Monday, December 27, 2010

Mailbox Monday (12/27/10 edition)

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Mailbox Monday is brought to us by The Printed Page. I've been holding my books for the last month, and opened all of my packages on Christmas Eve (being a single woman without kids, it's the only way to have something under the tree!). Here are just some of the books I've received over the holiday season:

31 Hours by Marsha Hamilton
Won through Dewey's Read-a-thon

When Carol Meitzner jolts awake in the middle of a long night, she knows — as surely as a mother can know — that her son, Jonas, is in danger. 

His girlfriend doesn't understand why, but she knows she has somehow lost him. Jonas won't answer his phone. And no matter how carefully she shapes them, he won't return her messages. 

His father says it can't be as bad as they fear. 

But it is. 

Jonas is in a safe-house beneath the Brooklyn Bridge. There, in the belief that he can change the world, he ponders his newfound faith — and his specialized training. Over the next 31 hours, he will cleanse himself, mind and body, in preparation for the violent action he means to take when the subways are most crowded. 

Jonas' isolation brings on an inevitable cascade of events. And as this stunning novel moves through the streets and subways of New York we see how lives can accidentally intersect — and how they might tragically fail to. 

Carried by Masha Hamilton's elegant and powerful prose, 31 Hours is a compelling story about the helplessness and frantic hope of the people who can save Jonas — and countless others — if only they can reach him in time.

Home to Woefield by Susan Juby
Won through Library Thing's Early Reviewers

(From a member's review): Sweet and funny tale that follows Pru, a New Yorker who. Upon learning that her uncle has left her a farm, believes that her dreams of a small, self-sustaining farm have come true. When she sets eyes on the neglected farm, complete with ramshackle buildings, a recently burned barn and acreage that can just about sustain a limited amount of weeds, her natural optimism sees only possibilities.

Pru is not alone on the farm, her livestock consists of a lone sheep that has been only half-sheared. It was her late uncle's belief that sheep prefered their "haircuts" to be completed in stages. Together with the depressed sheep, Pru discovers gathers several neighborhood misfits, each with wounds and secrets that define them.

Living on the property is Earl, the 70-something foreman who is astonished by Pru's optimistic dreams for the place. Earl is burdened by secrets. Across the street is Seth, who seems to watch everything that goes on at the farm. He write a celebrity blog while he remains safely within his parents' home. His drinking helps him to forget the high school drama teacher and the scandal that still haunts him. The youngest is the organized and driven Sara, an 11 year old who needs both a home for her prize winning chickens, and an escape from her parents.

The story is told from the point of view of each member of this eccentric group. As they band together to face the challenge of making the farm work, the unlikely group of friends becomes a family. Learning to appreciate what makes each of them special and, more importantly they are able to accept the deeply held secrets that had damaged each of them.

Lipstick in Afghanistan by Roberta Gately
Won from Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing

Roberta Gately’s lyrical and authentic debut novel—inspired by her own experiences as a nurse in third world war zones—is one woman’s moving story of offering help and finding hope in the last place she expected. 

Gripped by haunting magazine images of starving refugees, Elsa has dreamed of becoming a nurse since she was a teenager. Of leaving her humble working-class Boston neighborhood to help people whose lives are far more difficult than her own. No one in her family has ever escaped poverty, but Elsa has a secret weapon: a tube of lipstick she found in her older sister’s bureau. Wearing it never fails to raise her spirits and cement her determination. With lipstick on, she can do anything—even travel alone to war-torn Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11. 

But violent nights as an ER nurse in South Boston could not prepare Elsa for the devastation she witnesses at the small medical clinic she runs in Bamiyan. As she struggles to prove herself to the Afghan doctors and local villagers, she begins a forbidden romance with her only confidant, a charming Special Forces soldier. Then, a tube of lipstick she finds in the aftermath of a tragic bus bombing leads her to another life-changing friendship. In her neighbor Parween, Elsa finds a kindred spirit, fiery and generous. Together, the two women risk their lives to save friends and family from the worst excesses of the Taliban. But when the war waging around them threatens their own survival, Elsa discovers her only hope is to unveil the warrior within. Roberta Gately’s raw, intimate novel is an unforgettable tribute to the power of friendship and a poignant reminder of the tragic cost of war.

April & Oliver by Tess Callahan
Won from Jo-Jo Loves to Read

(From Publisher's Weekly:) In this memorable debut, Callahan offers a uniquely funereal love story that focuses on a stagnant friendship-turned-untenable romance between unlikely life-long friends. To deal with the death of her immediate family, as well as the scars of childhood abuse, April assumes the role of the jaded wild child; Oliver, her once-inseparable childhood companion, has become her polar opposite, an engaged law student poised for success. Estranged during Oliver's college years, the two reconnect with troubling results. Callahan's descriptions are vivid, and often paired with charming flashbacks to more innocent times, providing stark contrast to the tumultuous course of April and Oliver's young-adult lives. Callahan's narrative takes some supporting-character detours from the principles' love-hate relationship, including an abusive boyfriend; a manipulative and dangerous family friend, and April's strong-but-slipping Nana. Callahan's poetic style and grasp of emotion gives proper weight to April's loss and Oliver's secrets, and is sure to engage, sadden, and enthrall readers, especially in a bittersweet, somewhat surprising finale.

Thunder and Ashes: The Morningstar Strain by Z.A. Recht
Won from Readaholic

Wars can be decided, nations can be forged...or entire species can br brought to the brink of annihilation. The Morningstar virus has swept the face of the planet. infecting billions. It hosts rampage; its victims don't die, but are reborn as cannibalistic shamblers. 

For some, survival is the pinnacle of achievement. Other hoard goods and weapons. And still others leverage power over the remnants of humanity with a mysterious cure. Francis Sherman and Anna Demilio want only a vaccine, but to find it they must cross a ravaged landscape of the infected and the lawless living. 

leaving echoing thunder and softly drifting ashes. But for the survivors, the peril remains, and the search for a cure is just the beginning...

I won Kill the Dead, but the publisher sent me both that and the first book Sandman Slim! They're awesome!

Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey
Won from Readaholic

Life sucks, then you die. Period. 

Unless you're James Stark, a hitman in Hell for eleven years before escaping back up to Hell-on-earth L.A.—looking for revenge, absolution . . . love, maybe. 

But Hell's not through with Stark.Heaven's not either.

Kill the Dead by Richard Kadrey
Supernatural fantasy's best antihero returns, in the high-octane follow-up to Richard Kadrey's acclaimed Sandman Slim
James Stark, a.k.a. Sandman Slim, crawled out of Hell, took bloody revenge for his girlfriend's murder, and saved the world along the way. After that, what do you do for an encore? You take a lousy job tracking down monsters for money. It's a depressing gig, but it pays for your beer and cigarettes. But in L.A., things can always get worse. 

Like when Lucifer comes to town to supervise his movie biography and drafts Stark as his bodyguard. Sandman Slim has to swim with the human and inhuman sharks of L.A.'s underground power elite. That's before the murders start. And before he runs into the Czech porn star who isn't quite what she seems. Even before all those murdered people start coming back from the dead and join a zombie army that will change our world and Stark's forever. 

Death bites. Life is worse. All things considered, Hell's not looking so bad.

Received from Secret Santas:

Both of my Secret Santas did such a great job at choosing books for me! 

Received from Kelly of Reading With Martinis...

Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Magic is dangerous—but love is more dangerous still.

When sixteen-year-old Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother, her destination is England, the time is the reign of Queen Victoria, and something terrifying is waiting for her in London's Downworld, where vampires, warlocks and other supernatural folk stalk the gaslit streets. Only the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons, keep order amidst the chaos. 

Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, members of a secret organization called The Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she herself is a Downworlder with a rare ability: the power to transform, at will, into another person. What’s more, the Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the Club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa's power for his own. 

Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters of the London Institute, who swear to find her brother if she will use her power to help them. She soon finds herself fascinated by—and torn between—two best friends: James, whose fragile beauty hides a deadly secret, and blue-eyed Will, whose caustic wit and volatile moods keep everyone in his life at arm's length . . . everyone, that is, but Tessa. As their search draws them deep into the heart of an arcane plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, Tessa realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world. . . . and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.

The second Secret Santa...I recognize the name on the box and am sure I've probably won books from them before, but I can't tie the name to a blog. But they did a great job in choosing books for me!

The Passage by Justin Cronin

“It happened fast. Thirty-two minutes for one world to die, another to be born.” 
First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear—of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.

As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he’s done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. He is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors. But for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey—spanning miles and decades—towards the time and place where she must finish what should never have begun.

With The Passage, award-winning author Justin Cronin has written both a relentlessly suspenseful adventure and an epic chronicle of human endurance in the face of unprecedented catastrophe and unimaginable danger. Its inventive storytelling, masterful prose, and depth of human insight mark it as a crucial and transcendent work of modern fiction.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

In the world of the near future, who will control women's bodies?
Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are only valued if their ovaries are viable. 

Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now.... 

Funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing, The Handmaid's Tale is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and tour de force.

 Dracula by Bram Stoker

The punctured throat, the coffin lid slowly opening, the unholy shriek as the stake pierces the heart—these are just a few of the chilling images Bram Stoker unleashed upon the world with his 1897 masterpiece, Dracula. Inspired by the folk legend of nosferatu, the undead, Stoker created a timeless tale of gothic horror and romance that has enthralled and terrified readers ever since.

A true masterwork of storytelling, Dracula has transcended generation, language, and culture to become one of the most popular novels ever written. It is a quintessential tale of suspense and horror, boasting one of the most terrifying characters ever born in literature: Count Dracula, a tragic, night-dwelling specter who feeds upon the blood of the living, and whose diabolical passions prey upon the innocent, the helpless, and the beautiful. But Dracula also stands as a bleak allegorical saga of an eternally cursed being whose nocturnal atrocities reflect the dark underside of the supremely moralistic age in which it was originally written — and the corrupt desires that continue to plague the modern human condition.

Books I bought myself:

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge. 

Who do they think should pay for the unrest? 

Katniss Everdeen. 

The final book in The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins will have hearts racing, pages turning, and everyone talking about one of the biggest and most talked-about books and authors in recent publishing history!!!! 

Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank

When a nuclear holocaust ravages the United States, a thousand years of civilization are stripped away overnight, and tens of millions of people are killed instantly. But for one small town in Florida, miraculously spared, the struggle is just beginning, as men and women of all backgrounds join together to confront the darkness.

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

From out of the night come the living dead with a single purpose: to destroy Robert Neville, the last man on earth.

Thanks to everyone! And a special thanks to my Secret Santas! You guys did great!


Jo-Jo said...

I'm glad the book I sent made it ok along with all the other great books you received! I read The Handmaid's Tale a few months ago and really enjoyed it. The Passage was great also! I sure would like to get my hands on the Lipstick in Afganistan though...enjoy!

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I liked The Handmaid's Tail a lot, and look forward to Lipstick in A, as well.

Staci said...

Pure book bliss!!! Enjoy them all!

Melanie said...

Hi! Sorry i didn't write my blog on the books i sent! I'm Melanie from Cynical Optimism! Dracula is a favorite of mine; you gotta read the granddaddy of all vampire books!