Well, fellow bloggers, I took a much longer break than was originally intended. It just felt so GOOD to be a non-blogger for awhile. I don’t think I could ever be a journalist working to deadlines — ugh!
Now I’m ready to rock-n-roll again, and because I’m feeling a little guilty about abandoning my online friends for so long, I’ve decided to host one of the biggest giveaways in the history of chartroose giveaways. This time, I’ll be giving away five new books (which I will buy after the winners are chosen). These are novels I have purchased on Kindle but haven’t read yet. I will pick FIVE WINNERS on Wednesday, July 15 at around noon, and then I will buy the books from Amazon and have them sent directly to the winner’s homes. The choice of book for each person will be random (if you’ve already read one of them, let me know in the comments and I’ll be sure to give the novel away to another winner). This giveaway is open to all comers, including expatriates and strange old British people.
When you leave a comment, please do me a favor and let me know whether you love or hate my new Rupert Grint banner. Do you want me to go back to Monty Python?
Here are the novels I’ll be giving away:
Publisher’s Weekly Review:
Pat Peoples, the endearing narrator of this touching and funny debut, is down on his luck. The former high school history teacher has just been released from a mental institution and placed in the care of his mother. Not one to be discouraged, Pat believes he has only been on the inside for a few months–rather than four years–and plans on reconciling with his estranged wife. Refusing to accept that their “apart time” is actually a permanent separation, Pat spends his days and nights feverishly trying to become the man she had always desired. Our hapless hero makes a “friend” in Tiffany, the mentally unstable, widowed sister-in-law of his best friend, Ronnie. Each day as Pat heads out for his 10-mile run, Tiffany silently trails him, refusing to be shaken off by the object of her affection. The odd pair try to navigate a timid friendship, but as Pat is unable to discern friend from foe and reality from deranged optimism, every day proves to be a cringe-worthy adventure. Pat is as sweet as a puppy, and his offbeat story has all the markings of a crowd-pleaser.
Publisher’s Weekly Review:
In this remarkable debut, Bauermeister creates a captivating world where the pleasures and particulars of sophisticated food come to mean much more than simple epicurean indulgence. Respected chef and restaurateur Lillian has spent much of her 30-something years in the kitchen, looking for meaning and satisfaction in evocative, delicious combinations of ingredients. Endeavoring to instill that love and know-how in others, Lillian holds a season of Monday evening cooking classes in her restaurant. The novel takes up the story of each of her students, navigating readers through the personal dramas, memories and musings stirred up as the characters handle, slice, chop, blend, smell and taste. Each student’s affecting story — painful transitions, difficult choices — is rendered in vivid prose and woven together with confidence. Delivering memorable story lines and characters while seducing the senses, Bauermeister’s tale of food and hope is certain to satisfy.
Publishers Weekly Review:
Jordan’s beautiful debut (winner of the 2006 Bellwether Prize for literature of social responsibility) carries echoes of As I Lay Dying, complete with shifts in narrative voice, a body needing burial, flood and more. In 1946, Laura McAllan, a college-educated Memphis schoolteacher, becomes a reluctant farmer’s wife when her husband, Henry, buys a farm on the Mississippi Delta, a farm she aptly nicknames Mudbound. Laura has difficulty adjusting to life without electricity, indoor plumbing, readily accessible medical care for her two children and, worst of all, life with her live-in misogynous, racist, father-in-law. Her days become easier after Florence, the wife of Hap Jackson, one of their black tenants, becomes more important to Laura as companion than as hired help. Catastrophe is inevitable when two young WWII veterans, Henry’s brother, Jamie, and the Jacksons’ son, Ronsel, arrive, both battling nightmares from horrors they’ve seen, and both unable to bow to Mississippi rules after eye-opening years in Europe. Jordan convincingly inhabits each of her narrators, though some descriptive passages can be overly florid, and the denouement is a bit maudlin. But these are minor blemishes on a superbly rendered depiction of the fury and terror wrought by racism.
Publishers Weekly Review
This entertaining first novel by an English television writer tells the story of Brian Jackson, an unworldly but affable college freshman whose main ambition in life is to compete on the BBC quiz show University Challenge (a Jeopardy-like game show in which schools compete against each other; in the U.K., the show is a national institution). Between securing one of the four coveted spots on his school’s team for the show, Brian chases after two girls: Alice, a beautiful but aloof actress who is also on the squad, and Rebecca, an artsy intellectual who thinks Brian’s ambition to be on the show is silly and bourgeois. A visit from Brian’s hometown pal Spencer brings the class tensions roiling beneath the novel’s surface to the fore, but Nicholls is more interested in comedy than pathos. Some of the humor is very British (“I’m sharing my house with a right pair of bloody Ruperts”), and Nicholls waxes overly nostalgic for his 1980s setting, but the writing is often sharp and funny (number four on Brian’s list of New Year’s resolutions: “Become lightly muscled”). Unexpected developments at the final University Challenge match bring the novel to a rather unlikely conclusion, but readers will root for hapless, engaging Brian as he struggles his way out of adolescence.
Publishers Weekly Review:
Starred Review. What perfect timing for this optimistic, uplifting debut novel (and maiden publication of Amy Einhorn’s new imprint) set during the nascent civil rights movement in Jackson, Miss., where black women were trusted to raise white children but not to polish the household silver. Eugenia Skeeter Phelan is just home from college in 1962, and, anxious to become a writer, is advised to hone her chops by writing about what disturbs you. The budding social activist begins to collect the stories of the black women on whom the country club sets relies and mistrusts enlisting the help of Aibileen, a maid who’s raised 17 children, and Aibileen’s best friend Minny, who’s found herself unemployed more than a few times after mouthing off to her white employers. The book Skeeter puts together based on their stories is scathing and shocking, bringing pride and hope to the black community, while giving Skeeter the courage to break down her personal boundaries and pursue her dreams. Assured and layered, full of heart and history, this one has bestseller written all over it.