Friday, March 14, 2014

Friday Freebie: Knitting Yarns by Ann Hood, Last Friends by Jane Gardam, Hand Me Down by Melanie Thorne, North of Hope by Shannon Huffman Polson, The Promise by Ann Weisgarber

Congratulations to Lauren Bufferd, winner of last week's Friday Freebie: Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen.

This week's book giveaway is another big blow-out bonanza. It's time to clear the decks of some extra books which have been piling up over the last few months. One lucky reader will win a copy of Knitting Yarns edited by Ann Hood, Last Friends by Jane Gardam, Hand Me Down by Melanie Thorne, North of Hope by Shannon Huffman Polson, and The Promise by Ann Weisgarber.  Last Friends and Hand Me Down are trade paperbacks, the rest are hardcover.

Why does knitting occupy a place in the hearts of so many writers?  What's so magical and transformative about yarn and needles?  How does knitting help us get through life-changing events and inspire joy?  In Knitting Yarns, twenty-seven writers tell stories about how knitting healed, challenged, or helped them to grow.  Barbara Kingsolver describes sheering a sheep for yarn.  Elizabeth Berg writes about her frustration at failing to knit.  Ann Patchett traces her life through her knitting, writing about the scarf that knits together the women she's loved and lost.  Knitting a Christmas gift for his blind aunt helped Andre Dubus III knit an understanding with his girlfriend.  Kaylie Jones finds the woman who used knitting to help raise her in France and heals old wounds.  Sue Grafton writes about her passion for knitting.  Also included are five original knitting patterns created by Helen Bingham.

Here's what Booklist said about Jane Gardam's novel: Last Friends brings to a close Jane Gardam’s lauded series that includes Old Filth (2006) and The Man in the Wooden Hat (2011).  Like its predecessors, this final installment examines the complex world of British class, empire, and the social circles that bring them together.  Gardam tells of the rise and fall of Terry Veneering, the son of a mysterious Russian acrobat and a rough-and-tumble local girl living in the English midlands.  As a child, Veneering is exposed to the ugly side of the British upper class and narrowly escapes death during the Blitz in WWII.  Disgusted by the attitudes of the English gentry, and with his hometown destroyed in the war, Veneering sets off to remake himself in the Far East, only to return to England under suspicion.  Gardam’s previous novels have brought her acclaim in England, and with the right mix of publicity and word-of-mouth support, American readers, too, will respond to her witty style, insatiable readability, and cast of strange and amazing characters.

In Hand Me Down, Melanie Thorne's autobiographical novel, fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Reid has spent her life protecting her sister, Jaime, from their parents’ cruel mistakes and broken promises.  When their mother chooses her second husband and their new family over raising her firstborn girls, Elizabeth and Jaime are separated and risk losing the shelter of each other.  Hand Me Down indelibly captures a contemporary family journey--how two young people, against incredible odds, forge lives of their own in the face of an uncertain future.  “Thorne sounds utterly liberated as she describes the merits of exploring fact through fiction…With the clear-eyed honesty of a Daniel Woodrell or Bonnie Jo Campbell character, Liz describes the pain of being a young person among careless, thrill-seeking men and hardworking, wounded women.”  (San Francisco Chronicle)

Shannon Huffman Polson's memoir North of Hope is an utterly gut-wrenching and ultimately very moving story of how she coped with loss and grief.  After her parents are killed in a rare grizzly attack, Shannon is forced into a wilderness of grief and explores this perilous terrain through music, the natural world, and her faith.  Her travels take her from the suburbs of Seattle to the concert hall where she sings Mozart's Requiem, and ultimately into the wilderness of Alaska's remote Arctic and of her heart.  This deeply moving narrative is shot through with the human search for meaning in the face of tragedy.  Polson's deep appreciation for the untamed and remote wilderness of the Alaskan Arctic moves her story effortlessly between adventure, natural history, and sacred pilgrimage, as much an internal journey as a literal one.  Readers who appreciate music or adventure narratives and the natural world or who are looking for new ways to understand loss will find guidance, solace, and a companionable voice in this extraordinary debut.  “Shannon Huffman Polson has written a soulful and brave book about death, life, and the complexities surrounding both.  There is nothing sentimental in these pages.  North of Hope shows us how personal loss and loss of our planet come from the same place: Love.  This is a testament to deep change, human and wild.”  (Terry Tempest Williams, author, When Women Were Birds)

Ann Weisgarber's new novel, The Promise, won't be released until next month, but if you're the Friday Freebie winner you'll be able crack it open well in advance of publication.  I think you're gonna love what you find inside.  Here's the plot synopsis: 1900.  Young pianist Catherine Wainwright flees the fashionable town of Dayton, Ohio in the wake of a terrible scandal.  Heartbroken and facing destitution, she finds herself striking up correspondence with a childhood admirer, the recently widowed Oscar Williams.  In desperation she agrees to marry him, but when Catherine travels to Oscar's farm on Galveston Island, Texas--a thousand miles from home--she finds she is little prepared for the life that awaits her.  The island is remote, the weather sweltering, and Oscar's little boy Andre is grieving hard for his lost mother.  And though Oscar tries to please his new wife, the secrets of the past sit uncomfortably between them.  For Nan Ogden, Oscar's housekeeper, Catherine's sudden arrival has come as a great shock.  For not only did she promise Oscar's first wife that she would be the one to take care of little Andre, but she has feelings for Oscar which she is struggling to suppress.  And when the worst storm in a generation descends, the women will find themselves tested as never before.

If you’d like a chance at winning a copy of all five of these books, simply email your name and mailing address to

Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line.  One entry per person, please.  Despite its name, the Friday Freebie runs all week long and remains open to entries until midnight on March 20, at which time I’ll draw the winning name.  I’ll announce the lucky reader on March 21.  If you’d like to join the mailing list for the once-a-week newsletter, simply add the words “Sign me up for the newsletter” in the body of your email.  Your email address and other personal information will never be sold or given to a third party (except in those instances where the publisher requires a mailing address for sending Friday Freebie winners copies of the book).

Want to double your odds of winning?  Get an extra entry in the contest by posting a link to this webpage on your blog, your Facebook wall or by tweeting it on Twitter.  Once you’ve done any of those things, send me an additional e-mail saying “I’ve shared” and I’ll put your name in the hat twice.


  1. What a great line-up of books. I read the U.K. edition of THE PROMISE and it was amazing. Literary fiction and characterization at its best. Have added the others to my to-read list. Thanks!

  2. Thank you so much for including my novel, The Promise, in the Friday giveaway. I hope you have a blow-out response for all the books.