Where I share my love of books with reviews, features, giveaways and memes. Family and needlepoint are thrown in from time to time.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Mailbox Monday (May 30, 2011)

 Mailbox Monday's host for May is Mari at Mari Reads. In My Mailbox is hosted Sundays at The Story Siren. Please visit these posts and take a look at what packages everybody else got this week! 

I won this first one from Wendy at Minding Spot.

Ten Beach Road
by Wendy Wax

On the brink of ruin, three very different women discover themselves where they least expect. . . at Ten Beach Road.

Madeline, Avery, and Nikki are strangers to one another, but they have one thing in common.  They each wake up one morning to discover that their life savings have vanished, along with their trusted financial manager. . . leaving them with nothing but co-ownership of a ramshackle beachfront house.

Madeline Singer is a homemaker coping with empty-nest syndrome and an unemployed husband.  Avery Lawford is an architect -- or was, until she somehow became the sidekick on her ex-husband's TV show.  And professional matchmaker Nikki Grant is trying to recover from her biggest mistake. . .

No one is going to save them but themselves.  Determined to fight back, they throw their lots in together and take on the challenge of restoring the historic beach house to its former glory.  But just as they begin to reinvent themselves and discover the power of friendship, their secrets threaten to tear down their trust, and destroy their lives a second time. . .

Double Take
by Melody Carlson

What do you do when your life is not all it's cracked up to be?  Get a new one.

It's spring break of her senior year and Madison Van Buren is fed up.  Stressed over decisions on colleges, her parents' bickering, and pressures from her boyfriend, Madison gets in her car and just drives away.

Meanwhile, seventeen-year-old Anna Fisher wants to escape the so-called simple life of the Amish -- which for her consists of caring for younger children, sewing, cooking, and gardening -- and she's well aware that her future will simply be more of the same with a man she doesn't love.

Worlds collide when Madison and Anna meet for the first time in a small town, realize they look uncannily alike, and decide the grass is greener on the other side.  Neither of them will ever be the same.

Stray Dogs, Saints, and Saviors
by Alexander Russo

A high school campus marred by disorder, teacher turnover, and hopelessness.  A secret plan to break free from faraway district administrators and powerful union leaders.  A hardcharging outsider who wants to revolutionize public education.  A group of tireless educators banding together to rescue the school and redeem the community.

Located in the Watts section of South Central Los Angeles, Locke High School was once known for its pride and excellence.  Decades of neglect and indifference turned it in to a low-scoring "dropout factory" avoided by teachers and students alike.  Then, working in secrecy, a handful of teachers and administrators plotted to give their school to an upstart nonprofit charter school organization called Green Dot, led by charismatic and controversial founder Steve Barr.  The move turned Locke into the poster child for a national effort to "turn around" broken schools that now includes nearly 1,000 schools.

What's it like to try and turn around a broken school without stripping it beyond all recognition?  It's the hardest work in education -- deceptively simple at the beginning and increasingly difficult the deeper you get into it.  It's a trickle of halting, incremental successes totally incompatible with the familiar Hollywood portrayal of instant results and individual heroes.  And at times it can seem like everyone -- not just the district and the union -- wants it to fail.

Stray dogs still sometimes sneak onto the campus despite all efforts to keep them out.  The "saints" -- Locke parents, students, and alumni -- watch carefully.  And Green Dot, Steve Barr, and the staff of Locke valiantly try to make good on the promises they've made to the students and to each other.

The Art of Saying Goodbye
by Ellyn Bache

She was the thread with which their tapestry was woven.

With a group of women as diverse as the ladies from Brightwood Trace, you might not think they were close.  There's Julianne, a nurse with an unsettling psychic ability that allows her to literally feel what her patients feel; Andrea, a strong fortress sheltering a faltering core; Ginger, a mother torn between being a stay-at-home mom and following her career aspirations; and Iona, the oldest, whose feisty, no-nonsense attitude disarms even the toughest of the tough.  Not exactly the ingredients for the most cohesive cocktail. . . until you add Paisley, the liveliest and friendliest of the clan, who breathed life into them all.

But when their glowing leader falls ill with cancer, it's up to these women to do what Paisley has done for them since the beginning: lift her up.  Overcoming and accepting the inevitability of loss, they draw closer together than ever, finding the strength to embrace and cherish their lives with acceptance, gratitude, and, most important, love.  Finally living with the vigor that Paisley has shown them from the start, they are able to see their lives in a new light, while learning to say goodbye to the brightest star they've ever known.  Over the course of just three months, these four women will undergo a magnificent transformation that leaves nobody unchanged.

The Summer Garden
by Paullina Simons

Through years of war and deprivation, Tatiana and Alexander have suffered the worst the twentieth century had to offer.  Miraculously reunited in America, they now have a beautiful son, Anthony, the gift of a love strong enough to survive the most terrible upheavals.  Though they are still young, the ordeals they endured have changed them --and after living apart in a world laid waste, they must now find a way to live together in postwar America.

With the Cold War rising, dark forces at work in their adopted country threaten their lives, their family, and their hard-won peace.  To regain the happiness they once knew, to wash away the lingering pain of the past, two lovers grown distant must somehow forge a new life. . . or watch the ghosts of their yesterdays destroy their firstborn son.

Epic in scope, masterfully told, moving across three continents, and spanning more than half a century, The Summer Garden is a novel of unique and devastating emotional power and a wondrous conclusion to a thrilling, timeless story that celebrates the power of love and the resilience of the human spirit.

The Upright Piano Player
by David Abbott

Henry Cage seems to have it all:  a successful career, money, a beautiful home, and a reputation for being a just and principled man.  But public virtues can conceal private failings, and as Henry faces retirement, his well-ordered life begins to unravel.  His ex-wife is ill, his relationship with his son is strained to the point of estrangement, and on the eve of the new millennium he is the victim of a random violent act that soon escalates into a prolonged harassment.

As his ex-wife's illness becomes grave, it is apparent that there is little time to redress the mistakes of the past.  But the man stalking Henry remains at large.  Who is doing this?  And why?  David Abbott brilliantly pulls this thread of tension ever tighter until the surprising and emotionally impactful conclusion.  The Upright Piano Player is a wise and acutely observed novel about the myriad ways in which life tests us -- no matter how carefully we have constructed our own little fortresses.

Very Bad Men
by Harry Dolan

Anthony Lark has a list of names:  Kormoran. Bell. Dawtrey.  To his eyes, the names glow red on the page.  They move.  They breathe.  The men on the list have little in common except that seventeen years ago they were involved in a notorious robbery.  And now Lark is hunting them, and he won't stop until every one of them is dead.

David Loogan is living a quiet life in Ann Arbor with Detective Elizabeth Waishkey and her daughter, Sarah.  But soon both David and Elizabeth are drawn into Lark's violent world.  As Elizabeth works to track down Lark and uncover his motives, David befriends Lucy Navarro, a reporter whose theories about the case threaten to implicate some very powerful people.  And when Lucy disappears without a trace, David vows to find her, whatever it takes.

Don't Kill the Birthday Girl
by Sandra Beasley

Sandra Beasley has had severe allergies to certain foods her entire life.  When butter is deadly and eggs can make your throat swell shut, cupcakes and other joys of childhood are out of the question -- and so Sandra's mother used to warn guests against a toxic, frosting-tinged kiss with "Don't kill the birthday girl!"

Now an award-winning poet, essayist, and editor, Sandra has written an accessible narrative about a subject that has only been addressed in either medical guides or recipe books:  a cultural history and sociological study of food allergies, melded with her own humorous and sometimes heartbreaking experiences.  From her short-lived gig as a restaurant reviewer to the dates that ended with trips to the emergency room, Sandra writes with verve and style about the struggle of a modern young woman to come to terms with a potentially deadly disorder.

Air Mail
by Naomi Bulger

Reclusive old Mr. G.L. Solomon's favorite things are single malt whiskey, Steve McQueen movies, and gingersnap cookies.  He hates processed cheese, washing detergent commercials, and the way the teacup rattles in the saucer when he picks it up.  Solomon has become accustomed to his lonely routine in Sydney, Australia -- until the day he begins receiving letters in his mailbox from a complete stranger.

On the other side of the world, Anouk is a mentally delicate young woman living in New York who insists she is being stalked by a fat woman in a pink tracksuit.  When Anouk declares to Solomon that she is writing "from the Other Side," the old man breaks away from his daily grind of watching soap operas and reading Fishing World and travels to New York to find her.  As he is drawn into Anouk's surreal world of stalkers and storytelling, marbles and cats, purgatory and Plato, Solomon has but one goal -- to unravel the mystery before it is too late.

Beg for Mercy
by Jami Alden

Megan Flynn thought she was falling in love.  Cole Williams wasn't just handsome and passionate, he was one of the good guys.  Or so she thought, until he arrested her brother -- the only family she has left -- for a murder she knows he couldn't have possibly committed.  Now, with her heart broken and her brother's life hanging in the balance, Megan will risk everything to prove his innocence.  Even if that means throwing herself into the path of a sadistic killer with a hauntingly familiar MO.

Seattle Detective Cole Williams had given up on making Megan see reson where her brother is concerned.  But when she insinuates herself into the most shockingly brutal case Cole has ever worked, he can't stand idly by.  Plunged into a secret world where the city's elite indulge their darkest desires, Cole will do whatever it takes to bring down a madman who has made Megan his most coveted prey.

Lady of Seduction
by Laurel McKee

It's a mad, ill-advised journey that leads the usually sensible Lady Caroline Blacknall to the legendary isle of Muirin Inish, off the windswept coast of Ireland.  Even so, she doesn't expect to find herself shipwrecked and then rescued by a man she believed she would never see again.  A man who, long ago, held her life in his hands. . . and with it, her heart.

Reformed rake Sir Grant Dunmore knew he could never forget the beautiful woman he once endangered, nor will he ever forgive himself for placing her in harm's way.  But history seems doomed to repeat itself, for as long as Caroline stays on the island, she is trapped in a secret plot that could forever free Ireland -- or turn deadly for all.  And yet, now that she is in his arms again, how can he ever let her go?

Make Mine a Bad Boy
by Katie Lane

There's a new bride in town!

Hope Scroggs is finally ready to get hitched.  After years of sowing her wild oats, the former head cheerleader and homecoming queen has returned to Bramble, Texas, to marry her high school flame.  But her perfect wedding plans are stomped to smithereens when her adoring cowboy two-steps down the aisle with someone else.  Now Hope is stuck with the one man from her past she can't shake:  Colt Lomax, an irresistible bad boy whose sultry kisses are hottter than the Panhandle in August. . .

Colt lives for freedom and the open road; he never gets attached, never looks back.  Still, he can't forget the night of passion he once shared with Bramble's sweetheart -- a night he wouldn't mind repeating.  So, he piles on the Texas charm to tease the feisty beauty back into his bed, while she tries her darnedest to resist.  But something unexpected is about to tie their fates together. . . and oh, baby, will it ever!

My Dangerous Pleasure
by Carolyn Jewel

Temp the Darkness

Strong-willed and independent, Paisley Nichols is used to taking care of herself.  But when an insane mage begins tracking her every move and threatening her at every turn, she has no choice but to put her life in the hands of a demon.

Risk the Passion

Burned by betrayal, demon assassin Iskander won't get too close to anyone.  He spends his days serving his warlord and his nights indulging in carnal pleasures. . . and that's exactly how he likes it.  But when a mage wages a wrenching psychic assault on his beautiful tenant Paisley, Iskander must defend her.  Under his protection, she will be drawn irresistibly into his life and learn about her own mysterious powers.  And not a moment too soon.  The mage haunting her isn't acting alone -- and he won't rest until he destroys both Paisley and Iskander.

What books came home to you last week?


bermudaonion said...

I got a few of the same titles. I'm hoping to read Ten Beach Road soon since I'm crazy about Wendy Wax.

Book Sake said...

We also got a few of the same. Beg for Mercy looks pretty good too!

Our Mailbox is at BookSake.

Anne said...

I just read The Bronze Horsemand recently and loved it- I cannot wait to get to The Summer Garden. Paullina Simons is an amazing author.

Aisle B said...

This is the mailbox that never ends! WOW! Holy smokes... sighing in deep envy ;P

Mystica said...

Beautiful mailbox. Ten Beach Road is the book I would love to read first on this list.

Beth(bookaholicmom) said...

I hope to get Ten Beach Road and read it over the summer. I have seen so many great reviews for it. Great mailbox this week!


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