Mailbox Monday is my favorite meme. It's hosted by Marcia on her blog, The Printed Page. I've been known to make my way through the list of participants with extra browser windows open to websites like Paperback Swap and the Book Depository so I can look up all the titles that appeal to me. If you'd like to join in or just take a look at the loot that appeared in everyone's mailboxes, click on that redhead to the left. She'll take you right to the heart of the action. Thanks, Marcia!
This past week I sent 4 books to new Paperback Swap (PBS) foster homes and received a whopping 12, due in part to indulging myself at Paperback Swap, winning a contest, receiving a gift, and the arrival of an Advanced Reader's Copy (ARC). Heaven help the mail carrier when the Bookcloseouts order and other Paperback Swap requests start pouring in!
I recently called myself a bookaholic with scruples, but I don't have the full deck of scruples. For instance, I figure those 240+ credits sitting in my Paperback Swap account aren't doing me any good by gathering dust. What do you think?
Anyway... here's what the poor, hot and sweaty mail carrier left in my mailbox last week:
- My Year at Sea: May 1948 - May 1949, S.S. Vinland by Robert O. Millard (Gift). These are the self-published memoirs of a man's year at sea aboard a merchant ship shortly after World War II.
- Sanctuary by Edith Wharton (PBS). "This is the story of Kate Orme, who marries a man of weak moral character. When they have a child, she fears that the sins of the father will be the sins of their son. Kate dedicates herself to instilling morality in the boy as he grows, especially after her husband dies. This is a typical Wharton examination of upper-crust society strewn with flaws."With my love of crime fiction, few people realize that one of my favorite authors is Wharton.
- The Nicholas Feast by Pat McIntosh (PBS). "Glasgow 1492. Gil Cunningham returns to his old university for the Nicholas Feast, where he and his colleagues are entertained by a play presented by some of the current students. One of the actors, William Irvine, is later found murdered. With the assistance of Alys, to whom Gil has recently become betrothed, Gil begins to disentangle a complex web of espionage and blackmail involving William's tutors and fellow students. Matters are further complicated by the arrival of Gil's formidable mother who is determined to inspect his betrothed. Little do Alys and Gil realize that it will be she who provides the final, vital key to unmask the murderer and unveil his motives."
- Taroko Gorge by Jacob Ritari (won in Glue contest). "Ritari’s first novel is an atmospheric thriller set in a secluded national park in Taiwan where two American journalists, who are between assignments, and a group of Japanese teenagers on a school vacation become trapped after three of the girls go missing and a deadly cyclone bears down on the park. The story is told from the first-person points of view of several of the characters, including one of the journalists, the investigating police officer, and several of the schoolkids. This lends an immediacy to the plot and also increases the psychological tension—are each of these narrators reliable? By trapping the teens and journalists in the park, Ritari sets up a traditional country-house plot, but his unique setting and unusual characters make it far different from your average cozy."
- Heartland by David Wiltse (PBS). "You'll never look at a grain silo in the same way after reading this novel. Wiltse injects his small-town Nebraska setting with Hitchcockian terror: a cornfield, a school yard, even pieces of farm equipment all move from ordinary to horrific in the blink of an eye. Agent Billy Tree, who investigated the homes of crackpots as part of pre-event security for the Secret Service, has returned to his hometown of Falls City, Nebraska, to recover from physical injuries and his deep shame after his partner was killed on a house search. Billy wants nothing more than to hole up at his sister's home, watching the road and replaying the scene where he failed his partner. But the plight of his old girlfriend and her son, victims of harrowing psychological abuse from the ex-husband, forces Billy to rejoin life. And when a school shooting wounds his girlfriend and kills others, Billy can no longer ignore the sheriff's pleas to help him investigate. What Billy discovers is that the seemingly pure Midwestern small town harbors big-time vices. What Billy feels is still shame, skidding over into cowardice and increasing the overall tension. The book's climactic scene, played out in a grain silo, has to be one of recent fiction's most terrifying." (I wonder if Wiltse had the same thing happen to him in a silo as I did when I was a child?)
- Shiny Water by Anna Salter (PBS). "Michael Stone is a forensic psychologist, a specialist in court-related child abuse and domestic violence cases. A North Carolina native, she is an unusual figure in the Vermont town she now inhabits: a blond, blue-eyed loner who plays basketball obsessively to relieve stress and makes a game of never owning more than 250 things at any one time. Called to testify in a sensational custody case involving charges of sexual abuse, she advocates for the two small children only to be ignored. The abrupt closure of the case feels wrong to Michael, but she is powerless until the children are sadistically murdered. Pulled into the search for the killer, Michael is armed with only a clue involving Toni Morrison's classic novel Beloved. In this debut novel, forensic psychologist Salter has graced her protagonist with a compelling and likable voice in the tradition of Patricia Cornwell."
- The Cape Ann by Faith Sullivan (PBS). Featured on a recent bookfinds.
- Treasure of the Golden Cheetah by Suzanne Arruda (PBS Market). "Intrepid photojournalist Jade del Cameron is about to embark on safari for a Hollywood film shoot inspired by the ancient legend of King Solomon's lost treasure, under the leadership of adventurer Harry Hascombe and with the companionship of the young healer Jelani and her pet cheetah Biscuit. But when the film's financial backer is stabbed to death by a native man who then commits suicide, the trip is cast by a sinister pall. And as the expedition moves higher onto Kilimanjaro's rugged slopes, a series of dastardly hoaxes and a fatal native curse convince Jade that a killer is at work."
- A Song For You by Betsy Thorton (PBS Market). "When workmen uncover skeletal remains behind a retaining wall in Thornton's well-crafted fifth mystery to feature Cochise County, Ariz., victim advocate Chloe Newcombe, the body turns out to be that of Wynn Wykoff, a member of the band Point of No Return, who disappeared 17 years earlier. The news of this macabre find prompts Rachel Macabee, the daughter of the band's singer, Annie Glenn, to hire Chloe's private detective friend, Brian Flynn, to look into her mother's unsolved murder, which occurred around the same time at the same location. Aided by Chloe, Flynn interviews the people originally questioned about Anna's murder, including former band members and their hangers-on. After Chloe discovers a link between Annie's and Wynn's homicides, additional lives are suddenly at risk. Appealing, nuanced characters, a simmering Southwest backdrop and an artfully unpredictable conclusion make this one a winner." ("Dudley" is a thinly disguised Bisbee, Arizona-- one of my favorite spots on earth-- so that's why I was originally drawn to this series. I keep reading it because it's good!)
- Living Among Headstones: Life in a Country Cemetery by Shannon Applegate (PBS Market). Recently featured on bookfinds.
- Adam & Eve by Sena Jeter Naslund (ARC from publisher). "Lucy Bergmann is, in her own words, an 'ordinary wife of a revered man.' Her husband, highly regarded in the international scientific community, has discovered evidence of extraterrestrial life. Accompanied by Lucy, he takes his findings to a conference in Cairo (the time is a decade from now) and unexpectedly dies there, leaving his material in Lucy’s care. Adding to the distress of sudden widowhood and guardianship of revolutionary data, she is asked to smuggle to Europe an ancient codex offering a new version of the Book of Genesis. The plane she pilots—yes, she just happens to be a pilot!—crashes, affording her an encounter with the gorgeous Adam, an injured, delusional American soldier. They build a relationship in what they regard as Eden, but they must eventually forsake this lush garden to rejoin society; the whys and hows of their expulsion are an even match with the amazing events that have come before. For the first half of the novel, there may be reluctance to suspend disbelief in the incredible events that unfold. Eventually, however, many will find the metaphorical loftiness engaging."
- Sorrow on Sunday by Ann Purser (PBS). "A rash of strange occurrences in and around Long Farnden has Lois unsettled. Someone’s been stealing valuable tack from the equestrian set, and then a local ne’er-do-well is killed when a horse bolts in front of his van. With a new employee on her hands who may or may not be trustworthy, Lois hardly knows what to make of the disturbances, but it soon becomes clear that she’d better figure it out post-haste, or she herself may take a nasty tumble."