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Mailbox Monday #594

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

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

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

Here’s what we received:

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, an Audible freebie.

“Life changes fast….You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.” These were among the first words Joan Didion wrote in January 2004. Her daughter was lying unconscious in an intensive care unit, a victim of pneumonia and septic shock. Her husband, John Gregory Dunne, was dead. The night before New Year’s Eve, while they were sitting down to dinner, he suffered a massive and fatal coronary. The two had lived and worked side by side for nearly 40 years.

The weeks and months that followed “cut loose any fixed idea I had about death, about illness, about probability and luck…about marriage and children and memory…about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself.”

In The Year of Magical Thinking, Didion explores with electric honesty and passion a private yet universal experience. Her portrait of a marriage, and a life, in good times and bad, will speak directly to anyone who has ever loved a husband, a wife, or a child.

Listen to Joan Didion’s full-hour interview with Charlie Rose.

War Girl Ursula: A bittersweet novel of WWII (War Girls Book 1) by Marion Kummerow, a Kindle freebie.

In Berlin, 1943, compassion is a crime.

Newlywed Ursula Hermann is a simple woman, wanting nothing more than an end to the war and the return of her husband from the Russian front.

But some things are not meant to be.

The authorities determine that Ursula’s contribution to the war effort is to guard a prison for undesirables and political prisoners.

Then, the unthinkable happens. A prisoner, Royal Air Force pilot Tom Westlake escapes, and Ursula looks the other way. If her single act of mercy is discovered, her life is forfeit.

When the injured airman returns, seeking her help, it is her opportunity to turn over the enemy and save herself from destruction. In a world where right has become wrong, and wrong has become right, Ursula must make a decision: obey the fatherland, or follow her conscience.

Inspired by true historical events, War Girl Ursula is the unforgettable story of one young woman’s moral courage in the face of unspeakable suffering.

Pemberley: Mr. Darcy’s Dragon by Maria Grace, a win from Diary of an Eccentric.

Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley has the good fortune to be in possession of the first English firedrake egg laid in a century. Or, at least, he was until some miscreant stole it.

Mr. Darcy tracks the thief to Hertfordshire. Catching the thief, however, proves to be an entirely different kettle of brimstone, especially when he encounters fellow Dragon Keeper, Miss Elizabeth Bennet of Longbourn.

Elizabeth Bennet’s deep connection to dragons and remarkable grasp of their lore make her the ideal companion for finding the egg. It’s too bad that from their introduction she finds Darcy arrogant, conceited, and selfishly disdainful of the feelings of others.

Time is running out for Darcy to win Elizabeth’s trust and recover the precious egg before it hatches, and the fragile peace between humans and dragons is lost forever.

What did you receive?

Guest Review: Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion

Welcome to another installment of the United States of Books! See full details here. Today we will visit California with Play It as It Lays by Joan Didion. Entertainment Weekly say’s “Didion’s 1970 classic, about a woman and a marriage breaking down, is both an ode to the freedom of the freeways and a eulogy for dreams shriveled by the sun.”

playitasitlaysSYNOPSIS (From Goodreads.com)

A ruthless dissection of American life in the late 1960s, Play It as It Lays captures the mood of an entire generation, the ennui of contemporary society reflected in spare prose that blisters and haunts the reader. Set in a place beyond good and evil – literally in Hollywood, Las Vegas, and the barren wastes of the Mojave Desert, but figuratively in the landscape of an arid soul – it remains more than three decades after its original publication a profoundly disturbing novel, riveting in its exploration of a woman and a society in crisis and stunning in the still-startling intensity of its prose.

REVIEW by By Elisha at Rainy Day Reviews

I don’t think this book is your typical read, like a James Patterson or Jodi Picoult … not saying they are typical because they are amazing and talented authors. But Joan Didion is not a Jodi Picoult type author. Joan grabs you with this story from the very beginning, waiting for the other shoe to drop. With school, my child, and life in general, it took me a couple weeks to read this “can’t put this book down” book because I wanted to see if this ‘sad female with nothing but time and money’ would do something with herself and stop feeling sorry for herself. I did have empathy for her as the story continued because as the reader can tell she is truly sad and can’t pull herself out of it.

You want to go into the book and shake her but hug her at the same time. There was twists and turns in this story I was not expecting but was pleasantly surprised by. I tend to be a cynical person (in the Miranda from Sex in the City kind of way) so when I started reading Maria’s character, I thought oh good Lord…but then, something happens (no spoilers!) This was a memorable read, for sure. It is also one that I would recommend to others.

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