Monday, November 26, 2012

Mailbox Monday - November 26, 2012

Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme started by Marcia at Mailbox Monday in which bloggers can ramble on about the books they received/bought/stole over a given week.  Each month a new blogger hosts the meme, and this month it’s Bermuda Onion's Weblog.

So what has it been, like, two months since my last MM post?  Yeah, things have been busy around here, and book blogging has had to take a back seat to real life and all of the loveliness that entails.  But the books haven’t stopped rolling in, and thus we are left with the monstrous pile o’ dead trees (and electronic ethereal make-believe trees) that we have here. 

--- The Books ---

Every House is Haunted by Ian Rogers – Ian Roger’s first-time offering is a collection of horror short stories from Chizine Publications.  In it, Rogers explores the dark places in between realities, the deepest reaches of the supernatural.  In his tales, the landscape of death becomes the new frontier for scientific exploration. A honeymoon cabin with an unspeakable appetite finally meets its match. A suburban home is transformed into the hunting ground for a new breed of spider. A nightmarish jazz club at the crossroads of reality plays host to those who can break a deal with the devil...for a price.  I haven’t yet cracked this baby, but it looks very promising.  But really, what book from Chizine doesn’t?

Remember You Fear Me  by Robert Shearman – Robert Shearman has won numerous awards over the years—the World Fantasy Award, the British Fantasy Award, the Jackson Award, and the Edge Hill Reader Prize, just to name a few.  I won’t pretend to know exactly what all of those are, but it’s none-the-less an impressive resume.  This short story anthology from the cool kids at Chizine combines some of Shearman’s best horror tales and ten new, never before collected stories into one volume.  Included are stories such as “Mortal Coil,” “Jason Zerrillo is an Annoying Prick”, and “George Clooney’s Mustache.”  Heh, I’d read the book based on the title of that last one alone.

Layer Cake by J. J. Connolly – Do you remember a Mailbox Monday post from way back when in which I talked about a book called Viva La Madness I received from the Librarything Early Reviewers program?  Probably not.  But you can take my word for it—it happened.  Anyhow, Layer Cake is the prequel to that book.  It’s about a young mid-level cocaine dealer in London circa 1999 with designs of retiring from the game before he hits his 30th birthday.  Of course, things don’t go according to plan and suddenly retirement is the least of his worries as he fights for his life in the London underworld. 

Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith – Keri Smith has done a whole series of “____ This _____” books:  Finish This Book, Tear Up This Book, etc.  Wreck This Journal gives you a prompt on each page which you then use to fill up the pages of the journal.  Everything from “use cut up vegetables and an inkpad to stamp this page” to “draw circles” to “do something violent with this journal.”  This was one of my wife’s recent purchases, but I include it here because it’s just so damn cool

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls – Another one of my wife’s books, this little volume is an biographical novelization of the author’s life.  Turns out she has quite a story to tell.  One of four children, Jeanette Walls began life as a nomad in the American southwest, moving through desert towns, camping in the mountains.  Her parents were both dreamers and artists who, while exceptionally brilliant in some ways, were abysmal failures in the mundane everyday things that make a stable life possible.  What is most surprising about the author (my wife says) is not that she managed to get out of that life, pull herself up by the bootstraps, and make something of herself.  It’s the fact that she still describes her parents with a kindness and warmth you wouldn’t expect from such an upbringing.

Half Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls – Jeanette Walls’ sophomore effort is a novelization of her maternal grandmother’s life.  The publisher calls it a “True-Life Novel,” but if you ask me that’s just a new name for an old concept. Anyhow, her grandmother grew up in the American Southwest, helped break her father's horses at six, learned to drive and fly a plane, and ended up running a sprawling ranch in Arizona.  It was a rough and tumble, hell-raising life, and one that makes superb fodder for a book.  The story is told in interwoven vignettes that phase in and out over the years, creating a patch-work tapestry of a narrative.  After my wife finishes with it, I might even give this ‘un a try.

No Easy Day by Mark Owen and Kevin Mauer – My father-in-law lent me this book, one of the slew of new “tell all” books from people somehow involved with the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden.  Mark Owen (not his real name, mind you) was a member of SEAL Team Six, and the book covers various events during his military career that lead up to the big shebang.  So in that context, it’s more of an autobiography (with a semi-ghost writer along for the ride to make it more readable).  Kind of a timely read, all things considered, especially given the fact there were those SEAL team members who got discharged recently for disclosing military secrets to the makers of Medal of Honor: Warfighter.  Good thing Owen got his project cleared with the pentagon first… or did he?

James Bond Omnibus Volume 4 by J. D. Lawrence and Ian Fleming – If you’re anything like me, you probably know that the James Bond movie franchise originally started out as a series of novels by Ian Fleming.  Hell, you’ve probably read a few of them yourself.  But did you know that there was also a long-running comic strip?  I certainly didn’t.  OK, so maybe I’ve had my head under a rock for the last twenty years and that’s common knowledge, but when I found this book sitting on my doorstep, I was amazed at what it contained.  Collected here are the original Bond comic strips run in the UK’s Daily Express between 1975 and 1978, courtesy of our friends at Titan Books.  I’ve never been a big graphic novel type of guy, but for this, I’ll make an exception.

Modesty Blaise: Lady in the Dark by Peter O’Donnell – Another blast from the past from Titan Books, Modesty Blaise was a UK adventure comic that ran between 1963 and 2001.  Its titular character, Modesty Blaise, was a sexy swashbuckling criminal type who, along with her sidekick, Willie Garvin, got into all sorts of high-stakes mischief of the criminal and espionage variety.  Lady in the Dark is comprised of the 67th, 68th, and 69th Modesty Blaise story arcs that ran between 1989 to 1990.  Included are “The Girl from the Future,” “The Big Mole,” and “Lady in the Dark.”  Again, not my usual thing—graphic novel type stuff—but I can’t pass up a bit o’ pulpy goodness.  I’m down like Bobby Brown.

The Trajectory of Dreams by Nicole Wolverton – Lela White is a technician at a Houston sleep lab.  To everyone else, she’s a private woman with a passion for her work.  Outside of work, however, she’s a woman on a secret mission.  Lela lives in the grips of a mental illness which compels her to break into the homes of American astronauts in order to make sure they get good enough sleep and thereby ensure the success of the space program.  It’s described as a psychological thriller, but it sounds like a madcap romp through boundless realms of insanity.  Either way, I’m excited to have the opportunity to read it.  And you should be too, ‘cos the author has been gracious enough to offer up a copy of her book for a giveaway.  Stay tuned for that, coming up later this week.

Curveball by G.W. Kennedy – Baseball pitcher turned English professor Ben Barklee  leads a quiet life teaching at Ridgehaven College, a.k.a. Dropout U, on Chicago's wealthy North Shore. When the rebellious Jane Macalester, daughter of a senator, enrolls in his introductory Dickens class, Barklee has no idea that life is about to throw him a curveball. After Jane is kidnapped, Barklee becomes an accidental hero, saving her from her captors - but the college has another agenda, and he's dismissed, leaving him to support his family as a new-age PI, or 'Confidential Consultant.’  The only way this book could be more up my alley is if you cut out “baseball” and pasted “football” in its place.  I mean seriously.  Can’t wait to dig into Curveball.  It’s got three of my great loves:  classic literature, P.I. mysteries, and sports.  Oh, and a giveaway could be in the works, too.  Can I get a hell yeah?

Stories from the Plague Years by Michael Marano – And finally, anchoring our bookish relay for the week is Stories from the Plague Years by Michael Marano.  It too comes from Chizine Publications, and it too is a short story anthology of horror tales.  From what I’ve seen of other reviews, the stories can be hit or miss, but when they hit, they do so with a whallop.  As for what to expect, I don’t exactly know at this point, but I guess we’re going to find out.

And now that I’ve showed you mine, it’s time to show me yours.  What did you get in your mailbox this week?


  1. Enjoy all your new books. I've heard great things about The Glass Castle.

    1. So have I! It looks like it's going to be a great read.

  2. Lots of great books. I've had Jeanette Walls on my list for awhile, but I've never gotten to reading her. Enjoy!
    2 Kids and Tired Books MM

    1. I'll let you know how it turns out. Thanks for dropping by. ;)

  3. Wow, I think you're going to be very busy with all these books. Have a good week and enjoy your new reads!

  4. A nice mix of books.

  5. You will love Glass Castle. Every House is Haunted sounds good to me.

    ENJOY them all...welcome back.

    Silver's Reviews
    My Mailbox Monday

  6. You've got a lot of great reading ahead of you. The Glass Castle blew me away.

    1. I keep hearing that it's wonderful. I'm excited to get into it.

  7. I really liked The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls! I hope you enjoy all of your books!

  8. Layer Cake is a book? Layer Cake is the prequel to another book???
    I love the movie. I watched it the first time about three days before Daniel Craig was announced as James Bond.

    Read Every House is Haunted a couple of months back. It took me awhile to warm up to it, but Rogers' stories had a way of sticking in the back of my mind.

    I've never used a Wreak This Journal, but I keep giving them as gifts. Thus far, no complaints.

    1. Yep, Layer Cake is a book--and a pretty good one at that. It was an interesting take on the English crime novel.

  9. Hey Jonathan,

    If you end up reviewing my book on your site, be sure to drop me a line and let me know so I can link to it! Hope you dig it!