Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week.
Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.
Every Wednesday for Books That Caught Our Eye, Serena, Leslie and I will each share 2 books that grabbed our attention from today’s Mailbox Monday post. We hope you’ll join us by posting a comment letting us know the books that caught your eye.
I had a pretty good mailbox again last week:
The Year My Mother Came Back by Alice Eve Cohen
Thirty years after her death, Alice’s mother appears to her, seemingly in the flesh, and continues to do so during the hardest year Alice has had to face: the year her youngest daughter needs surgery, her eldest daughter decides to track down her birth mother, and the year Alice gets a daunting diagnosis. As it turns out, it’s entirely possible for the people we’ve lost to come back to us when we need them the most.
Although letting her mother back into her life is not an easy thing, Alice navigates it with humor, intelligence, and honesty. What she learns is that she must revisit her childhood, and allow herself to be a daughter once more, in order to take care of her own girls. Eventually, understanding and then forgiving her mother’s parenting transgressions leads her to accept herself and to the realization that she doesn’t have to be perfect to be a good mother.
Dark Wine Waters: My Husband of a Thousand Joys and Sorrows by Frances Simone
One woman’s heartbreaking story of a marriage destroyed by her husband’s addiction to alcohol.
The dynamics of codependency are illuminated in this gripping tale. Author Fran Simone describes her husband’s attempts at treatment and subsequent relapse, his suicide, and her own recovery through a twelve-step program for families.
Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan
“What are my qualifications to write this book? None really. So why should you read it? Here’s why: I’m a little fat. If a thin guy were to write about a love of food and eating I’d highly recommend that you do not read his book.”
Bacon. McDonalds. Cinnabon. Hot Pockets. Kale. Stand-up comedian and author Jim Gaffigan has made his career rhapsodizing over the most treasured dishes of the American diet (“choking on bacon is like getting murdered by your lover”) and decrying the worst offenders (“kale is the early morning of foods”). Fans flocked to his New York Times bestselling book Dad is Fat to hear him riff on fatherhood but now, in his second book, he will give them what they really crave—hundreds of pages of his thoughts on all things culinary(ish). Insights such as: why he believes coconut water was invented to get people to stop drinking coconut water, why pretzel bread is #3 on his most important inventions of humankind (behind the wheel and the computer), and the answer to the age-old question “which animal is more delicious: the pig, the cow, or the bacon cheeseburger?”
Thank You for Your Service by David Finkel
No journalist has reckoned with the psychology of war as intimately as David Finkel. In The Good Soldiers, Finkel shadowed the men of the US 2-16 Infantry Battalion in Baghdad as they carried out the grueling fifteen-month “surge” that changed them all forever. Now Finkel has followed many of the same men as they’ve returned home and struggled to reintegrate – both into their family lives and into society at large.
In the ironically titled Thank You for Your Service, Finkel writes with tremendous compassion not just about the soldiers but about their wives and children. Where do soldiers belong after their homecoming? Is it reasonable, or even possible, to expect them to rejoin their communities as if nothing has happened? And in moments of hardship, who can soldiers turn to if they feel alienated by the world they once lived in? These are the questions Finkel faces as he revisits the brave but shaken men of the 2-16.
More than a work of journalism, Thank You for Your Service is an act of understanding — shocking but always riveting, unflinching but deeply humane, it takes us inside the heads of those who must live the rest of their lives with the realities of war.
What I Thought I Knew: A Memoir by Alice Eve Cohen
At age forty-four, Alice Eve Cohen was happy for the first time in years. After a difficult divorce, she was engaged to an inspiring man, joyfully raising her adopted daughter, and her career was blossoming. Alice tells her fiancé that she’s never been happier. And then the stomach pains begin.
In her unflinchingly honest and ruefully witty voice, Alice nimbly carries us through her metamorphosis from a woman who has come to terms with infertility to one who struggles to love a heartbeat found in her womb – six months into a high-risk pregnancy.
What I Thought I Knew is a page-turner filled with vivid characters, humor, and many surprises and twists of fate. With the suspense of a thriller and the intimacy of a diary, Cohen describes her unexpected journey through doubt, a broken medical system, and the hotly contested terrain of motherhood and family in today’s society. Timely and compelling, What I Thought I Knew will capture readers of memoirs such as Eat, Pray, Love; The Glass Castle; and A Three Dog Life.
The Fortunate Pilgrim by Mario Puza
Before The Godfather and The Last Don, there was Puzo’s classic story about the loves, crimes and struggles confronted by one family of New York City immigrants living in Hell’s Kitchen. Fresh from the farms in Italy, Lucia Santa struggles to hold her family together in a strange land. At turns poignant, comic and violent, and with a new preface by the author, The Fortunate Pilgrim is Italian-American fiction at its very best.
Exile: Part 3 of Guy Erma and the Son of Empire by Sally Ann Melia
13-year-old Teodor has found a way to escape from kidnap, how long before he is safely home?
13-year-old Guy Erma has run away from everything he has even known and no longer knows what the future holds.
They escaped through dark tunnels and back alleys but they also discovered a hidden terror that now threatens their entire planet.
Two boys as different as two boys might be. Their adventure has forged an unexpected friendship, but do they really trust each other?
Dare they share their darkest, deepest secrets?
The Jesus Cow by Michael Perry
Life is suddenly full of drama for low-key Harley Jackson: A woman in a big red pickup has stolen his bachelor’s heart, a Hummer-driving predatory developer is threatening to pave the last vestiges of his family farm, and inside his barn is a calf bearing the image of Jesus Christ. His best friend, Billy, a giant of a man who shares his trailer house with a herd of cats and tries to pass off country music lyrics as philosophy, urges him to avoid the woman, fight the developer, and get rich off the calf. But Harley takes the opposite tack, hoping to avoid what his devout, dearly departed mother would have called “a scene.”
Then the secret gets out—right through the barn door, and Harley’s “miracle” goes viral. Within hours pilgrims, grifters, and the media have descended on his quiet patch of Swivel, Wisconsin, looking for a glimpse (and a percentage) of the calf. Does Harley hide the famous, possibly holy calf and risk a riot, or give the people what they want—and raise enough money to keep his land—and, just possibly, win the woman and her big red pickup truck?