Mailbox Monday #270

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has gone through a few incarnations from a permanent home with Marcia to a tour of other blogs.

Now, it has its own permanent home at its own blog.

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

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

Here’s what I received:

1. Darkness Bound by J.T. Geissinger, an unexpected surprise from Amazon.

Tough, smart, and seriously ambitious, reporter Jacqueline “Jack” Dolan despises the secretive clan of shape-shifters known as the Ikati—and has become determined to destroy them. After she writes an editorial arguing for their extermination and turns public opinion against them, the Ikati vow to fight back. They plot to send one of their own to seduce the reporter, then blackmail her into writing a retraction.

Women practically fall at the feet of hulking, handsome Hawk Luna, and Hawk relishes the idea of conquering and destroying the fiery redhead who’s caused so much trouble for his kind. The last thing he expects is to develop real feelings for her, but their liaison awakens a hunger in him that he cannot deny. He kidnaps Jack and brings her to his Amazon jungle colony, but the two lovers are soon embroiled in deadly colony politics and threatened by a looming global species war.

2.  A Long Time Gone by Karen White for review in June.

When Vivien Walker left her home in the Mississippi Delta, she swore never to go back, as generations of the women in her family had. But in the spring, nine years to the day since she’d left, that’s exactly what happens—Vivien returns, fleeing from a broken marriage and her lost dreams for children.

What she hopes to find is solace with “Bootsie,” her dear grandmother who raised her, a Walker woman with a knack for making everything all right. But instead she finds that her grandmother has died and that her estranged mother is drifting further away from her memories. Now Vivien is forced into the unexpected role of caretaker, challenging her personal quest to find the girl she herself once was.

3. Midsummer by Carole Giangrande for a TLC Book Tour in May.

All her life, Joy’s been haunted by a man she’s never met — her visionary grandfather, the artist Lorenzo. At work on digging a New York subway tunnel, his pickaxe struck the remains of an ancient Dutch trading ship — and a vision lit up the underground, convincing him that he was blessed. As it turned out, his children did well in life, and almost a century later, his granddaughter Joy, a gifted linguist, married the Canadian descendant of the lost ship’s captain. Yet nonno’s story also led to the death of Joy’s cousin Leonora, her Aunt Elena’s only child. It was a tragedy that might have been prevented by Joy’s father, Eddie, a man who’s been bruised by life and who seldom speaks to his sister. Yet in the year 2000, he has no choice. Wealthy Aunt Elena and Uncle Carlo are coming from Rome to New York City to celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary. They’ve invited the family to dine at the sky-high tower restaurant above the tunnel where nonno Lorenzo saw his vision long ago.

4.  The Teahouse Fire by Ellis Avery from the library sale.

The story of two women whose lives intersect in late-nineteenth-century Japan, The Teahouse Fire is also a portrait of one of the most fascinating places and times in all of history—Japan as it opens its doors to the West. It was a period when wearing a different color kimono could make a political statement, when women stopped blackening their teeth to profess an allegiance to Western ideas, and when Japan’s most mysterious rite—the tea ceremony—became not just a sacramental meal, but a ritual battlefield.

We see it all through the eyes of Aurelia, an American orphan adopted by the Shin family, proprietors of a tea ceremony school, after their daughter, Yukako, finds her hiding on their grounds. Aurelia becomes Yukako’s closest companion, and they, the Shin family, and all of Japan face a time of great challenges and uncertainty.

5.  Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith from the library sale.

The first is the potential demise of an old friend, her tiny white van. Recently, it has developed a rather troubling knock, but she dare not consult the estimable Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni for fear he may condemn the vehicle.  Meanwhile, her talented assistant Mma Makutsi is plagued by the reappearance of her nemesis, Violet Sephotho, who has taken a job at the Double Comfort Furniture store whose proprietor is none other than Phuti Radiphuti, Mma Makutsi’s fiancé.  Finally, the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency has been hired to explain the unexpected losing streak of a local football club, the Kalahari Swoopers.  But with Mma Ramotswe on the case, it seems certain that everything will be resolved satisfactorily.

6. Rose by Li-Young Lee from the library sale.

In this outstanding first book of poems, Lee is unafraid to show emotion, especially when writing about his father or his wife. “But there is wisdom/ in the hour in which a boy/ sits in his room listening,” says the first poem, and Lee’s silent willingness to step outside himself imbues Rose with a rare sensitivity. The images Lee finds, such as the rose and the apple, are repeated throughout the book, crossing over from his father’s China to his own America. Every word becomes transformative, as even his father’s blindness and death can become beautiful. There is a strong enough technique here to make these poems of interest to an academic audience and enough originality to stun readers who demand alternative style and subject matter.

Rochelle Ratner, formerly Poetry Editor, “Soho Weekly News,” New York

7.  Diving Into the Wreck by Adrienne Rich from the library sale.

In this reissue of her seventh volume of poetry, Adrienne Rich searches to reclaim—to discover—what has been forgotten, lost, or unexplored. “I came to explore the wreck. / The words are purposes. / The words are maps. / I came to see the damage that was done / and the treasures that prevail.” These provocative poems move with the power of Rich’s distinctive voice.


8.  Peter Rabbit Jigsaw Puzzle Book by Beatrix Potter from the library sale.

With seven large jigsaw puzzles, this book is a great interactive way to meet Peter Rabbit and his family. Follow Peter, his sisters, and Mrs. Rabbit through a busy day, and build a different nine-piece puzzle on each spread. Puzzle pieces are color-coded, for easy sorting, and the illustrations match the puzzle images, so they can be used for reference. Bright and lively Peter Rabbit Seedlings art is perfect for making puzzles, and this book is sure to be a favorite, providing hours of fun.

9.  Seek and Slide: In the Wild illustrated by Debi Ani from the library sale.

Children will have lots of fun matching the names of wild animals with the correct pictures. The innovative sliding windows and simple seek-and-find challenges make learning an exciting hands-on experience!

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #193

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch. This month’s host is BookNAround.

The meme allows bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received:

1.  Edge of Oblivion: A Night Prowler Novel by J.T. Geissinger, which came unexpectedly from Wunderkind PR.

In a dark underground cell, Morgan Montgomery waits to die. A member of the Ikati, an ancient tribe of shape-shifters, Morgan stands convicted of treason. And Ikati law clearly spells out her fate: death to all who dare betray.

But there is a glimmer of hope. Thanks to her friendship with Jenna, the new queen of the Ikati, Morgan has one last chance to prove her loyalty. She must discover and infiltrate the headquarters of the Expurgari, the Ikati’s ancient enemy, so they can be destroyed once and for all. The catch? She has only a fortnight to complete her mission and will be accompanied by Xander Luna, the tribe’s most feared enforcer. If Morgan fails, her life is forfeit. Because Xander is as lethal as he is loyal, and no one—not even this beautiful, passionate renegade—will distract him from his mission. But as the pair races across Europe into the heart of Italy, the attraction blooming between them becomes undeniable. Suddenly more than justice is at stake: so is love.

2.  Bowling Avenue by Ann Shayne, which is from the author for review after a recommendation from Alma Katsu.

Welcome to 603 Bowling Avenue, a lush, empty Colonial Revival house tucked away in a leafy Nashville neighborhood. Who’s that in the ratty attic bedroom, holed up like a squirrel, writing real estate ads as fast as she can? Delia Ballenger, former Nashvillian. She’s back in town to sell the house that her tender-hearted big sister inexplicably left her after dying in a car crash. Delia needs to get back to Chicago as fast as possible. But uninvited people keep showing up at the front door: • Her mother, Grace Ballenger. Brilliant federal judge and the number-one reason Delia lives in another state. • A patrician and poorly socialized neighbor, Angus Donald. • Shelly Carpenter, the watchful housekeeper who raised Delia. • Brother-in-law Bennett Schwartz, a wretched surgeon, along with his girls Cassie and Amelia—the nieces she’s never known. • And, most vexing, a charming real estate agent, Henry Peek. Delia finds herself up to her eyeballs in a flood of mysteries, secrets, and the sort of love that sneaks up on you. For everyone who has muttered “You can’t go home again,” here’s what happens when you go anyway. You’ll laugh. You may cry, if you’re the weepy type. And you’ll cheer for Delia even as you wonder how she can eat a Pop-Tart as an entree. Like THE DESCENDANTS, BOWLING AVENUE is a story of learning how to let go, hold on–and bail water.

3.  The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan for review from Riverhead Books in January.

1878 Paris. Following their father’s sudden death, the van Goethem sisters find their lives upended. Without his wages, and with the small amount their laundress mother earns disappearing into the absinthe bottle, eviction from their lodgings seems imminent. With few options for work, Marie is dispatched to the Paris Opéra, where for a scant seventeen francs a week, she will be trained to enter the famous ballet. Her older sister, Antoinette, finds work as an extra in a stage adaptation of Émile Zola’s naturalist masterpiece L’Assommoir.

Marie throws herself into dance and is soon modeling in the studio of Edgar Degas, where her image will forever be immortalized as Little Dancer Aged Fourteen. There she meets a wealthy male patron of the ballet, but might the assistance he offers come with strings attached? Meanwhile Antoinette, derailed by her love for the dangerous Émile Abadie, must choose between honest labor and the more profitable avenues open to a young woman of the Parisian demimonde.

4.  Beautiful Lies by Clare Clark for a TLC Book Tour this month.

London 1887. For Maribel Campbell Lowe, the beautiful bohemian wife of a maverick politician, it is the year to make something of herself. A self-proclaimed Chilean heiress educated in Paris, she is torn between poetry and the new art of photography. But it is soon plain that Maribel’s choices are not so simple. As her husband’s career hangs by a thread, her real past, and the family she abandoned, come back to haunt them both. When the notorious newspaper editor Alfred Webster begins to take an uncommon interest in Maribel, she fears he will not only destroy Edward’s career but both of their reputations.

Inspired by the true story of a politician’s wife who lived a double life for decades, Beautiful Lies is set in a time that, fraught with economic uncertainty and tabloid scandal-mongering, uncannily presages our own.

5.  Murder Most Austen by Tracy Kiely for review from Kaye Publicity.

A dedicated Anglophile and Janeite, Elizabeth Parker is hoping the trip to the annual Jane Austen Festival in Bath will distract her from her lack of a job and her uncertain future with her boyfriend, Peter.

On the plane ride to England, she and Aunt Winnie meet Professor Richard Baines, a self-proclaimed expert on all things Austen. His outlandish claims that within each Austen novel there is a sordid secondary story is second only to his odious theory on the true cause of Austen’s death. When Baines is found stabbed to death in his Mr. Darcy costume during the costume ball, it appears that Baines’s theories have finally pushed one Austen fan too far. But Aunt Winnie’s friend becomes the prime suspect, so Aunt Winnie enlists Elizabeth to find the professor’s real killer. With an ex-wife, a scheming daughter-in-law, and a trophy wife, not to mention a festival’s worth of die-hard Austen fans, there are no shortage of suspects.

6. Out of True by Amy Durant for review and giveaway in October.

The poems in Out of True flow through stories of life and love, deep feeling and light perspective, all with a foundation in the elemental core of the human spirit. Amy’s poems speak to all of us with a bruised heart still willing to embrace hope and joy.

7. King Solomon’s Ring by Konrad Lorenz, which I purchased at Wonderbook for out book club discussion in November.

Solomon, the legend goes, had a magic ring which enabled him to speak to the animals in their own language. Konrad Lorenz was gifted with a similar power of understanding the animal world. He was that rare beast, a brilliant scientist who could write (and indeed draw) beautifully. He did more than any other person to establish and popularize the study of how animals behave, receiving a Nobel Prize for his work. King Solomon’s Ring, the book which brought him worldwide recognition, is a delightful treasury of observations and insights into the lives of all sorts of creatures, from jackdaws and water-shrews to dogs, cats and even wolves. Charmingly illustrated by Lorenz himself, this book is a wonderfully written introduction to the world of our furred and feathered friends, a world which often provides an uncanny resemblance to our own. A must for any animal-lover!

8. The Absent One by Jussi Adler-Olsen, translated by K.E. Semmel, which I purchased at Novel Places.

In The Keeper of Lost Causes, Jussi Adler-Olsen introduced Detective Carl Mørck, a deeply flawed, brilliant detective newly assigned to run Department Q, the home of Copenhagen’s coldest cases. The result wasn’t what Mørck—or readers—expected, but by the opening of Adler-Olsen’s shocking, fast-paced follow-up, Mørck is satisfied with the notion of picking up long-cold leads. So he’s naturally intrigued when a closed case lands on his desk: A brother and sister were brutally murdered two decades earlier, and one of the suspects—part of a group of privileged boarding-school students—confessed and was convicted.

But once Mørck reopens the files, it becomes clear that all is not what it seems. Looking into the supposedly solved case leads him to Kimmie, a woman living on the streets, stealing to survive. Kimmie has mastered evading the police, but now they aren’t the only ones looking for her. Because Kimmie has secrets that certain influential individuals would kill to keep buried . . . as well as one of her own that could turn everything on its head.

Every bit as pulse-pounding as the book that launched the series, The Absent One delivers further proof that Jussi Adler-Olsen is one of the world’s premier thriller writers.

9. The Caller by Karin Fossum, translated by K.E. Semmel, which I also bought at Novel Places.

One mild summer evening, a young couple are enjoying dinner while their daughter sleeps peacefully in her stroller under a tree. When her mother steps outside she is stunned: The child is covered in blood.
Inspector Sejer is called to the hospital to meet the family. Mercifully, the child is unharmed, but the parents are deeply shaken, and Sejer spends the evening trying to understand why anyone would carry out such a sinister prank. Then, just before midnight, somebody rings his doorbell.
No one is at the door, but the caller has left a small gray envelope on Sejer’s mat. From his living room window, the inspector watches a figure disappear into the darkness. Inside the envelope Sejer finds a postcard bearing a short message: Hell begins now.

What did you receive?