Thanks to host Marcia at The Printed Page I'm participating in the Mailbox Monday round up. This week I received the following review copies:
1) The Blue Orchard by Jackson Taylor. Publisher's Summary. On the eve of the Great Depression, Verna Krone, the child of Irish immigrants, must leave the eighth grade and begin working as a maid to help support her family. Her employer takes inappropriate liberties, and as Verna matures, it seems as if each man she meets is worse than the last. Through sheer force of will and a few chance encounters, she manages to teach herself to read and becomes a nurse. But Verna’s new life falls to pieces when she is arrested for assisting a black doctor with "illegal surgeries." As the media firestorm rages, Verna reflects on her life while awaiting trial.
Based on the life of the author’s own grandmother and written after almost three hundred interviews with those involved in the real-life scandal, The Blue Orchard is as elegant and moving as it is exact and convincing. It is a dazzling portrayal of the changes America underwent in the first fifty years of the twentieth century. Readers will be swept into a time period that in many ways mirrors our own. Verna Krone’s story is ultimately a story of the indomitable nature of the human spirit—and a reminder that determination and self-education can defy the deforming pressures that keep women and other disenfranchised groups down.
2) Finishing Touches by Hester Browne. Publisher's Summary. A fading English finishing school gets a twenty-first-century makeover in this "modern-day fairy tale" (Romantic Times) from New York Times bestselling author Hester Browne, whose sparkling novels are "charming and feel-good" (Cosmopolitan).
Twenty-seven years ago, an infant turned up on the doorstep of London’s esteemed Phillimore Academy for Young Ladies. Now, Betsy Phillimore returns to the place where she was lovingly raised by Lord and Lady Phillimore, only to find the Academy in disrepair and Lord P. desperate to save his legacy. Enter Betsy with a savvy business plan to replace dusty protocol with the essentials girls need today: cell phone etiquette, eating sushi properly, handling credit cards, choosing the perfect little black dress, negotiating a pre-nup, and other lessons in independent living. But returning to London also means crossing paths with her sexy girlhood crush . . . and stirring up the mystery of who her parents are and why they abandoned her. Will the puzzle pieces of her past fall into place while Betsy races to save the only home she’s ever known?
3) Shadow Princess by Indu Sundaresan. Publisher's Summary. The daughters of the emperor, Jahangir and Roshanara, conspire and scheme against one another in an attempt to gain power over their father's harem. As royal princesses, they are confined in the imperial harem and not allowed to marry. However, this does not stop them from having illicit affairs or plotting who will be the next heir to the throne.
These royal sisters are in competition for everything: control over the harem, their father's affection, and the future of their country. Unfortunately, only one of them can succeed. And despite their best efforts to affect the future, their schemes are eclipsed, both during their lives and in posterity, as they live in the shadow of the greatest monument in Indian history, the Taj Mahal.
With a flair and enthusiasm for history and culture, Sundaresan creates a story full of rich details that brings the reader deep into the world of the lives of Indian women and their struggles for power and the profound history of the Taj Mahal, one of the most celebrated works of architecture in the world.
Thanks to Simon & Schuster!
4) Kitchen Chinese by Ann Mah. Isabelle Lee thinks she knows everything about Chinese cuisine. After all, during her Chinese-American childhood, she ate it every day. Isabelle may speak only "kitchen Chinese"—the familial chatter learned at her mother's knee—but she understands the language of food. Now, in the wake of a career-ending catastrophe, she's ready for a change—so she takes off for Beijing to stay with her older sister, Claire, whom she's never really known, and finds a job writing restaurant reviews for an expat magazine. In the midst of her extreme culture shock, and the more she comes to learn about her sister's own secrets, Isabelle can't help but wonder whether coming to China was a mistake . . . or an extraordinary chance to find out who she really is.
Thanks to Harper Collins!
5) Keeper by Kathi Appelt. Amazon Product Description. To ten-year-old Keeper, this moon is her chance to fix all that has gone wrong...and so much has gone wrong. But she knows who can make things right again: Meggie Marie, her mermaid mother who swam away when Keeper was just three. A blue moon calls the mermaids to gather at the sandbar, and that's exactly where she is headed -- in a small boat, in the middle of the night, with only her dog, BD (Best Dog), and a seagull named Captain.
When the riptide pulls at the boat, tugging her away from the shore and deep into the rough waters of the Gulf of Mexico, panic sets in, and the fairy tales that lured her out there go tumbling into the waves. Maybe the blue moon isn't magic and maybe the sandbar won't sparkle with mermaids and maybe -- Oh, no..."Maybe" is just too difficult to bear. Kathi Appelt follows up to her New York Times bestseller, The Underneath, with a tale that will pull right at your very core -- stronger than moon currents -- capturing the crash and echo of the waves and the dark magic of the ocean.
Thanks to Simon & Schuster!
6) Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor. Publisher's Summary. In her critically acclaimed Leaving Church ("a beautiful, absorbing memoir."—Dallas Morning News), Barbara Brown Taylor wrote about leaving full-time ministry to become a professor, a decision that stretched the boundaries of her faith. Now, in her stunning follow-up, An Altar in the World, she shares how she learned to encounter God beyond the walls of any church.
From simple practices such as walking, working, and getting lost to deep meditations on topics like prayer and pronouncing blessings, Taylor reveals concrete ways to discover the sacred in the small things we do and see. Something as ordinary as hanging clothes on a clothesline becomes an act of devotion if we pay attention to what we are doing and take time to attend to the sights, smells, and sounds around us. Making eye contact with the cashier at the grocery store becomes a moment of true human connection. Allowing yourself to get lost leads to new discoveries. Under Taylor's expert guidance, we come to question conventional distinctions between the sacred and the secular, learning that no physical act is too earthbound or too humble to become a path to the divine. As we incorporate these practices into our daily lives, we begin to discover altars everywhere we go, in nearly everything we do.
Thanks to Harper One!
7) The Pocket Therapist by Therese J. Borchard. Amazon Product Description. Whenever Therese Borchard was weathering a personal storm, and help was nowhere to be found, her one guiding light was the question, "What would a therapist say?" The result was a sort of therapy scrapbook for rough days--a quick reference for anyone who needs a dose of encouragement, support and tried and true ways to cope.
THE POCKET THERAPIST is a compact and accessible guide filled with techniques and advice to help combat everything from addictive behavior to negative thinking.
Thanks to Hachette Book Group!
8) The Executor by Jesse Kellerman. Amazon Product Description. Perpetual graduate student Joseph Geist is at his wit's end. Recently kicked out of their shared apartment by his girlfriend, he's left with little more than a half bust of Nietzsche's head and the realization that he's homeless and unemployed. He's hit a dead end on his dissertation; his funding has been cut off. He doesn't even have a phone. Desperate for some source of income, he searches the local newspaper and finds a curious ad:
SERIOUS APPLICANTS ONLY.
PLEASE CALL 617-XXX-XXXX
BETWEEN SEVEN A.M. AND TWO P.M.
And so Joseph meets Alma Spielman: a woman who, with her old-world ways and razor-sharp mind, is his intellectual soul mate. How is he to know that what seems to be the best decision of his life is the one that seals his fate?
Thanks to Marcia at the Printed Page!
Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge
8 hours ago