Happy Birthday & Mailbox Monday #132

First I want to wish my husband a happy birthday. I’m sure he’s starting to feel his age, but I keep telling him that age is just a number and he doesn’t look a day over 25. I hope that you have a great birthday, honey, and keep smiling now that our daughter is here. She adores her daddy, and I know you adore her. Have a great day off from work spending time with her. I wish that I could do the same.

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon at the right 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 our host is The Bluestocking Guide.  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.  Cross Currents by John Shors for review from the author.

2.  The Secret Lives of the Four Wivess by Lola Shoneyin for a TLC Book Tour in July.

3. The Things We Cherished by Pam Jenoff from the author for review, an unexpected delight!

What did you receive in your mailbox?

Giveaway of Almost Home by Pam Jenoff

Pam Jenoff’s Almost Home is a book of political intrigue and grief.

If you missed my review, please check it out.  Also please check out my interview with Pam Jenoff and the second part of the interview on D.C. Literature Examiner.

If you’re living in the U.S. or Canada and want a copy of Almost Home, leave comments on the review and interviews and fill out the Google Form below:

DEADLINE IS MARCH 13, 2010, at 11:59 PM EST.

Almost Home by Pam Jenoff

Almost Home by Pam Jenoff is a novel of international intrigue, significant struggle, and humiliating heartbreak.  Jordan Weiss is a Foreign Service Officer working in Washington, D.C., who receives a letter from her college friend Sarah asking her to return to London as Sarah struggles with Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS).  Once in London, a place Jordan never expected to see again after her tragic last semester, she takes a job as a investigative diplomat working to uncover financial connections between companies and the Albanian mob.

“Chris pulls out my chair and I sit down awkwardly, conscious of his presence, the way he hovers a second too long behind me as though afraid I will flee.”  (Page 64)

Jenoff really knows how to set the mood.  Almost Home is full of dark imagery, fast-paced chases, and tension as thick as butter.  Readers will be kept guessing as to who is on the wrong side of the equation.  Jordan is likable and draws readers into the story, sweeping readers into her grief over the decades ago loss of her college sweetheart, Jared, and the mystery surrounding his death.  There is tension between Jared and Jordan when they first meet as part of a rowing team, but eventually their mutual love of the river and the team gives way to their own passions.

“Trafalgar Square on a Monday morning is a swarming mass of activity.  Cars and buses move along the roadway in fits and starts, jamming up at the traffic lights, filling the air with thick exhaust.  Swarms of commuters, invisible beneath a sea of black umbrellas, jostle as they make their way from the buses to the city, from Charing Cross Tube station to Whitehall.”  (Page 131)

Tension and suspense are dominant atmospheres in Almost Home, but the novel is more than just a political thriller, it deals with deep grief and healing.  There also are lighter moments between Jordan and Sarah that illustrate a part of Jordan that has been dormant since the tragic loss of Jared.  The dynamic between the two is strong and full of sisterly love, which can transcend any situation.

Jenoff’s experience as a diplomat is clearly present in the novel as Jordan deals with bureaucracy and cloak-and-dagger tactics.  There are some points in the novel where Jordan appears to be out of her element and a novice diplomat, but given the recent debacle in Liberia and the death of a colleague; her flight to London to be with her sick friend; and all that is uncovered about the death of Jared, her mistakes and bad judgment should be expected.  The pressures she feels and the memories that haunt her are too much for any one person to deal with a high-stress position with government.  Jordan is a complex character dealing with new grief, renewed old grief, and a demanding job in a city she once abandoned.  Overall, Almost Home is a fast-paced, highly emotional, well-written novel.

This is my 13th new-to-me author for the 2010 New Authors Challenge.

I’m considering this for my 3rd book, a mix of the political and mob thriller , for the 2010 Thriller & Suspense Reading Challenge.

FTC Disclosure:  I received a free copy of Almost Home by Pam Jenoff from the author.  Clicking on title links or images will bring you to my Amazon Affiliate page; No purchase necessary.

Interview With Pam Jenoff, Author of Almost Home

Welcome to my interview with author Pam Jenoff, author of the recently released (in paperback) Almost Home, The Diplomat’s Wife, and The Kommandant’s Girl (click here for Diary of an Eccentric’s mini-review).

Author Pam Jenoff is a former resident of Maryland and graduate of George Washington University in Washington, D.C.  After attending Cambridge University in England, she took a variety of jobs in American government, including positions with the Pentagon and the State Department.  Since then, she’s graduated the University of Pennsylvania and works as an attorney in Pennsylvania.

However, her latest pursuits have involved novel writing, and one of her earlier novels, The Kommandant’s Girl, became an international best seller and was nominated for the Quill Award.  Her recent novel, Almost Home, was released in paperback and is set in both Washington, D.C., and London as the main protagonist, diplomat Jordan Weiss searches for the truth behind the death of an old college boyfriend and tries to uncover corporate connections to the Albanian mob.

Please welcome, Pam Jenoff and stay tuned for my review of her latest novel, Almost Home.

How would you introduce yourself to a crowded room eager to hang on your every word? Are you just an author, or what else should people know about you?

I jokingly say that I am boring and grumpy.  What I mean by that is I still have a day job (most people are surprised to learn this) as a law school professor.  So I have to go to bed very early in order to get up by five to get the novel writing done But I love every part of my crazy, hectic life and wouldn’t trade a minute of it.

Please share a few of your obsessions (i.e. a love of chocolate, animals, crosswords).

I’m a huge eater.  I would always rather eat than drink, and mostly healthy stuff, though I could eat my own body weight in Twizzlers and cheesepuffs.  I’m a shameless napper.  Big football fan (Philadelphia Eagles).  And I love a good sudoku puzzle.

How do you stay fit and healthy as a writer? 

I chase after my one year old son a lot.  I try to run and get to the gym and once upon a time I was a second degree black belt.

Which books have you been reading lately, and are there any you would recommend in particular?  Which books do you think should be read by more readers?

I’ve been reading a lot of children’s books to my son, like Is Your Mama a Llama and Dr. Seuss.  That might be all I have time for at the moment! I’ve also enjoyed authors such as Tracy Chevalier, Kate Atkinson, Laura Lippman, Barbara Kingsolver and Anita Shreve.  I think everyone should read what they want…just read!

What current projects are you working on and would you like to share some details with the readers?

The sequel to Almost Home is called Hidden Things and it will be out this July.  And I’m working on something next about which I am super-excited.  It brings together elements of all of my other books.  It’s tentatively called The Anniversary Clock, but it’s really too early to say more beyond that.

Thanks, Pam for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions.  

Check out the second part of the interview on D.C. Literature Examiner.

FTC Disclosure:  Clicking on title links or images will bring you to my Amazon Affiliate page; No purchase necessary.