman with low self-esteem, who is an alcoholic, continues to stalk her ex-husband, mostly at a distance.  Rachel Watson’s divorce and drinking caused her to lose her job, but she still wakes up like clockwork to take the train into London so her roommate is unaware that she’s lost her job. She has some money saved, and even though she could be moving on with her life and getting a new job, she wallows in her sorrow at the bottom of a bottle, creating perfect, imaginary lives for the people she sees out the train windows.

Jason and Jess become a couple that she can imagine lives in marital bliss, but in reality, Megan and Scott Hipwell have a marriage that has lost its appeal, at least for Megan. She desires something more than what she has with Scott, who she fails to see as controlling even as he goes through her emails on a regular basis.  She wants her life to be more than just sitting at home waiting for her husband to come home.  Like Rachel, she is dissatisfied with what her life has become.

Rachel, meanwhile, is on the outside of her ex-husband’s life with his new wife and daughter, who continue to live in the house she and he used to live in, and she’s on the outside of the world looking in, much like she’s staring out the train windows.  She’s searching for something, she needs to belong to something, but what she ends up entangling herself in is something that could lead to her own death.  Meanwhile, her ex-husband’s new wife Anna is terrified of Rachel, worried that her stalking will turn to something more.

Listening to the audio was never boring and the different narrators helped when Hawkin’s story changed points of view.  Moreover, the narrator for Rachel really put you in the mindset of a broken woman who was down on herself, blamed herself, and was unable to break out of her self-destructive cycle of drinking and blacking out.  Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train is a twisted tale of the suburban lives we often perceive as idyllic, and the lives we believe we have but actually do not.  How well do we know our spouses, their experiences, their families, and how well do they know us?  Many of us have inner demons or secrets we would rather not face, so we lie about them to ourselves and those we love.

Rating: Quatrain

About the Author:

Paula Hawkins worked as a journalist for fifteen years before turning her hand to fiction. Born and brought up in Zimbabwe, Paula moved to London in 1989 and has lived there ever since. The Girl on the Train is her first thriller.

Mailbox Monday #360

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:

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins which I received with my audible credit.

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and every night. Every day she rattles over the same track junctions, flashes past the same stretch of cozy suburban homes. And every day she stops at the same signal and she sees the same couple, breakfasting on their roof deck, living the perfect life that Rachel craves for herself – a lifestyle she recently lost. She looks forward to observing this household every morning, even makes up names and narratives for its residents. Then one day Rachel sees someone new in their garden, and soon after, the woman who lived there disappears.

Unable to keep this information to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and in the process is drawn into the lives of the couple she thought of as Jason and Jess but whose names – she has learned from the news – are really Megan and Scott Hipwell.

But the police accuse Rachel of being unreliable, and it’s true that her memories can’t always be trusted. Plus there are the stories that her ex-husband’s new wife has been spreading about her. By the time Megan’s body is found, Rachel is in over her head, intricately entangled in the details of the investigation, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she put others in danger? Has she done more harm than good?

Born to Drum by Tony Barrell from Dey Street Books for review.

The pulse of rock ‘n’ roll—the drummer—finally gets its due in this unique, all-encompassing inside look at the culture and history of drumming

Beating the hell out of a drum kit is hard, sweaty, demanding work. Yet instead of being showered with respect, drummers are often viewed with derision—stereotyped as crazy, borderline psychotic, or just plain dumb. But as every musician knows, to have a great band you need a great drummer: Ginger Baker. John Bonham. Chad Smith. Stewart Copeland. Neil Peart.

For the first time, Tony Barrell shines a long-overdue spotlight on these musicians, offering an exciting look into their world, their art, and their personalities. In Born to Drum, Barrell explores the extraordinary history of the world’s most primitive instrument and the musicians who have made it legend. He interviews some of the most famous, revered, and influential drummers of our time—including Chad Smith, Ginger Baker, Clem Burke, Sheila E., Phil Collins, Nick Mason, Patty Schemel, Butch Vig, and Omar Hakim—who share astonishing truths about their work and lives. He investigates the stories of late, great drummers such as Keith Moon and John Bonham, analyzes many of the greatest drum tracks ever recorded, and introduces us to the world’s fastest and loudest drummers, as well as the first musician to pilot a “flying drum kit” onstage.

The Total Package by Stephanie Evanovich for review in March with TLC Book Tours.

Star quarterback, first-round draft-pick, and heartthrob Tyson Palmer has made a name for himself with his spectacular moves. When the head coach of the Austin Mavericks refuses to let him waste his million-dollar arm, Tyson makes a Hail Mary pass at redemption and succeeds with everyone . . . except Dani, whose negative comments about his performance draw high ratings and spectacular notices of her own.

Dani can’t forgive Tyson’s transgressions or forget the sizzling history the two of them shared in college, a passionate love Tyson casually threw away. And even more infuriating, he doesn’t realize that the bombshell with huge ratings is the cute girl whose heart he once broke.

But can a woman trying to claw her way to the top and a quarterback who knows all about rock bottom make it to the Super Bowl without destroying each other? And what will happen when Tyson—riding high now that he’s revived his career—realizes he needs to make an even more important comeback with Dani? Can he make some spectacular moves to get past her defenses—or will she sideline him for good?

What did you receive?

The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ten Songs by Greil Marcus, Read by Henry Rollins

Source: Audible
Audio, 7 hrs
I am an Amazon Affiliate

The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ten Songs by Greil Marcus, read by Henry Rollins, examines rock and roll history in a unique way, threading together not only U.S. history and the British invasion, but also the influences and changes that occur when new artists take on old songs and make them new.  The artists breathe new life into these songs based on their own experiences and influences, and while the songwriters are often in the background and not praised as much for their work writing them, they provide the backbone that sets these No. 1 hits on their paths to greatness.  Each chapter of the book is broken up to discuss a particular song, but Marcus’ writing style often seems like he’s just producing a name-dropping litany, rather than fleshing out the history of those songs.

The songs he selected were Shake Some Action; Transmission; In the Still of the Nite; All I Could Do Was Cry; Crying, Waiting, Hoping; Instrumental Break; Money (That’s What I Want) Money Changes Everything; This Magic Moment; Guitar Drag; and To Know Him Is To Love Him.  While the Beatles could not be ignored given their wide-ranging influence on rock and roll, Marcus does select songs and singers who were not necessarily as big, including Joy Division and others in Motown and other genres.  Rollins does a great job at pacing his reading of this book, but readers will still hear the run-on sentences and the excessive use of commas, as well as the tangential stream-of-conscious discussion that is all Marcus.

The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ten Songs by Greil Marcus, read by Henry Rollins, is an experimental thesis that the genesis of music is the interplay of chords, song, voice, and other factors, but it also strives to demonstrate how music from all genres influences not only what is produced today, but what has been produced previously.  While many would say that there is nothing new in music, Marcus would disagree — as he does in the interview with Rollins — saying that each artist places their own flavor and influence on a song, making it into something new.  The possibilities are endless.  While readers can appreciate Marcus’ musical knowledge and experience, as well as his tracking of history, the execution of this book bogs down the pacing and will leaver readers’ minds wandering.  An experience that, perhaps, could have been improved by some audio snippets of the songs he discusses.

About the Author:

Greil Marcus is the author of Mystery Train (1975), Lipstick Traces (1989), The Shape of Things to Come (2006), When that Rough God Goes Riding and Bob Dylan by Greil Marcus (both 2010), and other books. With Werner Sollors he is the editor of A New Literary History of America (2009). In recent years he has taught at Berkeley, Princeton, Minnesota, NYU, and the New School in New York. He lives in Oakland, California.

Mailbox Monday #308

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:

Free e-books:

1.  A Long Christmas by Michelle Read

Can true love be found at Christmas?

What if Emily never went to the nineteenth century?

What if William went to the twenty-first century instead?

A twist on the original Centuries of Love Trilogy sees William waking up at Christmas in 2012.

Confused by this new modern era and why he has been brought here, he is soon relieved to find his wife, Emily, but is shocked when she doesn’t know who he is.

On discovering the nineteenth century tradition of kissing your true love by midnight on Twelfth Night or lose them forever, he realises it’s a race against time to make Emily fall in love with him all over again.

2.  Mansfield Ranch by Jenni James

Does true love really prevail?

All Lilly Price has ever known is living in the shadow of her widely successful foster family. But when a twist of fate deals Lilly the hand of Harrison Crawford, the most popular guy in Bloomfield, NM, everything flips upside down.

Sean Benally is a hard worker, he’s funny, he’s generous, and he’s kind. He’s also the most amazing guy Lilly has ever known. And she’s totally fallen in love with him. But he’s her foster brother…

Now she must choose between the unavailable love of her life — or the guy who promises to be available forever.

3.  Jane Austen and the Archangel by Pamela Aares

What’s to be done with an angel who breaks the rules? Introduce him to a woman known for her propriety, of course.

Until then, passion had lived only on the page…

Jane Austen hasn’t written a creative word in months. She secretly fears she may not have it in her to write a single word more about love. Yet when the mysterious Michael Grace appears on her doorstep, she’s cast into a world of emotion beyond even her wildest imaginings. Though she fears he might be a spy, she enlists his help to find her friend’s fiancé, missing in the Peninsular War. But Michael isn’t what he seems, and the passion and doubts he ignites turn everything Jane trusts upside down. What Jane doesn’t know is that her mystery man is an angel. One who’s never failed to get what he goes after.

Some rules just beg to be broken…

4. Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure by Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson

A heart-wrenching historical novel spanning seventy years, two continents, and a an imagined story that holds the power to create a safe future for a young girl. This page-turning family saga soars to a breathtaking ending that redefines the meaning of love.

When Natalie and Anna, sisters and life-long rivals, hide an abandoned child from the Nazis, their struggle re-opens a star-crossed love triangle, threatening their safety and testing the bonds of their loyalty.

Hungary’s fragile alliance with Germany insured that Natalie, a best selling children’s book author, and her family would be safe as World War Two raged through Europe. The Holocaust that has only been whispered about until now becomes a terrible reality for every Jewish family or those who hide Jews.

Beautiful but troubled Anna, a poet and university professor is losing her tenuous hold on reality, re-igniting a dangerous sibling rivalry that began in childhood. The streets of Budapest echo with the pounding boots of Nazi soldiers. Danger creeps to the doorstep where the sisters’ disintegrating relationship threatens to expose the child they are trying to protect. In one night, Anna’s rash behavior destroys their carefully made plans of escape, and Natalie is presented with a desperate choice. Interwoven with Natalie and Anna’s story, is Mila’s. The abandoned child whose future Natalie lovingly imagines in a story about an old woman named Mrs. Tuesday. Mrs. Tuesday’s Departure is an inspirational historical novel spanning two generations and exploring the unbreakable bonds of sisters.

5. Jane, Actually by Jennifer Petkus

With the invention of the AfterNet, death isn’t quite the end to a literary career it once was, and Jane Austen, the grande dame of English literature, is poised for a comeback with the publication of Sanditon, the book she was writing upon her death in 1817. But how does a disembodied author sign autographs and appear on talk shows? With the aid of Mary Crawford, a struggling acting student who plays the role of the Regency author who wrote Pride and Prejudice and Emma and Sense and Sensibility. But Austen discovers her second chance at a literary career also gives her a second chance at happiness and possibly even … love.

6.  Emma and Elizabeth by Ann Mychal

Once heiress to a large estate, Emma Watson, now penniless, is thrown back into the arms of the family she has not seen for fourteen years when Mrs Turner, her widowed guardian, accepts an offer of marriage from Captain O’Brien. On the eve of the first assembly of the season, Emma returns unexpectedly to Stanton, her family home.

Interest in the newcomer is heightened when Emma becomes the object of attention at the ball; admired by Lord Osborne, Tom Musgrave and Mr Howard, Emma’s debut at the local assembly seems nothing less than a triumph. But once her potential suitors are acquainted with the facts, will her lack of fortune make a difference?

Emma receives a mixed welcome at home, but finds a true friend in her eldest sister, Elizabeth. However, when duty to the family is tested to its limit, one sister is obliged to sacrifice her own happiness to ensure the happiness of the other.

Purchased:

7. Cozy Christmas Capers: Holiday Short Story Collection by Gemma Halliday, Janel Gradowski, etc.

19 holiday short stories by 19 New York Times, USA Today and award winning authors! Enjoy these tales of mystery, romance, and laughter amid the backdrop of pine tress, gingerbread men, and Santas galore! The perfect short bites for cozying up by the fire with a cup of cocoa…or waiting in line at gift wrapping!

 

For Review Consideration:

8. The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ten Songs by Greil Marcus, narrated by Henry Rollins from Audible.

Unlike all previous versions of rock ’n’ roll history, this book omits almost every iconic performer and ignores the storied events and turning points that everyone knows. Instead, in a daring stroke, Greil Marcus selects ten songs recorded between 1956 and 2008, then proceeds to dramatize how each embodies rock ’n’ roll as a thing in itself, in the story it tells, inhabits, and acts out—a new language, something new under the sun.

“Transmission” by Joy Division. “All I Could Do Was Cry” by Etta James and then Beyoncé. “To Know Him Is to Love Him,” first by the Teddy Bears and almost half a century later by Amy Winehouse. In Marcus’s hands these and other songs tell the story of the music, which is, at bottom, the story of the desire for freedom in all its unruly and liberating glory. Slipping the constraints of chronology, Marcus braids together past and present, holding up to the light the ways that these striking songs fall through time and circumstance, gaining momentum and meaning, astonishing us by upending our presumptions and prejudices. This book, by a founder of contemporary rock criticism—and its most gifted and incisive practitioner—is destined to become an enduring classic.

9. Scent of Butterflies by Dora Levy Mossanen from Sourcebooks and TLC Book Tours.

Such audacity she has, Soraya, a woman who dares to break free of the diamond-studded leash of her culture. A woman who refuses to accept the devastating betrayal her husband has perpetrated. A woman who refuses to forgive her best friend.

Soraya turns her back on Iran, fleeing to America to plot her intricate revenge. The Shah has fallen, her country is in turmoil, her marriage has crumbled, and she is unraveling. The cruel and intimate blow her husband has dealt her awakens an obsessive streak that explodes in the heated world of Los Angeles.

Yet the secret Soraya discovers proves far more devastating than anything she had imagined, unleashing a whirlwind of unexpected events that will leave the reader breathless.

What did you receive?