Mailbox Monday – 4/24

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Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.

Tell us about your new arrivals by adding your Mailbox Monday post to the linky at mailboxmonday.wordpress.com.

eARCs

I can’t even tell you how thrilled I am with the ones I picked up from NetGalley this week.

Mailbox Monday – 4/24City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett
Series: The Divine Cities #3
Published by Broadway Books on May 2, 2017
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 464
Format: eARC
Buy on Amazon or Audible
Add on Goodreads

Revenge. It's something Sigrud je Harkvaldsson is very, very good at. Maybe the only thing.

So when he learns that his oldest friend and ally, former Prime Minister Shara Komayd, has been assassinated, he knows exactly what to do and that no mortal force can stop him from meting out the suffering Shara's killers deserve.

Yet as Sigrud pursues his quarry with his customary terrifying efficiency, he begins to fear that this battle is an unwinnable one. Because discovering the truth behind Shara's death will require him to take up arms in a secret, decades-long war, face down an angry young god, and unravel the last mysteries of Bulikov, the city of miracles itself. And perhaps most daunting of all finally face the truth about his own cursed existence.

Mailbox Monday – 4/24Persons Unknown by Susie Steiner
Series: DS Manon #2
Published by Random House on July 4, 2017
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
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Detective Manon Bradshaw is five months pregnant and has officially given up on finding romantic love. Instead, she is in hot-pursuit of work-life balance and parked in a cold case corridor—the price she’s had to pay for a transfer back to Cambridgeshire. This is fine, she tells herself. She can devote herself to bringing up her two children—the new baby, and her adopted 12-year-old son Fly Dent. He needed a fresh start—he was being forever stopped and searched in London by officers who couldn’t see past the color of his skin. Manon feared Fly, increasingly sullen and adolescent, was getting in with the wrong crowd at school, or possibly that he was the wrong crowd. Being there for the children, and home by five, is what Manon tells herself she needs.

Yet when a wealthy victim is found stabbed close to police HQ, she can’t help but sidle in on the briefing: he is a banker from London, worth millions. More dramatically, he was also Manon’s sister Ellie’s ex, and the father of her toddler son. The investigation swirls with greater and greater urgency, and as it begins to circle in on Manon’s home and her family, she finds herself pitted against the former colleagues she once held dear—Davy Walker and Harriet Harper.

Can Manon separate what she feels about the people she loves, from the suspicion hanging over them? Can she interrogate the evidence, just as she would with any other case? And when Manon instructs defence lawyer Mark Talbot to work alongside her, can she refrain from throwing herself at him in a manner unbecoming to a woman at an advanced stage of pregnancy? Manon must fight to find the truth with every fiber of her being.

Mailbox Monday – 4/24A Christmas Peril by J.A. Hennrikus
Series: Theater Cop #1
Published by Midnight Ink on September 8, 2017
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
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When Edwina “Sully” Sullivan’s life imploded, she left behind her job on the police force and her unfaithful husband to start a new life as the general manager of her hometown theater, the Cliffside Theater Company. For five years, she focused on budgets instead of crimes and kept the Cliffside running alongside its mercurial artistic director.

But when her best friend is arrested for killing his father, the rich and powerful Peter Whitehall, no one is looking for another suspect. So, in between keeping A Christmas Carol on budget and Scrooge sober, Sully dusts off her investigative skills to find a killer. Her two lives collide when her ex-husband gets on the suspect list and she’s forced to confront her past in order to save her present.

Mailbox Monday – 4/24Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki
Published by Hogarth Press on May 9, 2017
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Buy on Amazon or Audible
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High in the Hollywood Hills, writer Lady Daniels has decided to take a break from her husband. She’s going to need a hand with her young son if she’s ever going to finish her memoir. In comes S., a magnetic young artist, who will live in the secluded guest house out back, care for Lady’s young toddler son, and keep a watchful eye on her older, teenage, one. S. performs her day job beautifully, quickly drawing the entire family into her orbit, and becoming a confidante for Lady. But as the summer wears on, S.’s connection to Lady’s older son takes a disturbing, and possibly destructive, turn. Lady and S. will move closer to one another as they both threaten to harm the things they hold most dear.

Thursday’s Tale: The Rabbit Herd

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Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Okay, today’s tale does not star a rabbit, but there is a herd of them that figure prominently and the story made me laugh. Variations of The Rabbit Herd are found throughout Europe and the Americas, although I have never heard it. This version is retold by D. L. Ashliman on his site, Folklore and Mythology.

Once upon a time there was a king who had a daughter that would not laugh. His jugglers, clowns, and jesters performed for her, but she could not, or would not, even break a smile. Finally the king proclaimed that whatever man — rich or poor, young or old, strong or frail — could break his daughter’s spell should take her as his wife, and receive half the kingdom as well. Men and boys came from every direction to try their luck but no one was successful.

Finally, the news reached a remote corner of the kingdom where a poor peasant lived with his three sons. The youngest — we’ll call him Hans (although some say that his name was Jack, or Ivan, or Juan) — decided that he too would try his luck at winning the hand of the princess. It’s always the youngest who gets to be the hero. He was a droll sort — some called him silly, others just plain stupid — whose capers often brought the villagers to laughter. Yes, he would give it a try. And he set forth, pursued by the jeers of his older and wiser brothers, on the path that led to the king’s palace.

At midday he was looking for a shady spot where he could rest and eat the crust of bread he had brought, when suddenly he came upon an old man by the side of the road.

“Would you share your bread with a weary traveler?” asked the stranger.

“Half a dry crust is quite as good as a whole one,” replied Hans, and broke off a piece for the old man. As we know, it’s always a good idea to help strangers, especially old ones.

“Bless you, my son,” responded the stranger. “I cannot reward you with gold, but this whistle will lead you to that, and more.” So saying, he offered Hans a tiny silver flute. I’m sure the flute will come in handy.

Hans put the flute to his lips, and it began to play, first a marching tune, then a cheerful air, and then a pensive hymn. Before he knew it, Hans had arrived at the palace, and the guards, charmed by his tuneful music, let him pass. His heart leapt for joy, and the flute broke into a lusty jig. The princess, hearing the tune, opened her window and looked out. She nodded her head to the beat, then gave a cautious grin, and then an open smile. She chuckled softly to herself, then broke into a happy laugh.

The king, hearing her joyful laughter, was beside himself with glee, until he saw the lad who was playing the flute. Hans, you see, did have the look of a peasant and of a simpleton, and the king, in spite of his promise, was hoping for a finer man.

“That is all well and good,” said the king to Hans, “but before you can receive the princess, there is yet another task that you must fulfill.” He then had one hundred wild rabbits set loose in a nearby forest. “Keep these animals together in a herd,” said the king, and in three days the princess and half the kingdom shall be yours. But if you lose a single rabbit, you shall forfeit everything.”

Even as he spoke the rabbits ran to the four winds, but Hans did not despair. He blew a few notes into the silver flute, and as if by magic, the hundred rabbits assembled at his feet. Reassured, he made himself comfortable in the shade of a large tree, and waited for the three days to pass.

The king, seeing how easily Hans kept the herd together was filled with worry and anger. No other solution presented itself, so finally he sent his daughter into the woods, telling her to do whatever was necessary to get a rabbit away from the peasant herdsman.

The princess presented herself to Hans, and asked him ever so politely if she might not purchase one of his rabbits. His answer made her blush. “You don’t mean that I would have to …,” she said, and didn’t know whether to pout or to smile.

No, he would accept no other offer, said Hans. “Take it, or leave it.”

And so she took it. Hmm – wonder what she did? In some versions, it’s exactly what you’re thinking, in other’s it’s kidding a donkeys rear or “cuddling and kissing” for a while.

The princess left the woods carrying a rabbit in her basket. But well before she arrived home, Hans put the magic flute to his lips, and in an instant the rabbit jumped from her basket and raced back to the herd.

The next day the king, ever more desperate, sent his own wife into the woods with instructions to bring home a rabbit, whatever the cost. When Hans named his price, the queen, like the princess before her, first pouted, then smiled, and then gave in. But she too lost her rabbit when Hans called it back with his magic flute.

On the third day the king himself went into the woods to bargain for a rabbit. Hans, as before, was willing to trade, but this time the price — no, I cannot bring myself to say more than that it involved a mare that was grazing in a nearby clearing. 🙂 Red with shame, the king took his rabbit and started off for home, but again the flute called the rabbit back into the herd.

The three days had passed, and the rabbit herd was still intact, but now the king found yet another task that Hans would have to fulfill before he could claim the princess and half the kingdom. “A trifle,” explained the king. “Just sing three bags full.”

“I can manage that,” said Hans. “Bring me three empty bags, and I’ll sing them full to the top, but only in the presence of the finest lords and ladies of the kingdom.

The king, believing that at last he would be rid of the peasant lad, assembled the lords and ladies in a great hall, then brought in Hans and three empty bags. Hans picked up a bag and started to sing:
“Our princess went into the woods;
She thought she’d try her luck,”

“Stop!” called out the princess. That bag is full!” Hans obligingly stopped singing, tied a string around the mouth of the bag, picked up the next one, and started a new song:
“Our queen she went into the woods;
She thought she’d try her luck, ”

“Stop!” shouted the queen. That bag is full!” Hans stopped, tied this bag shut, picked up the last one, and commenced singing:
“Our king he went into the woods;
He thought he’d try his luck, ”

“Stop!” bellowed the king. The last bag is full!” With that, the king proclaimed that Hans had won the princess’s hand in marriage and half the kingdom.

The wedding was celebrated that same day. All the lords and ladies attended the great feast that followed.

Funny little story, don’t you agree? Not exactly child friendly though. I’m not sure how I would feel if I was the princess, and maybe I shouldn’t find it funny. Hans did intimidate the three of them into sexual acts, even if he didn’t use violence. But fairy tales are not supposed to be politically correct.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all. Feel free to join in.

Wooing the Wedding Planner by Amber Leigh Williams

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Wooing the Wedding Planner by Amber Leigh Williams

Wooing the Wedding Planner by Amber Leigh Williams Wooing the Wedding Planner by Amber Leigh Williams
Published by Harlequin Enterprises Ltd. on January 3, 2017
Source: Pump Up Your Book!
Genres: Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Buy on Amazon
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No more wedding marches for her!

Wedding planner Roxie Honeycutt can make happy-ever-after come true for anyone except herself. Freshly divorced and done with love, she's okay with watching clients walk down the aisle. What's not okay? Sharing a charming Victorian house with accountant Byron Strong. He's frustratingly sexy and determined to keep her confused.

Roxie thought Byron's expertise was numbers, yet somehow he sees her for who she really is. Somehow he understands the hurt she hides behind a trademark smile. Suddenly romance is tempting again, even if it means risking another heartbreak.

Wooing the Wedding Planner is the type of romance I enjoy. Both Roxie and Byron are good, solid characters on their own and their relationship gradually grows. Yes, they know they’re attracted to each other way before they do anything about it, but they both have pasts that are standing in their way. The problems aren’t too big though, they never seem insurmountable, which I like.

I could be friends with Roxie. She’s trying to be happy after her divorce, to make the right choices for herself, and she’s good at her job. For the record, her family is terrible. Byron is sexy and smart. Due to a mix-up, they are both at the Victorian, although he’s living in a separate apartment. He’s a widower and has always believed that Strong men have one true love and that love lasts a lifetime. His family is fabulous, funny, accepting, supportive. I never doubted that they would get their happy ending, but I enjoyed seeing how they got there.

This was a just a good, nice read that made me smile.

Book Excerpt:

“What was wrong with the old Roxie?”

His words stuck with her. And his kiss.

It was difficult to forget a kiss like that, especially coming from someone…well, someone like Byron. Roxie had spent more time than she’d like to admit trying not to think about the kiss – about how sweet it was. She’d forgotten kisses could be so sweet. She’d tried extra hard to forget how his lips had lingered. And how in lingering he’d awakened starbursts inside her. Starbursts of eternity.

She frowned deeply. Being touched…it had been so long since she had really been touched. The hollowness in her had turned into a resounding ache, and for a few moments she’d thought about bringing Byron’s mouth back down to hers. For a few moments, she’d craved more than his companionship. She’d craved the contact. The promise of heat that came with it.

But had she wanted it – had she wanted him – for the single reason that heat could erode loneliness? There was trust there. There was affection. For those small starbursts of eternity, there had been longing and the promise of flame. It had been too long since she’d felt the sheer, electrical pulse of new chemistry.

Why had Byron’s kiss made it seem like so long since she’d felt the flame? The passion?

GIVEAWAY!

Amber is giving away a $50 B&N Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
• By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
• One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive a $50 B&N Gift Card.
• This giveaway ends midnight April 28.

Good luck everyone!

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About Amber Leigh Williams

Amber Leigh Williams is a Harlequin romance writer who lives on the US Gulf Coast. She lives for beach days, the smell of real books, and spending time with her husband and their two young children. When she’s not keeping up with rambunctious little ones (and two large dogs), she can usually be found reading a good book or indulging her inner foodie. Amber is represented by the D4EO Literary Agency.

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