Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday Freebie: Summer of Lovin’ Books Giveaway

Congratulations to John Smith, winner of last week’s Friday Freebie: Fen by Daisy Johnson.

This week’s contest is another of those clear-the-shelves-and-dump-everything-into-a-big-box giveaways. I’ve put together a shelf of eclectic books, ones which have been waiting (im)patiently for the right Friday Freebie to come along. There should be something for just about everyone in this stack. Will you be the ONE lucky reader to win ALL of the following books? You can’t win unless you play...

Dinner With Edward by Isabel Vincent: When Isabel meets Edward, both are at a crossroads: he wants to follow his late wife to the grave, and she is ready to give up on love. Thinking she is merely helping Edward’s daughter--who lives far away and has asked her to check in on her nonagenarian dad in New York--Isabel has no idea that the man in the kitchen baking the sublime roast chicken and light-as-air apricot souffle will end up changing her life. As Edward and Isabel meet weekly for the glorious dinners that Edward prepares, he shares so much more than his recipes for apple galette or the perfect martini, or even his tips for deboning poultry. Edward is teaching Isabel the luxury of slowing down and taking the time to think through everything she does, to deconstruct her own life, cutting it back to the bone and examining the guts, no matter how messy that proves to be. Dinner with Edward is a book about love and nourishment, and about how dinner with a friend can, in the words of M. F. K. Fisher, “sustain us against the hungers of the world.”

Pumpkinflowers by Matti Friedman: It was just one small hilltop in a small, unnamed war in the late 1990s, but it would send out ripples that are still felt worldwide today. The hill, in Lebanon, was called the Pumpkin; flowers was the military code word for “casualties.” Award-winning writer Matti Friedman re-creates the harrowing experience of a band of young Israeli soldiers charged with holding this remote outpost, a task that would change them forever, wound the country in ways large and small, and foreshadow the unwinnable conflicts the United States would soon confront in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. Pumpkinflowers is a reckoning by one of those young soldiers now grown into a remarkable writer. Part memoir, part reportage, part history, Friedman’s powerful narrative captures the birth of today’s chaotic Middle East and the rise of a twenty-first-century type of war in which there is never a clear victor and media images can be as important as the battle itself. Raw and beautifully rendered, Pumpkinflowers will take its place among classic war narratives by George Orwell, Philip Caputo, and Tim O’Brien. It is an unflinching look at the way we conduct war today.

The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist: One day in early spring, Dorrit Weger is checked into the Second Reserve Bank Unit for biological material. She is promised a nicely furnished apartment inside the Unit, where she will make new friends, enjoy the state of the art recreation facilities, and live the few remaining days of her life in comfort with people who are just like her. Here, women over the age of fifty and men over sixty–single, childless, and without jobs in progressive industries–are sequestered for their final few years; they are considered outsiders. In the Unit they are expected to contribute themselves for drug and psychological testing, and ultimately donate their organs, little by little, until the final donation. Despite the ruthless nature of this practice, the ethos of this near-future society and the Unit is to take care of others, and Dorrit finds herself living under very pleasant conditions: well-housed, well-fed, and well-attended. She is resigned to her fate and discovers her days there to be rather consoling and peaceful. But when she meets a man inside the Unit and falls in love, the extraordinary becomes a reality and life suddenly turns unbearable. Dorrit is faced with compliance or escape, and…well, then what? The Unit is a gripping exploration of a society in the throes of an experiment, in which the “dispensable” ones are convinced under gentle coercion of the importance of sacrificing for the “necessary” ones. Ninni Holmqvist has created a debut novel of humor, sorrow, and rage about love, the close bonds of friendship, and about a cynical, utilitarian way of thinking disguised as care.

Most Dangerous Place by James Grippando: Defending a woman accused of murdering the man who sexually assaulted her, Miami lawyer Jack Swyteck must uncover where the truth lies between innocence, vengeance, and justice in this spellbinding tale of suspense—based on shocking true-life events—from the New York Times bestselling author of Gone Again. According to the FBI, the most dangerous place for a woman between the ages of twenty and thirty is in a relationship with a man. Those statistics become all too personal when Jack Swyteck takes on a new client tied to his past. It begins at the airport, where Jack is waiting to meet his old high school buddy, Keith Ingraham, a high-powered banker based in Hong Kong, coming to Miami for his young daughter’s surgery. But their long-awaited reunion is abruptly derailed when the police arrest Keith’s wife, Isabelle, in the terminal, accusing her of conspiring to kill the man who raped her in college. Jack quickly agrees to represent Isa, but soon discovers that to see justice done, he must separate truth from lies—an undertaking that proves more complicated than the seasoned attorney expects. Inspired by an actual case involving a victim of sexual assault sent to prison for the death of her attacker, James Grippando’s twisty thriller brilliantly explores the fine line between victim and perpetrator, innocence and guilt, and cold-blooded revenge and rightful retribution.

Dimestore by Lee Smith: Set deep in the mountains of Virginia, the Grundy of Lee Smith’s youth was a place of coal miners, tent revivals, mountain music, drive-in theaters, and her daddy’s dimestore. When she was sent off to college to gain some “culture,” she understood that perhaps the richest culture she would ever know was the one she was leaving. Lee Smith’s fiction has always lived and breathed with the rhythms and people of the Appalachian South. But never before has she written her own story. Dimestore’s fifteen essays are crushingly honest, wise and perceptive, and superbly entertaining. Together, they create an inspiring story of the birth of a writer and a poignant look at a way of life that has all but vanished.

The Gray House by Mariam Petrosyan: The Gray House is an astounding tale of how what others understand as liabilities can be leveraged into strengths. Bound to wheelchairs and dependent on prosthetic limbs, the physically disabled students living in the House are overlooked by the Outsides. Not that it matters to anyone living in the House, a hulking old structure that its residents know is alive. From the corridors and crawl spaces to the classrooms and dorms, the House is full of tribes, tinctures, scared teachers, and laws—all seen and understood through a prismatic array of teenagers’ eyes. But student deaths and mounting pressure from the Outsides put the time-defying order of the House in danger. As the tribe leaders struggle to maintain power, they defer to the awesome power of the House, attempting to make it through days and nights that pass in ways that clocks and watches cannot record.

Little Boy Lost by J. D. Trafford: Attorney Justin Glass’s practice, housed in a shabby office on the north side of Saint Louis, isn’t doing so well that he can afford to work for free. But when eight-year-old Tanisha Walker offers him a jar full of change to find her missing brother, he doesn’t have the heart to turn her away. Justin had hoped to find the boy alive and well. But all that was found of Devon Walker was his brutally murdered body—and the bodies of twelve other African American teenagers, all discarded like trash in a mass grave. Each had been reported missing. And none had been investigated. As simmering racial tensions explode into violence, Justin finds himself caught in the tide. And as he gives voice to the discontent plaguing the city’s forgotten and ignored, he vows to search for the killer who preys upon them.

Leave Me by Gayle Forman: Every woman who has ever fantasized about driving past her exit on the highway instead of going home to make dinner, and every woman who has ever dreamed of boarding a train to a place where no one needs constant attention--meet Maribeth Klein. A harried working mother who’s so busy taking care of her husband and twins, she doesn’t even realize she’s had a heart attack. Surprised to discover that her recuperation seems to be an imposition on those who rely on her, Maribeth does the unthinkable: she packs a bag and leaves. But, as is often the case, once we get where we’re going we see our lives from a different perspective. Far from the demands of family and career and with the help of liberating new friendships, Maribeth is able to own up to secrets she has been keeping from herself and those she loves. With bighearted characters--husbands, wives, friends, and lovers--who stumble and trip, grow and forgive, Leave Me is about facing the fears we’re all running from. Gayle Forman is a dazzling observer of human nature. She has written an irresistible novel that confronts the ambivalence of modern motherhood head on and asks, what happens when a grown woman runs away from home?

The Legend of the Albino Farm by Steve Yates: The Legend of the Albino Farm is a horror story turned inside out. What if a thriving family were saddled with an unshakable spook tale? And what if that lore cursed them with an unending whirlwind of destruction from thrill seekers, partiers, bikers, and Goths? Hettienne Sheehy is about to inherit this devouring legacy. Last child to bear a once golden name, she is heiress to a sprawling farm in the Missouri Ozarks. During summer, childhood idylls in the late 1940s, Hettienne has foreseen all this apocalyptic fury in frightening, mystifying visions. Haunted by a whirling augury, by a hurtful spook tale, and by a property that seems to doom all who would dare own it, in the end, Hettienne will risk everything to save the family she truly loves. The Legend of the Albino Farm has haunted two generations of Sheehys and marred all memory of the family’s glory days. Worse, this spooky lore now draws revelers, druggies, motorcycle gangs, hippies, and later Goths to trample the land, set bonfires, and vandalize its structures, all while Hettienne’s aged aunts cling to privacy, sanity, and a rapidly deteriorating thirteen-room mansion.. From her youth, throughout her marriage and her rearing of her children, the Legend of the Albino Farm and the curse of the Sheehys drag at her and her family like a vortex. Haunted by a whirling augury, by a hurtful spook tale, and by a relentlessly judgmental Ozarks city, in the end, Hettienne believes she must make decisions that might compromise her family’s financial security but will severe them from an ever more dangerous legacy.

Security by Gina Wohlsdorf: Manderley Resort is a gleaming, new twenty-story hotel on the California coast. It’s about to open its doors, and the world--at least those with the means to afford it--will be welcomed into a palace of opulence and unparalleled security. But someone is determined that Manderley will never open. The staff has no idea that their every move is being watched, and over the next twelve hours they will be killed off, one by one. Writing in the tradition of Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King, and with a deep bow to Daphne du Maurier, author Gina Wohlsdorf pairs narrative ingenuity and razor-wire prose with quick twists, sharp turns, and gasp-inducing terror. Security is grand guignol storytelling at its very best. A shocking thriller, a brilliant narrative puzzle, and a multifaceted love story unlike any other, Security marks the debut of a fearless and gifted writer.

Said Not Said: Poems by Fred Marchant: In this important and formally inventive new poetry collection, Fred Marchant brings us into realms of the intractable and the unacceptable, those places where words seem to fail us and yet are all we have. In the process he affirms lyric poetry’s central role in the contemporary moral imagination. As the National Book Award winner David Ferry writes, “The poems in this beautiful new book by Fred Marchant are autobiographical, but, as is always the case with his poems, autobiographical of how he has witnessed, with faithfully exact and pitying observation, the sufferings in the lives of other people, for example the heartbreaking series of poems about the fatal mental suffering of his sister, and the poems about other peoples, in Vietnam, in the Middle East, written about with the noble generosity of feeling that has always characterized his work, here more impressively even than before.” Said Not Said is a poet’s taking stock of conscience, his country’s and his own, and of poetry’s capacity to speak to what matters most.

Stick a Fork in Me by Dan Jenkins: Pete Wallace, a good old boy from Texas, paid his dues coaching football on obscure campuses in the boondocks of America until he landed the athletic director's job at Western Ohio University. For 15 years, he has steadily and skillfully guided the school into the high society of major college sports. But now Pete, fed up with politically correct campus culture and babysitting fragile egos, is retiring from the "arms race." As he waits for the university's board of trustees to act on his early retirement package, he reflects on his career, the people he's come across, and what life will be like in retirement. Pete's story is told in Jenkins's unmistakable, raucous, old-school style, and it's full of colorful, absurd, and downright crazy characters--from clueless trustees and busybody protestors to prima donna football coaches and booster club pests.

Anton and Cecil: Cats Aloft by Lisa Martin and Valerie Martin: Tuckered out from a journey across the Wild West, cat brothers Anton and Cecil are ready to head east for home--until a minor stop to change trains in Chicago turns into a major adventure. A bloodhound detective recruits the brothers to help solve a case: puppies are disappearing right off their leashes! Anton and Cecil’s search takes them deep into the heart of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, where they befriend exotic animals, ride the newly invented Ferris Wheel, and look for clues amid the crowds of fairgoers. Just as they close in on the culprit, Cecil is carried away in a giant flying balloon and Anton is left behind. Can the cat brothers find the puppies and each other in this big, busy city? Fans of classic animal adventures such as A Cricket in Times Square and Poppy will love Anton and Cecil’s world, brimming with action and rich, true-to-life detail.

The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin: What would you do if your four-year-old son claimed he had lived another life and that he wants to go back to it? That he wants his other mother? Single mom Janie is trying to figure out what is going on with her beloved son Noah. Noah has never been ordinary. He loves to make up stories, and he is constantly surprising her with random trivia someone his age has no right knowing. She always chalked it up to the fact that Noah was precocious―mature beyond his years. But Noah’s eccentricities are starting to become worrisome. One afternoon, Noah’s preschool teacher calls Janie: Noah has been talking about shooting guns and being held under water until he can’t breathe. Suddenly, Janie can’t pretend anymore. The school orders him to get a psychiatric evaluation. And life as she knows it stops for herself and her darling boy. For Jerome Anderson, life as he knows it has already stopped. Diagnosed with aphasia, his first thought as he approaches the end of his life is, I’m not finished yet. Once an academic star, a graduate of Yale and Harvard, a professor of psychology, he threw everything away to pursue an obsession: the stories of children who remembered past lives. Anderson became the laughing stock of his peers, but he never stopped believing that there was something beyond what anyone could see or comprehend. He spent his life searching for a case that would finally prove it. And with Noah, he thinks he may have found it. Soon, Noah, Janie, and Anderson will find themselves knocking on the door of a mother whose son has been missing for eight years. When that door opens, all of their questions will be answered. Gorgeously written and fearlessly provocative, Sharon Guskin’s debut explores the lengths we will go for our children. It examines what we regret in the end of our lives and hope for in the beginning, and everything in between.

Great Books of China by Frances Wood: Great Books of China invites readers to discover—or rediscover—some of the major achievements of Chinese culture and civilization. The literature of China remains largely unknown in the West, yet it offers much insight into Chinese life. The long continuity of Chinese culture means that texts created more than two thousand years ago are still part of the education and background of today's China. Great Books of China introduces outstanding works of various genres, from fiction, drama, and poetry to history, science, and travel; they were written by philosophers and artists, government officials and scholars, by men and women across many centuries and from every part of China. These great books are presented in their historic, cultural, and social context, with a focused summary of content and author. Beginning with some of the Confucian and Daoist classics and ending with modern fiction, Great Books of China features famous novels including The Water Margin (Shuihu zhuan), Journey to the West (Xiyou ji), and Dream of the Red Chamber (Hongloumeng); celebrated dramas such as The Story of the Lute (Pipa ji) and The Peach Blossom Fan (Taohua shan); poetry from ancient times and the “golden age” of the Tang to the last years of imperial China; renowned historic manuals on Chinese painting, on the construction of Chinese gardens, and on a carpenter’s varied tasks; major texts describing Chinese history, the military exploits of ancient generals, and the legendary journeys of Buddhist monks; and works by a number of modern writers including Lu Xun, Ding Ling, and Lao She. Concise, provocative, and illuminating, Great Books of China introduces the literature of one of the world's most significant cultures and helps us understand the China of the present and the past.

Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World, edited by Kelly Jensen: Forty-four writers, dancers, actors, and artists contribute essays, lists, poems, comics, and illustrations about everything from body positivity to romance to gender identity to intersectionality to the greatest girl friendships in fiction. Together, they share diverse perspectives on and insights into what feminism means and what it looks like. Come on in, turn the pages, and be inspired to find your own path to feminism by the awesome individuals in Here We Are. “[Jensen’s] strength is on full display in this dynamic collection of essays, interviews, comic strips and more, which brings together a chorus of diverse viewpoints, from women and men, to help teens understand, broaden and visualize their own definition of contemporary feminism.” (Chicago Tribune)

Nightlights by Lorena Alvarez: Every night, tiny stars appear out of the darkness in little Sandy’s bedroom. She catches them and creates wonderful creatures to play with until she falls asleep, and in the morning brings them back to life in the whimsical drawings that cover her room. One day, Morpie, a mysterious pale girl, appears at school. And she knows all about Sandy’s drawings. Nightlights is a beautiful story about fear, insecurity, and creativity, from the enchanting imagination of Lorena Alvarez. “Readers will cheer...The beings that inhabit Sandy’s nighttime world are simply delightful. The album size, cloth spine binding, and spot gloss on the cover are the icing on the cake of this beautiful graphic novel.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Audubon: On the Wings of the World by Fabien Grolleau and Jeremie Royer: At the start of the nineteenth century, John James Audubon embarked upon an epic ornithological quest across America with nothing but his artist’s materials, an assistant, a gun and an all-consuming passion for birds...This beautiful volume tells the story of an incredible artist and adventurer: one who encapsulates the spirit of early America, when the wilderness felt limitless and was still greatly unexplored. Based on Audubon”s own retellings, this graphic novel version of his travels captures the wild and adventurous spirit of a truly exceptional naturalist and painter. “Everything feels rich and strange and unrestricted, much like the continent must have felt in the early 19th century, when Audubon set out on his journeys. In other words, On the Wings of the World wants to do cataract surgery on your impressions of the time, the place and central figure, and it succeeds beautifully.” (Paste Magazine)

The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth J. Church: n her sweeping debut novel, Elizabeth J. Church takes us from the World War II years in Chicago to the vast sun-parched canyons of New Mexico in the 1970s as we follow the journey of a driven, spirited young woman, Meridian Wallace, whose scientific ambitions are subverted by the expectations of her era. In 1941, at seventeen years old, Meridian begins her ornithology studies at the University of Chicago. She is soon drawn to Alden Whetstone, a brilliant, complicated physics professor who opens her eyes to the fundamentals and poetry of his field, the beauty of motion, space and time, the delicate balance of force and energy that allows a bird to fly. Entranced and in love, Meridian defers her own career path and follows Alden west to Los Alamos, where he is engaged in a secret government project (later known to be the atomic bomb). In married life, though, she feels lost and left behind. She channels her academic ambitions into studying a particular family of crows, whose free life and companionship are the very things that seem beyond her reach. There in her canyons, years later at the dawn of the 1970s, with counterculture youth filling the streets and protests against the war rupturing college campuses across the country, Meridian meets Clay, a young geologist and veteran of the Vietnam War, and together they seek ways to mend what the world has broken. Exquisitely capturing the claustrophobic eras of 1940s and 1950s America, The Atomic Weight of Love also examines the changing roles of women during the decades that followed. And in Meridian Wallace we find an unforgettable heroine whose metamorphosis shows how the women’s movement opened up the world for a whole generation.

Fifty-Six Counties by Russell Rowland: Montana has a long and celebrated tradition of artful, reflective nonfiction. From Joseph Kinsey Howard’s Montana: High, Wide, and Handsome to K. Ross Toole’s Montana: An Uncommon Land, we’ve been gifted with a series of erudite and sharp-eyed guides to help show us who we are. To this eminent list we can now add Russell Rowland’s Fifty-Six Counties: A Montana Journey. A native Montanan and an applauded novelist (In Open Spaces, High and Inside), Rowland spent the better part of a year studying and traveling around his beloved home state, from the mines of Butte to the pine forests of the Northwest, from the stark, wind-scrubbed badlands of the East to the tourist-driven economies of the West. Along the way, he considered the state’s essential character, where we came from, and, most of all, what we might be in the process of becoming.

Chasing the North Star by Robert Morgan: In his latest historical novel, bestselling author Robert Morgan brings to full and vivid life the story of Jonah Williams, who, in 1850, on his eighteenth birthday, flees the South Carolina plantation on which he was born a slave. He takes with him only a few stolen coins, a knife, and the clothes on his back--no shoes, no map, no clear idea of where to head, except north, following a star that he prays will be his guide. Hiding during the day and running through the night, Jonah must elude the men sent to capture him and the bounty hunters out to claim the reward on his head. There is one person, however, who, once on his trail, never lets him fully out of sight: Angel, herself a slave, yet with a remarkably free spirit. In Jonah, she sees her own way to freedom, and so sets out to follow him. Bristling with breathtaking adventure, Chasing the North Star is deftly grounded in historical fact yet always gripping and poignant as the story follows Jonah and Angel through the close calls and narrow escapes of a fearsome world. It is a celebration of the power of the human spirit to persevere in the face of great adversity. And it is Robert Morgan at his considerable best.

And, to cap it all off, I’ll throw in an advance copy of Brave Deeds by Yours Truly....

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. Please include your mailing address in the body of the e-mail. One entry per person, please. Despite its name, the Friday Freebie remains open to entries until midnight on June 29, at which time I’ll draw the winning name. I’ll announce the lucky reader on June 30. 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. O.M. . .Freaking ...G! You gotta be kidding me! I don't normally pray to win something but I am this time.

    Thank You, David, for the chance!