Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday Freebie: The OMG Big Box of Books Giveaway

Congratulations to Nancy Bekofske, Melissa Seng, and Seth Tucker, winners of last week’s Friday Freebie: American Copper by Shann Ray. Congratulations are also in order to Carl Scott who won the special midweek giveaway of The Beauty of What Remains: Family Lost, Family Found by Susan Johnson Hadler.

Brace yourselves, dear readers—this week’s contest is for one ginormous box of books with a little something for just about everybody. One lucky reader will win the following titles: Let Me Be Frank With You by Richard Ford, Preparation for the Next Life by Atticus Lish, Rooms by Lauren Oliver, The Story of Land and Sea by Katy Simpson Smith, Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson, The Sisters Club by Lauren Baratz-Logsted, Say Yes to the Death by Susan McBride, Clinton, Inc.: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine by Daniel Halper, The Visitors by Sally Beauman, Gutenberg’s Apprentice by Alix Christie, Acts of God by Ellen Gilchrist, Sidney Sheldon’s Reckless by Tilly Bagshawe, and The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson. There’s a mix of hardcovers and paperbacks in the box; whenever possible, I’ve linked to the appropriate format.

I timed this giveaway for just before the holidays so you’ll be able to give some of these books as gifts to fellow readers. Unless you want to keep the whole hoard to yourself...which is entirely understandable and acceptable. Keep scrolling for more about each of the books from the publishers’ jacket copy...

Let Me Be Frank With You is a brilliant new work that returns Richard Ford to the hallowed territory that sealed his reputation as an American master: the world of Frank Bascombe, and the landscape of his celebrated novels The Sportswriter, the Pulitzer Prize and PEN/Faulkner winning Independence Day, and The Lay of the Land. In his trio of world-acclaimed novels portraying the life of an entire American generation, Richard Ford has imagined one of the most indelible and widely discussed characters in modern literature, Frank Bascombe. Through Bascombe—protean, funny, profane, wise, often inappropriate—we’ve witnessed the aspirations, sorrows, longings, achievements and failings of an American life in the twilight of the twentieth century. Now, in Let Me Be Frank with You, Ford reinvents Bascombe in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. In four richly luminous narratives, Bascombe (and Ford) attempts to reconcile, interpret and console a world undone by calamity. It is a moving and wondrous and extremely funny odyssey through the America we live in at this moment. Ford is here again working with the maturity and brilliance of a writer at the absolute height of his powers.

In Preparation for the Next Life, Zou Lei, orphan of the desert, migrates to work in America and finds herself slaving in New York’s kitchens. She falls in love with a young man whose heart has been broken in another desert. A new life may be possible if together they can survive homelessness, lockup, and the young man’s nightmares, which may be more prophecy than madness. When it was published last year, Atticus Lish’s novel took home a trunkful of awards and acclaim, including: Winner of the 2015 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, Winner of the New York City Book Award for Fiction, and Finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Fiction. The New York Times called it “The finest and most unsentimental love story of the new decade.”

Lauren Oliver, the New York Times bestselling author of Before I Fall and the Delirium trilogy makes her brilliant adult debut with Rooms, a mesmerizing story in the tradition of The Lovely Bones, Her Fearful Symmetry, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane—a tale of family, ghosts, secrets, and mystery, in which the lives of the living and the dead intersect in shocking, surprising, and moving ways. Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family—bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna—have arrived for their inheritance. But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls. Jostling for space, memory, and supremacy, they observe the family, trading barbs and reminiscences about their past lives. Though their voices cannot be heard, Alice and Sandra speak through the house itself—in the hiss of the radiator, a creak in the stairs, the dimming of a light bulb. The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths that will soon surface with explosive force. When a new ghost appears, and Trenton begins to communicate with her, the spirit and human worlds collide—with cataclysmic results. Elegantly constructed and brilliantly paced, Rooms is an enticing and imaginative ghost story and a searing family drama that is as haunting as it is resonant.

Set in a small coastal town in North Carolina during the waning years of the American Revolution, The Story of Land and Sea follows three generations of family—fathers and daughters, mother and son, master and slave, characters who yearn for redemption amidst a heady brew of war, kidnapping, slavery, and love. Drawn to the ocean, ten-year-old Tabitha wanders the marshes of her small coastal village and listens to her father’s stories about his pirate voyages and the mother she never knew. Since the loss of his wife Helen, John has remained land-bound for their daughter, but when Tab contracts yellow fever, he turns to the sea once more. Desperate to save his daughter, he takes her aboard a sloop bound for Bermuda, hoping the salt air will heal her. Years before, Helen herself was raised by a widowed father. Asa, the devout owner of a small plantation, gives his daughter a young slave named Moll for her tenth birthday. Left largely on their own, Helen and Moll develop a close but uneasy companionship. Helen gradually takes over the running of the plantation as the girls grow up, but when she meets John, the pirate turned Continental soldier, she flouts convention and her father’s wishes by falling in love. Moll, meanwhile, is forced into marriage with a stranger. Her only solace is her son, Davy, whom she will protect with a passion that defies the bounds of slavery. In this elegant, evocative, and haunting debut, Katy Simpson Smith captures the singular love between parent and child, the devastation of love lost, and the lonely paths we travel in the name of renewal.

Ten Thousand Saints, the extraordinary national bestseller, is now a film starring Ethan Hawke, Hailee Steinfeld, and Emile Hirsch. Adopted by a pair of diehard hippies, restless, marginal Jude Keffy-Horn spends much of his youth getting high with his best friend, Teddy, in their bucolic and deeply numbing Vermont town. But when Teddy dies of an overdose on the last day of 1987, Jude’s relationship with drugs and with his parents devolves to new extremes. Sent to live with his pot-dealing father in New York City’s East Village, Jude stumbles upon straight edge, an underground youth culture powered by the paradoxical aggression of hardcore punk and a righteous intolerance for drugs, meat, and sex. With Teddy’s half brother, Johnny, and their new friend, Eliza, Jude tries to honor Teddy’s memory through his militantly clean lifestyle. But his addiction to straight edge has its own dangerous consequences. While these teenagers battle to discover themselves, their parents struggle with this new generation’s radical reinterpretation of sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll and their grown-up awareness of nature and nurture, brotherhood and loss. Moving back and forth between Vermont and New York City, Ten Thousand Saints is an emphatically observed story of a frayed tangle of family members brought painfully together by a death, then carried along in anticipation of a new and unexpected life. With empathy and masterful skill, Eleanor Henderson has conjured a rich portrait of the modern age and the struggles that unite and divide generations.

In The Sisters Club, Lauren Baratz-Logsted reminds us of this: Some families you are born into. Some you choose. And some choose you. Four women have little in common other than where they live and the joyous complications of having sisters. Cindy waits for her own life to begin as she sees her sister going in and out of hospitals. Lise has made the boldest move of her life, even as her sister spends every day putting herself at risk to improve the lives of others. Diana is an ocean apart from her sister, but worries that her marriage is the relationship separated by the most distance. Sylvia has lost her twin sister to breast cancer, a disease that runs in the family, and fears that she will die without having ever really lived. When Diana places an ad in the local newsletter, Cindy, Lise, and Sylvia show up thinking they are joining a book club, but what they discover is something far deeper and more profound than any of them ever imagined. With wit, charm, and pathos, this mesmerizing tale of sisters, both born and built, enthralls on every page. Click here to read about Lauren Baratz-Logsted’s “first time.”

In Say Yes to the Death, debutante dropout Andrea Kendricks is beyond done with big hair, big gowns, and big egos—so being dragged to a high-society Texas wedding by her socialite mama, Cissy, gives her a bad case of déjà vu. As does running into her old prep-school bully, Olivia La Belle, the wedding planner, who’s graduated to berating people for a living on her reality TV show. But for all the times Andy wished her dead, nobody deserves Olivia’s fate: lying in a pool of blood, a cake knife in her throat—but did the angry baker do it? Millicent Draper, the grandmotherly owner of Millie’s Cakes, swears she’s innocent, and Andy believes her. Unfortunately, the cops don't. Though Andy’s fiancé, lawyer Brian Malone, is handling Millie’s case, she’s determined to spring Millie herself. But where to start? “La Belle from Hell” had enemies galore. Good thing Andy has a BFF who’s a reporter—and a blue-blood mother who likes to pull strings.

In Clinton, Inc., Weekly Standard editor Daniel Halper provides a meticulously researched account of the brilliant calculations, secret deals, and occasionally treacherous maneuverings that led to the Clintons’ return to political prominence. In the twelve years since the Clintons left the White House, they have gone from being virtually penniless to multi-millionaires, and are arguably the most popular politicians in America—respected and feared by Republicans and Democrats alike. But behind that rise is a never-before-told story of strategic cleverness, reckless gambles, and an unquenchable thirst for political power. Investigative reporter Daniel Halper uses a wealth of research, exclusive documents, and detailed interviews with close friends, allies, and enemies of the Clintons to reveal the strategy they used and the deals they made to turn their political fortunes around. Clinton, Inc. exposes the relationship between President Obama, the Bush family, and the Clintons—and what it means for the future; how Bill and Hillary are laying the groundwork for the upcoming presidential campaign; how Vice President Biden and other Democrats are trying to maneuver around her; Chelsea’ s political future; the Clintons’ skillful media management; the Clintons’ marriage and why it has survived; and an inside look at the Clinton’s financial backers and hidden corporate enterprises.

Based on a true story of discovery, The Visitors is New York Times bestselling author Sally Beauman’s brilliant recreation of the hunt for Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings—a dazzling blend of fact and fiction that brings to life a lost world of exploration, adventure, and danger, and the audacious men willing to sacrifice everything to find a lost treasure. In 1922, when eleven year-old Lucy is sent to Egypt to recuperate from typhoid, she meets Frances, the daughter of an American archaeologist. The friendship draws the impressionable young girl into the thrilling world of Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter, who are searching for the tomb of boy pharaoh Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings. A haunting tale of love and loss, The Visitors retells the legendary story of Carter and Carnarvon’s hunt and their historical discovery, witnessed through the eyes of a vulnerable child whose fate becomes entangled in their dramatic quest. As events unfold, Lucy will discover the lengths some people will go to fulfill their deepest desires—and the lies that become the foundation of their lives. Intensely atmospheric, The Visitors recalls the decadence of Egypt’s aristocratic colonial society, and illuminates the obsessive, daring men willing to risk everything—even their sanity—to claim a piece of the ancient past. As fascinating today as it was nearly a century ago, the search for King Tut’s tomb is made vivid and immediate in Sally Beauman’s skilled hands. A dazzling feat of imagination, The Visitors is a majestic work of historical fiction.

Gutenberg’s Apprentice is an enthralling literary debut that evokes one of the most momentous events in history, the birth of printing in medieval Germany—a story of invention, intrigue, and betrayal, rich in atmosphere and historical detail, told through the lives of the three men who made it possible. Youthful, ambitious Peter Schoeffer is on the verge of professional success as a scribe in Paris when his foster father, wealthy merchant and bookseller Johann Fust, summons him home to corrupt, feud-plagued Mainz to meet “a most amazing man.” Johann Gutenberg, a driven and caustic inventor, has devised a revolutionary—and to some, blasphemous—method of bookmaking: a machine he calls a printing press. Fust is financing Gutenberg’s workshop and he orders Peter, his adopted son, to become Gutenberg’s apprentice. Resentful at having to abandon a prestigious career as a scribe, Peter begins his education in the “darkest art.” As his skill grows, so, too, does his admiration for Gutenberg and his dedication to their daring venture: copies of the Holy Bible. But mechanical difficulties and the crushing power of the Catholic Church threaten their work. As outside forces align against them, Peter finds himself torn between two father figures: the generous Fust, who saved him from poverty after his mother died; and the brilliant, mercurial Gutenberg, who inspires Peter to achieve his own mastery. Caught between the genius and the merchant, the old ways and the new, Peter and the men he admires must work together to prevail against overwhelming obstacles—a battle that will change history...and irrevocably transform them.

Master short story writer Ellen Gilchrist, winner of the National Book Award, returns with her first story collection in over eight years. In Acts of God, she has crafted ten different scenarios in which people dealing with forces beyond their control somehow manage to survive, persevere, and triumph, even if it is only a triumph of the will. For Marie James, a teenager from Fayetteville, Arkansas, the future changes when she joins a group of friends in their effort to find survivors among the debris left when a tornado destroys a neighboring town. For Philipa, a woman blessed with beauty and love and a life without care, the decision she makes to take control of her fate is perhaps the easiest she has ever made. As she writes to Charles, her husband and lifetime partner, “Nothing is of value except to have lived well and to die without pain.” For Eli Naylor, left orphaned by a flood, there comes an understanding that sometimes out of tragedy can come the greatest good, as he finds a life and a future in a most unexpected place. In one way or another, all of these people are fighters and believers, survivors who find the strength to go on when faced with the truth of their mortality, and they are given vivid life in these stories, told with Ellen Gilchrist’s clear-eyed optimism and salty sense of humor. As a critic in the Washington Post wrote in reviewing one of the author’s earlier works, “To say that Ellen Gilchrist can write is to say that Placido Domingo can sing. All you have to do is listen.”

#1 New York Times bestselling author Sidney Sheldon’s most popular and enduring heroine—Tracy Whitney of If Tomorrow Comes and Sidney Sheldon’s Chasing Tomorrow—is back with another story of heart-stopping twists and breathtaking action. Once upon a time, Tracy Whitney was one of the best thieves in the business. Then she settled down, had a baby, and planned to spend the rest of her days quietly, living anonymously, devoted to her son. But tragic news has forced Tracy to face her greatest nightmare. Now, with nothing left to protect, she returns to the hunt—and she’s more dangerous than ever. Tracy is not the only woman with a dark and dangerous past. The world faces a new terror threat from a group of global hackers intent on the collapse of capitalism and private wealth and the creation of a new world order. When this group turn to violence, with deadly effect, the mysterious woman pulling their strings becomes the CIA’s public enemy number one. Only one clever and ruthless woman is capable of tracking down the terrorist: Tracy. But as Tracy discovers, the truth proves as elusive as her target. Hampered by corruption and enemies masked as allies, Tracy will be pushed to the brink, where she must face her darkest demons. But just how reckless will a person become when she have nothing left to lose?

Jonas Jonasson’s picaresque tale of how one person’s actions can have far-reaching—even global—consequences is written with the same light-hearted satirical voice as his bestselling debut novel, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. On June 14th, 2007, the King and Prime Minister of Sweden went missing from a gala banquet at the Royal Castle. Later it was said that both had fallen ill: the truth is different. The real story starts much earlier, in 1961, with the birth of Nombeko Mayeki in a shack in Soweto. Nombeko was fated to grow up fast and die early in her poverty-stricken township. But Nombeko takes a different path. She finds work as a housecleaner and eventually makes her way up to the position of chief advisor, at the helm of one of the world’s most secret projects. Here is where the story merges with, then diverges from reality. South Africa developed six nuclear missiles in the 1980s, then voluntarily dismantled them in 1994. This is a story about the seventh missile...the one that was never supposed to have existed. Nombeko Mayeki knows too much about it, and now she’s on the run from both the South African justice and the most terrifying secret service in the world. She ends up in Sweden, which has transformed into a nuclear nation, and the fate of the world now lies in Nombeko’s hands.

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 Nov. 19, at which time I’ll draw the winning name. I’ll announce the lucky reader on Nov. 20. 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.

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