Blog,  From My Bookshelf

From My Bookshelf: Home, Gingerbread, Save (Quill Subscription Box)

Three more books have recently made their way from a bookstore to my shelves, and since this wasn’t an ordinary purchase, I’m also going to share how they arrived in this edition of From My Bookshelf.

I’ve talked about Quill Books & Beverage in Westbrook, Maine before here on the blog, and they deserve all the credit for the following books making their way to me. This local indie bookstore introduced a book subscription service back in June, I signed up in July, and am happy with the titles I received (plus the two bags of coffee!).

I opted to add an extra book—the standard box comes with two—and selected the light/medium ground coffee option (whole bean coffee and loose leaf tea are also available). The total cost for me came out to $58.64—the subscription box costs $40.00, plus the extra book ($8.00), shipping ($8.00), and sales tax ($2.64). I feel this is a fair price based on the retail prices of the books and the retail price of the two 12oz. bags of coffee. It’s not an expense I can swing every month, but fortunately as long as you contact Quill before the first of the next month, you can cancel your subscription. If they continue to offer this service, I think it would be a fun way to replenish my at home coffee options once I get through the two bags, while adding more books to my collection.

If you are here in Maine, or live in the United States and want to learn more about the subscription, follow this link (and stay up to date with Quill Books & Beverage here). The shipping options are different for people local to Westbrook, Gorham, and Portland and those who need to have it shipped elsewhere. This is really the only downside, because people outside of the Westbrook area cannot add beer or wine, fresh pastries, or two extra books to their order, but knowing what shipping costs, this is an understandable restriction.

Now that I’ve gone on about the subscription box, here are the actual books that were selected for me by the booksellers (based on the genres I listed in the sign up form).

Make Your Home Among Strangers
Jennine Capó Crucet

I have not heard of this book, but the synopsis has me interested.

When Lizet-the daughter of Cuban immigrants and the first in her family to graduate from high school-secretly applies and is accepted to an ultra-elite college, her parents are furious at her decision to leave Miami. Just weeks before she’s set to start school, her parents divorce and her father sells her childhood home, leaving Lizet, her mother, and Leidy-Lizet’s older sister, a brand-new single mom-without a steady income and scrambling for a place to live.

Amidst this turmoil, Lizet begins her first semester at Rawlings College, distracted by both the exciting and difficult moments of freshman year. But the privileged world of the campus feels utterly foreign, as does her new awareness of herself as a minority. Struggling both socially and academically, she returns to Miami for a surprise Thanksgiving visit, only to be overshadowed by the arrival of Ariel Hernandez, a young boy whose mother died fleeing with him from Cuba on a raft. The ensuing immigration battle puts Miami in a glaring spotlight, captivating the nation and entangling Lizet’s entire family, especially her mother.

Pulled between life at college and the needs of those she loves, Lizet is faced with difficult decisions that will change her life forever. Urgent and mordantly funny, Make Your Home Among Strangers tells the moving story of a young woman torn between generational, cultural, and political forces; it’s the new story of what it means to be American today.

Helen Oyeyemi

This has been on my TBR since it came out…last year.

Influenced by the mysterious place gingerbread holds in classic children’s stories, beloved novelist Helen Oyeyemi invites readers into a delightful tale of a surprising family legacy, in which the inheritance is a recipe. 

Perdita Lee may appear to be your average British schoolgirl; Harriet Lee may seem just a working mother trying to penetrate the school social hierarchy; but there are signs that they might not be as normal as they think they are. For one thing, they share a gold-painted, seventh-floor walk-up apartment with some surprisingly verbal vegetation. And then there’s the gingerbread they make. Londoners may find themselves able to take or leave it, but it’s very popular in Druhástrana, the far-away (or, according to many sources, non-existent) land of Harriet Lee’s early youth. The world’s truest lover of the Lee family gingerbread, however, is Harriet’s charismatic childhood friend Gretel Kercheval —a figure who seems to have had a hand in everything (good or bad) that has happened to Harriet since they met. 

Decades later, when teenaged Perdita sets out to find her mother’s long-lost friend, it prompts a new telling of Harriet’s story. As the book follows the Lees through encounters with jealousy, ambition, family grudges, work, wealth, and real estate, gingerbread seems to be the one thing that reliably holds a constant value. Endlessly surprising and satisfying, written with Helen Oyeyemi’s inimitable style and imagination, it is a true feast for the reader.

Things You Save in a Fire
Katherine Center

I’m pretty sure I’ve heard this title or maybe some buzz about this book, but the synopsis sounds foreign to me. Regardless, I’m interested in diving into the story.

Cassie Hanwell was born for emergencies. As one of the only female firefighters in her Texas firehouse, she’s seen her fair share of them, and she’s a total pro at other people’s tragedies. But when her estranged and ailing mother asks her to give up her whole life and move to Boston, Cassie suddenly has an emergency of her own.

The tough, old-school Boston firehouse is as different from Cassie’s old job as it could possibly be. Hazing, a lack of funding, and poor facilities mean that the firemen aren’t exactly thrilled to have a “lady” on the crew—even one as competent and smart as Cassie. Except for the infatuation-inspiring rookie, who doesn’t seem to mind having Cassie around. But she can’t think about that. Because love is girly, and it’s not her thing. And don’t forget the advice her old captain gave her: Never date firefighters. Cassie can feel her resolve slipping . . . and it means risking everything—the only job she’s ever loved and the hero she’s worked like hell to become.

Are you familiar with any of these books? Have you purchased any gems from an indie bookstore lately? Let’s chat in the comments.

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