Friday, December 5, 2014

Friday Freebie: When the Cypress Whispers by Yvette Manessis Corporon, The Stockholm Octavo by Karen Engelmann, Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, Fosse by Sam Wasson, The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta, Selections from Melville House's Art of the Novella series, HitRecord on TV, Rear Window & A Big Little Book!

Congratulations to Amy Morgan, winner of last week's Friday Freebie: Pickett’s Charge by Charles McNair, Sometimes the Wolf by Urban Waite, Three Bargains by Tania Malik, The Family Hightower by Brian Francis Slattery, and Big Little Man by Alex Tizon.

This week's "book contest" is a little something different, designed to assist you in your holiday gift-giving quandary (if, in fact, you find yourself in a quandary).  This giveaway has a little something for just about every reader on your shopping list: some contemporary literary fiction, a biography, a set of classic novellas, experimental short fiction--and I'm even tossing in a couple of goodies from my personal collection, an Alfred Hitchcock Blu-Ray disc and a Big Little Book for the younger readers (and/or those who succumb easily to nostalgia).  Here's what one lucky reader will win in this week's Friday Freebie giveaway:

When the Cypress Whispers by Yvette Manessis Corporon
On a beautiful Greek island, myths, magic, and a colorful cast of mortals come together in a lushly atmospheric debut celebrating the powerful bond between an American woman and her Greek grandmother.  The daughter of Greek immigrants, Daphne has been brought up to believe in the American dream.  When her husband dies in a car accident, leaving her with an inconsolable baby and stacks of bills, she channels everything she has into opening her own Greek restaurant.  Now an acclaimed chef and restaurateur, she has also found a second chance at love with her wealthy, handsome fiance.  Although American by birth, Daphne spent many blissful childhood summers on the magical Greek island of Erikousa, which her grandmother still calls home.  At her Yia-yia's side, she discovered her passion for cooking and absorbed the vibrant rhythms of island life, infused with ancient myths and legends lovingly passed down through generations.  Somehow her beloved grandmother could always read her deepest thoughts, and despite the miles between them Daphne knows Yia-yia is the one person who can look beyond Daphne's storybook life of seeming perfection to help her stay grounded.  With her wedding day fast approaching, Daphne returns to Erikousa and to Yia-yia's embrace.  The past and the present beautifully entwine in this glorious, heartfelt story about a woman trapped between the siren call of old-world traditions and the demands of a modern career and relationship.  When Daphne arrives on Erikousa with her daughter, Evie, in tow, nothing is the way she recalls it, and she worries that her elderly Yia-yia is losing her grip on reality.  But as the two of them spend time together on the magical island once again, her grandmother opens up to share remarkable memories of her life there--including moving stories of bravery and loyalty in the face of death during World War II--and Daphne remembers why she returned.  Yia-yia has more than one lesson to teach her: that security is not the same as love, that her life can be filled with meaning again, and that the most important magic to believe in is the magic of herself.

The Stockholm Octavo by Karen Engelmann
Life is close to perfect for Emil Larsson, a self-satisfied bureaucrat in the Office of Customs and Excise in 1791 Stockholm.  He is a true man of the Town—a drinker, card player, and contented bachelor—until one evening when Mrs. Sofia Sparrow, a fortune-teller and proprietor of an exclusive gaming parlor, shares with him a vision she has had: a golden path that will lead him to love and connection.  She lays an Octavo for him, a spread of eight cards that augur the eight individuals who can help him realize this vision—if he can find them.  Emil begins his search, intrigued by the puzzle of his Octavo and the good fortune Mrs. Sparrow's vision portends.  But when Mrs. Sparrow wins a mysterious folding fan in a card game, the Octavo's deeper powers are revealed.  For Emil it is no longer just a game of the heart; collecting his eight is now crucial to pulling his country back from the crumbling precipice of rebellion and chaos.  Set against the luminous backdrop of late eighteenth-century Stockholm, as the winds of revolution rage through the great capitals of Europe, The Stockholm Octavo brings together a collection of characters, both fictional and historical, whose lives tangle in political conspiracy, love, and magic in a breathtaking debut that will leave you spellbound.

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
A brilliant literary debut, inspired by a true story: the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829.  Set against Iceland's stark landscape, Hannah Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.  Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes.  Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her.  But as Agnes's death looms, the farmer's wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they've heard.  Riveting and rich with lyricism, Burial Rites evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question: How can one woman hope to endure when her life depends upon the stories told by others?

Fosse by Sam Wasson
More than a quarter-century after his death, Bob Fosse's fingerprints on popular culture remain indelible.  The only person ever to win Oscar, Emmy, and Tony awards in the same year, Fosse revolutionized nearly every facet of American entertainment, forever marking Broadway and Hollywood with his iconic style--hat tilted, fingers splayed--that would influence generations of performing artists.  Yet in spite of Fosse's innumerable achievements, no accomplishment ever seemed to satisfy him, and offstage his life was shadowed in turmoil and anxiety.  Now, bestselling author Sam Wasson unveils the man behind the swaggering sex appeal, tracing Fosse's untold reinventions of himself over a career that would spawn "The Pajama Game," "Cabaret," "Pippin," "All That Jazz," and "Chicago," one of the longest-running Broadway musicals ever.  Drawing on a wealth of unpublished material and hundreds of sources--friends, enemies, lovers, and collaborators, many of whom have never spoken publicly about Fosse before--Wasson illuminates not only Fosse's prodigious professional life, but also his close and conflicted relationships with everyone from Liza Minnelli to Ann Reinking to Jessica Lange and Dustin Hoffman.  Wasson also uncovers the deep wounds that propelled Fosse's insatiable appetites--for spotlights, women, and life itself.  In this sweeping, richly detailed account, Wasson's stylish, effervescent prose proves the ideal vehicle for revealing Bob Fosse as he truly was--after hours, close up, and in vibrant color.

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
For those who've been enjoying the HBO series, here's your chance to check out the source material for The Leftovers.  What if your life was upended in an instant?  What if your spouse or your child disappeared right in front of your eyes?  Was it the Rapture or something even more difficult to explain?  How would you rebuild your life in the wake of such a devastating event?  These are the questions confronting the bewildered citizens of Mapleton, a formerly comfortable suburban community that lost over a hundred people in the Sudden Departure.  Kevin Garvey, the new mayor, wants to move forward, to bring a sense of renewed hope and purpose to his traumatized neighbors, even as his own family disintegrates.  His wife, Laurie, has left him to enlist in the Guilty Remnant, a homegrown cult whose members take a vow of silence but haunt the town’s streets as “living reminders” of God’s judgment.  His son, Tom, is gone, too, dropping out of college to follow a crooked "prophet" who calls himself Holy Wayne.  Only his teenage daughter, Jill, remains, and she’s definitely not the sweet "A" student she used to be.  Through the prism of a single family, Perrotta illuminates a familiar America made strange by grief and apocalyptic anxiety.  The Leftovers is a powerful and deeply moving book about regular people struggling to hold onto a belief in their futures.

Selections from Melville House's
I'm a long-time fan of (and subscriber to) Melville House's Art of the Novella series.  I have a shelf full of short(ish) works by Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Mark Twain, James Joyce, Kate Chopin, Willa Cather and dozens of others.  Earlier this month, I was the recipient of some duplicate volumes which I already had in my collection; so, my abundance is your gain.  Titles included in this Friday Freebie prize package are: The Alienist by Machado de Assis, Fanfarlo by Charles Baudelaire, May Day by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and The Devil by Leo Tolstoy.  I hope you enjoy these classics as much as I do; and that maybe you'll think about subscribing to the whole series.  It's always fun to receive a couple of novellas in your mailbox every four weeks.

HITRECORD ON TV is a new kind of variety show.  Join host Joseph Gordon-Levitt as he directs a global online community of artists to create eight episodes of television--all made collaboratively.  Each installment focuses on a different theme and features short films, live performances, music, animation, conversation, and more.  HITRECORD ON TV invites anyone with an internet connection to contribute, create, and develop art and media collectively through, an online collaborative production company that brings together artists from all over the world to participate in the creative process, bridging cultural divides and false distinctions that separate professional artists from those who simply love to make art.  Through, 1,295 artists contributed their original artwork to all of HITRECORD ON TV's eight episodes.  This nine-book box set is the official companion to the first season, taking fans deeper inside the show's themes and the making of the series as a whole.  It comes with special download codes for all eight episodes and the complete soundtrack album.

Rear Window on Blu-Ray
Because I recently bought a Hitchcock DVD combo-pack that included Rear Window, I'm offering up this stand-alone disc to one lucky reader viewer.  It's very gently-used (viewed only once, I believe) and comes with the clamshell case.  Rear Window should hardly need any introduction, but for those pitiful few of you out there who don't know what Alfred Hitchcock's classic is all about, here's a primer: Rear Window is an edge-of-your-seat classic starring two of Hollywood’s most popular stars.  When a professional photographer (James Stewart) is confined to a wheelchair with a broken leg, he becomes obsessed with watching the private dramas of his neighbors play out across the courtyard.  When he suspects his neighbor of murdering his nagging wife, he enlists his socialite girlfriend (Grace Kelly) to help investigate the suspicious chain of events, leading to one of the most memorable and gripping endings in all of film history.  Honored in AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies for excellence in film, Rear Window has also been hailed as “one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most stylish thrillers.”  This Blu-Ray disc includes the following special features:
  • Rear Window Ethics: An Original Documentary
  • A Conversation with Screenwriter John Michael Hayes
  • Pure Cinema: Through the Eyes of the Master
  • Breaking Barriers: The Sound of Hitchcock
  • Hitchcock / Truffaut Interview Excerpts
  • Masters of Cinema
  • Feature Commentary with John Fawell, Author of Hitchcock’s Rear Window: The Well-Made Film
  • Production Photographs
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Re-Release Trailer Narrated by James Stewart

Tom Beatty, Ace of the Service:
A Big Little Book
      Hello, my name is David and I'm a Big Little addict.
      "Hi, David!"
      Yes, it's true: I like little books and I cannot lie.  Over the past 10 years, I've been collecting these cool artifacts from the 1930s and 1940s, primarily those published by the Whitman Publishing Company.  Those of you who aren't familiar with Big Little Books should check out this link.  In the course of collecting BLBs, of course, I've acquired a few duplicates.  This week, I'm including one of those, Tom Beatty, Ace of the Service: Scores Again, in the gift box in hopes you'll get a kick out of this "ace detective of the Secret Service" as he goes around kicking some Depression-era butt.  The book itself is in decent (though not perfect) shape.  It's perfectly suitable for reading and passing on to a new younger generation in hopes they'll get hooked on BLBs, too.  (If anyone needs the number for a good Big Little support group, just let me know.  I'm here to help.)

If you’d like a chance at winning the whole enchilada (all the books and the DVD), 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 Dec. 11, at which time I’ll draw the winning name.  I’ll announce the lucky reader on Dec. 12.  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 comment:

  1. Fantastic giveaway! Love the added Jimmy Stewart dvd added to it. Big fan of Mr. Stewart. I recently ordered The Cheyenne Social Club with him and Henry Fonda on dvd. We had the most fun watching it on a cold rainy afternoon. :) Have not read any of the books in the giveaway but have wanted to read Burial Rites for a long time. (It is being made into a movie with Jennifer Lawrence.) Thanks for the chance to win this awesome package. Happy Holidays.