Friday, December 26, 2014

Friday Freebie: The Big Year-End Book Giveaway

Congratulations to Renata Birkenbuel, winner of last week's Friday Freebie book giveaway: The Kept by James Scott, Glyph by Percival Everett, What Happened Here by Bonnie ZoBell, All I Have In This World by Michael Parker, Arts & Entertainments by Christopher Beha, Our Senior Year by John Abraham-Watne, The Gods of Second Chances by Dan Berne, and Harm's Reach by Alex Barclay.

This is the last Friday Freebie of 2014 and I'm clearing the shelves of books which have been patiently waiting in the wings for their chance to be given away (books have these kinds of feelings, right?).  This week, one lucky reader will win a copy of ALL the following books:

The Transcriptionist by Amy Rowland:  Once, there were many transcriptionists at the "Record," a behemoth New York City newspaper, but new technology has put most of them out of work.  So now Lena, the last transcriptionist, sits alone in a room--a human conduit, silently turning reporters' recorded stories into print--until the day she encounters a story so shocking that it shatters the reverie that has become her life.  This exquisite novel, written by an author who spent more than a decade as a transcriptionist at the New York Times, asks probing questions about journalism and ethics, about the decline of the newspaper and the failure of language.  It is also the story of a woman's effort to establish her place in an increasingly alien and alienating world.

The Unlikely Settler by Lipika Pelham:  The Israeli-Palestinian conflict seen by an outsider who craves to make sense of herself, her marriage, and the city she lives in.  The Unlikely Settler is none other than a young Bengali journalist who moves to Jerusalem with her English-Jewish husband and two children.  He speaks Arabic and is an arch believer in the peace process; she leaves her career behind to follow his dream.  Jerusalem propels Pelham into a world where freedom from tribal allegiance is a challenging prospect.  From the school you choose for your children to the wine you buy, you take sides at every turn.  Pelham’s complicated relationship with her husband, Leo, is as emotive as the city she lives in, as full of energy, pain, and contradictions.  As she tries to navigate the complexities and absurdities of daily life in Jerusalem, often with hilarious results, Pelham achieves deep insights into the respective woes and guilt of her Palestinian and Israeli friends.  Her intelligent analysis suggests a very different approach to a potential resolution of the conflict.

Wanting by Richard Flanagan:  Internationally acclaimed and profoundly moving, Richard Flanagan’s Wanting is a stunning tale of colonialism, ambition, and the lusts and longings that make us human.  This 2008 novel by the author of The Narrow Road to the Deep North links two icons of Western civilization through a legendarily disastrous arctic exploration, and one of the most infamous episodes in human history: the colonization of Tasmania.  In 1841, Sir John Franklin and his wife, Lady Jane, move to the remote penal colony of Van Diemen’s Land, now Tasmania.  There Lady Jane falls in love with a lively aboriginal girl, Mathinna, whom she adopts and makes the subject of a grand experiment in civilization—one that will determine whether science, Christianity, and reason can be imposed in the place of savagery, impulse, and desire.  A quarter of a century passes.  Sir John Franklin disappears in the Arctic with his crew and two ships on an expedition to find the fabled Northwest Passage.  England is horrified by reports of cannibalism filtering back from search parties, no one more so than the most celebrated novelist of the day, Charles Dickens.  As Franklin’s story becomes a means to plumb the frozen depths of his own life, Dickens finds a young actress thawing his heart.

Hollow Mountain by Thomas Mogford:  Danger has followed the lawyer Spike Sanguinetti back to Gibraltar.  The disturbing question of what happened to Spike’s girlfriend, Zahra, is still unanswered.  He hasn’t heard from her since she vanished in Malta months ago, when suddenly his phone rings.  It’s Zahra, but she sounds strange.  She tells him that he has to stop looking for her and that if he doesn’t, Žigon will come after those closest to him.  Then she hangs up.  When Peter Galliano, Spike’s partner in the law firm, is hospitalized by a mysterious hit-and-run accident, and a woman asks him to investigate the suspected suicide of her husband, Spike finds himself on a perilous path that draws him into international politics and leads him, finally, to the hollow mountain.

Proof of Angels by Mary Curran Hackett:  From the critically acclaimed author of Proof of Heaven comes an unforgettable tale that asks the question "Are there angels among us?"  Sean Magee is a firefighter--a hero who risks his own life to save others, running into dangerous situations few have the courage to dare.  While fighting a horrific blaze, Sean becomes trapped by flames and is nearly overcome by smoke.  Just when it seems that all is lost, he's led to a window, by what he swears is divine intervention.  And then he jumps....into a new life.  For years, Sean has shut down his feelings, existing in a state of emotional numbness.  Coming through that fire, he knows he can no longer be that man whose heart is closed to the world.  But before he can face his future, he must confront his past and everyone in it: the family, the friends, the woman--and the love--he carelessly left behind.

Forgiving Maximo Rothman by A. J. Sidransky:  On a chilly autumn night in New York, the lives of two men born decades and continents apart collide when Max Redmond is found bludgeoned in his Washington Heights apartment.  While investigating the crime, Detective Tolya Kurchenko comes across the dead man's diaries, written by Redmond over four decades.  He hopes the diaries will lead him to the killer.  In fact, they help him sort out the complexities of his own identity.  Spanning 65 years and three continents--from Hitler's Europe to the decaying Soviet Empire of the 1970s, and revealing the little-known history of Sosúa, a Jewish settlement in the jungles of the Dominican Republic--A. J. Sidransky's debut novel leads us into worlds long gone, and the lives of people still touched by those memories.

The Sound of Broken Glass by Deborah Crombie:  On a blisteringly hot August afternoon in Crystal Palace, once home to the tragically destroyed Great Exhibition, a solitary 13-year-old boy meets his next-door neighbor, a recently widowed young teacher hoping to make a new start in the tight-knit South London community.  Drawn together by loneliness, the unlikely pair forms a deep connection that ends in a shattering act of betrayal.  Meanwhile, in the present...On a cold January morning in London, Detective Inspector Gemma James is back on the job now that her husband, Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid, is at home to care for their three-year-old foster daughter.  Assigned to lead a murder-investigation team in South London, she's assisted by her trusted colleague, newly promoted Detective Sergeant Melody Talbot.  Their first case: a crime scene at a seedy hotel in Crystal Palace.  The victim: a well-respected barrister, found naked, trussed, and apparently strangled.  Is it an unsavory accident or murder?  In either case, he was not alone, and Gemma's team must find his companion--a search that takes them into unexpected corners and forces them to contemplate unsettling truths about the weaknesses and passions that lead to murder.  Ultimately, they will begin to question everything they think they know about their world and those they trust most.

This is the Way by Gavin Corbett:  From a startling new voice in Irish fiction, a mesmerizing tale of a young man on the run in Dublin.  Anthony Sonaghan is hiding out in an old tenement house in Dublin: he fears he has reignited an ancient feud between the two halves of his family.  Twenty-first-century Dublin may have shopping malls and foreign exchange students, but Anthony is from an Irish Travelling community, where blood ties are bound deeply to the past.  When his roguish uncle Arthur shows up on his doorstep with a missing toe, delirious and apparently on the run, history and its troubles are following close behind him—and Anthony will soon have to face the question of who he really is.  In prose of exceptional vividness, Gavin Corbett brings us a narrator with the power to build a new, previously unimagined world.  His language, shot through with dreams and myths, summons a vision of Ireland in which a premodern spirit has somehow persisted into contemporary life, brooding and overlooked.  Funny, terrible, unsettling, fiercely unsentimental, This Is the Way is haunted by some of Ireland’s greatest writers even as it breaks new ground and asks afresh why the imagination is so necessary to survival.

Sniper by Vaughn C. Hardacker:  When a sniper kills four people on Boston Common, Boston homicide detective Mike Houston and his partner Anne Bouchard are sent to investigate the case.  Amidst the blood and terror, Houston discovers similarities, likenesses--the killer's positioning, his choice of victims, and his code of ethics--between the crime scene and his own training as a US Marine scout and sniper.  And with the staging of the scene set for prime shock value, Houston has to wonder what it is this murderer intends to accomplish.  The connection is confirmed in the worst possible way when the sniper strikes again, this time killing Houston's ex-wife, severing what's left of the bond between Houston and his estranged daughter, Susie.  It's personal now, and as the death toll rises, Houston and Bouchard will stop at nothing to find the cold-blooded sniper who's making a mockery of their department.  In a final gesture of cat and mouse depravity, the killer kidnaps Susie, luring Houston to an island on a remote lake in Maine for a deadly, sniper-to-sniper showdown.

Passenger on the Pearl by Winifred Conkling:  This new book from Algonquin Young Readers is a page-turning, heart-wrenching true story of one young woman willing to risk her safety and even her life for a chance at freedom in the largest slave escape attempt in American history.  In 1848, Emily Edmonson, thirteen, along with five siblings and seventy other enslaved people, boarded the Pearl in the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., in a bid to reach freedom.  Within a day, the schooner was captured, and the six Edmonsons were sent to New Orleans to be sold.  Emily and Mary were saved from the even crueler conditions when the threat of yellow fever forced their return to Virginia.  They were eventually ransomed with the help of their parents and abolitionists, including Harriet Beecher Stowe, who later used them as models for characters in Uncle Tom's Cabin.  Both girls went to Oberlin College, where Mary died of tuberculosis.  Emily graduated and became a teacher at the first school in Washington, D.C., dedicated to the education of African American girls and young women--an idea so controversial that even Frederick Douglass advised against it.  Emily also worked on behalf of abolition for the rest of her life.  Passenger on the Pearl illustrates a turbulent time in American history as seen through the daily lives of enslaved people; the often changing laws affecting them; the high cost of a failed attempt to reach liberty; the fate of all fourteen of the Edmonson children and their mother, Milly, whose goal to die a free woman shaped the lives of all her children; and the stories of the slave traders and abolitionists whose lives intersected with the Edmonsons.  With more than fifty period photographs and illustrations.

Want Not by Jonathan Miles:  From the critically acclaimed author of Dear American Airlines comes a compulsively readable, deeply human novel that charts the course of three intersecting lives—a freegan couple living off the grid in Manhattan, a once prominent linguist struggling with midlife, and a New Jersey debt-collection magnate with a new family and a second chance at getting things right—in a thoroughly contemporary examination of that most basic and unquenchable emotion: want. Praise: "A wonderful book, and there's no one I would not urge to read it . . . This is the work of a fluid, confident and profoundly talented writer who gets more fluid, more confident and seemingly more talented even within the book itself."  (Dave Eggers)

If you’d like a chance at winning ALL THE 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 Jan. 1, at which time I’ll draw the winning name.  I’ll contact the lucky reader on Jan. 2.  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.

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