Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Mondays are hosted by Marcia of The Printed Page.   Check out her blog to see what other bloggers found in their mailbox last week.

I got a few books this week.  Here they are:

41-1yfbjmdl_sl500_aa240_Breathing Out the Ghost by Kirk Curnutt, from the author himself.  I am totally excited to read this one, after reading a few phenomenal reviews and super interesting guest posts and interviews from his TLC book tour.  Serena from Savvy Verse and Wit asked him a great question- 5. If you were to create a playlist for your novel, what are the top five songs on that list?  Read his answers and you’ll see that he is one cool dude!



The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister, from Penguin Group. From the back cover- “The School of Essential Ingredients follows the lives of eight people from different walks of life who gather every Monday night for a cooking class taught by Lillian, a famous chef whose alchemy in the kitchen has made her a local sensation.”  I do love me a good foodie book!!

Honeymoon in Tehran by Azadeh Moaveni, from Random House.  Looks to be about an American reporter in Iran during a time of great political upheaval, who falls in love, marries, and has a baby, and is then forced to leave under political pressure.  Very interesting…

A Child’s Journey Out of Autism by Leeann Whiffen, from Sourcebooks, Inc.  I passed this one on to a book club friend to read and review.

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosney and The Invisible Wall by Harry Bernstein, from  I need these for book club this spring.

What did you find in your mailbox this week (aside from bills and junk mail!)?

If Only They Would Send Books AND Chocolate..

My day wasn’t going so well earlier.  It started off with a stupid fight with my stupid dear husband and went downhill from there.  It’s pretty sad when you find yourself snapping at the dog for not getting out of your way fast enough (and the poor dog has stitches on her head!) and then telling your 9 year old that her head would be shaved if she didn’t brush her hair RIGHT NOW.  And then the damn zipper broke on my favorite shorts- the ones that actually fit.  And for chrissake, is that a zit on my chin??  (Pass the Midol- and the chocolate- and the tissues!)  Grrrrrr grrrrrr grumble grumble leave me alone.  

Ok, so not the best day ever for moi.  But it did get better.  I had some really positive emails this morning on my new venture.  Yeah, me!  And then my dear husband apologized, because (obviously) everything was his fault.  And remember how I wanted to be WOWed by a book?  Let me just tell you, I have been WOWed, big time!!  I spent an hour and a half (while my kids were at their tutoring) reading, and I may not sleep tonight trying to finish this fabulous book.  

And then, the icing on the cake- when we got home, I had a package of two beautiful new books from Hyperion waiting in my mailbox.  They are Schooled by Anisha Lakhani (YA fiction that just came out yesterday) and Getting Rid of Matthew by Jane Fallon (chick lit, coming out Aug. 12).  They both look great.

Free books in the mailbox.. almost as good as chocolate!  Now, if only I could get them to send both!  

Thanks, Hyperion, for making my day!

The Sunday Salon

Sunday has arrived!! Here’s hoping that you all have a relaxing day.

My week has been crazy and I haven’t been able to do much reading.  Oh, I have tried to wind down with a book at bedtime, but I find myself nodding off after 10 pages or so.  I did get a solid hour of reading in at my daughter’s gymnastics practice this week, but beyond that I haven’t had a good chunk of time to sit with a book and get lost in it.  Maybe today.

 I’m posting a couple pics from our vacation to Pennsylvania.  My kids have been bored and grumpy this week since we got back to our routine because they haven’t had a gaggle of kids around to traipse through the woods with, a thunderstorm to get caught in, or a lake to jump in.  My youngest daughter’s sad comment this week was, “There’s too much cement in California, Mom.”  She has a point.  

The books keep arriving at the door even if I haven’t had much time to read them.  This was my haul this week from UPS, FedEx, and the mailman:  

The Heartbreak Diet: A Story of Family, Fidelity, and Starting Over by Thorina Rose from Chronicle Books.  It’s a hardcover graphic novel (my first) that I requested from an ad in Shelf Awareness back in May.  I wanted to see what all the fuss was about with graphic novels.  I’ll let you know.

Netochka Nezvanova by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, a Penguin Classic that I requested months ago. This is a slim volume and apparently I have 6 weeks to read it or the Book Police will be after me.

Inglorious by Joanna Kavenna from Picador and LibraryThing’s early reviewers program.  This one came out a year ago but was just recently released in paperback.

The Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer from Harper Perennial and Every Day I Write the Book Blog.  This is the July online book club selection over at EDIWTB.

Queen of the Road by Doreen Orion- two copies- one from the author and one from the publisher, Broadway Books- so I will be giving one away!  This book is everywhere right now-and since one of my favorite people loved it, I am really excited to read it!  Watch for the giveaway post later today or tomorrow.

The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner from Ballantine Books and Dorothy Thompson at Pump Up Your Book Promotion.  I will be doing a virtual book tour stop for this one in August.

The Safety of Secrets by DeLaune Michel from Over the River Publications- the 2nd copy I’ve received from them, so I’ll be giving it away!  Look for the giveaway post Tuesday.  We also may have a Q & A from the author if I could just finish the book and get a few questions to her!  That is my goal for today.

And finally- an unbound galley of The Forbidden Daughter by Shobhan Bantwal from the author (coming out in August) that arrived in a ripped and bent thin white envelope.  Apparently they ran out of ARCs but even though the envelope was a mess, the galley is in good shape (one munched corner, but beyond that it’s ok).  I don’t recall requesting this, but I guess I did.  I’ve never received a book this way and it will be a challenge to read it like this, but hopefully it will be worth it!

I just noticed that the two covers I added to this post show only half of the woman’s face.  Huh.  Weird.  I thought I was being all random with the covers but they are oddly one-eyed and similar.  Maybe the other eye is on the spine.  I’ll have to check.

Well, I guess I better go read now!!  The kids are still sleeping so I might be able to string two sentences together before being interrupted.

If you’re like me and need to find more time for reading, check out these tips from Books on the Nightstand.  Have a great week!  ~Lisa

7 New Books to Throw into your Beach Bag this Summer

School’s out and the kids want to go to the pool, the beach, the water park.  What books should you throw into your beach bag?  Here are a few suggestions:

Not a Happy Camper: A Memoir by Mindy Schneider (256 pages)

A nostalgic look back to the 1970s at the experience of sleep-away camp through the eyes of a 13 year old Jewish girl.  I went to camp in the 70’s and can’t wait to relive those summers with this book.

The Well and the Mine by Gin Phillips (251 pages)

The ripple effect of a baby thrown into a well reveals the racial and class divisions in a southern coal-mining town in Depression-era Alabama. 

The Enders Hotel by Brandon Schrand (238 pages)

Schrand’s memoir of his youth in a decrepit Idaho hotel/cafe/bar. 

The Rope Walk by Carrie Brown (336 pages)

The story of a summer friendship between two children from very different backgrounds: 10 year old motherless Alice and the neighbor’s grandson, Theo.

The Last Summer (of You & Me) by Ann Brashares (320 pages)

Traveling Pants author’s first novel for adults- a coming of age story about two sisters in love with the same man.  

The Manny by Holly Peterson (368 pages)

A Park Ave. mom hires a male nanny for her son.  Could this be the male version of The Nanny Diaries?  Judging from the reviews on amazon, people seem to either love it or hate it.

Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe by Jennie Shortridge (400 pages)

After learning her college sweetheart husband has been cheating on her, Mira takes off with no destination in mind and lands in Seattle, where she finds someone new: herself.  I loved Jennie Shortridge’s book, Eating Heaven, and can’t wait to dive into this one!

What books are going in your beach bag? 

Review: And Sometimes Why by Rebecca Johnson


From Publishers Weekly

Vogue contributing editor Johnson examines in her heartbreaking debut the ties that bind and break in the face of tragedy. Darius, a Shakespeare scholar and professor, and his wife, Sophia, head of membership at a local art museum, are mired in the banal ebb-and-flow of family life they share with their two teen daughters—bookish Miranda and imperious social butterfly Helen. A sisterly tussle over use of the family car ends with Miranda attending college orientation and finding herself attracted to fellow freshman-to-be Jason, and Helen, while riding on the back of her just-dumped boyfriend’s motorcycle, getting into a horrific traffic accident. As Helen lies in the ICU suspended between life and death, the author gives voice to the people Helen has touched: Darius and Sophia find little solace in each other; Harry Harlow, the game show host who was involved in Helen’s accident, witnesses his life falling apart; and Miranda awkwardly navigates the feelings Jason has stirred within her. While the wandering focus on disparate characters pulls the novel in unwieldy directions (as when Miranda drops out to follow her boyfriend to Alaska), Johnson’s portrayal of a family’s grieving is exquisitely crafted. (Jan.)

And Sometimes Why by Rebecca Johnson came out on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, but I was lucky enough to win an advance copy from  I devoured this book in less than 48 hours.  I’m not sure if I can come up with the right words to do this novel justice.  

It is a gripping tale of what happens to a family after a tragic accident puts their lives into a state of suspended animation.  Watching this family fall apart reminded me in many ways of Jacqueline Michard’s The Deep End of the Ocean because in both cases, the parents are left to deal with a child who is not dead, but is in every other way gone.

Each family member comes to terms with the tragedy differently and in their own time.   The grieving parents’ relationship is torn apart as they disagree over their daughter’s care.  The distraught sister is the one who asks the hard questions and is the most realistic.  She moves from the family home in California to Alaska with her boyfriend. One day on a walk she encounters a fox in a trap, still alive but suffering.  She decides to put it out of it’s misery with her own hands.  Afterwards.. “Each time she glanced down at the body.. she felt her horror fade a tiny bit.  A body without life was an empty container.  Nothing to be afraid of.  Nothing to weep over.”

Ms. Johnson has done a great job of making her characters believable.  They seem so real to me.  It is a heartbreaking and compelling story, and so well written that it’s hard to believe it’s a first novel.

A book club would find much to discuss from And Sometimes Why (discussion questions can be found HERE).  The ending is open ended and I find myself wondering what the characters would do next.  This is a remarkable book and one I would highly recommend.

I’ve received an email from the author, and she is talking with the publisher to see if we can do a giveaway of this book here at Books on the Brain.  I’m hoping she will also agree to an interview.  Check back soon for details.