Mailbox Monday #254

mlkI’d like to take a moment to reflect on Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy. I took my parents to see his memorial and was in awe of the quotes used in the granite and the massive nature of his stone-carved statue.  This is my favorite quote from the memorial:

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Today in Washington, D.C., they will lay down a wreath before his memorial, and there also will be a parade, as well as a celebration at the National Cathedral through music and poetry.

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.

In 2014, it was decided by the community to have the meme remain 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 this week:

1.  Undressing Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos, which I received a second copy of and will give to my mother.  Check out my review.

Chloe Parker was born two centuries too late. A thirty-nine-year- old divorced mother, she runs her own antique letterpress business, is a lifelong member of the Jane Austen Society, and gushes over everything Regency. But her business is failing, threatening her daughter’s future. What’s a lady to do?

Why, audition for a Jane Austen-inspired TV show set in England, of course.

2. Stella Bain by Anita Shreve from Anna.

When an American woman, Stella Bain, is found suffering from severe shell shock in an exclusive garden in London, surgeon August Bridge and his wife selflessly agree to take her in.

A gesture of goodwill turns into something more as Bridge quickly develops a clinical interest in his houseguest. Stella had been working as a nurse’s aide near the front, but she can’t remember anything prior to four months earlier when she was found wounded on a French battlefield.

In a narrative that takes us from London to America and back again, Shreve has created an engrossing and wrenching tale about love and the meaning of memory, set against the haunting backdrop of a war that destroyed an entire generation.

What did you receive?

Definitely Not Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos

Source: Purchased at Novel Places (which unfortunately had a ripped page and a ton missing) and borrowed from Anna
Paperback, 384 pages
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Definitely Not Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos demonstrates just how hard it would be for a modern woman to give up not only email and cellphones, but also the behavioral freedoms we take for granted in our everyday actions.  Chloe Parker’s business is nearing insolvency, and with a daughter to care for and an ex-husband with a high-powered job ready to swoop in and take over at any moment, she has little choice but to jump at the best chance she has for getting a large sum of cash quickly.  Auditioning for an Austen-inspired documentary, Chloe thinks that she’s found the perfect solution, until they call her to England to take part in not a documentary, but a reality tv show, much like The Bachelor.  The twist is that she cannot have any contact with the outside world, has to give up all modern conveniences, and live by the mores and social constructs of 1812.

“She gave up pink drinks and took up tea long ago.

Chloe Parker, even after her divorce, still dreamed of a more romantic era.  An age when a lady, in her gown and gloves, would, for sheer amusement, banter with a gentleman in his tight breeches and riding boots, smoldering in a corner of the drawing room.”  (page 1)

She finds herself in the English countryside enjoying her additional free time to draw and take up crafts she never had time for when she was caring for her daughter and running her business.  While she does worry about how her daughter is faring with her ex-husband looming in the background with his new fiancee and living with her parents, Chloe finds that she’s enjoying the step back in time.  Men were more charming and courteous, bowing and only talking to women they were introduced to, and they even catered to the women’s every comfort, even if it was mostly out of duty.  What she finds she doesn’t care for is the constraints on female behavior — the inability to apologize to men directly, to talk to men you are not formally introduced to, and to tell rivals exactly what you think of their behavior.

Definitely Not Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos is a novel about how we romanticize the past and put blinders on when it comes to what we think will bring us the most happiness.  It’s about seeing what is right in front of us and learning to grab onto it and hold it tight.  Chloe needs to take a chance, step outside her comfort zone, and learn to reach for the stars, even if the risk of failure is great and the adventure itself is a scary one.

About the Author:

Once an award-winning copywriter for brands such as Diet Coke and Johnnie Walker, I switched to tea with my debut novel, Definitely Not Mr. Darcy, now published in three countries. Undressing Mr. Darcy, my second novel, has garnered four stars from RT Book Reviews. I graduated with honors in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and lived and worked in London. That inspired my books, but the reality of life in a Chicago suburb with my husband, my son, daughter, and various pets provided the opportunity to write it.  Check out her Facebook page, GoodReads page and follow her on Twitter.

Undressing Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos

Source: Publisher Berkley Trade
Paperback, 368 pages
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Undressing Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos is a contemporary novel steeped heavily in the Austenite world, with Vanessa Roberts’ Aunt Ella one of the leaders of an American chapter of the Jane Austen society.  Vanessa is a social media genius and public relations expert, and as a favor to her aunt — with a bit of matchmaking in the background — she takes on the book tour and American media blitz tour of Mr. Darcy.  The man has stepped out of the pages of Pride & Prejudice, including the breeches and cravat, and he oozes British charm and politeness that’s hard to read, but Vanessa can’t help falling for the storybook fairytale.

“A fortune-teller with heavy makeup lasered in on Vanessa from across the lobby and came right up to her.  ‘I see foreign travel in your future.  It’s what you need, darling.'” (page 29)

Doornebos sets the scene of Vanessa’s world well, from her attachment to the virtual world as a safety blanket to protect her from the real world to the real-world life that comes crashing down around her.  While her relationship with her aunt is tight and endearing, her fallout with Lexi — her former best friend and business partner — is a bit mysterious, but once revealed seems like a deal-breaker for good until the friendship chemistry between the two becomes overpowering, even for the reader.  It’s clear that these two women are strong and will butt heads, but that they sincerely have their friend’s interests at heart.

Mixing the modern world with Austen’s world creates clashes and moments of nostalgia for written letters and face-to-face meetings. While the first half of the book is quick and engaging, once Vanessa hits the streets of Bath and London, the pace slows down as she takes in the sights of Austen’s home and goes on a scavenger hunt for the man of her dreams. Doornebos has created a commentary on the modern pace of life, while at the same time holding true to Austen’s outlook on matchmaking and romance. Things are not always as they seem in this world or in Austen’s.

Undressing Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos is full of romance, misdirection, secrets, and sexy men.  Doornebos surely knows what most women want these days in a love story — hot men with substance.  Vanessa is a strong woman who needs to learn how to be vulnerable, and she also needs to learn that being vulnerable doesn’t have to translate into being a lapdog or doormat.

About the Author:

Karen Doornebos is the author of UNDRESSING MR. DARCY published by Berkley, Penguin. Her first novel, DEFINITELY NOT MR. DARCY, has been published in three countries.

She lived and worked in London for a short time, but is now happy just being a lifelong member of the Jane Austen Society of North America and living in the Chicagoland area with her husband, two teenagers and various pets, including a bird.

A fun moment in the book for me is imagining the lecture Dr. Cornel West would give at a Jane Austen Society gathering.  If you think it’s an odd pairing, check out this video:

This is my 81st book for the 2013 New Authors Challenge.

Mailbox Monday #245

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.  November’s host is I Totally Paused!.

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.  The Queen of Bad Decisions by Janel Gradowski, which I received from the author for review.

Daisy’s life is sliding downhill at breakneck speed. Leaving her worthless boyfriend lands her back at her parents’ home, sleeping on the couch. After only a few days she is tired and annoyed. Her parents give new meaning to the term “early riser” and she can’t avoid unpleasant encounters with her obnoxious brother. The only escape from the familial torture is at her job in a book store. Mary, her boss finds a solution to the housing dilemma, but Daisy will need to change more than her address labels to make the arrangement work.

2.  Undressing Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos for review from the publisher in December.

Thirty-five-year-old American social media master Vanessa Roberts lives her thoroughly modern life with aplomb. So when her elderly Jane Austen–centric aunt needs her to take on the public relations for Julian Chancellor, a very private man from England who’s written a book called My Year as Mr. Darcy, Vanessa agrees. But she’s not “excessively diverted,” as Jane Austen would say.

…Until she sees Julian take his tight breeches off for his Undressing Mr. Darcy show, an educational “striptease” down to his drawers to promote his book and help save his crumbling estate. The public relations expert suddenly realizes things have gotten…personal. But can this old-fashioned man claim her heart without so much as a GPS? It will take three festivals filled with Austen fans, a trip to England, an old frenemy, and a flirtatious pirate re-enactor to find out.

3.  Dog Songs by Mary Oliver, purchased from Novel Books.

Beloved by her readers, special to the poet’s own heart, Mary Oliver’s dog poems offer a special window into her world. Dog Songs collects some of the most cherished poems together with new works, offering a portrait of Oliver’s relationship to the companions that have accompanied her daily walks, warmed her home, and inspired her work. To be illustrated with images of the dogs themselves, the subjects will come to colorful life here.

These are poems of love and laughter, heartbreak and grief. In these pages we visit with old friends, including Oliver’s well-loved Percy, and meet still others. Throughout, the many dogs of Oliver’s life emerge as fellow travelers, but also as guides, spirits capable of opening our eyes to the lessons of the moment and the joys of nature and connection.

4.  NOS4A2 by Joe Hill from Novel Books.

Victoria McQueen has a secret gift for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. On her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike, she makes her way to a rickety covered bridge that, within moments, takes her wherever she needs to go, whether it’s across Massachusetts or across the country.

Charles Talent Manx has a way with children. He likes to take them for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the NOS4A2 vanity plate. With his old car, he can slip right out of the everyday world, and onto the hidden roads that transport them to an astonishing – and terrifying – playground of amusements he calls “Christmasland.”

5. Night Film by Marisha Pessl from Novel Books.

On a damp October night, beautiful young Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley’s life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive cult-horror-film director Stanislas Cordova—a man who hasn’t been seen in public for more than thirty years.

For McGrath, another death connected to this seemingly cursed family dynasty seems more than just a coincidence. Though much has been written about Cordova’s dark and unsettling films, very little is known about the man himself.

6.  I’ll Be Seeing You by Suzanne Palmieri-Hayes and Loretta Nyhan from Novel Books.

It’s January 1943 when Rita Vincenzo receives her first letter from Glory Whitehall. Glory is an effervescent young mother, impulsive and free as a bird. Rita is a sensible professor’s wife with a love of gardening and a generous, old soul. Glory comes from New England society; Rita lives in Iowa, trying to make ends meet. They have nothing in common except one powerful bond: the men they love are fighting in a war a world away from home.

Brought together by an unlikely twist of fate, Glory and Rita begin a remarkable correspondence. The friendship forged by their letters allows them to survive the loneliness and uncertainty of waiting on the home front, and gives them the courage to face the battles raging in their very own backyards. Connected across the country by the lifeline of the written word, each woman finds her life profoundly altered by the other’s unwavering support.

7.  The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black from Novel Books.

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

8.  A Spider in the Cup by Barbara Cleverly from Novel Books.

At dawn one morning in 1933, an amateur dowsing team digging the banks of the Thames for precious metals unearths the body of a young woman with a priceless gold coin in her mouth and a missing toe. The case falls on Assistant Commissioner of Scotland Yard Joe Sandilands’s turf, but he’s been given another assignment—and a very high-profile one. London is hosting a historic global economic conference to try to solve the global Depression, and political tensions are running very high, as very influential participants are starting to take positions allied with or staunchly against the rapidly militarizing Germany. Sandilands’s job is to protect and keep an eye on the visiting American senator Cornelius Kingstone, right-hand man to President Roosevelt, throughout the conference. When a strange set of coincidences link the river bank body to the senator, Joe realizes his assignment is much bigger than he’d thought, and that Senator Kingstone is caught up in a very dangerous game—one that might cost not just one but thousands of lives.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #161

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 the At Home With Books.

Kristi of The Story Siren continues to sponsor her In My Mailbox meme.

Both of these memes allow 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 this week:

1.  The Baker’s Daughter by Sarah McCoy, which I received for my TLC Tour stop in March.

2.  Vampire Knits by Genevieve Miller, which came unsolicited from Random House.

These I won from BookHounds and some of these will find homes with my mother (who just loves mystery novels) and some other friends:

3. Fadeaway Girl by Martha Grimes

4. Day by Day Armageddon Beyond Exile by J.L. Bourne

5. The Rock Hole by Reavis Wortham

6. Bet Your Bones by Jeanne Matthews

7. Swift Justice by Laura DiSilverio

8. Electric Barracuda by Tim Dorsey

9. Heads You Lose by Lisa Lutz and David Hayward

10. Dracula in Love by Karen Essex

11. Knit Two by Kate Jacobs

BACK to the review copies and the book buys from the weekend:

12. The Unauthorized Biography of Michele Bachman by Ken Brosky

13. The Three Colonels by Jack Caldwell for review from Sourcebooks

14. Mr. Darcy Forever by Victoria Connelly for review from Sourcebooks

15. Catalina by Laurie Soriano for consideration in the Indie Lit Awards Poetry category

16. If I Die in a Combat Zone by Tim O’Brien, which I bought at the book club meeting at Novel Places for $1.50 to complete by collection of O’Brien books.

17. The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore, which I also bought at the book club meeting at Novel Places for $1.99 because I loved this book when I first read it and want my own copy.

18. Definitely Not Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos, which I also bought at the book club meeting, since Anna told me it was hilarious.

What did you receive this week?