Sunday, August 2, 2009

In My Mailbox (4)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.
Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn (paperback) April 21, 2008
Ghost story fans have a spooky treat in store with Hahn's eerie new novel. Molly, the 12-year-old narrator, and her brother Michael dislike their bratty 5-year-old stepsister Heather and resent the family move to an isolated converted church in the country. The adjourning graveyard frightens Molly, but Heather seems drawn to it. Molly discovers that the ghost of a child (Helen) who died in a fire a century ago wants to lure Heather to her doom. Molly determines to save her stepsister. In so doing, she learns that Heather's strange behavior stems from her feelings of guilt at having accidentally caused her mother's death by playing near a stove and starting a fire. Eventually, Molly wrests Heather from Helen's arms as the ghost attempts to drown them. The girls discover the skeletons of Helen's parents, and their burial finally puts to rest Helen's spirit. This is a powerful, convincing, and frightening tale. The details of everyday life quickly give way to terror. The pace never slackens. Characterization is strong, and descriptive passages set a mood of suspense. There should be a heavy demand from readers who are not "faint at heart."
One of the 10 books I won from a contest. 
The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent (ARC) September 3, 2009
Told from the point of view of young Sarah, the daughter of one of the first women to be accused, tried, and hanged as a witch in Salem, this novel paints a vivid and disturbing picture of Puritan New England life. Based on fact and the author's family history, the story portrays Martha, Sarah's mother, as a strong-willed nonconformist who knows she is a target of the zealots who pit family members against one another with their false accusations. All but one of the siblings end up imprisoned with their mother, and much of the story is told from the inhumane and corruptly run jail. When Martha is finally executed, her husband "would stand for all of us so that when she closed her eyes for the last time, there would be a counterweight of love against the overflowing presence of vengeance and fear."
One of the 10 books I won from a contest. 
The Mammy by Brendan O'Carroll (paperback) May 1, 1999
It seems like there's no end to Irish tales depicting unhappy, squalid childhoods in crowded, working-class flats. While Brendan O'Carroll's The Mammy maintains many elements of the traditional genre--the saintly, overworked mother, the Catholic family with an enormous posse of children and any number of abusive alcoholic fathers--it's a somewhat cheerier vision of Irish youth than we've come to expect. The mammy in question, one Agnes Browne, has enough spunk to look after her brood of seven, run a fruit stand at the local open market, gossip viciously with her best friend Marion, and still daydream about dancing with a famous singer.
One of the 10 books I won from a contest. 
Peter Loon by Van Reid (paperback) July 23, 2003
Peter Loon, a 17-year-old boy from backwoods Maine whose mother, Rosemund, sends him on an odd quest after the Revolutionary War. When she was a girl, Rosemund had two suitors: Silas Loon and Obed Winslow. She married Silas, but never really loved him, and when he dies in an accident in the 18th year of her marriage, she sends Peter to find Obed. The initial chapters display the same country charm that made Reid's prior books so endearing, but problems start when the author introduces several romantic subplots. Peter's first distraction is the beautiful Nora Tillage, who has been "sold" into virtual slavery by a corrupt preacher named Nathan Barrow. Peter joins a rival preacher, Zachariah Leach, to liberate the girl, but he soon finds himself disturbed by Nora's skittishness. After Peter gets mixed up with a local militia group in a muddled plot twist that includes a village uprising after several unjust arrests, Nora is replaced in his affections by the fiery Elspeth Gray. Peter is a likable if somewhat underdeveloped character.
One of the 10 books I won from a contest.
Robin Meade's Morning Sunshine! How to radiate confidence and feel it too. (ARC) September 10, 2009
Robin Meade is the poster child for confidence and self-assurance. But the anchor of Morning Express with Robin Meade wasn't always that way. In fact, there was a period in her career when she was plagued with anxiety and panic attacks. In MORNING SUNSHINE, she tells how she overcame her fear of public speaking to go on and achieve her dream of becoming a news anchor.  Robin Meade offers her own tried-and-true four-step approach to building confidence. Her trademark warm, personal style translates from the screen to the page in this book, which will give readers even more insight into the young woman who came out of nowhere to become one of the most popular news anchors on television today. 
One of the 10 books I won in a contest.
Creepers by Joanne Dahme (ARC) September 8, 2008
In this brooding debut teen chiller, 13-year-old Courtney "never had believed in wicked witches, invisible ghosts, or haunted ivy," but everything changes when she and her parents move into an 18th-century stone house adjacent a Puritan cemetery in Murmur, Mass. Gazing at the vine-draped house and trees, Courtney wonders, "What's with all the ivy?" Quickly obsessed with the equally ivy-infested cemetery, Courtney finds herself drawn to Christian and Margaret Geyer, an eccentric father and daughter intent on resolving a family mystery. As Courtney and the ethereal Margaret piece together clues from old journals and newspapers, the ivy invasion of Courtney's house becomes increasingly demonic. Frightened, but determined to help her friends, Courtney realizes spirits both visible and invisible are using her to find the missing remains of Margaret's ancestor Prudence to release an ancient spell surrounding the house. The suspense builds, but like a true gothic heroine, Courtney keeps her cool and retains just enough disbelief to prove credible amid the graveyard gloom and irrational ivy. A creepy but grounded caper.
One of the 10 books I won from a contest.
Cruel Summer by Alyson Noël (paperback) May 27, 2008 Seventeen-year-old Colby Cavendish's plans are tossed overboard when her parents decide she should spend the summer with her aunt on a remote Greek island. They are jeopardizing her hard-won spot as ultracool Amanda's "new best friend," and now that she's hooked up with hottie Levi Bonham, how is she supposed to hang on to him? Crazy Aunt Tally, who talks to her plants and sells handmade jewelry, doesn't have a cell phone, TV, or Internet access. Colby's feelings and experiences are relayed through clever, but sometimes typographically confusing, emails, journal entries, letters, postcards, and a "Cruel Summer" blog. (The island has an Internet café.) The story is one of understandable teen frustration and resentment: adults don't make sense to her, and she's insecure about her new social status. She's far away from the usual connections, electronic and otherwise, that she and many comfortably middle-class, modern American teens rely on. An islander, Yannis, complicates her feelings for Levi, and Colby finds herself becoming involved, against her will, in the rhythms and lifestyle of this charming, remote place. The protagonist's venting and observations are alternately whiny, wistful, strident, and hilarious. Despite typical teen self-obsession, Colby is likable and ultimately well intentioned. As she deals with her feelings, she blunders her way rather charmingly into a new maturity.
I won this book from Feed Your Imagination.
The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson (ARC) August 4, 2009
An extraordinary debut novel of love that survives the fires of hell and transcends the boundaries of time. 
The narrator of The Gargoyle is a very contemporary cynic, physically beautiful and sexually adept, who dwells in the moral vacuum that is modern life. As the book opens, he is driving along a dark road when he is distracted by what seems to be a flight of arrows. He crashes into a ravine and suffers horrible burns over much of his body. As he recovers in a burn ward, undergoing the tortures of the damned, he awaits the day when he can leave the hospital and commit carefully planned suicide—for he is now a monster in appearance as well as in soul.  A beautiful and compelling, but clearly unhinged, sculptress of gargoyles by the name of Marianne Engel appears at the foot of his bed and insists that they were once lovers in medieval Germany. In her telling, he was a badly injured mercenary and she was a nun and scribe in the famed monastery of Engelthal who nursed him back to health. As she spins their tale in Scheherazade fashion and relates equally mesmerizing stories of deathless love in Japan, Iceland, Italy, and England, he finds himself drawn back to life—and, finally, in love. He is released into Marianne's care and takes up residence in her huge stone house. But all is not well. For one thing, the pull of his past sins becomes ever more powerful as the morphine he is prescribed becomes ever more addictive. For another, Marianne receives word from God that she has only twenty-seven sculptures left to complete—and her time on earth will be finished. 
One of the 10 books I won in a contest. 
The Girl Who Stopped Swimming (Paperback) May 26, 2009 Laurel, a high-end quilt maker, sees the ghost of a little girl in her bedroom one night. When it leads her to the backyard and a dead girl in the swimming pool, the life Laurel had hoped to build in her gated Florida neighborhood with her video-game designer husband, David, and their tween daughter, Shelby, starts to fall apart. Though the police clear the drowning as accidental, it soon appears that Shelby and her friend Bet may have been involved. Bet, who lives in DeLop, Laurel's impoverished hometown, was staying over the night of the drowning and plays an increasingly important role as the truth behind the drowning comes to light. Meanwhile, Laurel's sister, Thalia, whose unconventional ways are anathema to Laurel's staid existence, comes to stay with the family and helps sort things out. Subplots abound: Laurel thinks David is having an affair, and Thalia reveals some ugly family secrets involving the death of their uncle. What makes this novel shine are its revelations about the dark side of Southern society and Thalia and Laurel's finely honed relationship, which shows just how much thicker blood is than water.
One of the 10 books I won in a contest. 
Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink (ARC) August 1, 2009
An ancient prophecy divides two sisters-One good...One evil... Who will prevail? Twin sisters Lia and Alice Milthorpe have just become orphans. They have also become enemies. As they discover their roles in a prophecy that has turned generations of sisters against each other, the girls find themselves entangled in a mystery that involves a tattoo-like mark, their parents' deaths, a boy, a book, and a lifetime of secrets.  Lia and Alice don't know whom they can trust. They just know they can't trust each other.
One of the 10 books I won from a contest. Can't wait to read this!
Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr (ARC) October 1, 2009 Samara Taylor used to believe in miracles. She used to believe in a lot of things. As a pastor's kid, it's hard not to buy in to the idea of the perfect family, a loving God, and amazing grace. But lately, Sam has a lot of reason to doubt. Her mother lands in rehab after a DUI and her father seems more interested in his congregation than his family. When a young girl in her small town is kidnapped, the local tragedy overlaps with Sam's personal one, and the already-worn thread of faith holding her together begins to unravel.  In her third novel, acclaimed author Sara Zarr examines the coexistence of affliction and hope, and what happens when everything you thought you believed---about God, about your family, about yourself---is transformed.
One of the 10 books I won from a contest. Love Sara Zarr's books!!
Andromeda Klein by Frank Portman (ARC) August 25, 2009
Andromeda Klein has a few problems. Her hair is kind of horrible.
Her partner-in-occultism, Daisy, is dead. Her secret, estranged, much older and forbidden boyfriend-in-theory, has gone AWOL. And her mother has learned how to text. In short, things couldn't get much worse. Until they do. Daisy seems to be attempting to make contact from beyond, books are starting to disappear from the library, and then, strangely and suddenly, Andromeda's tarot readings are beginning to predict events with bizarrely literal accuracy.  Omens are everywhere. Dreams; swords; fires; hidden cards; lost, broken, and dead cell phones . . . and what is Daisy trying to tell her? In the ensuing struggle of neutral versus evil, it's Andromeda Klein against the world, modern society, demonic forces, and the "friends" of the library.
I got this book for review and I'm super excited to read this!
Far From You by Lisa Schroeder (hardcover) December 23, 2008
Lost and alone...down the rabbit hole.
Years have passed since Alice lost her mother to cancer, but 
time hasn't quite healed the wound. Alice copes the best she can by writing her music, losing herself in her love for her boyfriend, and distancing herself from her father and his new wife. But when a deadly snowstorm traps Alice with her stepmother and newborn half sister, she'll face issues she's been avoiding for too long. As Alice looks to the heavens for guidance, she discovers something wonderful.Perhaps she's not so alone after all.... 
I won this book from Feed Your Imagination
Intensely Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (hardcover) June 2, 2009
Wouldn't it be great to go back to the time before Pamela got pregnant, before Patrick left for the University of Chicago, before anyone was making any big decisions about sex or college or life in general? Wouldn't it be great to get the whole gang together again, just once? But what it takes for this to happen will change Alice (and the whole gang) forever.Full of life -- the good, the bad, and the heartbreaking -- the latest Alice book reminds us all just how much can change in an instant. 
I bought this book on Monday. To read by review go HERE.
The Host by Stephenie Meyer (hardcover) May 6, 2008
In this tantalizing SF thriller, planet-hopping parasites are inserting their silvery centipede selves into human brains, curing cancer, eliminating war and turning Earth into paradise. But some people want Earth back, warts and all, especially Melanie Stryder, who refuses to surrender, even after being captured in Chicago and becoming a host for a soul called Wanderer. Melanie uses her surviving brain cells to persuade Wanderer to help search for her loved ones in the Arizona desert. When the pair find Melanie's brother and her boyfriend in a hidden rebel cell led by her uncle, Wanderer is at first hated. Once the rebels accept Wanderer, whom they dub Wanda, Wanda's whole perspective on humanity changes. While the straightforward narrative is short on detail about the invasion and its stunning aftermath, it shines with romantic intrigue, especially when a love triangle (or quadrangle?!) develops for Wanda/Melanie. I won this book from the Tome Traveler's Weblog
Special thanks to The Tome Traveler's Weblog for hosting the 100th giveaway contest, where I won 10 books! 



B.A.M. Book Reviews said...

Oh my gosh! That was a never-ending IMM post! You got tons of books!


Katie said...

WOW. That is a ton of books! I can't wait for my copy of "The Prophecy of the Sisters" comes to my house. I hope you like it.

Happy reading!

Rebecca said...

Great books you got this week, I really liked the Host. Hope you enjoy reading your books.

Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


The Tome Traveller said...

So glad you like them!!



Bianca said...

Sara, thank you so much to your comment! It really means a lot to me.

Feel free to email me any time at infinitemusic19 AT gmail DOT com

Sheila (bookjourney) said...

You have some awesome looking books here! The Heretic's Daughter looks so good!