The reason why I love Mondays -- Mailbox Monday hosted this month by Rose City Reader. Below are the review copies I received this week:
1) Friendship Bread by Darien Gee. Publisher's Summary. For fans of Kristin Hannah and Kate Jacobs, Darien Gee’s deeply felt and utterly charming novel follows two estranged sisters, three newfound friends, and—ultimately—a whole town brought together by a simple loaf of Amish Friendship Bread.
In Avalon, Illinois, a woman and her young daughter return home to find a plate of Amish Friendship Bread along with a bag of starter on their doorstep. There’s no note, just a yellow sticky with the words, “I hope you enjoy it.” The instructions tell them to feed the starter over a ten-day period, then bake two loaves and share the remaining starter with three other people.
At the insistence of her five-year old daughter, Julia Evarts reluctantly follows the instructions. Soon, the bread and its starter are making their way through the town of Avalon, touching the lives of its residents in ways both comical and unexpected. Julia befriends Madeline Davis, 74, owner and proprietor of Madeline’s Tea Salon and Antiques who harbors a secret of her own, and Hannah de Brisay, 28, a concert cellist who relocates to Avalon after the premature end of her career and marriage.
Julia’s sister, Livvy, is struggling with her own loneliness as she and her husband, Tom, try for a child of their own. Julia’s husband, Mark, is tired of the sadness that seems to have taken over their lives for the past five years. As the town of Avalon becomes overrun with the Amish Friendship Bread starter, a kernel of a story presents itself and activist and reporter Edie is quick to jump on it, even if it means pointing a finger at Julia as the instigator and dividing the small community that they live in.
When a neighboring town is devastated by high floods, Julia and her friends supply loaves of the bread to the residents and volunteers. As word spreads, so does help. Soon the entire town of Avalon is doing their part to aid their neighbors in need as they put their differences aside. Friendship Bread is a captivating, engaging novel about life and loss, friendship and community, and what endures even when the unthinkable happens
Thanks to Random House!
2) Minding Ben by Victoria Brown. Publisher's Summary. Minding Ben invites readers into the private world of one of the anonymous West Indian babysitters who have peopled the lives of so many young urban families for decades. Grace left Trinidad for New York with hopes for a better life and education. As she struggles to adjust to her new life—and to determine just what shape her American Dream will take—Grace finds work as a nanny for the unconscionable Bruckners, a job that pays meager wages for its demanding and humiliating responsibilities.
At the mercy of her employers, and unprepared for the playground politics within the West Indian babysitting community, Grace nevertheless carries the day as she navigates the complicated world of America with strength and perseverance. Minding Ben offers a rarely seen account of the immigrant experience in this strong, compassionate, and insightful narrative.
Thanks to Hyperion Books!
Thanks to Hyperion Books!