Archives

Mailbox Monday – 11/13

by

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.

I picked up a couple from NetGalley. They were both too tempting.

Mailbox Monday – 11/13The Last Cruise by Kate Christensen
Illustrator: Russell Ayto
Published by Doubleday on July 10, 2018
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Buy on Amazon
Add on Goodreads

From the acclaimed PEN-Faulkner Award-winning author of The Great Man comes a riveting high-seas adventure that combines Christensen’s signature wit, irony, and humanity to create a striking and unforgettable vision of our times.

The 1950s vintage ocean liner Queen Isabella is making her final voyage before heading to the scrapyard. For the guests on board, among them Christine Thorne, a former journalist turned Maine farmer, it’s a chance to experience the bygone mid-20th century era of decadent luxury cruising, complete with fine dining, classic highballs, string quartets, and sophisticated jazz. Smoking is allowed but not cell phones–or children, for that matter. The Isabella sets sail from Long Beach, CA into calm seas on a two-week retro cruise to Hawaii and back.

But this is the second decade of an uncertain new millennium, not the sunny, heedless fifties, and certain disquieting signs of strife and malfunction above and below decks intrude on the festivities. Down in the main galley, Mick Szabo, a battle-weary Hungarian executive sous-chef, watches escalating tensions among the crew. Meanwhile, Miriam Koslow, an elderly Israeli violinist with the Sabra Quartet, becomes increasingly aware of the age-related vulnerabilities of the ship herself and the cynical corners cut by the cruise ship company, Cabaret.

When a time of crisis begins, Christine, Mick, and Miriam find themselves facing the unknown together in an unexpected and startling test of their characters.

Mailbox Monday – 11/13Old Misery by James Sage
Illustrator: Russell Ayto
Published by Kids Can Press on May 1, 2018
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Picture Book
Pages: 40
Format: eARC
Buy on Amazon
Add on Goodreads

Poor Old Misery. She and her old cat, Rutterkin, "ain't got two pennies to rub together." And the one thing of value she does have ---a tree, filled with good eating apples --- is regularly ransacked by humans and animals of all kinds who make off with armloads of apples! So, one day, when a surprise visitor grants her a wish, Old Misery tells him, "There's but one wish for me, mister, and it's this here: whoever I catch stealing apples off my tree will get stuck to it until I decide to let them go!" At first, it seems like her wish was a terrific idea, as she catches all the apple thieves and sends them on their way for good. But then Old Misery decides to use her new power on another surprise visitor. And she learns what may be the most miserable lesson of all: be careful what you wish for!

Author James Sage has created a playful allegory about why misery exists in the world, and always will. Award-winning Russell Ayto's two-color, pen-and-ink illustrations do a superb job of evoking the eccentric and slightly macabre feel of the book, perfectly complementing the original voice of the storytelling. The dark humor and a vintage feel will make this picture book a hit with fans of Edward Gorey and Lemony Snicket.

Rapunzel was free when I picked it up, but it’s $2.99 now. I read her re-telling of Beauty and the Beast earlier this year and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

Mailbox Monday – 11/13Rapunzel and the Dark Prince by Lidiya Foxglove
Series: Fairy Tale Heat #3
Published by the author on July 3, 2017
Source: Freebie
Genres: Fairy tale, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 159
Format: eBook
Buy on Amazon
Add on Goodreads

It gets pretty lonely, spending your entire life in a tower. The Witch told me she was keeping me safe from a dangerous world. But one day, when I let down my hair, the Witch wasn't the one to climb up.

His presence was so overwhelming; his hands steady on my back, his lips and tongue marking me forever with the taste of a man. I was used to being alone a lot of the time, and wandering around the tower sort of aimlessly, trying to decide what to do once the chores were done.

Now his mouth was telling me what to do and oh, it was good. I would say it was a relief, but it was a lot more than that.

Prince Dorin of Yirvagna, from the darkling lands, is tall and dark, with horns and a tail...and the first man I've ever seen in my life. He tells me I'm his bonded mate and I must come with him, and if I'm not so sure about this (admittedly charming) prince, the Witch's plans for me are worse. And when Prince Dorin stands in her way, her retaliation is swift. I taste freedom for the first time at the cost of Dorin's eyesight...but can I find a way to lift his curse?

The Fairy Tale Heat series are standalone fairy tale retellings for those who like unabashedly adorable happily ever afters with a side of serious steaminess!

 

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

by
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
Published by Borders Classics on January 1, 2006 (first published June 20, 1890)
Source: On shelves
Genres: Classic, Fiction
Pages: 194
Format: Paperback
Buy on Amazon or Audible
Add on Goodreads

Dorian Gray, a handsome and narcissistic young man, lives thoughtlessly for his own pleasure - an attitude encouraged by the company he keeps. One day, after having his portrait painted, Dorian makes a frivolous Faustian wish: that he should always remain as young and beautiful as he is in that painting, while the portrait grows old in his stead.

The wish comes true, and Dorian soon finds that none of his wicked actions have visible consequences. Realizing that he will appear fresh and unspoiled no matter what kind of life he lives, Dorian becomes increasingly corrupt, unchecked by public opinion. Only the portrait grows degenerate and ugly, a powerful symbol of Dorian's internal ruin.

Yeah, so I’m not a fan of The Picture of Dorian Gray. I’m sorry, but it was kind of boring and I knew how it was going to end. The idea itself is interesting; Dorian doesn’t age, but his portrait does and it shows all the signs of his downfall instead of him. Of course, it takes almost half the book to get to that part. it’s a much more philosophical book than I though it would be. It touches on the nature of art and on society’s adoration of youth and beauty. Sin is obviously important to the story  and what a person will do if they are free from consequences, but I think even more important is the dangers of truly influential people. Dorian wasn’t the star for me, his “friend” Henry was. It’s Henry who leads him down the hedonistic path. Henry is charming and witty, he theorizes and shocks people. He encourages Dorian, even though he himself seems to lead a pretty unremarkable life.

Dorian starts off as a beautiful young man, who eventually does whatever he wants whenever. Really, though, we don’t see much of what makes him a terrible person. Two events, breaking a young woman’s heart, leading her to commit suicide, and committing murder himself are clearly reprehensible; but we have 18 years where his friends eventually mostly turn against him, where it becomes increasingly obvious that people know he is immoral, but we don’t know really what he does. We can guess and assume, but I expected to read more of his actual actions. Of course, given the time period this was written, that was probably an unrealistic expectation.

About Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900) was an Irish playwright, poet and author of numerous short stories and one novel. Known for his biting wit, and a plentitude of aphorisms, he became one of the most successful playwrights of the late Victorian era in London, and one of the greatest celebrities of his day. Several of his plays continue to be widely performed, especially The Importance of Being Earnest.

As the result of a widely covered series of trials, Wilde suffered a dramatic downfall and was imprisoned for two years hard labour after being convicted of “gross indecency” with other men. After Wilde was released from prison he set sail for Dieppe, France by the night ferry. He never returned to Ireland or Britain, and died in poverty.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

The End of the Day by Claire North

by
The End of the Day by Claire North The End of the Day by Claire North
Narrator: Peter Kenny
Published by Redhook on April 4, 2017
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fiction
Length: 12 hrs 22 mins
Format: Audiobook
Buy on Amazon or Audible
Add on Goodreads

Charlie has a new job. He gets to travel, and he meets interesting people, some of whom are actually pleased to see him.

It's good to have a friendly face, you see. At the end.

But the end of all things is coming. Charlie's boss and his three associates are riding out, and it's Charlie's job to go before.

Sometimes he is sent as a courtesy, sometimes as a warning. He never knows which.

Charlie is the Harbinger of Death. It’s his job. He’s a mortal, has no super powers except a support staff at an office somewhere who are great at making reservations, getting him across borders and out of jail, and paying ransoms. He meets good people and terrible people, and sometimes he’s sent for ideas or ways of life and not individuals. He celebrates Life and we travel with him.

That’s what we do, we see what he sees, hear what he hears, including random snippets of conversation, go where he goes. We’re with him when he meets people, gives them gifts, tells them he is the Harbinger and sometimes he comes as a warning and sometimes as a courtesy. We’re with him as he listens to people’s life stories and when he is beaten and held prisoner. After all, not everyone is happy when the Harbinger of Death shows up; some are though. Yes, sometimes we see slices of the lives of the other Harbingers – each Horseman has one, and sometimes we see what War or Pestilence, or Famine is up to, but mostly we’re with Charlie. This is a very character and idea driven novel. It touches on so many current issues, war, racism, immigration, environmental change, guns. People can be a dreadful lot at times, but they can also be kind, and loving, and hopeful. And who knew Death could be such a likeable guy?

I loved the story. I listened to the audio version. Her writing is beautiful and touching and descriptive and Kenny was the perfect narrator. His voices during the snippets of conversations set them apart nicely. His Charlie was spot on, humorous at times, but so scared at others and just British enough. In a book with so many characters who only show up for a scene or two, he does a great job giving each his/her own personality, own inflections.

The End of the Day doesn’t really have much of a plot, though, and it’s rather slow. It’s a series of events and they do connect, but it doesn’t follow a traditional structure. It’s more about the ideas and viewpoints than about what happens next. For me it worked. I don’t know if it will for everyone.

About Claire North

Claire North is the pen name for the Carnegie-nominated Catherine Webb, who also writes under the name Kate Griffin. Catherine currently works as a theatre lighting designer and is a fan of big cities, urban magic, Thai food and graffiti-spotting. She lives in London.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

%d bloggers like this: