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paperback picks penguin.com

Dark Peril

Bad Blood

A Bride Unveiled

Two bodies in two days. One is murder. The other is suicide. Virgil Flowers never imagined that discovering the connection would lead him into the perverse history of the Minnesota farm community, and almost unimaginable darkness.

Violet Knowlton is betrothed to Sir Godfrey Maitland. When Godfrey escorts her to a fencing demonstration, she looks forward to the adventurous diversion, but everything changes when she realizes the swordsman displaying his skill—and dashing good looks—is none other than her childhood friend Kit.

9780425243930 • $9.99

9780451413116 • $7.99

There’s only one way for Dominic—one of the most powerful of the Carpathian Dragonseekers—to learn the secrets of the enemy: ingest their parasitic vampire blood, infiltrate the camp, and relay the information to the Carpathians. But to do it, he first has to make it out of the camp alive. 9780515149999 • $7.99

Dark Prophecy Steve Dark is a man with a unique talent for catching serial killers. Now he’s on a mission to embrace his destiny, unbound by authorities— moral or otherwise—and supported by a mysterious benefactor with unknown goals of her own. 9780451234933 • $9.99

Miracle Cure

Much Ado About Vampires

The Unquiet

Visions of Skyfire

A Harlan Coben classic—now back in print! In a clinic on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, a doctor has dedicated his life to eradicating a devastating disease. One by one, his patients are getting well. And one by one, they’re being targeted by a serial killer.

Corazon Ferreira is a jaded woman. Turns out she was a vampire’s mate in a past life. And no matter how distractingly gorgeous he is, she just can’t get the image of him killing someone out of her head. But when her life depends on him, Corazon’s going to have to stop overthinking things—and start trusting her heart.

Five New York Times bestselling authors—five all-new, startling stories of uncanny suspense and disquieting romance. Includes a never-beforepublished J.D. Robb novella starring Eve Dallas and Roarke!

Teresa Santiago has awakened her abilities to summon lightning but is unable to control her power—or her attraction to Rune, her Eternal protector and destined partner. Now, Teresa and Rune must locate a missing artifact of unimaginable power before it unleashes the forces of darkness on the world.

9780451234919 • $9.99

9780515149982 • $7.99

9780451234926 • $7.99

9780451234971 • $7.99

The #1 New York Times bestseller! Tom Clancy’s greatest characters come together in one electrifying thriller. For years, Jack Ryan, Jr., and his colleagues at the Campus have waged an unofficial and highly effective campaign against the terrorists who threaten Western civilization. The most dangerous of these is the Emir. This sadistic killer has masterminded the most vicious attacks on the West and has eluded capture by the world’s law enforcement agencies. Now the Campus is on his trail. Led by Jack Ryan, Jr.—son of the legendary Jack Ryan—they are determined to catch the Emir, and they will bring him in… dead or alive.

NOW IN PAPERBACK

BERKLEY

A Penguin Group (USA) Company

9780425244852 • $18.00


contents

october 2011 w w w. B o o k Pa g e . c o m

features

24

04 paula deen A major achievement from the grande dame of Southern cooking

feature

jeffrey eugenides

Nine years after the release of Middlesex, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist returns with a story of love and literary obsession

13 sharon kay penman Meet the author of Lionheart

14 susan orlean How a story about an extraordinary dog became so much more

reviews 28 Fiction

27 hillary jordan An exploration of politics, privacy and punishment

31 spotlight on horror Scary stories for chilly nights

36 teen read week Opening up whole new worlds

37 maureen johnson Haunted by Jack the Ripper

39 richard egielski Meet the author-illustrator of The Sleepless Little Vampire

departments

top pick:

The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian a l s o r e v i e w e d : The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman; Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos; If Jack’s in Love by Stephen Wetta; Nightwoods by Charles Frazier; Last Man in Tower by Aravind Adiga; The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje; Snuff by Terry Pratchett; Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks; Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi; The Kingdom of Childhood by Rebecca Coleman

33 NonFiction top pick:

Fiction Ruined My Family by Jeanne Darst a l s o r e v i e w e d : The Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard; The Orchard by Theresa Weir; The Swerve by Stephen Greenblatt; Holy Ghost Girl by Donna Johnson; The Viral Storm by Nathan Wolfe; Stasiland by Anna Funder; The Magnificent Medills by Megan McKinney

38 Children’s top pick:

The Flint Heart by Katherine and John Paterson a l s o r e v i e w e d : The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse by Eric Carle; Stars by Mary Lyn Ray; Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver; Waiting for the Magic by Patricia MacLachlan; Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

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04 book fortunes 05 book clubs 06 whodunit 08 cooking 11 romance 13 audio Looking for Buzz Girl? Visit The Book Case blog on BookPage.com for the latest book news and commentary.

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cover story

paula deen

Scrumptious southern specialties

S

traight from the Georgia kitchen of a food icon comes the definitive guide to Southern cuisine, Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible.

Deen’s newest cookbook is The Joy of Cooking for grits, biscuits and everything delicious that sticks to your bones. Not only does it contain 325 fundamental down-home recipes from across the South, it also includes comprehensive instructions for cooking techniques and tricks of the trade, such as peeling shrimp,

PAULA DEEN’S SOUTHERN COOKING BIBLE

By Paula Deen, Simon & Schuster, $29.99, 480 pages ISBN 9781416564072, eBook available

spiraling a ham and making sweet potato balls without getting marshmallow all over your hands. This is Deen’s addition to the distinguished list of timeless cookbooks, and it will unquestionably become the go-to guide for Southern cooking. Southern cuisine is such a regionally diverse phenomenon that it might seem impossible to capture all the flavors in one book. However, while the main ingredients stay the same, these recipes can be tailored to the taste buds of your particular table. “So many of the beloved recipes in these pages were born through the combination of a scant pantry and a talented cook,” Deen writes in the book’s introduction. The Southern Cooking Bible is about using your resources—no matter how limited—to make largerthan-life, family-style meals with timeless flavor. “Putting out a big, ample spread is a point of pride for every Southern hostess: that’s her way of letting her guests know they’ll be taken care of, and they don’t need to hold back,” Deen says.

Classic dishes complement Deen’s contemporary creations. You’ll render family, friends and guests speechless with any of the three recipes for mac’n’cheese (which many Southerners count as a vegetable). The Fried Beef Tenderloin with Grits and Gravy will have them begging for more. Making some shrimp tonight? Try Shrimp Gumbo Casserole, Crunchy Fried Shrimp, BBQ Shrimp, Beaufort Shrimp Pie, the Low-Country Boil (both spicy and mild) . . . shall we go on? The five dessert chapters feature Mississippi Mud Cake, Not Yo Mama’s Banana Pudding and Nutty Brittle—plus 17 pies (not counting the cobblers!). The cookbook also includes salads, soups, stews, vegetables and pasta. It is a true catalogue of Southern food, representing every branch from hillcountry and low-country to cajun and creole. The epitome of an irrepressible Southern woman, Deen worked her way up from a home-grown catering company to her own Savannah restaurant. Today, she has become

columns

Our crystal ball predicts your next great read

4

Reader name: Kammie Hometown: Wayland, NY Favorite genre: Gothic, historical fiction, thrillers, suspense Favorite authors: Joyce Carol Oates, John Jakes, Greg Isles, Patricia Cornwell, Gregory Maguire Favorite books: John Jakes’ North and South Trilogy, Patricia Cornwell’s Scarpetta series, Black Water

Chia Chong

by cat acree

the most recognized face of contemporary comfort food, ruling a minidynasty that includes three Food Network television shows. Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible is about rich history and one-of-a-kind, Deen-style hospitality. These recipes have been passed down through generations, and they have the power to turn a simple, homey meal into an unforgettable evening. The result will be “slap-yamama” delicious.

BOOK FoRTUNES by eliza borné

The Ghost Writer by John Harwood will appeal to Kammie’s love for Gothic thrills. This atmospheric psychological suspense tale is about a man who is haunted by the past and discovers a chilling truth about his mother. Turn-of-the-century horror stories are interwoven into this Halloween-worthy creepy plot. In Drood, Dan Simmons imagines the events that inspired Charles Dickens’ unfinished final work, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. This fascinating 800-page book is part detective story, part bloody horror novel and part historical fiction. Finally, if you’re into epic sagas à la John Jakes, you can’t go wrong with Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy, starting with last year’s Fall of Giants. (The paperback is available now.) The trilogy is about the intertwined fates of five families throughout the 20th century. Fall of

Giants takes readers through World War I, the Russian Revolution and the struggle for women’s suffrage. Look for the second and third books in 2012 and 2014. Reader name: Karen Hometown: Purchase, NY Favorite genre: romance Favorite authors: Shelly Laurenston, Toni Blake, Nalini Singh Favorite books: Blaze of Memory, One Reckless Summer After recommending gothic suspense, I’m happy to suggest a few books about love—not that they’re all easy-breezy. When You Dare by Lori Foster is about the relationship between a sexy alpha hero and a very determined heroine. In the story, security expert Dare saves Molly, an author, from human traffickers. If you’re looking for explo-

sive sexual chemistry on the page, look no further than Foster. Fans of Toni Blake’s big-hearted contemporary novels should read anything by Susan Wiggs. As fall sets in and you’re longing for the warm days of summer, try Lakeside Cottage (recently re-issued by MIRA), about a single mom who loses her job, then journeys to her family’s cottage—son in tow—to figure out what’s next. There, she falls for a mystery man. You’ll fall for the characters’ growing attraction as well as the summery setting. To request a reading from our fortune teller, email bookfortunes@bookpage. com with your name, hometown and your favorite genre(s), author(s) and book(s). If you’d like more reading ideas, visit bookpage.com/newsletters to sign up for Book of the Day, our daily book recommendation e-newsletter.


book clubs by julie hale

This month’s best paperback releases for reading groups

LOVE & MARRIAGE In Must You Go?: My Life with Harold Pinter (Anchor, $16, 382 pages, ISBN 9780307475572), Antonia Fraser draws on her diaries to create an intimate portrait of her 33-year union with one of the world’s most celebrated playwrights. Fraser and Pinter were both married with children when they connected at a party in the 1970s (they talked until 6 o’clock in the morning), and their coming together caused a sensation. Fraser’s

honeymoon. Through flashbacks that offer searing scenes from Jonas’ childhood, revealing an abusive Yosef and a miserable Mariam, the novel skillfully spans two generations. How Jonas learns to live with his legacy of displacement and disillusionment makes for a richly rewarding narrative. Mengestu, whose debut novel, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears (2007), also won critical acclaim, offers a beautifully constructed family drama that draws on timeless themes of identity and alienation.

TOP PICK FOR BOOK CLUBS

husband, conservative MP Hugh Fraser, was Pinter’s anti­thesis— straight-laced, quiet and reserved. With the volatile playwright, Fraser experienced passion for the first time, and together they formed a formidable couple. Three years after Pinter won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, he succumbed to cancer. Even as Fraser comes to grips with her grief, she is delightful company. The book is a mix of moods—humorous and wistful and meditative—but Fraser’s story is ultimately uplifting, as her love for Pinter clearly endures. This is an intriguing look at a match made in literary heaven.

SEARCHING FOR HOME Ethiopian writer Dinaw Mengestu’s second novel, How to Read the Air (Riverhead, $15, 320 pages, ISBN 9781594485398), provides an unforgettable look at an immigrant family adapting to life in America. Jonas, a high school teacher, is at loose ends thanks to his dying marriage. The son of Ethiopian parents Yosef and Mariam—another unhappily married pair—Jonas grew up in a tension-filled household in Peoria, Illinois. Trying to achieve some resolution with his past, Jonas retraces a road trip his parents took (from Peoria to Nashville) on their

Jonathan Franzen’s muchanticipated follow-up to The Corrections doesn’t disappoint. Set in suburban St. Paul, Minnesota, this well-crafted novel focuses on middle-class couple Walter and Patty Berglund, who, after years of acceptance by their neighbors, become outsiders in their own community. Patty despises the conservative family next door, while eco-minded Walter—a lawyer—causes controversy when he becomes involved with a coal company. Flashing back to recount the story of how the Berglunds got where they are, the novel follows Patty from her well-to-do beginnings in New York through her failed college basketball career and her romance with Walter. The contrast of past and present makes for some provocative juxtapositions, as Walter and Patty watch their old dreams go down the drain. Among their disappointments: teenage son Joey, who moves in with the despised right-wingers next door. This perceptive portrayal of contemporary family life is Franzen’s best fiction yet.

GREAT STORIES A Cypress Hollow Yarn from the author of How to Knit a Heart Back Home

STiTCheS M

A Cy pres s Ho llow

Ya rn

m

“Wishes and Stitches will take you home to a place you’ll never want to leave.”

ches “Wishes and Stit ce home to a pla wil l take you want to leave.” you’ll never y gwa Rid stie —Chri

—Christie Ridgway

her ron a thc orhofaHoew lto Knit a Heart Back Home r Au

From the bestselling author of I Never Fancied Him Anyway

if this is paradise i want my money back

What if you got the opportunity to come back to life … as a guardian angel to your evil ex-boyfriend?

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Freedom By Jonathan Franzen Picador $16, 608 pages ISBN 9780312576462

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5


THE LATEST INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE WRONG MOTHER

Two mothers say crib death. One doctor says murder. Sophie Hannah returns with her most transfixing mystery yet. “Not just a perfectly executed psychological thriller, but a pertinent meditation on society itself.” —The Guardian “When it comes to ingenious plots that twist and turn like a roller coaster, few writers can match Sophie Hannah.” —Daily Express SOPHIEHANNAH.COM

Penguin Books A member of Penguin Group (USA)

6

penguin.com

columns

Whodunit by Bruce Tierney

Thrills and chills from Europe Arnaldur Indridason, the Icelandic author best known for his popular series featuring Reykjavik’s Inspector Erlendur, returns with a stand-alone thriller, Operation Napoleon (Minotaur, $24.99, 336 pages, ISBN 9780312659103). This tale of murder and intrigue has roots in wartime Berlin, half a continent (and half a century) away from the Icelandic glacier where the main plot will commence. The backstory, explained in a few introductory pages, is this: In 1945, a German bomber hastily repainted with American markings crashes in a snowstorm. Oddly, there are both German and American soldiers aboard. The glacier swallows up all traces, and there the story remains—frozen in time—for 50-some years. Credit global warming for bringing the airplane once again to the surface, thus stirring up the ashes of perhaps the biggest scandal in history, a secret that could potentially launch World War III. Leaning decidedly toward the thriller side of the thriller/mystery continuum, Operation Napoleon will nonetheless engage suspense devotees who, I guarantee, will be surprised and moved by the final twist.

No ordinary murder Glasgow Detective Inspector Alex Morrow, last seen in Still Midnight (2010), returns in Denise Mina’s latest police procedural thriller, The End of the Wasp Season (Little, Brown, $25.99, 400 pages, ISBN 9780316069335). Heavily pregnant with twins, Morrow is basically counting down the days until her maternity leave. She is looking forward to not having to deal with her dim-bulb boss on a day-to-day basis, not having to endure the petty bickering of her underlings and not having to think about anything unrelated to the two growing presences in her belly. Then Sarah Erroll is murdered, and Morrow’s world careens off in directions she could not have begun to imagine. No ordinary murder, this one is unusually savage: The woman’s

face has basically been obliterated, stomped past recognition by not one, but two pairs of matched sneakers, identical but for the sizes. To make matters worse, the shoes broadly match those worn by the children of Morrow’s girlhood friend, a good-time girl fallen on hard times. Complicating the story even further is the suicide of a

spend on a mystery this year! By the way, you heard it here first: Enger is also a talented composer, with several movie themes to his credit; his tunes are evocative of Philip Glass or Amethystium. Check out his website at thomasenger.net and have a listen.

Top pick in mystery

wealthy businessman—which may be connected to Sarah’s death. Mina excels at describing the minutiae of police work, inexorably leading to the solution of the crime, as well as the convoluted but exceptionally believable interpersonal dealings of the cops and criminals alike. Read one Mina novel, and you’ll be back for more.

Dangerous investigation Thomas Enger, already a legend in his native Norway, seems destined for similar acclaim on American shores. His debut novel, Burned (Atria, $15, 368 pages, ISBN 9781451616453), features disfigured investigative reporter Henning Juul, just now returning to work after the fire that destroyed his apartment and his good looks, and took the life of his young son. Juul doesn’t have to wait long to find himself back in the thick of things: It falls to him to look into the murder of a young woman who was buried to her neck in an Oslo public park, then stoned to death. It has the look of a Middle Eastern Sharia punishment, and indeed, the girl’s boyfriend is a Pakistani native; at first blush, he appears to be a very good fit for the murder. Or is he just a good fit for a frame? Enger forces his readers to confront their own (often wellhidden) prejudices, all the while delivering a gripping narrative that begs comparison to Stieg Larsson. A capital-B Bonus: This book is $15—possibly the best $15 you’ll

If there is a mystery premise more original than Zoran Drvenkar’s Sorry—sorry, I cannot bring it to mind. Four German 20-something borderline losers come up with an idea for a business venture: If you have done somebody wrong, and you are too timid, too busy or too removed from the situation to effectively apologize, you can hire their agency to do it for you. The name of the agency: Sorry. They will charge you an exorbitant fee, and they will make amends on your behalf. Their clients include businesses, the lovelorn and, most recently, a brutal killer who nailed his victim to a wall with long spikes through her hands and forehead, leaving the mess for the Sorry personnel to clean up. The killer has done his homework: He knows all of the skeletons in the Sorry closets, and he is quite confident that he can manipulate the staff into doing his bidding—repeatedly. Sorry changes perspective from chapter to chapter, giving the reader unusual first-person insight into the characters and their motivations, with a wild card outsider perspective unrevealed until the very end. Dark, demented, radical and grotesquely humorous, Sorry upends every convention of modern fiction craft, and brilliantly. Indeed, Sorry might well be the Mystery of the Year!

Sorry By Zoran Drvenkar Knopf $25.95, 320 pages ISBN 9780307273550 eBook available

mystery


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columns

cooking by sybil PRATT

In Gear for the Year

YOU CAN’T CON A CON.

Melissa Clark’s effervescent, inexhaustible enthusiasm for all things edible is wonderfully infectious. She really makes you want to drop everything, head for the kitchen and whip up an Upside-Down Polenta Plum Cake or Carroty Mac and Cheese. In her second cookbook, Cook This Now (Hyperion, $29.99, 416 pages, ISBN 9781401323981), this fabulous food writer and columnist for the New York Times Dining Section has arranged a year’s worth of all-new recipes by month so you can take advantage of what’s fresh and seasonal. Each recipe comes with a chatty, warm, uniquely Melissa-esque introduction, a sort of kitchen bio, that

will help you understand why a particular technique or ingredient is used. Why, for instance, Melissa roasts rather than stews Ratatouille, or why it’s worth looking for real new potatoes, using three different meats in chili or peeling away the craggy exterior of celery root. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a recipe you won’t want to make among the 120 gathered here. Gotta go, my beautiful Butternut Squash Risotto with Pistachios and Lemon is just about ready.

The Splendor of Slow

Carny Sullivan knows a con artist when she sees one. Growing up with a sketchy father will do that. The problem is, Logan Brisco isn’t running the usual scam. Buried deep within his soul, there’s a secret he can no longer hide. See the trailer at zondervan.com/serenity. Available 9-27-2011 wherever books are sold.

8

Nifty, thrifty and oh, so practical, slow cooking—in a traditional oven or in a slow cooker (remember when we called them crockpots?)— is a super way to save time and save money as you serve up consistently impressive and delicious dishes. The Slow Cook Book (DK, $25, 352 pages, ISBN 9780756686789) by Heather Whinney, a winning collection of more than 200 recipes, will put you on the fast track to slow in no time. Whinney begins at the beginning with a primer on the techniques necessary for successful slow cooking and advice on stocking your pantry, choosing ingredients, then prepping them. But the proof, as always, is in the pudding, or, more to the slow-cook-

ing point, in the casserole, curry, pilaf or paella. These recipes allow you to stay with the classics or go global: Chicken Fricassée or Chicken and Orange Tagine; Beef Broth with Parmesan Dumplings or curried Beef Mulligatawny Soup; hearty Brazilian Feijoada or caraway-scented Pork Goulash; Artichoke Risotto or Vegetable Biryani. Each recipe has clear, detailed instructions for both slow cookers and traditional ovens—take your pick. Either way, slow is now quick.

Top Pick in Cookbooks In addition to making stock, the ever-fabulous Jacques Pepin is taking stock. Essential Pepin: More Than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food is the culmination of Jacques’ reflections on his 60-plus years in the kitchen— a culinary diary of his culinary identity. The recipes are Jacques’ pick of the best of the best from among the thousands he’s created and, though their intrinsic quality remains unchanged, each one has been rethought and updated. From golden oldies to the here-and-now, from the classic French to the allAmerican, everything in Jacques’ repertoire carries his unique stamp and approach—unpretentious yet elegant, pragmatic yet sophisticated. I wish I had the gastronomic gumption to pull a Julie-and-Julia, cover-to-cover cook-through (a Jacques-around-the-clock?) of these 700 recipes. This is exactly the kind of rare cookbook that deserves that sort of passionate attention. Just imagine starting with Cold Cream of Pea Soup with Mint and ending (a few happy years later) with Espresso Ice Cream in Chocolate Goblets. Jacques’ life in food is truly worth reliving.

Essential Pepin By Jacques Pepin HMH $40, 704 pages ISBN 9780547232799

General


Warm Up Your Christmas Collection with New Books from These Bestselling Authors

The Christmas Shoppe A small town is surprised by a newcomer who opens a very unusual Christmas shop where customers find more than they bargained for. 978-0-8007-1926-5 • $15.99

n

A Lancaster County Christmas

Remembering Christmas

When a young couple traveling at Christmas find themselves stranded at an Amish farm, they discover there is more than one way to be rescued.

In this contemporary story, a family crisis brings an estranged son home for the holidays where he rediscovers the true meaning of Christmas and family.

978-0-8007-1995-1 • $15.99

978-0-8007-1979-1 • $15.99

To order call 1-800-877-2665 To order in Canada call David C. Cook 1-800-263-2664


I suppose in the beginning it was a love story… DON’T MISS THE MOST ANTICIPATED AND CONTROVERSIAL NOVEL OF THE YEAR. On sale now.

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columns

romance b y c h r i s t i e r i d g way

A Passionate reunion Two fascinating characters meet their match in A Beginner’s Guide to Rakes (St. Martin’s, $7.99, 352 pages, ISBN 9780312534516) by Suzanne Enoch. After being widowed in Vienna, Diane Benchley returns to London and stuns society by opening an exclusive gentleman’s club. No one is more surprised than Oliver Warren, the Marquis of Haybury. Two years before, he and the young widow had a torrid affair, and he ran from her and his feelings. Now that she’s back, he vows to avoid her . . . but it proves impossible when the beauty finds a way to have him act as her advisor. Once again in close quarters,

their passion ignites, though each is determined to battle against it. Diane wants her venture to succeed and refuses to rely on love or a man again—besides, Oliver never saw himself as a one-woman man, and he isn’t about to start now. But through witty repartee and stolen kisses, the two grow close. When Diane’s establishment is threatened by outside forces, she must trust Oliver to help vanquish the new foe. The lovers war with each other passionately—but the results are fiery and just plain fun.

In love with the boss The characters are appealing, the animals adorable and the romance absolutely enjoyable in Animal Attraction (Berkley, $7.99, 304 pages, ISBN 9780425244005) by Jill Shalvis. Over a year ago, a scary event propelled Jade Bennett to leave her high-powered job in Chicago to become a receptionist at a vet clinic in Sunshine, Idaho. Nearly 18 months have passed and she’s made friends in the small town—particularly with her boss, veterinarian Dell Connelly. With a month left before she’s set to go home, Jade and Dell begin to explore the chemistry they’ve been ignoring. Before, it had made sense to pretend it wasn’t there:

Dell doesn’t do relationships, and any person’s touch made Jade cringe. But everything changes when Dell teaches Jade to trust herself again and she motivates this closed-off man to open up. There’s no flash-bang here, but instead the steady-yet-hot flame of a building relationship. Dell and Jade are trying to protect themselves on the way to love—but of course it’s unattainable until they drop their armor.

Top pick in romance Susanna Kearsley’s The Rose Garden is an enthralling and achingly romantic read. Recovering from a painful loss, Eva Ward travels to Cornwall and the centuries-old Trelowarth House where she once spent happy summers. One morning, she hears unfamiliar voices in the next room, and on a walk she encounters a mysterious man who seems to be from another time. At first she attributes these oddities to symptoms of grief, but when the “hallucinations” continue to occur and she actually converses with the stranger in her bedroom, Eva concludes she has traveled back 300 years. Though she can’t control her comings and goings between the past and present, she begins to fall in love with Daniel Butler, a dashing man with a dangerous secret. As Eva investigates local annals, she learns some of what Daniel faced, but she’s unsure whether she can or should interfere in historical events—or if she can or should find a way to stay with him forever. Told in first person and with understated sensuality, the story of Eva and Daniel’s devotion and dilemma will keep readers avidly engaged.

The Rose Garden By Susanna Kearsley Sourcebooks $16.99, 448 pages ISBN 9781402258589 eBook available

fantasy

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Novel Reads

HARPERCOLLINS HarperCollins.com • AvonRomance.com Hell to Pay

by Wendy Corsi Staub Survivors of a serial killer who invaded their childhood, Lucy Walsh and Jeremy Cavalon are married now, replacing nightmares of their terrifying past with joyful dreams of the upcoming birth of their first child. Fiercely determined to protect the fragile balance of their lives, Lucy doesn’t know that her new husband guards a deadly secret…or that an Act of God is about to unleash a vengeful fury. 9780061895081, $7.99

If Wishes Were Horses

by Robert Barclay

Wyatt Blaine’s life has been touched by unbearable sorrow, and he realizes the only way out is to reach out. So he revives his late wife’s horse therapy program by opening the gates of the Blaine family ranch to troubled kids, never imagining he’d come face to face with the woman he irrationally blames for everything—Gabby Powers, widow of the man responsible for Wyatt’s pain. Still, when she tearfully asks him to help her troubled son, he surprises himself by saying yes.

The Ninth Day

9780062046680, $7.99

by Jamie Freveletti Hiking in Arizona, biochemist Emma Caldridge inadvertently interrupts the operations of dangerous traffickers in human cargo—and is chased south into the arms of millionaire drug merchants. Suddenly a prisoner of Mexico’s most feared cartel, Emma makes a shocking discovery in the marijuana fields outside Ciudad Juarez: plants rotting with a flesh-eating toxin that causes a truly horrible death within nine days of exposure. And there is no antidote. 9780062025319, $9.99

Reckoning for the Dead by Jordan Dane

The official story is that Garrett Wheeler, the Sentinels’ chief, is dead—killed in a covert op gone horribly wrong. But Alexa Marlowe—his ex-lover and most trusted agent—isn’t buying it. In search of Garrett and the truth, she goes off the grid, following a deadly trail that leads behind the fortress walls of a murderous drug cartel boss. Alone, Alexa has no one to watch her back, not even her new partner, Jessie. 9780061969690, $7.99

Sexiest Vampire Alive by Kerrelyn Sparks

Abby Tucker would rather spend her nights in a lab than attend her father’s state dinners. She’s dedicated her life to finding a cure that will save her dying mother and needs only two more ingredients. To find them, she’ll have to venture into the most dangerous region of the world—with a vampire. And the greatest danger won’t be the predatory hordes lying in wait for them; it will be her undying desire for the Sexiest Vampire Alive. 9780061958052, $7.99

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11


. s e i r o t S t a e r G g n i t Harves “Withoutadoubt,thisaudioeditionofEugenides’long-awaited secondnovelrepresentsanacmeoftheaudiobookgenre:the wholeequalsmorethanasumofitsparts.” —Publishers Weekly (starredreview)on Middlesex,anAudieAwardwinner

macmillan audio macmillan audio

THE WALKING DEAD RISE OF THE GOVERNOR

macmillan audio

ON SALE 10/11 “IfthecomicbookwriterRobertKirkmanwerea superhero,hisnamemightbetheMidasTouch.” —The New York Times

macmillan audio

THE MARRIAGE PLOT ON SALE 10/11

A DUBLIN STUDENT DOCTOR ON SALE 10/11

“PuppyownerswillenjoyAbramson’saccountof thetrialsandjoysofraisingapuppyand willbenefitfromherbalancedlookintothe contentiousrealmofdog-trainingmethods.” —Publishers Weekly

FromtheNew York TimesBestselling AuthorofAn Irish Country Doctor

Sneak Peek for November!

THE PUPPY DIARIES ON SALE 10/11

“BillO’Reillyrecountsthedramaticeventsofthe springof1865withsuchexhilaratingimmediacy thatyouwillfeellikeyouarewalkingthestreets ofWashington,D.C.,onthenightthatJohn WilkesBoothshotAbrahamLincoln.” —VinceFlynn,authorofAmerican Assassin

KILLING LINCOLN READ BY BILL O’REILLY

ON SALE NOW!

Visit macmillanaudio.com to listen to excerpts. Follow us on Twitter • Become a fan on Facebook

DESTINED

A HOUSE OF NIGHT NOVEL

ON SALE 10/25 ADVANCE EXCERPTS AVAILABLE NOW!


columns

audio by sukey howard

Crime in Chiaroscuro Chief Inspector Gamache, the head of homicide at the Sûreté du Quebec, returns in A Trick of the Light (Macmillan Audio, $39.99, 12 hours, ISBN 9781427213204), the latest addition to Louise Penny’s brilliantly conceived series. Penny writes the kind of crime fiction that bends the boundaries of the genre; there is a murder, and the whodunit and the whydunit are central, but the characters and their worlds, so eloquently conjured here, are just as important. Lillian Dyson, a former art critic renowned and reviled for her clever cruelty, has been murdered, her body found in Clara Morrow’s idyllic garden the morning after Clara’s triumphant opening at Montreal’s Musée d’Art

Contemporain. As Gamache and his team gather more information about Lillian, the fear, greed and ego that drives the Québécois art scene surfaces, and its artists, dealers and gallery owners begin to reveal their true colors in a play of light and dark, in contrasts between appearance and reality, false hope and real change. Ralph Cosham’s expert, empathetic performance perfectly underscores Ms. Penny’s detail and nuance. Can’t wait for Inspector Gamache to return.

The Secret Sharer If Kamala Nair’s debut novel, The Girl in the Garden (Hachette Audio, $29.98, 8.5 hours, ISBN 9781609412210), were a confection, I’d describe it as a small, delicious cake with a fable-like center, iced with sweet swirls of redemption. The summer she turned 11, Rakhee went with her mother from her home in Minnesota to visit family in a rural south Indian village. The rambling homestead on the edge of a lush, exotic jungle is filled with aunts, uncles, cousins and menacing secrets. Precocious, curious, undeterred by local tales of malevolent spirits, Rakhee finds a “secret garden” hidden away, along with the secret person it holds, and

gradually untangles the intricate web of sadness, thwarted love, true identity and blackmail that has held her mother’s family in its thrall for many years. While spinning this winning tale, Nair offers us a window into domestic life in India, especially the restricted, often harrowing, role women are forced to accept. Narrator Anitha Gandhi gives Rakhee a believable voice that makes this bittersweet coming-of-age saga ring true and the keep-the-kleenexclose finale all the more poignant.

meet SHARON KAY PENMAN

the title of your Q: What’s  new book?

would you describe Q: How  the book?

do you see as Richard the Lionheart’s best and worst Q: What  personal qualities?

could swap lives with anyone in history, who would Q: Iyou f youchoose?

Top Pick in Audio If Jaycee Dugard’s story was told in a novel, it would be dismissed as unbelievable horror, too sordid, too awful to be endured. But it’s all too true. Abducted at 11, she was held captive for 18 years by a convicted rapist and his incomprehensible wife, sexually abused, mentally harassed, made to live in utter squalor. A Stolen Life is Jaycee’s story, exactly as she remembers it. It’s a testament to the indomitable will of a little girl who, against all odds, kept her sanity and her sense of self as she grew up. Jaycee learned to bury her treasured memories, to appease and please her captors—to survive. She had her first daughter at 14, her second three years later, becoming a determined mother who held on to every glint of light in her bleak world. In this extraordinary audio, Jaycee reads her own words, sharing her experience with intense honesty, revealing an amazing spirit that couldn’t be snuffed out. She never gave up hope, never gave herself over to hate, and now has set up a foundation to help others recover from the trauma of abduction.

Q: W  hat’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned while doing research on the medieval world?

Q: Omeaningful?  f all the books you have read, which has been the most

is your favorite thing to do when you’re not writing? Q: What 

Q: W  ords to live by?

LIONHEART

A stolen life By Jaycee Dugard Simon & Schuster Audio $29.99, 7.5 hours ISBN 9781442344983

memoir

Sharon Kay Penman has written vividly about the Middle Ages in a series of historical novels, beginning with the bestseller The Sunne in Splendour. Her latest book, Lionheart (Marion Wood/Putnam,$28.95, 608 pages, ISBN 9780399157851), is an epic portrait of England’s King Richard I. Read a review at BookPage.com.

13


interview

SUSAN ORLEAN

the enduring appeal of rin tin tin

A

uthor Susan Orlean says she “certainly did not set out to write a book about a dog.” And, in a way, she hasn’t.

Yes, a dog—and not just any dog—is the grain around which this pearl of a book grows. But Rin Tin Tin: The Life and Legend is about so much more—world wars, movies, television, luck, devotion, the quest for immortality—that to call it simply a book about a dog is to diminish its nature and its appeal. “Any book is a leap,” Orlean says during a call to the home in Columbia County, New York, that she and her husband and their young son will soon leave to spend a year in Los Angeles. “You have to go with your gut feeling that your curiosity is big enough and—fingers crossed and toes crossed—that the subject is big enough. An idea has to dilate the more you learn about it. There has to be the feeling of being off-kilter, of finding out things that

New York Times Bestselling Author

Look for Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue available now

14

AvonRomance.com StephanieLaurens.com

just were not at all what you had expected. With Rin Tin Tin it felt instantly enormous. I went from thinking, oh, the television show from the 1950s, my god what a nostalgic moment, to oh my god, there was a real Rin Tin Tin? He was born in 1918? He was a silent film star? The idea grew and grew.” It grew so big, in fact, that the book offers a strangely riveting perspective on 20th-century America. Who knew, for example, that shortly after Pearl Harbor thousands of people donated their dogs to Dogs for Defense? One young donor, now an 81-year-old veterinarian in Louisiana, received a surprise call from Orlean, an intrepid reporter if ever there was one. “Actually, my husband found him,” Orlean says. “He’s amazing at finding people. I thought he was probably dead. But all of a sudden my husband just handed me this phone number.” Orlean’s husband, John Gillespie, was a literature major who strayed into finance and became an investment banker. He is her first reader, shares her love of Faulkner and is the reason for their move to the West Coast. Orlean, a staff writer for the New Yorker and author of seven previous books, including the bestseller The Orchid Thief, spent considerable time in Los Angeles researching her latest work. The original Rin Tin Tin and his descendants track the rise of American popular entertainment, from silent movies, to talkies, to television, and Orlean finds a way to swiftly and entertainingly chart the arc of those changes. The Los Angeles area was also home to the two human stars of the book. Lee Duncan, who spent part of his childhood in an orphanage, found the original Rin Tin Tin as a newborn pup in a bombed-out German kennel in the waning days of World War I. The find transformed Duncan and gave him a singleminded sense of purpose to make his extraordinary dog into a star. Years later, Herbert “Bert” Leonard became similarly entranced by the idea of Rin Tin Tin and developed the popular television program. In Orlean’s telling, their stories are re-

markable and moving. “I felt enormous tenderness toward both of them because they were very flawed people with a tremendous capacity for loyalty and a kind of devotion that sometimes seemed very wrongheaded,” she says. “But I think what happens in life is that there are certain people who turn their lives into a vessel for carrying something forward that the rest of us then enjoy. I think Lee had a fundamental loneliness; even when he was an old man he seemed like the same little boy who lost his dog. Bert was a character, a very different type of guy with a messed-up personal life. But his principles were really admirable. They were both amazingly principled. They felt that there was something really special about this idea and this dog and it shouldn’t be cheapened or sold to the highest bidder.” Orlean says she, too, came under the spell of Rin Tin Tin, the silent film actor. “When I read all these reviews saying he was an amazing actor I thought, well that’s so silly. Seeing the movies was amazing, because he really is credible. There are scenes where he’s suffering and you think, oh my god how could they do this to a dog? I mean, he is really good. And his face is very intelligent. German Shepherds are not goofy. They have a pretty serious face and it’s a really different emotion they convey just looking at you.” Not only are German Shepherds not goofy, but Orlean discovered that they were bred into existence in 1899, and that their breeder fell afoul of the Nazis, who wanted to control the pedigree of their favorite dog. “Isn’t that weird!” Orlean exclaims. “I almost died. You think of them as so classic, the ur-dog. And you think they’ve been around forever. The idea that they were engineered and within recent history was just amazing to me.” It’s stories within stories like this one that make Rin Tin Tin such a compelling read. And thinking about these stories, she says, “reso-

© Gasper Tringale

by Alden Mudge

nated in a much deeper—forgive me if this sounds pretentious—sort of spiritual way. The only things that last forever are ideas that keep being carried forward, ideas that move us in some way. The first Rin Tin Tin lived a normal dog life, but the idea of this character and the idea that you could feel inspired and moved by this character kept being carried forward. “I do think everybody is striving either overtly or not so overtly to live forever,” Orlean says. “Whether it’s by having children, writing a book or making a lot of money and naming something after themselves. The human impulse is to fight against mortality. So I think Lee and Bert were right, that Rin Tin Tin did live forever. And now I feel in my own way that I’m carrying it forward.”

Rin Tin Tin

By Susan Orlean, Simon & Schuster, $26.99, 336 pages ISBN 9781439190135, audio, eBook available


Alice lives with her nose stuck in a book. But when her own happilyever-after doesn’t go as planned, will real life prove to be more exciting than anything she’s ever read? Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin

Artist Claire Laurent is determined to create a lasting impression…but is polite Southern society ready for her? A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander A Belmont Mansion Novel Coming November 2011

When a single minister comes to town, can he help Lizzie find the peace she desires or will he only confuse her heart further? A Whisper of Peace by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Sswitchboard operator Georgie Gail knows that the dashing Luke Palmer is more than he appears. But will her curiosity dial up love…or a whole mess of trouble? Love on the Line by Deeanne Gist

Bridal Veil Island holds the key to Audrey’s future. But when disaster strikes, will she make the right choices or will her heart betray her? To Have and to Hold by Tracie Peterson and Judith Miller Bridal Veil Island

Stories to

Warm the Heart

Also from Tracie Peterson!

When dark memories surface of their ill mother—and their father’s desperate choice—is the silence these sisters keep hurting them more than the truth? House of Secrets by Tracie Peterson

www.bethanyhouse.com A Division of Baker Publishing Group

This Fall


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THE IT LIST: Ace the AP Exams Kaplan study guides AP Macroeconomics/​ Microeconomics 2012

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Assholes Finish First

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By Tucker Max

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Boomerang

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By William Shatner

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Killing Lincoln

Great By Choice

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Rin Tin Tin

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk

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The Secret: With DVD By Rhonda Byrne

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Now Eat This! 100 Quick Calorie Cuts at Home

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THE IT LIST: For Young Readers Teen

kids Breaking Dawn By Stephenie Meyer

The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse

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By Eric Carle

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Seizure

Dr. Seuss’s Second Beginner Book Collection

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Ranger’s Apprentice: The Lost Stories By John Flanagan

Ladybug Girl Book & Doll Set By David Soman & Jacky Davis

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Shelter By Harlan Coben For a while, it seems like Mickey’s train wreck of a life is finally improving—until his new girlfriend Ashley vanishes. Retail Price: $18.99 | With Discount Card: $17.09

The Bippolo Seed By Dr. Seuss Seuss scholar and collector Charles Cohen has hunted down seven rarely seen stories by Dr. Seuss for this new collection. It’s like literary buried treasure! Retail Price: $15 | With Discount Card: $13.50

Silence By Becca Fitzpatrick

Every Thing On It By Shel Silverstein

Armed with nothing but their absolute faith in one another, Patch and Nora enter a desperate fight to stop a villain who holds the power to shatter everything they’ve worked for—and their love.

With more than 130 never-before-seen poems and drawings by the American artist and selected by his family, this collection follows in the tradition of his acclaimed poetry classics.

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THE IT LIST: New & Notable FICTION Feast Day of Fools

The Affair

By James Lee Burke

By Lee Child

Burke returns with his most allegorical novel to date, illuminating vital issues of our time— immigration, energy, religious freedom—with rich atmosphere and authentic characters.

Everything starts somewhere. For elite Jack Reacher, that somewhere was Mississippi, way back in 1997. A lonely railroad track. A crime scene. A coverup.

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The Lost Angel

The Marriage Plot

By Javier Sierra

By Jeffrey Eugenides

Sierra’s erudite, fast-paced storytelling combines historical fact and fiction. Here, he takes on terrorism and the apocalypse.

With devastating wit and an abiding understanding of and affection for his characters, Eugenides creates a story that reads like an intimate journal of our own lives.

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Nightwoods By Charles Frazier

Son of Stone By Stuart Woods

Known for his historical literary odysseys, Frazier sets his latest book in the 20th century. It resonates with the timelessness of a great work of art.

After an eventful trip to Bel-Air, Stone Barrington is looking to cash in on his partnership at Woodman & Weld. But a sexy former love has other plans.

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Dead or Alive

Damned

By Tom Clancy Joined by their latest recruits, John Clark and Ding Chavez, Jack Ryan, Jr. and his cousins are determined to catch the Emir and they will bring him in . . . dead or alive. Retail Price: $18 | With Discount Card: $16.20

The Devil’s Elixir

By Chuck Palahniuk This is the afterlife as only Palahniuk could imagine it: a twisted inferno where The English Patient plays on repeat, roaming demons devour sinners, and the damned interrupt your dinner from their sweltering call center. Retail Price: $24.95 | With Discount Card: $22.46

Shock Wave

By Raymond Khoury

By John Sandford

The heroes of Khoury’s best-selling Templar thrillers return in an edge-of-your-seat story that reaches from the present day back to 1800s Mexico—and possibly beyond.

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Who’s behind the bombing of a popular retail chain? It’s Virgil Flowers’s job to find out before more people get killed.


THE IT LIST: New & Notable fiction Falling Together By Marisa de los Santos

Triangles By Ellen Hopkins

With her trademark wit, vivid prose and gift for creating authentic, captivating characters, de los Santos returns with an emotionally resonant novel about our deepest human connection: friendship.

In this first adult novel by the best-selling author of the unforgettable Crank trilogy, three female friends face midlife crises in a no holds-barred exploration of sex, marriage and the fragility of life.

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Neverwinter By R.A. Salvatore With the last of his trusted companions having fallen, Drizzt is alone—and free— for the first time in almost 100 years. Retail Price: $27.95 | With Discount Card: $25.16

The Lady of the Rivers By Philippa Gregory Gregory weaves witchcraft, passion and adventure into the story of Jacquetta, Duchess of Bedford, a woman who navigated a treacherous path through the battle lines in the War of the Roses. Retail Price: $27.99 | With Discount Card: $25.19

The Best of Me The Boy in the Suitcase By Lene Kaaberbol & Agnete Friis When Nina is left a key to a public locker in the train station, she stumbles into danger. Inside the locker is a suitcase, and inside the suitcase is a naked three-year-old boy.

By Nicholas Sparks This is the heart-rending story of two small-town former high school sweethearts from opposite sides of the tracks who meet again at midlife. Retail Price: $25.99 | With Discount Card: $23.39

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Celebrity life The Christmas Wedding By James Patterson & R. DiLallo The tree is decorated, the cookies are baked and the packages are wrapped, but the biggest celebration this Christmas is Gaby Summerhill’s wedding. Retail Price: $25.99 | With Discount Card: $23.39

Being Kendra By Kendra Wilkinson Kendra confides her most candid thoughts and feelings on her experiences as a new mom, and she divulges her secrets on how to do it all and make it look easy, sexy and fun—even when it’s not. Retail Price: $24.99 | With Discount Card: $22.49

The Ares Decision By Kyle Mills With U.S. intelligence agencies wracked by internal power struggles and paralyzed by bureaucracy, the president was forced to establish his own clandestine group: Covert-One. Retail Price: $27.99 | With Discount Card: $25.19

Seriously . . . I’m Kidding By Ellen DeGeneres The much-loved entertainer opens up about her personal life, her popular talk show and joining the judges’ table on “American Idol.” Retail Price: $26.99 | With Discount Card: $24.29


Visit www.booksamillion.com/bookclubs for up-to-date reading guides.

October PICKS

original The Orphan Sister By Gwendolen Gross Gross returns with a timely and touching novel about a set of triplets—two identical and one fraternal—who find their alliances suddenly shifting when a dark family secret comes to light. Retail Price: $15 | With Discount Card: $13.50

NEXT MONTH I Don’t Know How She Does It By Allison Pearson Delightfully smart and heartbreakingly poignant, Pearson’s smash debut exploded onto bestseller lists as “The national anthem for working mothers.” Now, it’s a hit film. Retail Price: $13.95 | With Discount Card: $12.56

literary The Passage By Justin Cronin

Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. But for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey. Retail Price: $16 | With Discount Card: $14.40

faithpoint The First Gardener By Denise Hildreth Jones After tragedy strikes the current governor’s family, their longtime gardener realizes that his gift is about far more than pulling weeds and planting flowers. It’s about tending hearts as well. Retail Price: $13.99 | With Discount Card: $12.59

nonfiction Unbearable Lightness By Portia de Rossi In this searing, unflinchingly honest book, de Rossi captures the complex emotional truth of what it is like when food, weight and body image take priority over every other human impulse or action. Retail Price: $16 | With Discount Card: $14.40

teen The Unwritten Rule  By Elizabeth Scott Sarah and Brianna have always been friends, and it’s always gone like this: Guys talk to Sarah in order to get closer to Brianna. But when Sarah falls in love with Brianna’s boyfriend, all bets are off. And love is in the air. Retail Price: $9.99 | With Discount Card: $8.99

kids The Phantom Tollbooth By Norton Juster This classic tale centers on 10-year-old Milo, who finds a large toy tollbooth sitting in his room. Joining forces with a watchdog, Tock, Milo drives through the gates to begin a memorable journey. Retail Price: $6.99 | With Discount Card: $6.29

Left Neglected By Lisa Genova After a brain injury steals her awareness of everything on her left side, Sarah must retrain her mind to perceive the world— and learn how to pay attention to the people and parts of her life that matter. Retail Price: $15 | With Discount Card: $13.50

The Touch By Randall Wallace After failing to save his fiancée at the scene of a car accident, talented surgeon Andrew Jones shuns the operating room. Can another woman bring him back to life? Retail Price: $14.99 | With Discount Card: $13.49

The Memory Palace By Mira Bartók This memoir is the poignant story of the relationship between Mira— now a successful artist—her sister and their mentally ill mother over the course of many years. Retail Price: $15 | With Discount Card: $13.50

Eragon  By Christopher Paolini Gifted with only an ancient sword, a loyal dragon and sage advice from an old storyteller, Eragon is soon swept into a dangerous tapestry of magic, glory and power. The final book in this series is coming soon! Retail Price: $10.99 | With Discount Card: $9.89

The City of Ember By Jeanne DuPrau When Lina finds part of an ancient message, she’s sure it holds a secret that will save the city. But can she decipher it before Ember’s lights go out forever? Retail Price: $6.99 | With Discount Card: $6.29


feature

Jeffrey EUGENIDES by Robert Weibezahl

© Ricardo Barros

LOVE IN THE MODERN WORLD

W

hen you only publish a book once every decade or so—and your last novel won the Pulitzer Prize, to boot—expectations for your next work are bound to be excessively high. Oh, and when that last book was a weird and wonderful megaseller like Middlesex, well, that’s the dilemma for Jeffrey Eugenides. What do you do for an encore?

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Probably the smartest thing for any writer to do under these daunting circumstances is to go in a very different direction, and with The Marriage Plot, Eugenides does just that. Less epic in proportion than Middlesex, and far more conventional in narrative, this much-­anticipated novel uses the traditional device of a love triangle to explore questions of religion, identity, mental illness and, of course, love. Its title is a play on the term often applied to 19th-century Regency and Victorian novels (by the likes of Austen, the Brontës and Mrs. Gaskell) that center on the attainment of a suitable marriage. Because he borrows peripheral details from his own life for his fiction, it might seem that Eugenides is a writer of thinly veiled autobiography, but he assures readers that The Marriage Plot is an invention. “I’ve had to pare down the autobiography in order to find the fiction,” he confessed to his editor Jonathan Galassi in an interview on FSG’s Work in Progress blog. “Autobiography is a largely fraudulent exercise. People don’t understand their lives or what happened to them; they only think they do. . . . Autobiography (or life) is artless.” Still, in some ways it seems hard to separate one of The Marriage Plot’s central characters from his creator. Like Eugenides, Mitchell Grammaticus is a Greek-American from Detroit who graduates from Brown University in 1982. Like the author, Mitchell spends some time in Calcutta, working as an orderly at Mother Teresa’s Home for Dying Destitutes (this section of the novel was excerpted in the New Yorker’s summer fiction issue under the title “Asleep in the Lord”). In an interview with the New Yorker, Eugenides conceded that this part of the book is the most autobiographical thing he has ever published, while

holding fast to the assertion that, “Almost everything I’ve ever written, and especially Middlesex, is made up.” The pivot on whom The Marriage Plot revolves is Madeleine Hanna, a newly minted English major who, alas, like many English majors, finds herself cast into post-college life without a practical rudder to help her navigate the real world. Madeleine and Mitchell have been close friends since the beginning of freshman year and, as is so often the case in these collegiate pairings, Mitchell is madly in love with Madeleine, but she does not share his feelings and prefers to remain “just friends.” Their inevitable schism is painful, especially for Mitchell, who continues to pine for what might have been. Madeleine, though, has turned her full attention to Eugenides Leonard Banktakes us deep head, a student in her semiotinside the ics seminar hearts and who is brilliant, moody and minds of widely reputed this trio of to be overintelligent sexed. Madeleine young and Leonard people. fall intensely in love in a kind of hyper-intellectualized, collegiate way (they share a passion for the arcane lit-crit of Roland Barthes). What Madeleine doesn’t realize at first, though, is that Leonard’s charismatic brilliance (and bedroom stamina) can be attributed to his manic depression. When she breaks off their relationship, Leonard spirals down into madness. With a foreboding naïveté, Madeleine skips her graduation ceremony to race to his side in the psych ward. Reunited, they become the doomed lovers of the piece, and like

their counterparts in 19th-century fiction, wedded to their tragedy. Mitchell, meanwhile, sets off for a year in Europe and India, intent on forgetting Madeleine while fulfilling a spiritual quest. The novel deals with issues that obsess young intellectuals—the nature of love, religious truths, the meaning of life—which would explain why the 51-year-old Eugenides has chosen to set it among college students. “To me, college doesn’t seem that long ago,” he told the New Yorker. “It wasn’t hard to remember the music we listened to or the films we watched, or the way I felt back then. Much of the novel is written from the point of view of a young woman graduating from college. So, as with any book, it was more of a labor of imagination than recollection.” It makes perfect sense that this story of intense love originates on campus, because for many, the university years are marked by a geographical and emotional intimacy unmatched in the outside world. Eugenides does a terrific job capturing a certain kind of college experience during a distinct era, and for those of us who shared that experience, there is instant recognition. A convincing novel can capture an age and cement

it in memory, and The Marriage Plot does so, achieving something halfway between amusement and nostalgia. By borrowing both title and conceit from the Victorian marriage plot novel as the basis for his own, Eugenides dares to make a bold literary statement. The seminal novels of the 19th century, even those that highlight the domestic, are predominately about society rather than the individual. The Marriage Plot, though, has narrower concerns, focusing as it does on three characters whose dilemmas are based in decidedly late 20th-century solipsism. Madeleine, most of all, remains an enigma—a highly intelligent, fortunate rich girl, who casts aside everything her education has taught her to enter what she herself disdainfully calls a “Stage One” marriage (“traditional people who marry their college sweethearts, usually the summer after graduation”). It is no wonder disaster looms. All three of the characters, though, are well drawn and pertinent, advancing the plot equally through action and inaction, and Eugenides takes us deep inside the hearts and minds (really inseparable here) of this trio of intelligent young people in order to dissect some basic truths about the


The Marriage Plot

By Jeffrey Eugenides, FSG, $28, 416 pages ISBN 9780374203054, audio, eBook available

New from the bestselling author ofThe Big Short and The Blind Side

MICHAEL LEWIS

Photo © Tabitha Soren

unpredictable nature of love. A gifted writer, Eugenides does so much well. He has a great talent for zeroing in on the perfect delineating detail—he describes Madeleine’s well-bred WASP mother, for instance, as “all hairdo and handbag”—and the intelligent, selfdeprecating humor that percolates beneath the characters’ adolescent angst endears them to us, despite their lapses into self-indulgence. Perhaps the greatest strength in the novel is Eugenides’ depiction of Leonard’s manic depression. Readers are convincingly led though the trenches with him as he repeatedly relapses and rebounds. Whereas Leonard may not be the easiest character to like (the blogosphere is abuzz with rumors that he is based on the late writer David Foster Wallace), Eugenides helps clarify his misunderstood affliction with compassion and insight. It will be interesting to see if Eugenides’ fans embrace The Marriage Plot with the same fervor they showed for Middlesex (which has sold more than 3 million copies). It is certainly an ambitious novel and, in the end, after some woolgathering, its exploration of the vagaries and frailties of the human heart wins the day. Whatever critics and readers say, don’t expect a reaction from the famously circumspect writer himself. “If you want to write fiction, you have to be congenitally deaf to readerly murmurs about your character,” Eugenides told the New Yorker. “The trick to fiction-writing is to get the reader to believe what you’ve written. The greater your success at that, the more you deform yourself in certain literal minds.”

Between 2002 and 2008, a tsunami of cheap credit rolled across the planet. This was more than a simple financial phenomenon—it was temptation.

It offered societies around the world the chance to reveal hidden aspects of their characters, and the results were often sadly hilarious. But the biggest laughs of all arose from California and Washington, DC, where, as Pogo once said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

W. W. Norton

Independent publishers since 1923

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New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author

brings readers a captivating new trilogy set in the court of Henry VII.

The Three Graces of Graydon

are well-born sisters bearing an ominous curse: any man betrothed to them without love is doomed to die.

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Calling all librarians!

We have a website just for you. Get up-to-date book news, galley access, catalogs and more at

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interview

HILLARY JORDAN By LINDA M. CASTELLITTO

ENVISIONING A COLOR-CODED WORLD

W

e’ve heard of suffering for your art, but writer Hillary Jordan took things to a new level while researching her latest novel—she almost got herself arrested by suspicious border guards. In an interview from her home in Brooklyn, the author says she likes to “get a feel for the landscape, how people speak, how things smell,” as she did for her first book, the bestseller Mudbound, and again for her provocative new novel, When She Woke. That’s where the almost-arrested part came in. Jordan had been “in the throes” of finishing When She Woke during a five-week w ­ riters’ retreat, and “by the end, I was literally almost out of my mind. But I needed to go to the Canadian border, because that’s [one of the places] Hannah goes in the book.” When the border guard asked why Jordan was there, “I said I was researching my book, looking at how to get my heroine across illegally.” An on-the-spot investigation ensued: “They went through my entire car, my papers, and found evidence that I’m not a drug trafficker—just a complete idiot,” she recalls. Of course, Jordan has clearly proven that she’s no dummy: Mudbound, a novel set in the tense racial landscape of post-World War II Mississippi, garnered critical acclaim and won Barbara Kingsolver’s Bellwether Prize for fiction dealing with social justice issues. Her new novel, When She Woke, is another thought-provoking story—one that will have readers thrilling to its suspenseful plot even as they re-

When She Woke

By Hillary Jordan, Algonquin, $24.95, 352 pages ISBN 9781565126299, audio, eBook available

examine their stance on everything from religion to social stigma to our prison system. The aforementioned heroine, Hannah, is at the heart of this engrossing dystopian story—which is, Jordan says, a “re-imagining or riff” on The Scarlet Letter. Like Nathaniel Hawthorne’s heroine, Hester Prynne, Hannah finds her personal business made painfully public. When the novel opens, she awakens to discover her skin glowing red as punishment for having an abortion—a crime in the near-future society Jordan has created. Through Hannah, Jordan Jordan’s paints a vivid, provocative disturbing picnew novel is ture of a time place where a politically and church has charged remelded with imagining of state and privacy is only for The Scarlet the privileged. Letter. Like Hannah, offenders must wear their actions via a damning color-coded system implanted in the skin—and the condemned aren’t imprisoned, but released to fend for themselves among hostile, often violent, fellow citizens. This frightening state of affairs took shape in Jordan’s mind in 2007, when she found herself “concerned about what was happening in our country: the muddying of the line between church and state, attempts by many states to limit women’s reproductive freedom, governmental intrusion on people’s civil rights.” Although both of her novels address controversial social issues, Jordan doesn’t see herself as a political writer. “I feel I’m first and foremost a storyteller,” she says. She emphasizes that, in When She Woke, “I’m not condemning faith in any way. In fact, the presentation of the abortion issue is not black and white at all, although it’s less black and white than I feel: I’m pro-choice, and feel abortion should be legal and rare. But I tried to portray the difficulty and agony

of it for people, and I think it’s a subject about which people can disagree.” As she wrote about characters who question the belief system in which they’ve been raised, Jordan found herself rethinking things, too. “It was an exploration of faith for me as well, which was interesting,” she says. “I’ve written two books about people of faith, but I’ve always been an agnostic, pretty much. I’m still figuring things out.” The importance of taking time to figure things out—and staying open to the possibility of being wrong about something—are central themes in When She Woke. Jordan says it’s unlikely she would have written this book without having gone through her own awakening, during which she left behind her life as an unhappily married, unfulfilled advertising copywriter. “I didn’t want to wake up at 60 and not have done this thing,” she says. “I didn’t want an ordinary life, I wanted the crazy, insane life of a writer.” And so, over the course of a year, she got a divorce, quit her job and moved from Texas to New York to attend graduate school at Columbia, where she wrote Mudbound and the first pages of When She Woke. Jordan has certainly been embracing the writerly life: She has completed 10 writer’s residencies and is about to embark on an “epic” tour to promote her latest novel (following on the 80-event tour she did for Mudbound). After that, she’ll work on her third book. “I have something in mind for it, but I’m still deciding. I’m so upset about so many things right now,” she says with a laugh.

theodora

Actress, Empress, Whore

A

ward-winning novelist Stella Duffy recreates the life and times of Theodora of Constantinople, who rose from humble beginnings to become the Empress of Rome.

“There is no end of

show business, court intrigue, and exotic sex.”

—The Guardian “Entertaining, gripping, thoughtful, and dangerously enlightening.”

—Laura Lippman, author of

What the Dead Know

Penguin Books A member of Penguin Group (USA) penguin.com

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reviews The Night Strangers

FICTION

Bohjalian’s ghostly mystery Review By Megan Fishmann

Over the past two decades, best-selling author Chris Bohjalian has written about everything from a woman’s madness following a sexual assault (The Double Bind ) to a midwife’s trial for manslaughter (Midwives). Now he has given readers a spellbinding, heart-pounding novel partially inspired by his own life in The Night Strangers. In 1987, Bohjalian purchased a Victorian house, only to discover a mysterious sealed door in the basement. But it wasn’t until 2009, when pilot Sully Sullenberger was forced to (successfully) land his plane on the Hudson River, that Bohjalian had the second thread he needed for The Night Strangers’ terrifying plot. His protagonist, Chip Linton, is a pilot who lives to tell the tale of his emergency landing on Lake Champlain. But Flight 1611 ends up with 39 casualties among the 40-odd passengers and crew. Thirty-nine just happens to be the same number of bolts that seal shut a hidden door in the basement of the new house Chip and his lawyer wife By Chris Bohjalian, Crown, $25, 400 pages Emily move to with their twin daughters Garnet and Hallie. This retreat to ISBN 9780307394996, audio, eBook available the mountains of northern New Hampshire is an attempt by Chip to come to terms with the crash. However, peace doesn’t come easily. While Chip goes about refurbishing the house (discovering the boarded-up door and random weapons hidden in nooks and crannies in the process), Emily and the twins realize this small White Mountain village is populated with numerous greenhouses and self-proclaimed herbalists. As Chip’s grief slowly descends into a type of madness, Emily begins to question why the town is so obsessed with teaching her daughters the tricks of the plants. The Night Strangers will frighten its audience with ghostly girls, spooky spirits and more, keeping readers on the edge of their seats. Lovers of herbal lore (or witchcraft) will have an especially hard time putting it down. Told through several different narrators, this is one perfect book for Halloween.

THE DOVEKEEPERS By Alice Hoffman Scribner $27.99, 512 pages ISBN 9781451617474 Audio, eBook available

historical fiction

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Herbs and potions, love charms and secrets, the complex intimacies between mothers and daughters: It’s clear from the outset of The Dovekeepers that we are firmly in Alice Hoffman territory. But instead of the safe suburbs of New England, we have been transported back to the first century at Masada, the mountain fortress south of Jerusalem where 900 Jews held out against the Romans before committing mass suicide rather than submit to foreign rule. For The Dovekeepers, Hoffman was inspired by a trip to Masada and research into the classical world, including the work of Josephus, the Roman-Jewish historian who recorded that the only survivors of

this tragedy were two women and five children. Hoffman retells this ancient story through the voices of four unique women, each of whom arrived at Masada and worked in the dovecotes—caring for the birds, collecting eggs and gathering fertilizer. Red-haired Yael, the daughter of a master assassin, becomes pregnant with the child of her father’s colleague. Revka, the baker’s wife, lost her husband and daughter at the hands of Roman soldiers and is now determined to protect her motherless grandsons. Young Aziza was raised as a warrior; she wants nothing more than to fight alongside the men in this last stand against the Romans. Finally there’s Shirah, Aziza’s mother, who grew up as the beloved daughter of a consort to the high priests and is the lover of Masada’s charismatic leader. Initially suspicious of one another, the women gradually grow close, sharing their secrets and developing a fierce loyalty to one another. An ambitious novel, dense with vivid description of daily life in ancient times, The Dovekeepers combines archaeology and research

with Hoffman’s own interest in the often untold lives of women and her passion for stories of magic and the natural world. Even though the tale’s outcome is well known, the story­ telling is bound to satisfy any reader. —Lauren Bufferd

falling together By Marisa de los Santos Morrow $25.99, 368 pages ISBN 9780061670879 eBook available

women’s fiction

friends almost from the moment they met, when Pen discovered Cat seizing in the bathroom between classes, and then called into the hallway for help. Their friendship was so tight that they excluded others from their circle—but it was a closeness that couldn’t last forever. When it was time for Cat to pursue a romantic relationship, and therefore an identity separate from her two best friends, the group’s friendship fell apart. Pen is still feeling that pain six years later, when she receives a letter from Cat asking that they meet up at an impending college reunion. Pen’s life has changed radically since she last saw her two best friends. She’s given birth to a child out of wedlock, regularly faces her complicated relationship with her daughter’s father and is still reeling from the sudden death of her own father, whom Cat and Will adored. She still thinks of her former friends often, and wonders what they would make of who she’s become. And so Pen sets off toward that reunion, prepared to meet Cat but surprised instead to see Will, who received a similar letter. As the pair search for Cat, they revisit their lost friendship and their complicated feelings for one another. Falling Together explores the ways our familial relationships and friendships affect who we are and who we’re becoming. Though the ride through Pen’s relational topography is sometimes bumpy—flashbacks aren’t always clearly differentiated from Pen’s present day—the appeal of de los Santos’ books remains the intimacy with which the reader gets to know each character. —Carla jean whitley

IF JACK’S IN LOVE By Stephen Wetta Putnam/Amy Einhorn $25.95, 386 pages ISBN 9780399157523 eBook available

DEBUT fiction

Marisa de los Santos has established herself as a deft chronicler of human emotion. With her first two successful novels, Love Walked In and Belong to Me, she has explored the landscape of a variety of relationships: friendly, romantic, neighborly, maternal. And in her latest novel, de los Santos traverses all of that relational terrain at once. Pen, Cat and Will were college best

According to the publicity materials accompanying his auspicious debut, Stephen Wetta “grew up in the ’60s and ’70s, drank, used drugs, got in financial trouble, and spent far too much time reading and writing.” After reading If Jack’s in Love, you’ll


FICTION be very glad Wetta lived to tell the tale. In El Dorado Hills, Virginia, in the late 1960s, the Witchers are the family neighbors whisper about. Jack’s father can’t keep a job and picks a fight every chance he gets, older brother Stan is a pot-smoking, hippie loser with a taste for violence and his sweet mother is completely overpowered by the men in her life. Jack seems thoughtful and intelligent, but his classmates know he can’t be that smart—he’s a Witcher and that means he’s hopeless. Myra Joyner, one of Jack’s classmates, is the only girl who sees the good in him, and she quickly becomes the subject of his adolescent obsession. With the help of Mr. Gladstein, an eccentric but well-meaning jewelry store owner, Jack begins to woo Myra, thinking—just for a minute—that his luck might be about to change. But then Myra’s older brother goes missing, and Jack’s brother Stan is the prime suspect. And just like that, Jack’s relationships with Myra, his family and their entire community are forever altered. If Jack’s in Love is a moving portrait of a specific time, family and town, but also a universal story of growing up and coming to terms with the people—and places—that raise us, told with all the humor, truth and urgency of its teenage hero. It may have taken the first half of his life to write, but Wetta’s touching novel was well worth the wait. —Abby Plesser

NIGHTWOODS By Charles Frazier Random House $26, 272 pages ISBN 9781400067091 Audio, eBook available

fiction

over a sum of cash and orphaned her young twins, the only witnesses to the crime—and the only people alive who might know where the money is hidden. But the children are catatonic when they arrive in hill country, sent by the state to live with their Aunt Luce. Bud wonders if they might have his money, or if they’ll ever be able to talk about what they saw, and he aims to find out. Luce, a spinster hermit who lives in an abandoned lakefront lodge at the foot of an ancient mountain, has shed all attachment to the world save an affinity toward her neighbor Maddie, who cooks in the old style, tends an aging pony and sings the murder ballads of a lost era. When the twins arrive, they are a thing apart, an oddity by any standard. Their cold expressions frighten Luce and they set fire to anything within reach. Luce is nearly at wit’s end when a young man named Stubblefield comes to reclaim his family’s lodge. In the end, he is her truest ally in the struggle to protect the children, from Bud and from themselves. At its best, Nightwoods recalls the marauding madness of Cormac McCarthy’s Child of God. The characters are expertly molded from the very land they inhabit, calling attention to the shallowness of the grave in which our more violent past is buried. Frazier’s clipped sentence fragments are at first thrilling, underscoring the novel’s central theme. But those fragments become tired as the plot thins, and the tension that is so finely wound from the start begins to slacken as the story approaches a somewhat banal finale. Fans of Cold Mountain will be glad to see Frazier return to the land he knows so well, but they will only feel mildly sated by this third effort. — W . S . Ly o n

LAST MAN IN TOWER By Aravind Adiga Knopf $26.95, 400 pages ISBN 9780307594099 Audio, ebook available

Mystery hangs like a fog through each turn of Charles Frazier’s dark new novel, Nightwoods. The story is set in 1960s Appalachia, where violence is as much a part of the landscape as the poplar or the hickory; something to live alongside, something to ponder. Its source in this story is Bud, a hot-headed drifter who has murdered his wife

EVERY SMALL TOWN HAS ITS SECRETS. SOME SHOULD BE KEPT…BURIED.

“This is one book that will have you racing to the last page, only to have you wishing the ride wasn’t over.”

—MICHAEL CONNELLY “The beauty of this unconventional crime novel is that the focus is not on whodunit but on the darkness that drives us.”

—FAMILY CIRCLE MAGAZINE LISA UNGER EXCLUSIVE

Scan, text BOOKPAGE to 333888, or visit LisaUnger.mobi for bonus short stories.

world fiction

Aravind Adiga emerged as a powerful new voice in literature with his debut The White Tiger, a tale of the terrible lengths to which one poor

Available everywhere books and eBooks are sold.

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reviews Indian man will go to rise above his station, which went on to win the Man Booker Prize. Adiga’s third novel, Last Man in Tower, delves into the streets of Mumbai to reveal the city through the eyes of the middle class. It focuses on a battle between an old teacher, Masterji, who refuses to sell his apartment, and a developer, Mr. Shah, who is making an inarguably generous offer to buy the building. On the sidelines are Masterji’s 20-some neighbors from Vishram Society Tower A, depicted with precision and humor. Each member of the Society has been offered a substantial selling price for their portion of the crumbling building, but without Masterji’s signature, no one will get any money. Masterji and Mr. Shah’s battle is ultimately over the caste system: Masterji is traditional, a believer in “the idea of being respectable and living among similar people,” while Mr. Shah has built his success on change. Each is absolute in his belief. Adiga heightens the intrigue by making neither man’s narration trustworthy, as Masterji is delusional and Mr. Shah has a builder’s reputation for unreliability. Last Man in Tower races along with unstoppable suspense, going beyond the gaze of The White Tiger to explore even more of the rapidly changing India. The result is as compelling as it is complex. — C a t D . Ac r e e

THE CAT’S TABLE By Michael Ondaatje Knopf $26, 288 pages ISBN 9780307700117 Audio, eBook available

fiction

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Reading Michael Ondaatje’s latest novel is a bit like settling in with a skilled raconteur as he pages unhurriedly through an old photo album. The novel is structured as a man’s reminiscences about what has turned out to be the defining event of his life: a three-week journey by steamship from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) to England taken in 1954, when he was 11 years old. (Ondaatje, born in Sri Lanka, made a similar journey as a youth, although

FICTION he has said the novel isn’t especially autobiographical.) “This journey was to be an innocent story within the small parameter of my youth,” muses our narrator, Michael. “With just three or four children at its centre, on a voyage whose clear map and sure destination would suggest nothing to fear or unravel.” This, of course, is not the way the trip turns out. The book’s title, The Cat’s Table, comes from a phrase describing the place in the dining room that is farthest from the captain’s table. Michael and two other boys his age are assigned to this table, along with a micro-community of traveling oddballs, and the story unfolds as the boy (and the reader) gets to know them. Even the minor characters have rich and surprising histories. One man maintains a lush garden hidden deep in the belly of the ship. One plays piano under a pseudonym. One never speaks at all and wears a bandana over his throat. And there’s a pale, wallflower-y woman who, the boys learn, is much more than meets the eye. Also on the ship are Michael’s cousin Emily, a sparkling beauty; several members of an acrobatic troupe; and a prisoner, an object of instant fascination for the boys. He’s said to have killed a judge, and is taken out each evening to walk the deck in his chains. At first, the adult Michael’s reflections on his journey seem to meander: There are lots of gripping stories, but there isn’t immediately a clear story arc. It’s only much later in the book that you begin to understand how these recollections all fit together, and what a complex and thorough hold that brief journey had over everyone who took it. —Becky Ohlsen

SNUFF By Terry Pratchett Harper $25.99, 416 pages ISBN 9780062011848 Audio, eBook available

fantasy

It’s pretty much impossible to be an avid fantasy reader and not know of Terry Pratchett (or, as of 1998, Sir Terry Pratchett). Best known for his parody-laced

Discworld novels, Pratchett was the United Kingdom’s most-read author for much of the 1990s. (Some kid with glasses and a lightning-shaped scar bumped Pratchett from the top spot in the decade that followed.) Snuff is the 39th installment in the Discworld series, which began in 1983. (Pratchett puts the “pro” in “prolific.”) Over the course of the series, the city of Ankh-Morpork has become practically a character in and of itself, clawing its way from a corruption-riddled burg to . . . well, something a little more modern, at least. And there are plenty of characters whose own fortunes mirror those of the city. Among these, Commander Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch stands out. Vimes is a familiar face to the well-traveled Discworlder— Snuff marks the eighth Discworld novel featuring him as the central protagonist, and he’s made appearances in several others. In Snuff, Vimes is forced by his patron, Lord Havelock Vetinari, to take that most dreaded of excursions—the country Commander holiday. Sure, the bucolic Sam Vimes life may seem is forced to just the thing take that most after the hustle, bustle dreaded of and tussles excursions— of big-city a country policing, but for Vimes, holiday. the absence of criminal activity is itself a criminal waste of his time and attention. For a first-time reader, the first 100 pages of Snuff will provide ample opportunity to feel Vimes’ pain. The writing is lively enough— Pratchett’s sense of wordplay is as frolicsome as ever—but the plot sets out at a leisurely pace that seems to count on reader familiarity with and enjoyment of its protagonist. Fortunately for Vimes, as well as for the reader, something’s rotten in this stretch of countryside—blood has been shed and the law broken— and just as Vimes latches onto the first lead, the pace accelerates. By story’s end, established Pratchett fans have been given ample bang, and new readers will be tempted to read some of Commander Vimes’ earlier adventures.

After a melodramatic and somewhat disappointing detour to the 1930s in his last novel, The Reserve, Russell Banks has returned with intensity to the territory he staked out for himself in novels like Continental Drift and Affliction—the gritty reality of America’s underclass. Beneath a south Florida causeway, a small band of paroled sex offenders have been consigned to an abysmal existence, sentenced to live there at least 2,500 feet from any children. Among their number is a 22-year-old man known only as the Kid. Discharged from the Army, he’d been nabbed in a sex sting, and when he loses his job as a busboy in a luxury hotel he’s left with little but time to ponder his misery. The Kid’s life changes when the Professor, a sociology professor at a local college, appears in the squatters’ camp to conduct what he calls field research on the lives of convicted sex offenders and the reasons for their homelessness. In a series of interviews, the Professor slowly peels away the layers of the Kid’s troubled past, revealing all the turns where his life could have taken a different path. Eventually, the Professor reveals his own long-buried secrets and as the subject becomes the researcher, the novel veers in a startling direction. Where Banks excels, as he has in the best of his work, is in sculpting sympathetic protagonists out of the most humble materials. There are few moments of brightness in the Kid’s brief life, and yet it’s hard not to hope he’ll attain some small slice of redemption by the story’s end. The Professor’s research, too, seems as predatory as the shameful acts of his subjects, and yet in his relationship with the Kid he develops the capacity to display true empathy. Lost Memory of Skin is a dark, sobering novel, but like all accomplished social novelists, Russell Banks uses it to illuminate a reality that will always elude capture.

—Michael Burgin

— HAR V EY F REE D EN B ER g

LOST MEMORY OF SKIN By Russell Banks Ecco $25.99, 432 pages ISBN 9780062088857 eBook available

fiction


FICTION MR. FOX By Helen Oyeyemi Riverhead $25.95, 336 pages ISBN 9781594488078 Audio available

fiction

When Helen Oyeyemi’s first novel, The Icarus Girl, hit shelves back in 2006, it was clear the Nigerian-born, Cambridge-educated author was a literary force to follow—not the least because she was only 20 years old at the time. Now, five years and four books later, she again proves herself a compelling writer capable of both vast creativity and intellectual heft. Mr. Fox, Oyeyemi’s newest offering, is—most simply—the story of St. John Fox, a 1930s American novelist with a penchant for killing off his female characters. Bored by his meek wife, Daphne, St. John creates an imaginary muse-cum-mistress, Mary Foxe, to serve his creative and erotic needs. What he doesn’t count on, however, is that his invented lady-friend will turn against him, challenging his work and his marriage, not to mention the many problems of a patriarchal canon. When Mary gets wind of her Pygmalion’s anti-feminist antics, she invites him to join her in a series of stories of their own making. She reinvents herself as an unpublished and wide-eyed fellow novelist, a florist’s assistant with a hankering for fairy-tale endings and a modern-day woman in love with her psychiatrist. Additionally, Oyeyemi interweaves both Western- and African-inspired fables and folk tales into the dreamlike yarns: In one story, two students at a finishing school for marriage­ able men discover a chained pris­ oner at the bottom of a teacher’s lake, while in another, a decapitated bride refuses to give her suitor her head. These themes of matrimonial violence are prevalent throughout, each of them a nod to classic “Bluebeard” or “Robber Bridegroom” tales (which match foolish wives against murderous husbands). Such allusions within allusions make Mr. Fox endlessly fascinating and also endlessly impenetrable. The plot (to the extent that there is one) twists and turns, and readers can never be sure what’s real and what’s

a figment of St. John’s imagination. Still, one gets the sense that such patchwork moralizing and, indeed, humor was Oyeyemi’s goal. —J i l l i a n Q u i n t

the kingdom of childhood By Rebecca Coleman MIRA $15.95, 372 pages ISBN 9780778312789 eBook available

fiction

From Notes on a Scandal to the real-life antics of Mary Kay Letourneau, relationships between teachers and students hold perennial intrigue in our culture. Set in Maryland at the time of the Lewinsky scandal, Rebecca Coleman’s psychologically disturbing novel, The Kingdom of Childhood, explores the dark, illicit side of desire. Judy McFarland, a kindergarten teacher at the progressive and alternative Waldorf School, feels broken and displaced—she is haunted by the untimely death of her best friend and stuck in an unhappy, angry marriage with Russ, a Ph.D. candidate. Judy is asked to supervise 16-year-old Zach, a lonely transplant from New Hampshire, as he fulfills his service hours. Drawn together by mutual feelings of betrayal by their parents (in addition to untethered lust) the two quickly enter into an affair. Over time, Zach begins to retreat from increasingly obsessive, insatiable Judy, whose sexual proclivities grow unapologetically unsettling and unseemly. The novel barrels toward a suspenseful end as they both face the inevitable consequences of choices made. The Kingdom of Childhood raises messy and controversial questions, making it a natural pick for book clubs. Coleman does not demand sympathy for her main character, and in fact, Judy’s break from reality and obscured moral barometer stokes the tension even further. Though at her strongest when revisiting Judy’s childhood in Germany, overall Coleman writes with a flair for capturing the underbelly of the human psyche and the all-consuming nature of desire. —Clare Swanson

spotlight

HALLOWEEN By Michael Alec Rose

Haunting Horror

L

et’s face it: if you read horror, you’re a geek. But there’s a broad spectrum of geekiness, stretching from the literary-historical, to the video-related “gross-out,” to the realm of metaphysical inquiry. These books cover all those bases.

THE PAST THAT WASN’T “Steampunk” is one of those genre terms that few can properly define. There are a few prerequisites, though: 1) Queen Victoria (or her son Edward) occupies the British throne; and 2) the deadly hubris of Dr. Frankenstein has grown apace, thanks to the scientific advances of the Victorian age. The stories commissioned for Ghosts by Gaslight (Harper Voyager, $14.99, 400 pages, ISBN 9780061999710)—from a who’s who of fantasy and horror luminaries—derive their energy from the authors’ surrender to the allure of Stevenson, Kipling, Verne, Wells and a host of lesser-known ghost-story writers of that era, whose obscure productions are the hoarded treasure of a special subset of uber-geeks. In this collection, the fruits of such an oldfashioned harvest are variously ripe or wonderfully rotten. Several stories—for instance, those by venerable wizard Peter Beagle and relative newcomer John Harwood—are dazzling. The brief but encyclopedic introduction from editors Jack Dann and Nick Bevers makes the book indispensable.

what’s left of the world Who could have guessed that the author of Vacation (St. Martin’s, $24.99, 320 pages, ISBN 9780312680077) is best known as a video-game writer? Well, duh. Once you’re plugged into Matthew Costello’s apocalyptic novel, there’s no friggin’ way to get off this ride. The unrelenting, staccato rhythm of the narrative perfectly matches the enervating effects of video gaming. So, like, survivors of a global agricultural plague in the near future try to avoid being eaten by the zombie

“Can Heads” unleashed by the government’s nefarious genetic testing (dude!). Each horrific confrontation works along a jagged crescendo of unpredictability. The hero isn’t only saving his beloved wife and kids, he’s saving civiliza-

tion (OK, maybe). If this novel doesn’t appear soon in software format, I’ll eat the next NYPD officer whose car breaks down in my neighborhood.

THE SPECTRAL SEA All three of John Ajvide Lindqvist’s books, including the chilling Let the Right One In, have blown over the ocean from Sweden to win great acclaim from U.S. horror fans. His new novel, Harbor (Thomas Dunne, $25.99, 512 pages, ISBN 9780312680275), establishes a new mythos. With an uncanny gift for local color and a psychological acuity for universal fear, Lindqvist finds horror in the element of water, whose inexorable force overwhelms the damned island community of Domaro. In this maritime variation on the grand theme of sacrificial evil—so unforgettable in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and Thomas Tryon’s Harvest Home—Lindqvist presents affectionate portraits of both flawed protagonists and implausibly scary demons: the magus Simon; a father who has littorally lost his little Maja to a cryogenic sea; and a pair of teenage ghosts. Lindqvist grasps instinctively that the most horrible thing that can happen to us has already happened (our being born into this sorrow-sodden world). The rest of the story is up to us.

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reviews Fiction Ruined My Family

NONFICTION

A FAMILY TALENT FOR DISASTER Review by Catherine Hollis

A memoir is an impression of a life, and how a writer shapes her material often tells us more about her character than it does about the facts. Jeanne Darst’s family life could as easily be tragic as comic, but in Darst’s painfully hilarious Fiction Ruined My Family, comedy wins out every time. A consummate performer, she keeps her readers balanced on a fine line between laughter and tears. Darst comes from a St. Louis family distinguished for its politicians, writers and alcoholics; when her father gives up politics for writing, the family’s fortunes begin to decline. Darst’s mother, who had been a child equestrian and debutante, takes to her bed with a bottle of whiskey, keeping “a light cry going most of the time” as she laments her lost social prospects. When their father moves the whole family to New York, the By Jeanne Darst, Riverhead, $25.95, 336 pages four daughters learn to fend for themselves. ISBN 9781594488146, eBook available Darst’s portrayal of her father is a masterpiece of comic empathy. His rejected novels and devotion to literature make him into a kind of tragic hero, a Don Quixote of freelance writers. From him, Darst absorbs the idea that bad life equals good art, a dysfunctional lesson that she lives out as an impoverished young actor in New York. The funniest parts of this book emerge from Darst hitting bottom again and again as an alcoholic and must be read to be believed. Honestly. Still, it’s hard for Darst to compete with her parents, who “hog all the death and destruction” for themselves. Her mother divorces her father so that she can concentrate on her drinking, and yet the divorce doesn’t take; he continues to look after her until her death, channeling his emotions into an obsession with F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. It doesn’t sound very funny, and it isn’t: Darst’s tone shifts in the later sections of the book, as she describes the squalor her mother lived in, and her own struggle to get sober. Darst’s memoir is proof that the answer to her ultimate question—can you be funny, creative and sober?—is emphatically yes. Fiction may have ruined Jeanne Darst’s family, but the humor she learned from them as a survival strategy flourishes in this book.

THE DESTINY OF THE REPUBLIC By Candice Millard Doubleday $28.95, 352 pages ISBN 9780385526265 Audio, eBook available

History

Sixteen years after Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, the president of the United States still strolled around Washington on foot, unaccompanied by security. When he was going on a trip, he casually took a carriage to the railroad station and headed for the platform. And so, a mentally deranged man who has gone down in history as a “disappointed officer seeker” was able to shoot James Garfield in 1881 without any real hindrance as the president was about to board a train a few months after his inauguration. Bad as that was, it wasn’t

the worst of it: The wound should not have been fatal. Garfield died 10 weeks later of an infection caused by bullheaded doctors who actively rejected the landmark medical advance known as antisepsis, already common in Europe. Most Americans learn something of this in history class, but the compelling details are little remembered. Candice Millard, author of the best-selling River of Doubt about Theodore Roosevelt, revives the story of Garfield’s life and death in The Destiny of the Republic, making a strong case that he was on course to be one of our more notable presidents when Charles Guiteau raised his gun. Millard weaves together the life journeys of Garfield and Guiteau with that of a somewhat unexpected third character: the estimable Alexander Graham Bell, who was already famous for inventing the telephone and labored passionately to build a device that could detect the location of the bullet in Garfield’s body. Garfield was a remarkable

person, who rose from poverty to become a scholar, Civil War hero and respected politician. While his presidency was too short for real achievement, his death did lead to civil service reform, crucial improvements in medicine and the perfection of Bell’s “induction balance” device. Millard’s spirited book helps restore him to an appropriate place in our consciousness. —Anne Bartlett

THE ORCHARD By Theresa Weir Grand Central $24.99, 240 pages ISBN 9780446584692 eBook available

memoir

Theresa Weir, better known as prolific suspense writer Anne Frasier, admits she received a lukewarm

reception when she approached her publishing contacts about her latest book idea. “They wanted thrillers, Anne Frasier books,” she explains in the acknowledgements. Instead, Weir offers readers a heartfelt story about her own life. In fact, though the book is categorized as a memoir, the recognizably gothic feel of the descriptions and the suspensefilled plot, as well as the extensive disclaimer in the opening pages, make it clear this finely wrought story portrays a particular, and partly fictionalized, perspective. Spanning Weir’s early 20s through her late 30s, The Orchard relates the story of her unlikely and impulsive marriage to lifelong apple farmer Adrian Curtis. From the beginning, the marriage was incomprehensible to those closest to the couple. Tall, blond and handsome, Adrian came from one of the best farms in their rural Midwestern community, though it was also rumored to be cursed. Diminutive, dark and Audrey Hepburn-ish, Weir’s bohemian demeanor belied a dark personal history. Despite the odds stacked against them, the two fell deeply in love as the years passed. And here readers get to what is perhaps the real conflict in this memoir: Weir versus the farm. The farm comes to represent a series of compelling contradictions. The landscape looks beautiful and bucolic—the very picture of American nostalgia. But in reality many locals get cancer (including Weir’s uncle and father-in-law), probably as a result of the rampant use of illegal pesticides. The smell of the pesticides perfumes the air, but no one talks about it. The apples are impossibly, eerily perfect. The people here, too, seem to be inclusive and wholesome. But actually, Weir discovers, they are clannish and distant. Weir is forever looking in the windows, never quite part of Adrian’s family, even after 18 years of marriage. In such unforgiving soil, Weir’s growth over the years is remarkable. She raises two children, nurtures her marriage and comes into her own as a writer. Her journey, at times lonely and sad, is ultimately triumphant. Readers will be glad Weir found a home for this brave book that examines a community complicit in their own undoing, unwilling to accept that a bright, red apple may have a rotted core. — K e l ly B l e w e t t

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top shelf

this month’s top publisher picks

reviews THE SWERVE

Chippy Chipmunk Kathy M. Miller Real lives of baby chipmunks featuring over 80 beautiful photographs and an educational, fun narrative. Rare moments in a natural habitat most people never see. Interesting facts in the back enhance learning about backyard nature. Second in this multi-award winning series.

By Stephen Greenblatt Norton $26.95, 368 pages ISBN 9780393064476 eBook available

history

The Guardians: Loving Eyes Are Watching Richard Williams

Imagine a world where special dogs lead their masters back to the path of God’s love. The Guardians is such a story; it tells of two shelties who have the ability to speak, but their unusual talent is a closely guarded secret. AuthorHouse PB 9781434376633 $12.99 www.lovingeyesarewatching.com

HONORING WRITERS CONNECTING AUTHORS SUPPORTING LIBRARIES

THE 30TH ANNUAL

KENTUCKY BOOK FAIR FRANKFORT CONVENTION CENTER SATURDAY, NOV. 12 9 A.M. - 4:30 P.M. FREE ADMISSION CO-SPONSORED BY THE FRANKFORT STATE JOURNAL KENTUCKY DEPT. FOR LIBRARIES AND ARCHIVES UNIVERSITY PRESS OF KENTUCKY JOSEPH-BETH BOOKSELLERS

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on matter in motion, Cervantes’ chronicle of his mad knight and Caravaggio’s loving attention to the dirty soles of Christ’s feet. This captivating and utterly delightful narrative introduces us to the diverse nature of the Renaissance— from the history of bookmaking to the conflict between religion and science—and compels us to run out and read Lucretius’ poem. —Henry L. Carrigan Jr.

Celtic Sunrise 9780984089314 $19.95 www.celticsunrise.com

NONFICTION

Browsing through a sale bin in search of summer reading, Stephen Greenblatt (Will in the World ) happened upon a paperback with an extremely odd and erotic cover. Intrigued, he bought a copy of Lucretius’ De rerum natura (On the Nature of Things) for 10 cents. Through the random discovery of this poem, Greenblatt recognized a worldview that mirrored his own, for the ancient poet wrote that humans should accept that we and all the things we encounter are transitory, and we should embrace the beauty and pleasure of the world. In The Swerve, Greenblatt elegantly chronicles the history of discovery that brought Lucretius’ poem out of the musty shadows of obscurity into an early modern world ripe for his ideas. At the center of this marvelous tale stands an avid book hunter, skilled manuscript copyist and notary: Poggio Bracciolini. While Poggio’s adventures in book hunting had not turned up much of value for several years, one day in 1417 changed his life and the world forever. He pulled down a dusty copy of On the Nature of Things from its hidden place on a monastery shelf, knew what he had found and ordered his assistant to copy it. The manuscript of Lucretius’ poem had languished in the monastery for over 500 years; the monks ignored it because of its lack of religious value. In Poggio’s act of discovery, he became a midwife to modernity. With his characteristic breathtaking prose, Greenblatt leads us on an amazing journey through a time when the world swerved in a new direction. The culture that best epitomized Lucretius’ embrace of beauty and pleasure was the Renaissance. Greenblatt illustrates the ways that this Lucretian philosophy—which extends to death and life, dissolution as well as creation—characterizes ideas as varied as Montaigne’s restless reflections

HOLY GHOST GIRL By Donna Johnson Gotham $26, 288 pages ISBN 9781592406302 Audio, eBook available

Memoir

and boys without slamming the door on the mysteries of her youth. Her memoir places David Terrell’s ministry in historical context, showing for example how the tent revivals of the 1950s and ’60s were an early site of integration in the American South. Both personal and social history, Holy Ghost Girl lifts the veil on a controversial sector of American religious experience through a child’s point of view. It is a haunting and memorable book. — C a t h e r i n e H o ll i s

THE VIRAL STORM By Nathan Wolfe Times Books $26, 320 pages ISBN 9780805091946 eBook available

science

Donna Johnson’s sensitive and revelatory Holy Ghost Girl takes its readers under the big revival tent of evangelist David Terrell. Johnson’s mother played organ for Brother Terrell’s traveling circus of a ministry in the 1960s, eventually becoming one of several women to bear his children out of wedlock. On the “sawdust trail” with the last of the old-time tent preachers, Johnson witnessed miraculous healings, speaking in tongues and the casting out of demons. This was a mysterious and surreal world for the little children bundled up in quilts in the back of the tent. For Johnson and her brother, David Terrell was both stepfather and prophet, a man who kept their mother away from them for months at a time and a preacher with a direct line to God. Johnson offers a harrowing portrait of a childhood on and off the revival road, particularly when she and her brother are left alone for months at a time with a series of unstable caretakers. Long after leaving Terrell’s ministry, Johnson now offers a clear-eyed and compassionate view of her childhood and the man now widely discredited as a cult leader (Terrell eventually served 10 years in jail for tax evasion). An impressive achievement of perspective and maturity, Holy Ghost Girl follows Johnson out of the Pentecostal movement into the wide world of “hellavision,” books

With his close-cropped hair and three-day stubble, Nathan Wolfe looks every bit the warrior on the front line of a crucial battle. But Wolfe isn’t fighting a conventional war against other human beings. He is fighting to save the human race, seeking to discover and neutralize deadly viruses before they blossom into an epidemic. Wolfe, a Stanford biologist, is director of Global Viral Forecasting, an organization that identifies infectious diseases before they become full-blown pandemics. He is also the author of an eyeopening book, The Viral Storm, an account of the struggle to control the spread of lethal viruses. Wolfe’s book is startling in its revelations of just how vulnerable we are to infectious outbreaks. He attributes our susceptibility to viruses to our early ancestors who chose to consume bacteria-laden animal flesh over plant life. More recently, once-contained diseases were able to spread from the moment Columbus and other explorers brought animals, insects and rodents from the Old World to the New, and vice versa. Modern air travel and the global trade of livestock and crops have accelerated the spread of viruses today. What makes The Viral Storm more alarming is information on just how resourceful and adaptable disease-carrying microbes can be. They must find and attach


NONFICTION themselves to a host—animal or human—to survive, then figure out a way to spread, most often through coughing, sneezing, skin-to-skin contact or blood transmission. And these microbes are resilient, constantly mutating to survive attacks from antibiotics and other enemies. Fortunately, Wolfe is among a number of scientists who travel the globe trying to identify new viruses and prevent their spread. He shares his experiences and discoveries in the jungles of Africa and the South American rainforests as he hunts for the origins of new deadly diseases, and identifies new technologies being employed to stop future outbreaks. The Viral Storm will scare you, educate you and leave you with a sense of hope that science and public policy can improve world health and someday eliminate epidemics altogether. —J o h n T. S l a n i a

STASILAND By Anna Funder Harper Perennial $15.99, 288 pages ISBN 9780062077325 Audio, eBook available

Journalism

whim, telephones were tapped, mail was opened and the contents recorded. The Stasi kept voluminous records on virtually every citizen. When the Wall fell, there was an orgy of paper shredding. Even so, there were far too many files to destroy. Now there are teams trying to reassemble the shredded documents, a task predicted to take well over 300 years. Funder’s stories are at once heartbreaking and outrageous: A 16-year-old girl is imprisoned for a year and a half, some of that time in solitary confinement, for posting “seditious” leaflets; 10 years later her sweetheart dies under mysterious circumstances in a Stasi prison cell; a young woman is summoned by a Stasi official to discuss the intimate portions of her love letters; parents are separated from their gravely ill child for the first five years of his life. Despite all this, the Stasi officials whom Funder interviewed are generally unrepentant. Fortunately, there are flashes of Orwellian humor amid the soulcrushing darkness. In one such instance, a woman goes to a state agency to apply for a job and makes the mistake of telling the clerk there that she is “unemployed.” This enrages the clerk. “You are not unemployed!” she barks. “You are seeking work. There is no unemployment in the German Democratic Republic!”

ments were accompanied by fierce competition, disappointment and tragedy, including alcoholism, drug abuse and suicide. Joseph Medill moved to Chicago in 1855 to be part owner of the Chicago Daily Tribune and the paper’s managing editor. Many years later, during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration, three of his grandchildren, Cissy Patterson, Joseph Patterson and Robert McCormick, controlled the newspapers with the largest circulations in three of the country’s most important markets: New York, Chicago and Washington. They were carrying on their grandfather’s way of personal journalism—although they were leading their readers in different directions. Joseph Patterson became a socialist, as well as a notable novelist and playwright. At the Tribune, he was responsible for the wellreceived Sunday edition and the development of the modern comic strip. He went on to create a new kind of newspaper, The New York Daily News, which became the most successful newspaper in the

country’s history. He was a rock of support for his sister Cissy throughout her glamorous, though often troubled, life. First widely known as an international socialite, much later she became editor and publisher of the Washington Herald, in a city where she was well connected. Colonel Robert McCormick, meanwhile, remained at the Chicago Tribune. Almost alone, he designed the structure of the Tribune Company of his time, which thrived and allowed him to promote his very conservative political views. Despite their different paths, the three grandchildren had much in common. McKinney describes each of them as “complex and eccentric, a product of atrocious parenting. The collective childhood of the cousins had created demons that would mature with time, leaving each with an insistent—and ultimately fatal—need for alcohol.” With its backdrop of wealth and power, The Magnificent Medills reads almost like a rich historical novel. It just happens to be true. —Roger Bishop

—Edward Morris

Originally published in Australia and the U.K. in 2003, Stasiland describes a series of horrors and indignities visited upon the citizens of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) by the Stasi—the Ministry for State Security—in the years leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Anna Funder began her research in 1996 by interviewing both victims and victimizers and rummaging through the vast Stasi headquarters, now a museum. The Stasi and their spies were everywhere—and they made sure people knew it, reasoning that knowing there was no chance of privacy would discourage subversive activity. “In the GDR, there was one Stasi officer or informant for every sixty-three people,” Funder reports. “If part-time informers are included, some estimates have the ratio as high as one informer for every 6.5 citizens.” In this heavily policed state, private residences were routinely searched on mere suspicion or

THE MAGNIFICENT MEDILLS By Megan McKinney Harper $27.99, 464 pages ISBN 9780061782237 eBook available

History

Joseph Medill was one of the great journalists of 19th-century America. A fervent abolitionist, confidant of Lincoln and mayor of Chicago, his last words were reportedly, “What is the news this morning?” His descendants continued that tradition, playing extraordinary roles in shaping and transforming newspapers and other media well into the 20th century. As Megan McKinney demonstrates in her compulsively readable The Magnificent Medills, their achieve-

The Gnome Lexicon A captivating treasure trove of gnome lore for all ages. Beautifully illustrated, it is a journey into the culture, tradition and tales of gnomes from around the world. $27.00 978-0-9832573-0-1

Witch Hazel Four teens agree to help a spirit procure a rare ingredient for a potion. Hazel instructs the four how to avert lurking evil. 978-0-692-01211-6 $22.00

A Betrayed Birth

Bullet Trains to Yaks

A realistic journey of sex, money, betrayal, and murder that made the 1980s Harlem’s most chilling era of the drug trade. $14.95 978-0-9833507-0-5

Join writer Stan Biderman and photographer Kathryn Minette as they explore social and political 21st Century China, Tibet and the Gobi. $24.95 978-0-9832636-0-9

Available at you favorite bookstore, online at atlasbooks.com or by calling 1-800-BOOKLOG

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children’s books

TEEN READ WEEK

WHEREVER LIFE TAKES YOU

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hether your tastes lean toward reality, history or fantasy, our four choices for Teen Read Week (October 16-22) will take you on unexpected journeys through landscapes both strange and familiar. dark of the moon By Tracy Barrett HMH $16.99, 320 pages ISBN 9780547581323 eBook available Ages 12 and up

teen

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Traditional versions of the Minotaur legend often portray Ariadne as a tragic figure: After helping her lover Theseus escape the labyrinth, she is later abandoned on an Aegean island. Tracy Barrett’s retelling of the legend, Dark of the Moon, turns this image on its head. Barrett’s Ariadne is a powerful but socially isolated priestess, and the Minotaur who lives under her palace is no monster, but instead her beloved, deformed brother Asterion. Ariadne is confident in her hereditary role of She-Who-Will-Be-Goddess and the future it will bring her. But when she meets Theseus and his fellow tributes, she finds friendship for the first time, learns about the world beyond her palace and begins to question the role she might play in determining her own path. Barrett both incorporates and undermines well-known aspects of her story, giving new interpretations to Ariadne’s ball of thread, Theseus’ interaction with the Minotaur and the reason for black sails on the Athenians’ returning ship. Details of the complex politics and rituals of her reimagined Krete abound, as do references to other people and places of Greek mythology. She does not shy away from violence, but the bloodiness always serves to establish the characters and setting and is never gratuitous. Chapters are alternately narrated by Ariadne and Theseus, allowing the reader to gain insight into the actions, thoughts and motivations of both characters. In the end, this tale leaves both its characters and its readers questioning the very nature of how stories are told and retold. Fans of mytho-

logical retellings will relish this fresh, feminist interpretation of the tale of Ariadne and Theseus. —J i l l R a t z a n

life: an exploded diagram By Mal Peet Candlewick $17.99, 400 pages ISBN 9780763652272 Audio available Ages 14 and up

and Frankie, it is unexpected and devastating. It is not until decades later, when chance and violence once again play a part in their lives, that we fully begin to understand the depth of their connection. If you’d like to give a young person this novel, do yourself a favor: Read it first! —Deborah Hopkinson

bunheads By Sophie Flack Little, Brown/Poppy $17.99, 304 pages ISBN 9780316126533 eBook available Ages 15 and up

teen

teen

Life: An Exploded Diagram, the new novel from award-winning British author Mal Peet, is a reminder that labeling a work as “YA” (young adult) is often, well, arbitrary. Peet may put young people at the center of his fiction, but his work is so spectacular that it can— and should—be savored by readers of all ages. This far-reaching, ambitious historical novel begins toward the close of World War II on the day Clem Ackroyd is born, after a German pilot flies a plane low over his mother’s house on March 9, 1945. By the time Clem, a good student who wants to go to art school, is a teenager, his father has gone to work for Gerard Mortimer, whose family owns Bratton Manor. Picking strawberries on the Mortimer farm one summer, Clem finds himself attracted to the Mortimer daughter, Frankie, even though, as Clem’s friend Goz puts it, “She Mortimer You Ackroyd.” Clem and Frankie begin meeting secretly. But just as readers might be expecting a traditional Romeo and Juliet crisis to unfold, Peet steps back from his canvas to paint a compelling picture of the historical landscape that envelops the young lovers—in this case, the Cuban missile crisis. The random violence of war and terrorism threads through this compelling novel; but Peet weaves it in so seamlessly and relentlessly that when the crisis does come for Clem

Don’t call 19-year-old Hannah Ward a ballerina, a term reserved for the stars of the prestigious Manhattan Ballet. As a dancer in the company’s corps de ballet since leaving home at 14, she’s a true bunhead, dedicating nearly every waking moment to her profession. Hannah’s world is an unusual mix of constant jealousy, as every girl tries to outperform the others for coveted soloist positions, and fierce loyalty forged out of years of devotion together. To remain competitive and to maintain their gaunt appearances, the dancers practice to near exhaustion before their three to four performances per evening and succumb to unhealthy diets that only lead to fatigue and injuries later. Despite the anxiety in her shared dressing room, Hannah feels confident that she can advance as she enters the fall season. But when puberty strikes, causing her breasts to grow, she faces the impossible task of losing her curves. An even bigger obstacle—named Jacob—also enters the scene. Hannah, who’s never even been kissed, can only manage to spend a few precious hours with Jacob, and she begins to see how little of the city, and the world, she’s experienced outside of ballet. In Bunheads, her eye-opening debut novel, former New York City Ballet dancer Sophie Flack gives readers a compelling look at the rigorous life of ballet dancers. Will Hannah forfeit everything, including Jacob, to take her dance to the next level, or can she give up the only life she’s known, and even

her friends, to start over in the real world? Either path requires sacrifices in this unforgettable journey of self-discovery. —angela leeper

daughter of smoke and bone By Laini Taylor Little, Brown $18.99, 432 pages ISBN 9780316134026 eBook available Ages 15 and up

teen

Seventeen-year-old Karou is an unusual girl. She speaks foreign languages without any effort, is handy with a knife and sports naturally blue hair. By day, she is an art student in Prague, but during her off hours, she runs questionable errands for Brimstone, the father-like demon who raised her. Traveling through portals to the underground markets of Paris and Marrakesh, she buys human and animal teeth, which Brimstone strings together into necklaces in his magical shop. Despite her downworld upbringing, Brimstone is the only family Karou has, so when she is suddenly locked out of the shop, she resorts to dangerous tactics to get back home. Then she meets Akiva, an angel in the middle of an otherworldly battle. Fated and forbidden, Karou and Akiva struggle to be together when their sides are at war. Laini Taylor’s beautifully written novel features a well-drawn cast of characters. From Karou’s serpentbodied nanny to her arrogant actor ex-boyfriend, each character is alive in the reader’s imagination. Even the city of Prague feels personified, as Taylor describes it: “The wind carried the memory of magic, revolution, violins, and the cobbled lanes meandered like creeks. Thugs wore Mozart wigs and pushed chamber music on street corners, and marionettes hung in windows, making the whole city seem like a theater with unseen puppeteers crouched behind velvet.” The first in a trilogy, Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a romantic, incredibly imaginative and gripping story; readers will find themselves heavily invested. — K i m b e r l y G i a rr a t a n o


interview

MAUREEN JOHNSON by Abby Plesser

A GHOSTLY JACK THE RIPPER RETURNS

B

est-selling YA author Maureen Johnson doesn’t believe in ghosts. In fact, when people try to tell her a ghost story—even a good one—she just isn’t interested. So it seems a bit ironic that her new novel can best be described as, well, a very clever ghost story.

On a transatlantic phone call from her second home in Guildford, England (she splits her time between New York City and Guildford, where her English boyfriend lives), Johnson explains how she got the idea for her latest book, The Name of the Star. “I was in London doing some research for [my previous novel] The Last Little Blue Envelope on a historical tour. They kept mentioning ghosts, and I kept thinking, ‘These ghosts are not very good at what they do.’ The ghost is always a cold spot in the room or a shadow; it moves a spoon, or a door creaks. And I thought, what you should have is a ghost that comes back and it’s totally insane and kills everyone! Now that would be something! Then I would sit up and listen to your ghost story.” Johnson considered what kind of person you really wouldn’t want to come back from the dead—and almost immediately she thought of Jack the Ripper, the infamous serial killer who terrorized London in the late 1880s. Once she had her idea, Johnson was off and running. The first novel in a planned trilogy, The Name of the Star is inventive, fast-paced and compelling. We meet plucky Louisiana teen Aurora “Rory” Deveaux as she arrives at Wexford, an elite boarding school in London. There has been disturbing news of a local murder, but Rory is too consumed with adjusting to life

The Name of the Star

By Maureen Johnson, Putnam $16.99, 384 pages ISBN 9780399256608, eBook available, ages 12 and up

at Wexford to focus on the slaying. She quickly makes friends with her roommate, Jazza, and starts a flirtation with Jerome, one of the class prefects. Things seem to be going well for Rory—until another woman turns up dead behind a local pub, and police fear they have a Jack the Ripper copycat on their hands. Johnson says the historical material surrounding the Ripper crimes provided the obvious structure for her story. “I wanted the book to be heavier on the school stuff in the beginning so you would think it was going to be more of a school story,” she explains. “I wanted Rory to get taken out of that world, that you have some idea that her life had been normal—and now it isn’t.” Normality ends for Rory on the night she sees a suspicious man in the Wexford quad hours before another murder takes place nearby—a man no one else saw. With the guidance of a mysterious new roommate, Rory realizes that she has the ability to see ghosts, and that she just might be the ghost killer’s next victim. Luckily Rory isn’t alone in her struggle—she learns there is a secret ghost police force tracking the killer along with the London police, but she certainly can’t admit that to any of her friends. And so Rory goes from being a typical high school student to a teen on the run from what she thought she knew about herself, the world and the dark forces working against her. To say much more would ruin the fun of reading Johnson’s spooky novel, but teen readers with an interest in history, mystery and supernatural stories will find much to savor in The Name of the Star. Johnson says she wanted Rory to come from a town near New Orleans because the Crescent City “has a long history of very eccentric behavior.” With a laugh, she explains, “Some of the most interesting people I have ever met come from New Orleans. And I wanted Rory to have an interesting background. Her family is loosely based on my own family and neighbors, except I think that mine are probably weirder. So

Rory is in many ways a filter for me to talk about my relatives.” Whether she’s channeling her own relatives or not, what’s most striking about Johnson’s writing is her ability to completely inhabit her characters’ voices. Rory, Jazza, Jerome and their friends leap off the page, and readers will be continuously surprised and entertained by their misadventures. About writing from the teen perspective, Johnson admits, “It’s not that I have a particularly teenage mindset. The only thing I do is try to think, what would this be like if you haven’t done it before? The main thing that’s different about being a teenager is that you’re experiencing a lot of things for the first time—that’s the most important logic.” When asked what Rory will experience in the second book, slated for release in fall 2012, Johnson will only say, “Rory is having to cope with the aftermath of all the things that happened to her. Sometimes in supernatural stories you don’t give people enough time to have the complete nervous breakdown. So she’s in

therapy, but she can’t talk about what really happened, so therapy’s a joke. Rory has a complicated life. And things are going to get more complicated.” Luckily, complications—in Johnson’s capable and creative hands— are something to eagerly anticipate. Watch a video of Maureen Johnson at youtube.com/bookpagedotcom

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37


children’s books The Flint Heart

reviews

RETELLING A TIMELESS STORY Review By Dean Schneider

It was only a modest charm, a black heart with a hole right through it, shaped from flint during the Stone Age. But if the Flint Heart was black, so too became the heart of whoever possessed it. In the village of Grimspound, in the south of England, a warrior named Phuttphutt came into possession of the Flint Heart, and it turned him into an evil man. He killed Chief Brokotockotick, took over as the new chief and ruled with an iron fist, his long and bloody reign only ending with his death, when the creator of the Flint Heart buried it with Phuttphutt’s ashes under piles of rocks, where he hoped it would remain forever. Thousands of years later, Billy Jago of Merripit Farm finds the Flint Heart, and the kind family man becomes rough and cruel. His children, Charles and Unity, seek help from the pixies. The marvelous world of the fairies comes alive for readers as fairies and humans work together to By Katherine Paterson & John Paterson break the power of the Flint Heart and set the world right again. Illustrated by John Rocco, Candlewick, $19.99 In this fantasy “freely abridged” from the 1910 original by Eden Phill304 pages, ISBN 9780763647124, ages 7 to 12 potts, the prose by the husband-and-wife team of Katherine and John Paterson retains some of the Edwardian voice of the original and laces the story with understated humor. John Rocco’s digitally colored pencil drawings provide a perfect complement, glowing with fairy light. The full-page art, chapter headings and decorations make this a lovely volume, reminiscent of the Robert Louis Stevenson classics illustrated by N.C. Wyeth. The Patersons have given new life to Phillpotts’ original, retaining and enhancing the magical wonder of a tale that ought to endure as a classic. This beautifully made book exemplifies, as John Rocco said in a recent interview, “the importance of the physical book for children in this ever-growing digital age.”

The Artist Who Painted A Blue Horse By Eric Carle Philomel $17.99, 32 pages ISBN 9780399257131 Ages 4 to 8

Picture Book

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German artist Franz Marc painted Blue Horse in 1911—a heavy-bodied horse, oddly blue, yet beautiful. Marc loved bright colors, even when applied to unexpected subjects. Though he died in World War I, Marc lived on through his art, which was labeled “degenerate” by the Nazis. Blue horse? Must be the work of a diseased mind. Eric Carle grew up in Nazi Germany, where creating or displaying modern art was forbidden, but he had a brave teacher who risked showing him the art. And now, so many years later, Carle offers a picture book in homage to Franz Marc. “I am an artist and I paint,” the book begins. What follows, in Carle’s signature painted tissue-paper collages, are a blue horse, a red

crocodile, a yellow cow and a whole parade of multicolored animals. The final words—“I am a good artist”— might sound to an adult reader like an artist’s defiance of censors, but it’s a common sentiment in children when allowed to paint freely. Young artists will love this beautiful book, and will cheerfully go about creating their own joyful paintings, not caring at all for anyone else’s rules about what color a horse should be. After all, why can’t a donkey be polka-dotted? —Dean Schneider

Stars By Mary Lyn Ray Illustrated by Marla Frazee Simon & Schuster $16.99, 40 pages ISBN 9781442422490 Ages 2 to 6

picture book

Most of us rarely take time to notice the twinkling lights that

adorn the sky on clear evenings, but Mary Lyn Ray’s Stars reminds us of the wonder that surrounds us—night and day. Caldecott Honor recipient Marla Frazee’s soothing graphite and gouache illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to the quiet, gentle text. The beginning endpapers sport a faint blue sky with puffy clouds, while the opening page grows a little darker and features a single star and a single sentence: “A star is how you know it’s almost night.” Subsequent pages allow readers to explore other ways stars enter our lives. We can make our own stars out of paper to become a sheriff or to place on a wand and make wishes or to lift our spirits when we’re not feeling as shiny as a star. We can find stars around us, from the yellow stars on vines that become October pumpkins to the snowflakes of winter. Ray then brings us back to the stars that began the book, and the background darkens again as children get ready for bed and families huddle together to watch more and more stars emerge. But wait! There’s another surprise as the families look up to see a different form

of stars—fireworks. Finally, the brightly colored smoke of the fireworks gives way to a black sky with increasing stars, while concluding endpapers depict the vastness of the night sky. This stunning collaboration between writer and artist gently reminds us that shining stars bring beauty to the world. Stars will encourage young readers and listeners (and their parents) to gaze with new appreciation at the night sky. —Angela Leeper

Liesl & Po By Lauren Oliver HarperCollins $16.99, 320 pages ISBN 9780062014511 eBook available Ages 8 to 12

middle grade

Liesl & Po begins very darkly. Liesl’s attic room is a “uniform gray darkness,” much like the world outside her window. In this bleak environment, she meets Po, a smudge of a ghost, three nights after her father dies. Po lives on the Other Side, a shadowy dimension of wild uncertainty. The likable characters in this story all have some sadness and loss in their lives, while the villains are ugly and dark from a lack of inner light or feeling. Both types contribute to the somber mood in this lightless world. But small joys and flashes of warmth offer promise of what is to come. Liesl and Po set out on a quest to restore Liesl’s father’s ashes to the home of her childhood. Along the way, author Lauren Oliver brilliantly weaves a cast of characters whose life stories begin to intersect in miraculous ways. Although the events feel a bit contrived at times, as the reader foresees the coming connections, these happy coincidences are not begrudged. Oliver is careful to make the entire construct feel like a fairy tale and young readers will be pleased by the way all the pieces come together. In the passing of only a few days, we reach a conclusion that gives us the light we and Liesl and Po crave throughout the story. There is the redemption we hope for, the easing of sadness, and the delight in the hope newly found. This is a small


reviews story with big feeling, a quiet movement in a loud world, and a book definitely worth reading. —J e n n i f e r B r u e R k i t c h e l

Waiting for the Magic By Patricia MacLachlan Simon & Schuster $15.99, 160 pages ISBN 9781416927457 eBook available Ages 8 to 12

middle grade

Readers, who can’t help but be touched by this affirming story, will find themselves looking for magic in their own lives. MacLachlan has another classic in the making. —Angela Leeper

meet  richard egielski the title of your Q: What’s  new book?

would you describe Q: How  the book?

Breadcrumbs By Anne Ursu Walden Pond Press $16.99, 336 pages ISBN 9780062015051 eBook available Ages 8 to 12

has been the biggest influence on your work? Q: Who 

middle grade

Patricia MacLachlan, Newbery Medalist for Sarah, Plain and Tall, delivers another heartfelt story of family and home in Waiting for the Magic. Just as William wonders who his fifth grade teacher will be when school starts, his professor father leaves home—again. In his absence, his mother decides that William and his little sister, Elinor, need a dog. Unable to decide which dog meets their needs, they return with four dogs of varying sizes and temperaments and a cat to boot. The dogs’ arrival sparks some magic immediately when fouryear-old Elinor and her grandparents start chatting with the canine newcomers. William, on the other hand, has never even thought about magic and certainly doesn’t believe in it. Although his grandmother suggests that he’s not young enough or old enough or brave enough to believe, he still resists the possibility that conversations are occurring between people and dogs. William is quiet and steady, and when he discovers that his mother is expecting a baby, he musters the courage, with the help of his new dogs, to tell Mama that Papa should know about the situation. In light of his bravery, William begins to hear the dogs speak. But can he also find the courage to forgive when his father comes back? MacLachlan handles this scary and difficult parental separation with sensitivity, while Amy June Bates’ charming charcoal sketches and the dogs’ whimsical yet wise speech helps to lighten the mood. Perhaps there’s more to magic than talking dogs, though. In distinct ways, the family members learn that real magic can be found at home among seemingly everyday events.

The very word breadcrumbs conjures up images of a boy and a girl lost in a dark and mysterious landscape, trying to get back home to safety. In her luminous new novel, Breadcrumbs, Anne Ursu draws on the archetypal worlds of fairy tales such as Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” yet also manages to create an original world of magic all her own. The story opens with an evocative depiction of a snowstorm, and a premonition that the mundane world of school and winter sledding that Minnesota fifth graders Jack and Hazel think they know is not at all what it seems. Best friends since the age of six, Jack and Hazel are in desperate need of some magic. Jack’s mom is suffering from depression. Hazel’s father has left, her mother is struggling financially and Hazel has had to leave her familiar private school and go to the public school. Hazel has gone from being called creative and imaginative to being a lonely girl who “needs to follow school rules.” But there is one rule that Hazel believes in strongly: that best friends don’t suddenly desert you overnight of their own free will. Never. And so, when some horrible magic takes Jack away, Hazel must gather all her courage and her belief in friendship to set out after him into the cold, snowy woods. Ursu has created a beautiful and compelling fairy tale that will appeal to young readers raised on magic. If you know any readers pining for something new now that the last Harry Potter film is out, have them follow the trail of magic in this marvelous book. —deborah hopkinson

was your favorite subject in school? Why? Q: What 

was your childhood hero? Q: Who 

Q: W  hat books did you enjoy as a child?

one thing would you like to learn to do? Q: What 

Q: W  hat message would you like to send to children?

The sleepless little vampire Caldecott Award-winning artist Richard Egielski turned to a career in picture book illustration after taking a class with Maurice Sendak at the Parsons School of Design. His latest book, The Sleepless Little Vampire (Arthur A. Levine, $16.99, 32 pages, ISBN 9780545145978), features a puzzled young monster who wonders why he’s up all night.

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Books-A-Million BookPage October 2011  

book reviews, author interviews

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