Friday, October 23, 2015

*Mail Call* October 19-23

This was my best book mail week since I first discovered the Goodreads First Reads giveaways two years ago. I knew yesterday that it was going to be a good week since I'd already gotten 8 books in the mail since Monday, but then today I got 9 more. I actually had to make two trips to carry them all up to the office so that I could build this post. If I wasn't going to be busy reading before, I sure am now. Without further ado, here are the 17 books I got in the mail this week.

W is for Wasted by Sue Grafton

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Two dead men changed the course of my life that fall. One of them I knew and the other I’d never laid eyes on until I saw him in the morgue.

The first was a local PI of suspect reputation. He’d been gunned down near the beach at Santa Teresa. It looked like a robbery gone bad. The other was on the beach six weeks later. He’d been sleeping rough. Probably homeless. No identification. A slip of paper with Millhone’s name and number was in his pants pocket. The coroner asked her to come to the morgue to see if she could ID him.

Two seemingly unrelated deaths, one a murder, the other apparently of natural causes.

But as Kinsey digs deeper into the mystery of the John Doe, some very strange linkages begin to emerge. And before long at least one aspect is solved as Kinsey literally finds the key to his identity. “And just like that,” she says, “the lid to Pandora’s box flew open. It would take me another day before I understood how many imps had been freed, but for the moment, I was inordinately pleased with myself.”

In this multilayered tale, the surfaces seem clear, but the underpinnings are full of betrayals, misunderstandings, and outright murderous fraud. And Kinsey, through no fault of her own, is thoroughly compromised.

W is for . . . wanderer . . . worthless . . . wronged . . .

W is for wasted.

The Life Times and Teachings of a Savior by Light

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Numerous works have explored the historical life of a man named Yahshua under the name “Jesus,” considering his embodiment of the Spirit of YHWH, his mission, his teaching, and the great works he performed among an ancient people. The Life, Times, and Teachings of a Savior differs in that it not only chronicles historical and biblical events but also goes beyond, digging deeply into many of the esoteric meanings of events in those days and the relationship between Yahshua’s teaching and his environment. It meshes the first four books of the New Testament into one unbroken story and blends it with selected writings from other holy books, such as the Upanishads and the Dhammapada. In doing so, the study seeks to reveal Yahshua the man and explain why the errors of humanity became his responsibility. Moreover, it links the man commonly known as the Messiah to who the Bible calls the first man—Adam—showing how Adam fell short of bringing light to a world that became darkened and formless, while Yahshua fulfilled his mission, leaving an example for all to follow out of the darkened and formless world to an illuminated world of abundant life. The Life, Times, and Teachings of a Savior will no doubt magnify the teachings of the Bible, and shine light on prophecies, while unveiling man’s purpose on the earth. Intended for anyone seeking truth in light—whether Christian or not—this study considers the life of Yahshua through a unique and spiritually expanded perspective.

The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs by Matthew Dicks

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Caroline Jacobs is a wimp, someone who specializes in the suffering of tiny indignities in silence. And the big ones, too. But when the twinset wearing president of the local Parent Teacher Organization steps out of line one too many times, Caroline musters the courage to assert herself. With a four-letter word, no less.

Caroline's outburst has awakened something in her. Not just gumption, but a realization that the roots of her tirade can be traced back to something that happened to her as a teenager, when her best friend very publicly betrayed her. So, with a little bit of bravery, Caroline decides to go back to her home town and tell off her childhood friend. She busts her daughter out of school, and the two set off to deliver the perfect comeback . . . some twenty-five years later. But nothing goes as planned. Long buried secrets rise to the surface, and Caroline finds she has to face much more than one old, bad best friend.

The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs is an enchanting novel about the ways in which our childhood experiences reverberate through our lives. It's the story of a woman looking to fix her life through an act of bravery, and of a mother and daughter learning to understand one another. Deceptively simple and highly engaging, this latest novel by Matthew Dicks is perfect for those of us who were last to be picked at sports, and for everyone who is thrilled not to be in high school any more.

Reflections (Blood Sisters #1) by Joe and Ruth Krakovsky

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Seventeen-year-old Lilly and her beloved father eagerly jump at the chance to join a group for the rare opportunity to examine the pyramids, little knowing how this trip will change them forever.

Along the way, they stumble upon an illegal slave market where Lilly rescues Bala, a young African girl. While Lilly is sensitive and naive with a childlike trusting innocence, Bala trusts no one, conceals her emotions, and, though illiterate, is highly intelligent. The two girls are as different as night and day and do not even speak the same language, yet they end up forming an unbreakable bond of friendship and trust due to the difficult trials they are forced to endure and the tough decisions they have to make.

The group of explorers is unexpectedly invited to investigate a newly discovered tomb in the Sudan, which unbeknownst to them, turns out to contain a mummy that has been cursed. Could it be the curse that is causing the mysterious illnesses and terrible misfortune running rampant throughout the camp?

The Searcher by Simon Toyne

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The author of the acclaimed Sanctus trilogy conjures an eerie epic of good and evil, retribution and redemption—the first novel in the mesmerizing Solomon Creed series in which a man with no memory of his past must save a lost soul in a small Arizona town

On a hilltop in the town of Redemption, Arizona, the townspeople gather at an old cemetery for the first time in decades to bury a local man. The somber occasion is suddenly disrupted by a thunderous explosion in the distant desert. A plane has crashed, and it’s pouring a pillar of black smoke into the air. 

As Sheriff Garth Morgan speeds toward the crash, he nearly hits a tall, pale man running down the road, with no shoes on his feet and no memory of who he is or how he got there. The only clues to his identity are a label in his handmade suit jacket and a book that’s been inscribed to him: both giving the name Solomon Creed. When Morgan tells Solomon that he is in Redemption, Arizona, Solomon begins to believe he's here for a reason—to save a man he has never met . . . the man who was buried that morning. 

Miles away, three men scan the skies for an overdue plane carrying an important package. Spotting a black cloud in the distance, they suspect something has gone badly wrong, and that the man who has sent them will demand a heavy price if the package has been lost.

To uncover the secret of his identity, Solomon Creed must uncover Redemption's secrets too and learn the truth behind the death of the man he is there to save. But there are those who will do anything to stop him, men prepared to call on the darkest forces to prevent Solomon from seeing the light.

The Other Side of Brokeback Mountain by Cal Stevens

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On the Other Side of Brokeback Mountain is basically an historical novella. Some parts are based on personal experiences I had while growing up in Wyoming. Some other parts are based on stories I heard from members of my family, who are still in the ranching business, and close friends. And, of course, some other segments are fictional, but consistent with what I know of the lives and nature of people in the region. I started writing this novella after seeing the movie version of Brokeback Mountain because I was unhappy with the portrayal of most of the Wyoming men who made cameo appearances, and the implication that the region is a land of total desolation, except for the gorgeous mountain scenery, which was actually photographed in Alberta. So, here I have attempted to present a more accurate picture of Wyoming and its people. This is done through the eyes of an old, uneducated, but intelligent cowboy who reflects on the most memorable events in his life, ranging from his work on ranches to exciting sexual encounters. More important, however, this is a philosophical study touching on all aspects of a man's thoughts and emotions, thoughts and emotions common to all of us.

From Where I Watch You by Shannon Grogan

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Sixteen-year-old Kara McKinley is about to realize her dream of becoming a professional baker. Beautifully designed and piped, her cookies are masterpieces, but also her ticket out of rainy Seattle—if she wins the upcoming national baking competition and its scholarship prize to culinary school in California. Kara can no longer stand the home where her family lived, laughed, and ultimately imploded after her mean-spirited big sister Kellen died in a drowning accident. Kara’s dad has since fled, and her mom has turned from a high-powered attorney into a nutty holy-rolling Christian fundamentalist peddling “Soul Soup” in the family cafĂ©. All Kara has left are memories of better times.

But the past holds many secrets, and they come to light as Kara faces a secret terror. Someone is leaving her handwritten notes. Someone who knows exactly where she is and what’s she’s doing. As they lead her to piece together the events that preceded Kellen’s terrible, life-changing betrayal years before, she starts to catch glimpses of her dead sister: an unwelcome ghost in filthy Ugg boots. If Kara doesn’t figure out who her stalker is, and soon, she could lose everything. Her chance of escape. The boy she’s beginning to love and trust. Even her life.

A Reluctant Assassin by JC Morrows

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Her mission was simple — get close to the Prince, and kill him. . . 

Kayden entered the palace under a lie, one designed to get her close to the Prince. On the outside, she may look like a princess but beneath the mask, a killer lays in wait — for the perfect moment.

Dvarius was not ready to take the crown, nor was he ready for a wife . . . but due to his father’s unexpected death and an archaic law — he must find a bride before he is allowed to take his rightful place on the throne.

And the one woman he wants — just might be the one who is there to kill him...

The Babylon Code by Paul McGuire and Troy Anderson

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What if God embedded a code in the Bible that could only be cracked in the end times--a prophetic cypher that reveals how the four blood moons and the biblical Shemitah are just signs of the beginning of end-time events?

Unlocking a great mystery that has puzzled scholars for nearly two thousand years, THE BABYLON CODE reveals how powerful forces are now at work to create a global government, cashless society, and universal religion as predicted by the prophets. 
The result of a five-year journalistic investigation, THE BABYLON CODE takes readers on a spellbinding journey to explore the link between the world's most secret organizations, the Bible's greatest prophetic riddle, and what world-renowned evangelist Billy Graham describes as a convergence in end-time signs for the first time in history. 
This prophetic mystery book pieces together the apocalyptic puzzle--uncovering what may be not only the biggest story and political scandal in modern history, but also the secret to both our survival and our salvation.

Quicksand by Steve Toltz

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A daring, brilliant new novel from Man Booker Prize finalist Steve Toltz, for fans of Dave Eggers, Martin Amis, and David Foster Wallace: a fearlessly funny, outrageously inventive dark comedy about two lifelong friends.

Liam is a struggling writer and a failing cop. Aldo, his best friend and muse, is a haplessly criminal entrepreneur with an uncanny knack for disaster. As Aldo's luck worsens, Liam is inspired to base his next book on his best friend's exponential misfortunes and hopeless quest to win back his one great love: his ex-wife, Stella. What begins as an attempt to make sense of Aldo's mishaps spirals into a profound story of faith and friendship.

With the same originality and buoyancy that catapulted his first novel, A Fraction of the Whole, onto prize lists around the world—including shortlists for the Man Booker Prize and the Guardian First Book Award—Steve Toltz has created a rousing, hysterically funny but unapologetically dark satire about fate, faith, friendship, and the artist's obligation to his muse. Sharp, witty, kinetic, and utterly engrossing, Quicksand is a subversive portrait of twenty-first-century society in all its hypocrisy and absurdity.

The Street Gypsies by Glendell Latham

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"The Street Gypsies," as described by the author, is about the urban underclass of street characters who lived in Chicago's Uptown Community during the 1970's. They were a society of free spirits. They were sometimes unsavory but, almost always, colorful characters who were street hustlers surviving on the streets by wit and whim; invariably, getting caught-up in the addictive nature of the lifestyle. The culture was probably a manifestation of the times. During those years, there was rampant unemployment and inflation in America.

It was also a time of social unrest and rebellion that spawned a number of radical groups. There was an anti-establishment climate that was fueled by the drop-out drug culture that carried over with its hippie influences from the 1960's. Add to that, the elements of the sexual revolution, the civil rights and women's movements. It was the glory days of Rock and R&B. All of this was the foundation for the mind-set that prevailed within this Street Gypsy culture. Survival was made an art form by these resourceful and spirited characters.

Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam

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Big Fish meets The Notebook in this emotionally evocative story about a man, a woman, and an alligator that is a moving tribute to love, from the author of the award-winning memoir Rocket Boys—the basis of the movie October Sky

Elsie Lavender and Homer Hickam (the father of the author) were high school classmates in the West Virginia coalfields, graduating just as the Great Depression began. When Homer asked for her hand, Elsie instead headed to Orlando where she sparked with a dancing actor named Buddy Ebsen (yes, that Buddy Ebsen). But when Buddy headed for New York, Elsie’s dreams of a life with him were crushed and eventually she found herself back in the coalfields, married to Homer.

Unfulfilled as a miner’s wife, Elsie was reminded of her carefree days with Buddy every day because of his unusual wedding gift: an alligator named Albert she raised in the only bathroom in the house. When Albert scared Homer by grabbing his pants, he gave Elsie an ultimatum: “Me or that alligator!” After giving it some thought, Elsie concluded there was only one thing to do: Carry Albert home.

Carrying Albert Home is the funny, sweet, and sometimes tragic tale of a young couple and a special alligator on a crazy 1000-mile adventure. Told with the warmth and down-home charm that made Rocket Boys/October Sky a beloved bestseller, Homer Hickam’s rollicking tale is ultimately a testament to that strange and marvelous emotion we inadequately call love.

Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace

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For fans of Holly Black and Nova Ren Suma, a gripping, hauntingly atmospheric novel about murder, revenge, and a world where monsters—human and otherwise—lurk at the fringes.

When seventeen-year-old Breezy Lin wakes up in a shallow grave one year after her death, she doesn’t remember who killed her or why. All she knows is that she’s somehow conscious—and not only that, she’s able to sense who around her is hiding a murderous past. In life, Breezy was always drawn to the elegance of the universe and the mystery of the stars. Now she must set out to find answers and discover what is to become of her in the gritty, dangerous world to which she now belongs—where killers hide in plain sight and a sinister cult is hunting for strange creatures like her. What she finds is at once empowering, redemptive, and dangerous.

Tense, complex, and wholly engaging, Shallow Graves is a stunning first novel from Kali Wallace.

Soul Mates by John R. Little

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Identical twins share a connection that even modern science doesn’t fully understand. Closer than mere blood can bind, deeper than any sibling bond, one cell, one mind, one beginning.

Alannah Clark has found the man she wants to spend the rest of her life with. A magician – but magicians have secrets – secrets that might outweigh Alannah’s own dark corners. But nothing remains hidden forever.

Magic, thrills, romance, suspense, and sorrow are the emotions of John R. Little’s newest and darkest thoughts. Fans are sure to get a thrill ride as he unleashes his newest adventure.

The Accidental Terrorist by William Shunn

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“This just may be my favorite true-life amazing-but-true tale—never has threatening an aircraft been funnier or more thought-provoking.” —Cory Doctorow, author of Little Brother and Homeland

Nineteen-year-old Bill Shunn is a man on a mission—a Mormon mission, that is, trolling for converts door-to-door a thousand miles from home. This riveting memoir—by turns hilarious, provocative, and thrilling—traces his accidental journey from that humble beginning to hunted fugitive and international terrorist.

A seventh-generation Mormon, steeped since birth in the gospel according to Joseph Smith, Shunn yearns to lose himself in the solace of sincere belief. But with his few close friendships, his dreams of writing, and his very life on hold, he can’t help resenting the imposition of missionary service and the monastic lifestyle it demands.

When conflicts with his fellow “elders” spur him to an ill-fated flight for freedom, the stage is set for the ultimate showdown between obedience and agency. Like the charismatic prophet Smith—whose own incredible story casts eerie echoes through Shunn’s—the young missionary will brave arrest and incarceration in a desperate bid to prove his worthiness, not just to those around him but to himself.

Now, with hard-won wisdom and compassion for his younger self, Shunn recounts the harrowing pilgrimage—rife with good intentions, noble ideals, and deep-seated insecurities—that pushed him to places stranger than any fiction. A gripping chronicle of slow-motion disaster that unfolds with the inevitability of Greek tragedy, The Accidental Terrorist is also a testament to individual triumph in the face of overwhelming authority.

“Believe it. William Shunn lived every word of this book. That he can share it so eloquently is a tribute not just to his writing skill, but his strengths as a human being.” —Kristine Kathryn Rusch, USA Today bestselling author.

No Name Sunset by Cameron Glenn

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April and Natalie are best friends who come to a crossroads in their last summer before their freshman year of college starts.

Maternity Leave by Julie Halpern

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Julie Halpern's Maternity Leave tells the profane, profound and just plain funny story of a professional woman who thinks she's ready for a baby but her maternity leave proves otherwise. 

Thirty six year old Annie Schwartz-Jensen is a middle school teacher on maternity leave-a time she imagined as uninterrupted, blissful bonding with her baby. Instead she is dealing with her body leaking from every possible orifice, a baby who won't sleep, a husband who still wants to have sex with her (is he nuts??), single friends who are clueless, and a mother who picked now to take a vacation. The only people who REALLY understand Annie are the wonderful people she spends sleepless nights with on QVC: Keep those velveteen table runners and non-jiggle stretch pants coming!

As Annie navigates life with her new baby, she realizes that not all Mommies are created equal. But she is determined to find her way, love her baby, her husband, herself---even if she has to wear nipple protectors for the rest of her child-bearing life.

So there you have it. All the books that I got in the mail this past week. I imagine next week will be rather dry as far as mail goes, but you know what, that's okay because these books alone will keep me busy for at least three (and that's if I just started reading them in order without getting distracted by other books in the process, let alone trying to finish off all the books that I currently have started.) I think of these books I'm most interested in reading Accidental Terrorist, Shallow Graves, and Maternity Leave. Which of these books are you most interested in reading my review on? - Katie 


  1. Accidental Terrorist, for sure. It's a very different type of book from the others on your top three list, and as far as I can tell, it's very different from anything on the market right now.

    1. I agree. I don't read memoirs often (I don't read non-fiction in general very often), but I think this one sounds really interesting. - Katie