Mailbox Monday #450

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog. To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links. Leave yours too.

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

Here’s what I received from Anna:

Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay by Jill Mansell

Heart-stopping romantic entanglements, crossed wires and sisterly dilemmas – all the ingredients for an unputdownable read from international bestselling author, Jill Mansell

When Clemency meets the brilliant Sam Adams, she could just about fall in love with him—if he weren’t married. Three years later, Clemency has settled into her cozy home village of Cornwall to focus on her career. Everything is smooth sailing until Sam upends her entire life…by showing up as her stepsister’s boyfriend.

Caught in the midst of a love triangle, Clemency has to pretend she’s never met Sam…and choose between the love of her life and the bond of sisterhood.

Good at Games by Jill Mansell

Who will make the next move?

How does one become accidentally engaged? That’s what Suzy Curtis thinks when she suddenly finds herself very publicly engaged to handsome Harry Fitzallan, local town hero. Harry wants famous rock star Jaz to be his best man-only he’s Suzy’s ex-husband and a recovering alcoholic. Suzy’s half sister Lucille loves getting to know the family she’d never met, but she can’t help her attraction to Jaz, nor can Suzy quash her entirely inappropriate feelings for Leo, Harry’s engaged brother!
With all these wild players at the table, mayhem is bound to ensue. As each new piece comes into play, everyone has more to lose, and the only way to win is if you’re good at the games of love…

Pride and Prejudice Adhesive Page Flags

Aren’t these the cutest!

Teaching Eliza by Riana Everly for review.

A tale of love, manners, and the quest for perfect vowels.

From a new voice in historical romance comes this sparkling tale, wherein the elegance of Pride and Prejudice and the wit of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion collide. The results are clever, funny, and often quite unexpected….

Professor Fitzwilliam Darcy, expert in phonetics and linguistics, wishes for nothing more than to spend some time in peace at his friend’s country estate, far from the parade of young ladies wishing for his hand, and further still from his aunt’s schemes to have him marry his cousin. How annoying it is when a young lady from the neighbourhood, with her atrocious Hertfordshire accent and country manners, comes seeking his help to learn how to behave and speak as do the finest ladies of high society.

Elizabeth Bennet has disliked the professor since overhearing his flippant comments about her provincial accent, but recognizes in him her one opportunity to survive a prospective season in London. Despite her ill feelings for the man, she asks him to take her on as a student, but is unprepared for the price he demands in exchange.

What did you receive?

The Great Smoky Mountains


When you go on vacation, you need some good reading and a variety.  Fun books, books you can dip into and out of in a pinch, and books that can hold your attention before bed.

I haven’t had a vacation in a long while that wasn’t back to Massachusetts, so I’m really looking forward to seeing a new place — Tennessee — and enjoying some non-review copies…

Here’s a list of what I’m thinking of taking — any suggestions, should I nix any of these? Should I take only 2?

Too many, right?  Some are ebook, so they take up less room. What kinds of books do you take on vacation?  Do you read them?  Am I overly ambitious?

My other option is just to bring 1-2 books and write my own stuff.  What say you?




Mailbox Monday #385

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:

You and Me, Always by Jill Mansell, which I purchased.

On the morning of Lily’s twenty-fifth birthday, it’s time to open the very last letter written to her by her beloved mother, who died when she was eight.

Learning more about the first and only real love of her mum’s life is a revelation. On the same day, Lily also meets Eddie Tessler, a man fleeing fame who just might have the ability to change her world in unimaginable ways. But her childhood friend Dan has his own reasons for not wanting Lily to get too carried away by Eddie’s attentions.

Before long, secrets begin to emerge and Lily’s friends and family become involved. In the beautiful Cotswold village of Stanton Langley, nothing will ever be the same again.

Prince Noah and the School Pirates by Silke Schnee

It’s time for young Prince Noah to go to school. The prince, who starred in the book “The Prince Who Was Just Himself, ” may be a little slower than other students, but he has no less joy in learning. In his kingdom, children go to school on sailing ships. There is a ship for girls and one for boys. There is a ship for children with an eye patch, a ship for children with one leg, and a ship for children who are slower learners. No one knows why there are so many different ships, but it has always been that way.

Then a terrible storm drives the ships into the hands of pirates. The boys and girls realize that they will only escape if everyone does what he or she does best. Through their adventures, they learn that diversity makes us strong and that every person has something to teach us.

This delightfully illustrated fairy tale instills appreciation for children with Down syndrome and other developmental challenges, making it a valuable aid for teaching tolerance in the home or classroom.”

Ergon by George Singer for review from the poet.

George Singer’s ERGON is precise, delicate and fierce in its engagement with the world.

A Moment Forever by Cat Gardiner from the author as a gift.

In the summer of 1992, a young writer is bequeathed the abandoned home of a great-uncle she never knew. The house has a romantic history and is unlike any home she has ever seen. Juliana Martel felt as though she stepped into a time capsule—a snapshot of 1942. The epic romance—and heartache—of the former occupant unfold through reading his wartime letters found in the attic, compelling her on a quest to construct the man. His life, as well as his sweetheart’s, during the Second World War were as mysterious as his disappearance in 1950.

Carrying her own pain inflicted by the abandonment of her mother and unexpected death of her father, Juliana embarks on a journalist’s dream to find her great-uncle and the woman he once loved. Enlisting the reluctant assistance of a man whose family is closely related to the secrets, she uncovers the carefully hidden events of her great-uncle’s and others’ lives – and will ultimately change her own with their discovery.

This story of undying love, born amidst the darkest era in modern history, unfolded on the breathtaking Gold Coast of Long Island in 1942. A Jewish, Army Air Forces pilot and an enchanting society debutante—young lovers—deception—and a moment in time that lasted forever.

A Moment Forever is an evocative journey that will resonate with you long after you close the book. Romance, heartache, and the power of love, atonement, and forgiveness transform lives long after the horrors and scars of the Second World War have ended.

Undercover by Cat Gardiner from the author as a gift.

A Pride and Prejudice, non-canon variation, Undercover brings a unique voice and new style to the genre: Noir, a romantic, crime fiction novel filled with intrigue, steamy nights, and 20th Century historical fiction. Jane Austen’s beloved characters become entangled in a Philip Marlowe-esque adventure of love and mystery.

It’s November 1952 in New York City where mysterious denizens linger in smoky bars and darkened alleys. The second Red Scare is dredging up a new swarm of “Commies”; “duck and cover” are the lingo of the day. And hard-boiled private eyes aren’t always men.

One audacious dame, Elizabeth Bennet, is undercover in a case of suspected murder: her best friend, Mary King, has been missing for eighteen months. Determined to find the man she believes did the girl in—one George Wickham—her investigation collides with an enigmatic bachelor, Fitzwilliam Darcy and his socialite sister, Georgiana.

Darcy is loaded, from a high-society family with all the money and the right connections for a future in politics. Elizabeth’s a career girl from the wrong side of the East River, but the sexual chemistry between them cannot be denied. She is focused on finding Slick Wick and he is hell-bent on stopping her investigation. But why? He’s hiding something, but she’ll use almost every weapon in her H-bomb arsenal to get his lips flapping.

Murder, kidnapping, and a brainy broad with a body for sin are just enough to break Darcy’s stone-cold reserve. She’s so provocative that maybe he’ll even be taking a trip down the aisle despite where she’s from, what she does, and the fact that she knows George Wickham.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #355

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:

Falling for You by Jill Mansell from Anna for Christmas — Thank you!

As a teen, Maddy Harvey was a bit of an ugly duckling. Luckily she’s blossomed since then, and Maddy thanks God for this small miracle when a tall, handsome stranger comes to her rescue one starry summer’s night.

Instant attraction turns to disaster-in-the-making when Maddy learns the identity of her superman: Kerr McKinnon. Of all the colorful residents of the small Cotswold town of Ashcombe, why did it have to be him? Because as family feuds go, the Montagues and the Capulets have nothing on the Harveys and the McKinnons.


The Arranged Marriage: Poems by Jehanne Dubrow from SantaThing.

With her characteristic music and precision, Dubrow’s prose poems delve unflinchingly into a mother’s story of trauma and captivity. The poet proves that truth telling and vision can give meaning to the gravest situations, allowing women to create a future on their own terms.



The Emperor of Water Clocks by Yusef Komunyakaa from SantaThing.

“If I am not Ulysses, I am / his dear, ruthless half-brother.” So announces Yusef Komunyakaa early in his lush new collection, The Emperor of Water Clocks. But Ulysses (or his half brother) is but one of the beguiling guises Komunyakaa dons over the course of this densely lyrical book. Here his speaker observes a doomed court jester; here he is with Napoleon, as the emperor “tells the doctor to cut out his heart / & send it to the empress, Marie-Louise”; here he is at the circus, observing as “The strong man presses six hundred pounds, / his muscles flexed for the woman / whose T-shirt says, these guns are loaded“; and here is just a man, placing “a few red anemones / & a sheaf of wheat” on Mahmoud Darwish’s grave, reflecting on why “I’d rather die a poet / than a warrior.”

Through these mutations and migrations and permutations and peregrinations there are constants: Komunyakaa’s jazz-inflected rhythms; his effortlessly surreal images; his celebration of natural beauty and of love. There is also his insistent inquiry into the structures and struggles of power: not only of, say, king against jester but of man against his own desire and of the present against the pernicious influence of the past.

Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg, which I got from SantaThing for a second time.

The prophetic poem that launched a generation when it was first published in 1965 is here presented in a commemorative fortieth Anniversary Edition.

When the book arrived from its British printers, it was seized almost immediately by U.S. Customs, and shortly thereafter the San Francisco police arrested its publisher and editor, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, together with City Lights Bookstore manager Shigeyoshi Murao. The two of them were charged with disseminating obscene literature, and the case went to trial in the municipal court of Judge Clayton Horn. A parade of distinguished literary and academic witnesses persuaded the judge that the title poem was indeed not obscene and that it had “redeeming social significance.”

Thus was Howl & Other Poems freed to become the single most influential poetic work of the post-World War II era, with over 900,000 copies now in print.”

Emma got me this great bag for Christmas too!  Thank you!

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #322

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:

1.  Making Your Mind Up by Jill Mansell, my Christmas present has finally arrived!

Lottie Carlyle isn’t looking for love when she meets her new boss, Tyler Klein. Living in a beautiful cottage with her two kids in a idyllic village in the heart of the Cotswolds, she’s happy enough with her lot. Tyler’s perfect for Lottie and she quickly falls for him, but her children do not approve.

2.  Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine, my second Christmas present has finally arrived!

Claudia Rankine’s bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV—everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person’s ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named “post-race” society.

3.  Earth Joy Writing by Cassie Premo Steele, Ph.D. from Ashland Creek Press for review.

Earth Joy Writing is a writer’s guide to reconnecting to the earth. In chapters divided by seasons and months of the year, this book will guide you through reflections, exercises, meditations, and journaling prompts—all designed to help you connect more deeply with yourself, others, and your natural surroundings.

Weaving together poetry, stories, and cultural wisdom, Earth Joy Writing invites us to consider our connection to the earth and offers hands-on exercises that will help us meaningfully reconnect with our creative selves and with the planet we all share.

“Earth Joy Writing is about finding joy when we align our creative practices with natural principles. It is about living in harmony with our deepest selves and the natural world. It is about committing to a mindfully creative life in collaboration with nature and, in the process, healing both ourselves and the earth.” — Cassie Premo Steele

4. The Unexpected Consequences of Love by Jill Mansell my final Christmas gift.

Sophie Wells is a successful photographer with a focus on putting the past firmly behind her. When Josh Strachan returns to the seaside town of Cornwall from the States to run his family’s hotel, he can’t understand why the fun, sexy girl has zero interest in letting him-or any man for that matter-into her life. He also can’t understand how he’s been duped into employing Sophie’s impulsive friend Tula, whose crush on him is decidedly unrequited. Both girls remain mum about the reasons behind Sophie’s indifference to love. But that doesn’t mean Josh is going to quit trying…

5.  River House by Sally Keith from Milkweed Editions.

These are poems of absence. Written in the wake of the loss of her mother, River House follows Sally Keith as she makes her way through the depths of grief, navigating a world newly transfigured. Incorporating her travels abroad, her experience studying the neutral mask technique developed by Jacques Lecoq, and her return to the river house she and her mother often visited, the poet assembles a guide to survival in the face of seemingly insurmountable pain. Even in the dark, Keith finds the ways we can be “filled with this unexpected feeling of living.”

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #314

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:

1. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, translated by Christine Donougher for review from Penguin.

The subject of the world’s longest-running musical and the recent Academy Award–nominated and BAFTA-winning film starring Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables is a genuine literary treasure. Victor Hugo’s tale of injustice, heroism, and love follows the fortunes of Jean Valjean, an escaped convict determined to put his criminal past behind him, and has been a perennial favorite since it first appeared nearly 150 years ago. This exciting new translation with Jillian Tamaki’s brilliant cover art will be a gift both to readers who have already fallen for its timeless story and to new readers discovering it for the first time.

2.  Three Amazing Things About You by Jill Mansell, purchased on Book Depository after Amazon cancelled my order randomly.

Hallie has a secret. She’s in love. He’s perfect for her in every way, but he’s seriously out of bounds. And her friends aren’t going to help her because what they do know is that Hallie doesn’t have long to live. Time is running out…

Flo has a dilemma. She really likes Zander. But his scary sister won’t be even faintly amused if she thinks Zander and Flo are becoming friends – let alone anything more.  Tasha has a problem. Her new boyfriend is the adventurous type. And she’s afraid one of his adventures will go badly wrong.  THREE AMAZING THINGS ABOUT YOU begins as Hallie goes on a journey. A donor has been found and she’s about to be given new lungs. But whose?

3.  Girl of My Dreams by Peter Davis, which came unexpectedly from Tandem Literary.

Screenwriter: The protagonist, Owen Jant, is a young screenwriter who comes of age in the 1930s at the intersection of Hollywood, the Depression, and the heyday of the Communist Party. At every turn, he is finding, and losing, his way.

Hollywood star: The glamorous Palmyra Millevoix—complex, gifted, mysterious—is a star more agitated than pleased by her fame. She could have been Grushenka, siren of the Karamazov saga, if she had not been a Hollywood star.

Studio mogul: Founder of Jubilee Pictures, Mossy Zangwill is not the last tycoon but the last of the old-style chieftains and first of the corporate moderns, clawing his way from a fatherless home in the Bronx to become by his midthirties a rival to the Warners and Mayers, reigning kings of Hollywood. He would resemble Gatsby if Gatsby had gone west.

Propelled by the suicide of an innocent victim of studio politics, Owen falls in wacky, unpromising love with Palmyra, who in turn is relentlessly pursued by Mossy, the autocratic studio head. The drawing and redrawing of the triangle between screenwriter, star, and tycoon—intense, devious, seductive, combative—frames the education of Owen Jant. The story has an epic sweep that encompasses the swagger and flash of 1930s Hollywood and the Great Depression’s plunder of the American dream.

4.  French Coast by Anita Hughes, which also came unexpectedly, but I’m looking forward to it since the main character’s name is Serena!

Serena has the job she’s always dreamed of and Chase, the man her heart never dared to. As a new editor at Vogue, she bags the biggest interview of the year with Yvette Renault, the infamous former editor of French Vogue, in The Carlton-InterContinental Hotel during the Cannes Film Festival. She eagerly jets off to France while Chase stays home, working with her father, a former senator, on his upcoming mayoral campaign.

Everything feels unbelievably perfect…until it doesn’t. The hotel loses her reservation hours before her big interview. Serena fears that she’ll have to go home without her story, but then she meets Zoe, a quirky young woman staying in the suite below Yvette’s who invites Serena to stay with her. Serena is grateful for her mysterious roommate’s generosity, but it seems that there’s more to her story than meets the eye. To make matters worse, soon after arriving in Cannes, Serena learns a shocking secret about her parents’ marriage, and it isn’t long before she begins to question her own relationship.With her deadline looming and pressure mounting, Serena will have to use her investigative journalism skills, new friendships, and a little luck to get her life and love back on track.

What did you find?

Who Are Your Auto-Buy Authors?


Hello everyone! The holidays are nearly here, but I have a treat for you! If you haven’t liked the Savvy Verse & Wit Facebook page yet, go do it now.

Beginning Dec. 12 (sometime this afternoon the first pick will be revealed), I’ll reveal one of the books on my Best of 2014 book list, through Dec. 24.

That’s one book from the list per day, with a tidbit about why I loved the book and a link to where you can buy it.

Today, I wanted to talk about those authors we love so much that we buy their books automatically no matter what the subject.  I used to have just a few of those authors, but my list is now growing!  I thought today would be a good day to share not only the older ones on the list, but also the newer ones that have joined the ranks.

My previous list:

  1. Yusef Komunyakaa
  2. Tim O’Brien
  3. Stephen King
  4. Anita Shreve
  5. Amy Tan
  6. Isabel Allende
  7. James Patterson
  8. Anne Rice
  9. Mary Oliver
  10. Billy Collins

My additions to the list:

  1. Beth Kephart
  2. Jeannine Hall Gailey
  3. Jane Odiwe
  4. Syrie James
  5. Abigail Reynolds
  6. Karen White
  7. Beth Hoffman
  8. Jill Mansell
  9. Janel Gradowski
  10. Diana Raab
  11. C.W. Gortner
  12. John Shors

I find it interesting that there are many more female authors being added to my auto-buy list. 

I’m not really sure why so many great female authors are being added to my auto-buy list these days.  It isn’t that I haven’t read some great male authors, but perhaps I need to read more of them to get a true sense of their work and whether I want to buy it automatically no matter the subject.

Do you have auto-buy authors? Who are they?  What attracts you to their work?

Don’t forget to like the Savvy Verse & Wit Facebook page to find out over the next 12 days which books made the 2014 Best list.

Don’t Want to Miss a Thing by Jill Mansell

Source: Gift from Diary of an Eccentric
Paperback, 418 pages
On Amazon and on Kobo

Don’t Want to Miss a Thing by Jill Mansell is another delightful story of love and life changes, and Mansell’s characters are always flawed human beings in search of better lives.  Dexter Yates takes the cake with his womanizing ways and charmed high-income life, but his sister has faith that he’s just lost and in need of a little guidance.  Soon, Laura will get her wish when Delphi, Dex’s niece, is born and the two become inseparable.  Molly Hayes, a cartoonist, lives in a Cotswolds village, and she’s happily teaching her classes at a local cafe and avoiding her latest ex-boyfriend, who just can’t seem to take no for an answer.  The village was the setting for a hit show Next to You, and her friend Frankie has the perfect marriage and family.

“Dex spent his life being laid-back and supremely confident; it was endearing to see him admit to a weakness.  Laura said encouragingly, ‘You can do it.  Just remember to support her head.  Like this.’

She demonstrated with her own hands and watched from the bed as Dex copied her.  ‘There you go, that’s it.'” (page 4)

Dex decides to buy the Gin Cottage in Molly’s village after she nearly drops a stinky fish on him and his current flavor of the month.  He has no one else to turn to when his sister suddenly dies and he has to make a major life decision in the blink of an eye, but the encouragement from a stranger seems to be all he needs.  Mansell excels at characterization and there is now doubt about her ability to write believable female leads, but in this novel, her lead is male, and she does an equally great job.  Dex is multifaceted and lacks the confidence he needs to fully commit to his decision, and Molly is strong and tries to keep her distance, even as she falls for Delphi.

“Well anyway, good luck to them.  Molly’s stomach tightened as she doodled a quick sketch of Amanda Carr with her geometrically perfect hair, pert nose, and crisp white shirt, always so calm and in control.  They were probably close in age, but Amanda was the proper grown-up.  She had a stethoscope.

With mixed emotions, Molly exaggerated the slightly pointed chin and narrow mouth for witchy effect.  Perhaps it was the grownupness that had attracted Dex’s interest.  Maybe this was what he wanted or needed from a partner in order to stop him endlessly sloping off in search of the next conquest.” (page 236)

Don’t Want to Miss a Thing by Jill Mansell is heartwarming, fun, and full of missed cues and lost chances, but its also about second chances and glances and what it means to be a family.  Mansell has hit another one out of the park, which is why she continues to be a favorite women’s fiction author of mine.  You’re always going on a fantastic ride with her and her characters.

About the Author:

Jill Mansell lives with her partner and children in Bristol, and writes full time. Actually that’s not true; she watches TV, eats fruit gums, admires the rugby players training in the sports field behind her house, and spends hours on the internet marvelling at how many other writers have blogs. Only when she’s completely run out of displacement activities does she write.

Other Mansell books reviewed:

Mailbox Monday #251

Mailbox Monday (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch.  December’s host is Rose City Reader.

***The Mailbox Monday poll found that most bloggers preferred the Mailbox Monday blog to be the permanent home for the meme beginning in January.***

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.  You Disappear: A Novel by Christian Jungersen from the publisher Nan A. Talese, sold by Random House.

Mia is an elementary schoolteacher in Denmark, while her husband, Frederik, is the talented, highly respected headmaster of a local private school. During a vacation in Spain, Frederik has an accident and his visit to the hospital reveals a brain tumor that is gradually altering his personality, confirming Mia’s suspicions that her husband is no longer the man he used to be. Now she must protect herself and their teenage son, Niklas, from the strange, blunted being who lives in her husband’s body—and with whom she must share her home, her son, and her bed.

When it emerges that one year ago Frederik had defrauded his school of millions of crowns, the consequences of his condition envelope the entire community. Frederick’s apparent lack of concern doesn’t help, and longstanding friendships with colleagues are thrown by the wayside. Increasingly isolated, Mia faces more tough questions. Had his illness already changed him back then when he still seemed so happy? What are the legal ramifications?

2. Don’t Want to Miss a Thing by Jill Mansell from Anna and her family for Christmas!

Dexter Yates leads a charmed existence in London, with money, looks, and girlfriends galore. Life’s fantastic until Dex’s sister dies and his world changes overnight. Astonishing everyone, including himself, Dex leaves the city behind, takes charge of his eight-month-old niece Delphi, moves to a beautiful Cotswolds village, and sets about working on his parenting skills. His neighbors, including cartoonist Molly Hayes, seem friendly enough—but Dex can’t shake the notion that he’s missing something important.

3.  Vietnam: The Real War introduced by Pete Hamill from Anna and her family for Christmas!

To cover the Vietnam War, the Associated Press gathered an extraordinary group of superb photojournalists in its Saigon bureau, creating one of the great photographic legacies of the 20th century. Collected here are images that tell the story of the war that left a deep and lasting impression on American life. These are pictures that both recorded and made history, taken by unbelievably courageous photojournalists. In a moving essay, writer Pete Hamill, who reported from Vietnam in 1965, celebrates their achievement.

As we begin to look back from the vantage point of half a century, this is the book that will serve as a photographic record of the drama and tragedy of the Vietnam War.

What did you receive?

Thinking of You by Jill Mansell

Source: Sourcebooks Landmark
Paperback ARC: 432 pages
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Thinking of You by Jill Mansell is another romp in the English countryside.  Ginny Holland has a problem when she’s in emotional turmoil — her mind wanders and the tasks at hand just disappear from her consciousness.  Even when she’s worried about her daughter’s first year at college in Bristol and away from home, Ginny is still not immune to the charms of a hot-looking man in an antique shop.  But while she’s browsing and happily daydreaming about the man in the shop, he catches her red-handed with a shoplifted item.  Mansell has an uncanny way of bringing together the most divergent plots, weaving in secondary characters that are just as fun and hopeless as the main character.  While her books generally have happy endings and wrap-up relationships pretty neatly, they still provide a few hours of escape that can lift any mood.

“‘Watching how it’s done?’ Evidently amused, Evie paused on her way to table six with two plates of mussels.  ‘Can’t you just feel all those flirty female hormones in the air?’ With a wink, she added, ‘Good old Finn, he hasn’t lost his touch.’

‘I can see that.’  As Finn crossed the room in order to answer the ringing phone, every female eye followed him.

‘You’d better watch out.  You could be next.’

Ginny grinned because the idea was so ludicrous.  ‘I don’t think that’s going to happen.  He’d be too worried I might nick his wallet.'”  (page 119 ARC)

Beyond the fun, faulted characters, Mansell has a gift for humorous and witty dialogue that will leave readers in stitches.  Ginny is a mother looking to hang onto her daughter Jem for as long as she can, but reality gets in the way when she advertises for a flatmate and ends up with a young woman who is unable to get over her ex-fiance and is utterly depressed.  Mansell’s books aren’t just about the mistakes we make, but also the silver linings of those mistakes.  Without advertising for the flatmate, Ginny never would have been forced by the incessant ex-fiance talk to go out and get a job and a social life.

Even though the main romantic relationship is not only predictable, but also a little less developed than some of the others, Mansell excels at creating other relationships that are dynamic and complicated.  From Ginny’s relationship with the vivacious and slutty Carla to Ginny’s relationship with her grown daughter Jem, each of these relationships provide the characters with a foil and with a sounding board when they get into hot water.

Thinking of You by Jill Mansell is a soap opera on paper with characters in college and middle-age, each striving to find out where they want to go when they hit that inevitable fork in the road.  While some choose the right path, others stumble onto the wrong one for awhile before falling through the bush onto the other side.  But there are still some that blissfully walk the same path they always have.

About the Author:

Jill Mansell lives with her partner and children in Bristol, and writes full time. Actually that’s not true; she watches TV, eats fruit gums, admires the rugby players training in the sports field behind her house, and spends hours on the internet marvelling at how many other writers have blogs. Only when she’s completely run out of displacement activities does she write.

Other Mansell books reviewed:

Mailbox Monday #212

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 Unabridged Chick.

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 purchased at a recent library sale:

1.  Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen, hardcover for $1 as my copy mysteriously disappeared.

Marianne and Elinor Dashwood are sisters. Marianne always acts impulsively, while Elinor is painfully sensitive to social convention. When each falls in love, they come to realize that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find happiness. First published in 1811, Sense and Sensibility inaugurated the brilliant career of one of the world’s most beloved literary figures and ranks among her most popular novels.

2.  Lizzie’s War by Tim Farrington for 50 cents.

A family epic laced with authenticity, wit and unforgettable characters. Liz O’Reilly has a husband in Vietnam, 4 kids under the age of 12 (and one on the way), and a burgeoning crush on the family priest. An unconventional love story.

It’s Summer 1967 and Mike O’Reilly’s just shipped out to Vietnam. Liz O’Reilly is trying to keep it all together for their four kids – 6 year old Deb–Deb (who believes she is an otter), 8 year old Angus, Kathie, (who at age 9 helps to integrate the local Blue Bird troop with her best friend Temperance), and 11 year old Danny – the spitting image of Mike. While Mike is off fighting “his” war, Liz struggles with her own desires and yearnings – to pick up the theatre career she abandoned when Danny was born, to care for the four children she loves fiercely yet also occasionally resents, to leave the backdoor unlocked so she always has an escape route. While set during the conflict in Vietnam, Farrington’s novel captures the other side of any war – that of the war at home and the careening emotions of the spouses and families left behind.

3.  Martha Peake by Patrick McGrath for 50 cents.

When Ambrose Tree is summoned by his ancient uncle to the brooding mansion Drogo Hall, he suspects it’s to hear the old man’s dying words and then collect a sizable inheritance. He has no idea he is about to learn the bizarre story of Harry Peake, Cornish smuggler turned poet who became a monster capable of the most horrifying acts. Or that he’s about to become psychologically enmeshed in the riveting life of Harry’s daughter, Martha, who flees her father for colonial America where she becomes a heroic figure in the revolution against England. Or that he himself has a crucial role to play in this mesmerizing tale as it rushes headlong and hauntingly toward its powerful climax. Martha Peake is a spellbinding alloy of Gothic mystery and historical romance.

4.  Empress by Shan Sa for 50 cents.

In seventh-century China a young girl from the humble Wu clan entered the imperial gynaecium, housing ten thousand concubines. Inside the Forbidden City, she witnessed seductions, plots, murders, and brazen acts of treason – but shrewdly masterminded her way to the ultimate position of power. From there she instigated positive reforms in government and culture. And yet, from the moment of her death to the present day, her name has been sullied, her story distorted, and her memoirs obliterated by men taking vengeance on a women who dared become Emperor. This amazing historical novelization reveals a fascinating, complex figure who in many ways remains modern to this day.

5.  Cookie Countdown by Sarah Albee and Tom Leigh for 50 cents.

Cookie Monster couldn’t be happier! He’s got five yummy cookies to eat. But Cookie just can’t help but share his sweet treats with his friends. Just when it looks like there won’t be any left for Cookie, his friends deliver a delicious surprise. Young readers will not only enjoy counting with Cookie & learning about sharing, they’ll also have fun shaking Cookie Monster’s Googly Eyes.

6.  Curious George by H.A. Rey and Margret Rey for 25 cents.

In this, the original book about the curious monkey, George is taken from the jungle by the man in the yellow hat to live in a new home, but–oh, what happened! Though trying to be good, George is still very curious and takes a swim in the ocean, escapes from jail, and goes for a flying ride on a bunch of balloons. This treasured classic is where it all began for the curious, loveable monkey and is a must have for any children’s book collection.

7.  On Sesame Street by Renee Tawa for 50 cents, it folds out into a full street of characters and you can press Elmo’s nose and he will sing the theme song.

The Elmo Fold-Out Play-a-Sound Book folds out horizontally to reveal an Elmo and Sesame Street story on 10 sturdy cardboard pages. Designed for children ages 18 months and older, the interactive book features Elmo s face in 3D on the front cover. Kids press his nose to hear a lively excerpt from the Sesame Street Theme song.

Song lyrics are displayed on the fold-out pages, enabling kids to sing along. Illustrated snapshots and captions on each page feature Elmo, Zoe, Ernie, Bert, and other Sesame Street friends as they stroll down Sesame Street, with stops at the fire station, Big Bird s nest, and Hooper s Store. Several prompts ask kids questions about the things they see on the pages.

These are for review:

8.  Thinking of You by Jill Mansell for review in May from Sourcebooks.

When Ginny Holland’s daughter heads off to university, Ginny is left with a severe case of empty nest syndrome. To make matters worse, the first gorgeous man she’s laid eyes on in years has just accused her of shoplifting. So, in need of a bit of company, Ginny decides to advertise for a lodger, but what she gets is lovelorn Laurel. With Laurel comes her dangerously charming brother, Perry and the offer of a great new job, and things begin looking up…until Ginny realizes that her potential boss is all too familiar. Is it too late for Ginny to set things right after an anything but desirable first impression?

9.  All Woman and Springtime by Brandon W. Jones, unsolicited from Algonquin Books, which will be new in paperback in March.

Before she met Il-sun in an orphanage, Gi was a hollow husk of a girl, broken from growing up in one of North Korea’s forced-labor camps. A mathematical genius, she learned to cope with pain by retreating into a realm of numbers and calculations, an escape from both the past and the present. Gi becomes enamored of the brash and radiant Il-sun, a friend she describes as “all woman and springtime.” But Il-sun’s pursuit of a better life imperils both girls when her suitor spirits them across the Demilitarized Zone and sells them as sex workers, first in South Korea and then in the United States.

10.  Fox Forever by Mary E. Pearson from Shelf Awareness.

Locke Jenkins has some catching up to do. After spending 260 years as a disembodied mind in a little black box, he has a perfect new body. But before he can move on with his unexpected new life, he’ll have to return the Favor he accepted from the shadowy resistance group known as the Network.

Locke must infiltrate the home of a government official by gaining the trust of his daughter, seventeen-year-old Raine, and he soon finds himself pulled deep into the world of the resistance—and into Raine’s life.

What did you receive?


Here’s another few reasons to be thankful, at least for these winners:

Leslie of Under My Apple Tree won the latest U.S. release from Jill Mansell, A Walk in the Park.




Lori of She Treads Softly won Molly Ringwald’s When it Happens to You.




Kathy of Bermudaonion won Thirty Days With Father by Christal Presley.




Congrats to all of you!