Monday, May 11, 2009

Mailbox Monday - 5.11.09

I am always so excited when I have the opportunity to participate in Mailbox Monday. It doesn't happen very often, so I truly savor the times that I can. Mailbox Monday is the brainchild of Marcia at the Printed Page. Head on over there to find a link to fellow bloggers' list of books received this week.

Here is what I have found in my mailbox over the last couple of weeks. The only downside is that I simply cannot read all of them right away - as I have about 10 books that I need to read prior to June 15 when I start my summer classes. Oh well, I will attempt to read as many as possible:

I won Admission from S. Krishna's giveaway and I am super excited to begin reading this one! Here is a summar of this book, thanks to Amazon.com: For years, 38-year-old Portia Nathan has avoided the past, hiding behind her busy (and sometimes punishing) career as a PrincetonUniversity admissions officer and her dependable domestic life. Her reluctance to confront the truth is suddenly overwhelmed by the resurfacing of a life-altering decision, and Portia is faced with an extraordinary test. Just as thousands of the nation's brightest students await her decision regarding their academic admission, so too must Portia decide whether to make her own ultimate admission.

My second prize-winning book this week included the much-talked about Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch. I was intrigued by the cover of this book from the first time I saw it: A carefree young woman dressed in a beautiful feminine dress juxtaposed with the almost redneck title that conjures up the image of girls in jean shorts riding in the back of an old pickup truck. Here is a portion of one summary posted on Amazon: Sarah Walters, the narrator of GIRLS IN TRUCKS, is a reluctant Camellia Society debutante. She has always felt ill-fitted to the rococo ways of Southern womanhood and family, and is anxious to shake the bonds of her youth. Still, she follows the traditional path laid out for her. This is Charleston, and in this beautiful, dark, segregated town, established rules and manners mean everything. But as Sarah grows older, she finds that her Camellia lessons fail her, particularly as she goes to college, moves North, and navigates love and life in New York. There, Sarah and her group of displaced deb sisters try to define themselves within the realities of modern life. Heartbreak, addiction, disappointing jobs and death fail to live up to the hazy, happy future promised to them by their Camellia mothers and sisters. Thank you, Dawn of She is Too Fond of Books, for hosting this great giveaway.

A while ago Kaye of Pudgy Penguin Perusals hosted a give away for Laura Child's newest tea shop mystery, Oolong Dead and I happened to be one of the two lucky recipients. My book arrived on Friday - autographed - and sent directly from the author's home address! I have read the first 2 books in this lovely cozy series and will probably try to read all the others in the series, saving this for last.

I also received my first two books this week as a result of requests made through Shelf Awareness. I am very excited to have the opportunity to read a book "hot off the presses". The first book that came in the mail from Bloomsbury Publishing was Valeria's Last Stand by Marc Fitten: Life in an isolated Hungarian village is turned upside down by an unusual love affair in Fitten's promising debut. In the small hamlet of Zivatar, 68-year-old Valeria is known by all as a cantankerous woman, quick to criticize everything from the produce at the market to the mayor's lofty ambitions to lure foreign investors to the town. But a chance encounter one day with the elderly local potter—a man Valeria has known for years but never noticed—changes everything. The widower potter falls just as hard for Valeria, despite his relationship with Ibolya, the owner of the village's only tavern. Unaccustomed to being smitten, Valeria tries to maintain her normal routine, but the village is in an uproar over this unlikely love triangle. The arrival of a traveling chimney sweep intent on bilking the townspeople sends another ripple through what was once a placid village.

The 2nd Shelf Awareness book received by Picador Publishing was Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie. This is another book that I was keenly attracted to its cover (which I know you can't judge a book by its cover - but you can certainly buy a book because of its cover!) Sweeping in scope and mesmerizing in its evocation of time and place, Burnt Shadows is an epic narrative of disasters elided and confronted, loyalties offered and repaid, and loves rewarded and betrayed.

I participated in a survey for Reading Group Guides and as a thank you they offered to send one of 8 different books. I happened to receive A Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I have not read any of Berg's works, so I was very pleased with this lovely gift. A Boston widow of several months, 55-year-old Betta Nolan, fulfills her dying husband's dream of moving out to the Midwest and starting a new life. "It will give me peace to know that what you will do is exactly what we talked about," says John commandingly before dying of liver cancer; Betta, an author of children's books, sells their Beacon Hill brownstone and takes off, buying an oversized Victorian in the small town of Stewart, Ill., 49 miles from Chicago. Lonely, she finds herself tracking down three former college roommates from the late 1960s, Lorraine, Maddy and Susanna, whom she ditched once she met John. The women reappear one by one and help give her the courage to open a shop called What a Woman Wants (it'll sell "all different stuff that women loved. Beautiful things, but unusual too. Like antique birdcages with orchids growing in them"). Meanwhile, she begins to make friends in town, notably with attractive young handyman Matthew and natty oldster Tom Bartlett.

Yesterday I treated myself to a Mother's Day gift (I had coupons that were going to expire!) I had reserved The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and Hunger Games at my local library on March 21 - thinking I could read them for the 24 hour readathon. WRONG! I am still about 30th in line for both of them. At this rate, it will be the end of the summer before my name is called - and I just don't want to wait that long (and I have a feeling I will to have these in my personal library anyway). So, I purchased both books - along with a CD that I simply could not resist - Beethoven for Book Lovers.

My daughters decided to make dinner for me as a Mother's Day gift (enchiladas, rice and angel food cake --- yummy!) and I was "banished" from the kitchen for the afternoon (oh darn!). It was the perfect opportunity to hide out in my book nook and begin reading Hunger Games. Suffice it to say, the book does live up to the hype: it is suspenseful from the first page! I read the first 200 pages yesterday and I will probably finish the book this evening. Not sure much more reading will be done this week, however (or posting of reviews) as this is finals week and there will be lots of grading.

As a "last hurrah" with two of my high school book club students - we took a trip to Lawrence today after school to visit some of the college town bookstores. Everyone had a great time and found some worthwhile books to purchase. I found two mysteries by Julie Kaewert that I have been wanting to try for quite sometime. The series is entitled, A Booklover's Mystery - so I figure it must be good. I also found an "uncorrected proof" of The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte by Syrie James and was very excited. I thoroughly enjoyed her Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen and expect this one will be just as good. According to Amazon, this book is expected to be released at the end of June, so I will try to read it before I leave for my summer classes and post a review for y'all to read.

I have about 10 final papers to grade (plan to do that tomorrow) - about 25 grammar finals to grade by Friday afternoon (some students will take the final on Wednesday, others will take it on Friday) - and about 10 computer applications finals to grade on Wednesday afternoon. I will attend the graduation ceremony on Friday night and then.....I will be officially on summer break!!! Can you tell I am excited?

13 comments:

Shannansbooks said...

Wow sounds like a great week for you. I hope you enjoy your books. I received Girls in Trucks last week. I will start it sometime next week.

Stephanie said...

I got Berg's novel too! Glad to hear that you are enjoying The Hunger Games - seems that's THE book to read!

bermudaonion said...

Wow! You got some great books! I planned to buy Hunger Games on Buy Indie Day but our indie was sold out. I can't wait to read your review.

Wendi B. - Wendi's Book Corner ~ Rainy Day Reads in Seattle said...

Congrats on all your wins Molly! I'm still crossing my fingers for Burnt Shadows. :)

Here's my Mailbox! ~ Wendi

Sandy Nawrot said...

The Hunger Games is definitely one you will want in your permanent library. It will be one of my favorite reads of the year, I think! On a different subject, I need to help to figure out how to get those free books to my Kindle. Can you offer some guidance? You can e-mail me at rnawrot at cfl dot rr dot com. Thanks for that awesome tip!

Melissa said...

That is a lot of good loot. Glad you're enjoying Hunger Games -- it's really a gripping read, isn't it?

Margot said...

Very nice stash of books, Molly. I am with you on not having read anything by Elizabeth Berg. I keep reading good things about her books so I'm going to have to find one to read. I'll be interested in how you like yours.

Lenore said...

I wouldn't want to wait on The Hunger Games if I were you either! Congrats on your contest wins. Admission looks like a lot of fun.

Toni said...

lots of great choices where to begin first. I just got Girls in Trucks , it looks really interesting. Will have to check out some of the rest as well.

Red lady-Bonnie said...

You won some great books, Molly!! Lucky you to get Valeria's Last Stand and Burnt Shadows! I'm hoping that I'll get Valeria's but got an email that they ran out of copies of Burnt Shadows. Oh, you're in for a treat if Year of Pleasures is your first Elizabeth Berg book! I'm a big fan of her work and this is my absolute favorite book of hers. It's one that I would like to re-read someday.

Matt said...

Hunger Games is on my radar after I read Sandy's great review. I didn't like Valeria's Last Stand too much but i hope it will find its appreciative readers.

Marcia said...

Thank you for stopping by the mailbox this week. We share Valeria's Last Stand. Enjoy your books!

Anna said...

Great week! I can't wait to read Burnt Shadows. Hope you enjoy your new books. My mailbox is here.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

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