Sunday, October 17, 2010

In My Mailbox

This weekly meme is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren! Check out her blog to see what others are reading.

My summer kind of fell a part on me and it has been a very long time since I participated. I have received many books since then but I will stick to some of the more recent.

I received Testimony by Anita Shreve courtesy of Hachette Books

Pub. Date: October 2008
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company

Synopsis (B&N):
At a New England boarding school, a sex scandal is about to break. Even more shocking than the sexual acts themselves is the fact that they were caught on videotape.

A Pandora's box of revelations, the tape triggers a chorus of voices--those of the men, women, teenagers, and parents involved in the scandal--that details the ways in which lives can be derailed or destroyed in one foolish moment.

Writing with a pace and intensity surpassing even her own greatest work, Anita Shreve delivers in TESTIMONY a gripping emotional drama with the impact of a thriller. No one more compellingly explores the dark impulses that sway the lives of seeming innocents, the needs and fears that drive ordinary men and women into intolerable dilemmas, and the ways in which our best intentions can lead to our worst transgressions.

From Librarything Earlier Reviewers I have received the following
The Dissemblers by Liza Campbell

Paperback 200 pp
Publisher: The Permanent Press
Publication Date: October 2010

Synopsis (LT):
The Dissemblers is the story of a woman searching for greatness and beauty, only to find that neither greatness nor beauty are exactly what she thought. Ivy Wilkes always assumed she would achieve greatness as a painter. She moves to Santa Fe in search of the light and landscape that inspired her idol, Georgia O’Keeffe. At first, Ivy embraces life in the artsy desert town, working in the O’Keeffe museum by day and spending her evenings with Omar, the seductive cousin of her upstairs neighbors. But when Ivy’s own painting stagnates, she finds herself paralyzed by the fear that she will never paint anything of worth. Unable to create anything original, she begins imitating Georgia O’Keeffe’s work and is enticed by an offer to create O’Keeffe forgeries to sell on the black market. The paintings sell, but Ivy’s secrets isolate her from those she loves, who have secrets of their own. When a mysterious man appears at the museum, asking questions about O’Keeffe forgeries, Ivy’s bonds of love and friendship are tested. In her struggle to find her own artistic voice, she navigates the space between pride and guilt, love and selfishness, with devastating consequences. Rendered in concentrated prose, The Dissemblers explores themes of isolation and misunderstanding. The emotions are subtle, and the characters continually thwart their own best intentions while harboring mutually exclusive desires.


The Mistress of Abha by William Newton

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
(August 31, 2010)

The year is 1930 and the British are in Arabia. Ivor Willoughby, a young orientalist, embarks on an ambitious quest to find his father, an officer abroad with the British Army. In all Ivor's life, Robert has returned to England only once, bedraggled and wild-eyed with tales of As'ir, a land of sheikhs and white-turbaned bandits, where he is fighting alongside Captain Lawrence and is known by the name Ullobi.

After that single meeting, Robert is never heard from again. Ten years on, Ivor must find out what became of him. So he sets out on the journey of a lifetime. Traveling to Cairo to join the Locust Bureau, then circuitously to Abha, Yemen, and along the Red Sea coast, Ivor searches everywhere for clues about Ullobi, but no one appears to remember him. Or perhaps they are afraid to admit to it. Along the way Ivor hears whispers of a woman warrior called Na'ema who was once a slave. Her story seems tantalizingly connected with his father's, and Ivor finds himself in the misty heights of Ayinah looking for an Abyssinian seer who was carried on the same slave ship as Na'ema in 1914 and might unlock the mystery.

I purchased the following books:

The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

Pub. Date: July 2009
Paperback: 384pp
Publisher: MIRA

Synopsis (B&N):
It happens quietly one August morning. As dawn's shimmering light drenches the humid Iowa air, two families awaken to find their little girls have gone missing in the night.

Seven-year-old Calli Clark is sweet, gentle, a dreamer who suffers from selective mutism brought on by tragedy that pulled her deep into silence as a toddler.

Calli's mother, Antonia, tried to be the best mother she could within the confines of marriage to a mostly absent, often angry husband. Now, though she denies that her husband could be involved in the possible abductions, she fears her decision to stay in her marriage has cost her more than her daughter's voice.

Petra Gregory is Calli's best friend, her soul mate and her voice. But neither Petra nor Calli has been heard from since their disappearance was discovered. Desperate to find his child, Martin Gregory is forced to confront a side of himself he did not know existed beneath his intellectual, professorial demeanor.

Now these families are tied by the question of what happened to their children. And the answer is trapped in the silence of unspoken family secrets.

Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin

Pub. Date: January 2010
Hardcover: 351pp
Publisher: Delacorte Press

Synopsis (B&N):
 Few works of literature are as universally beloved as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Now, in this spellbinding historical novel, we meet the young girl whose bright spirit sent her on an unforgettable trip down the rabbit hole–and the grown woman whose story is no less enthralling.

But oh my dear, I am tired of being Alice in Wonderland. Does it sound ungrateful?

Alice Liddell Hargreaves’s life has been a richly woven tapestry: As a young woman, wife, mother, and widow, she’s experienced intense passion, great privilege, and greater tragedy. But as she nears her eighty-first birthday, she knows that, to the world around her, she is and will always be only “Alice.” Her life was permanently dog-eared at one fateful moment in her tenth year–the golden summer day she urged a grown-up friend to write down one of his fanciful stories.

That story, a wild tale of rabbits, queens, and a precocious young child, becomes a sensation the world over. Its author, a shy, stuttering Oxford professor, does more than immortalize Alice–he changes her life forever. But even he cannot stop time, as much as he might like to. And as Alice’s childhood slips away, a peacetime of glittering balls and royal romances gives way to the urgent tide of war.

For Alice, the stakes could not be higher, for she is the mother of three grown sons, soldiers all. Yet even as she stands to lose everything she treasures, one part of her will always be the determined, undaunted Alice of the story, who discovered that life beyond the rabbit hole was an astonishing journey.

A love story and a literary mystery, Alice I Have Been brilliantly blends fact and fiction to capture the passionate spirit of a woman who was truly worthy of her fictional alter ego, in a world as captivating as the Wonderland only she could inspire.

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

Pub. Date: October 2010
Hardcover: 274pp
Publisher: William Morrow

Synopsis (B&N):
A powerful and resonant novel from Tom Franklin—critically acclaimed author of Smonk and Hell at the Breech—Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter tells the riveting story of two boyhood friends, torn apart by circumstance, who are brought together again by a terrible crime in a small Mississippi town. An extraordinary novel that seamlessly blends elements of crime and Southern literary fiction, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is a must for readers of Larry Brown, Pete Dexter, Ron Rash, and Dennis Lehane.

and Freedom A Novel by Jonathan Franzen

Pub. Date: September 2010
Hardcover: 562pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Synopsis (MacMillan):
Patty and Walter Berglund were the new pioneers of old St. Paul—the gentrifiers, the hands-on parents, the avant-garde of the Whole Foods generation. Patty was the ideal sort of neighbor, who could tell you where to recycle your batteries and how to get the local cops to actually do their job. She was an enviably perfect mother and the wife of Walter’s dreams. Together with Walter—environmental lawyer, commuter cyclist, total family man—she was doing her small part to build a better world.

But now, in the new millennium, the Berglunds have become a mystery. Why has their teenage son moved in with the aggressively Republican family next door? Why has Walter taken a job working with Big Coal? What exactly is Richard Katz—outrĂ© rocker and Walter’s college best friend and rival—still doing in the picture? Most of all, what has happened to Patty? Why has the bright star of Barrier Street become “a very different kind of neighbor,” an implacable Fury coming unhinged before the street’s attentive eyes?

In his first novel since The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen has given us an epic of contemporary love and marriage. Freedom comically and tragically captures the temptations and burdens of liberty: the thrills of teenage lust, the shaken compromises of middle age, the wages of suburban sprawl, the heavy weight of empire. In charting the mistakes and joys of Freedom’s characters as they struggle to learn how to live in an ever more confusing world, Franzen has produced an indelible and deeply moving portrait of our time.

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