NOVEMBER 2010 w w w. B o o k Pa g e . c o m
04 cover story George W. Bush sets the record straight
The prolific author and her daughter share laughs and insights into the lives of real women
10 jan karon Meet the author of the new Father Tim novel, In the Company of Others
11 carlos eire Looking back at a boyhood in exile
13 bruce machart Family drama under the Texas sun
14 graphic novels Timeless stories in words and pictures
15 going to the dogs Loving and learning from our canine pals
25 stories from hollywood The latest and greatest celebrity bios
28 charles elton Living down a literary legacy
36 jeff kinney How a regular dad became Mr. Wimpy Kid
39 david small Meet the illustrator of Elsie’s Bird
departments 03 03 04 05 05 07 07 08 09
buzz girl Bestseller watch author enablers lifestyles cooking audio book clubs romance whodunit
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reviews 26 Fiction
The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley a l s o r e v i e w e d : Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King; The Wolves of Andover by Kathleen Kent; Sunset Park by Paul Auster; The Distant Hours by Kate Morton; The Marriage Artist by Andrew Winer; Mr. Toppit by Charles Elton; Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane; Compass Rose by John Casey; Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick; Eighteen Acres by Nicolle Wallace; The Neighbors Are Watching by Debra Ginsberg
32 NonFiction top pick:
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand a l s o r e v i e w e d : Atlantic by Simon Winchester; Kingdom Under Glass by Jay Kirk; The Mind’s Eye by Oliver Sacks; Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff; Running the Books by Avi Steinberg; The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee; Louisa May Alcott by Susan Cheever; First Family by Joseph J. Ellis; Must You Go? by Antonia Fraser
38 Children’s top pick:
The Other Side of Dark by Sarah Smith a l s o r e v i e w e d : The Chiru of High Tibet by Jacqueline Briggs Martin; Holler Loudly by Cynthia Leitich Smith; A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park; Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan; The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
a m e r i c a’ s b o o k r e v i e w
Michael A. Zibart
ASSISTANT WEB editor
Karen Trotter Elley
Lynn L. Green
Elizabeth Grace Herbert
BookPage is a selection guide for new books. Our editors evaluate and select for review the best books published each month in a variety of categories. Only books we highly recommend are featured.
Angela J. Bowman
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columns wait until April to read the latest from Berg, check out an excerpt in the paperback edition of The Last Time I Saw You, which goes on sale at the end of this month.
twain takes to the page
Our publishing insider gets the skinny on tomorrow’s bestsellers
a move for macomber Starting in 2012, Debbie Macomber will publish six books with Ballantine Bantam Dell, including a new series set in her hometown of Port Orchard, Washington. Macomber has previously published with Mira Books, an imprint of Harlequin. Macomber is beloved for her Cedar Cove and Blossom Street series, and according to Random House, 130 million copies of her books are in print worldwide and four of her novels have debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. In July, Macomber received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Romance Writers of America.
Berg is back in action Elizabeth Berg fans are a passionate group, relishing her stories about family, relationships and how women think. And now they have reason to celebrate: Once Upon a Time, There Was You, her next novel, goes on sale in April 2011. The novel is about a divorced couple—parents of a teenage daughter—who are suddenly brought back together when “tragedy strikes.” For those who can’t
Country star Shania Twain’s Come On Over is the best-selling album of all time by a female musician, but she hasn’t spoken out on the stories behind her songs—until now. Twain says, “There have been moments in my life I was concerned by the reality that tomorrow would never come. . . . Recently I experienced one of those moments to an intensity that brought on a sudden urgency twain to document my life before I ran out of time, before I had the opportunity to share an honest and complete account of my life, in my own words.” Certainly Twain’s millions of fans will be eager to hear more when Atria publishes her autobiography in April 2011.
picoult’s next gig Prolific and popular author Jodi Picoult is trying something new with her 18th novel, Sing You Home. Her main character, Zoe, is a musical therapist, and Picoult has been “collaborating with Ellen Wilber, a dear friend who is also a very talented musician, to create a CD of original songs, which will correspond to each of the chapters.” It will be included with the hardcover, which goes on sale in March 2011. The novel sounds like another winner from Picoult, exploring “what it means to be gay in today’s world” and “what constitutes a ‘traditional family’ in today’s day and age.”
bestseller watch Release dates for some of the guaranteed blockbusters hitting shelves in November:
9 decision points By George W. Bush
Crown, $35, ISBN 9780307590619 From Election Night 2000 to 9/11, no subject is off-limits in the long-awaited memoir of America’s 43rd president.
Share the emotional magic of Nora Roberts’s #1 New York Times bestselling Bride Quartet.
15 CROSS FIRE
By James Patterson Little, Brown, $27.99 ISBN 9780316036177 In the 17th Cross novel, Alex has to put his wedding plans on hold when two politicos are assassinated in D.C.
16 of thee i sing
By Barack Obama Knopf Books for Young Readers, $17.99 ISBN 9780375835278 President Barack Obama pays tribute to 13 groundbreaking Americans in this poignant illustrated letter to his daughters.
New role for sebold Best known for her writing, Alice Sebold (The Lovely Bones, The Almost Moon) is switching things up a bit. Europa Editions is launching a new imprint called Tonga, and Sebold will be at the helm. According to Publishers Weekly, “Tonga will release dark, literary books, and Sebold herself is doing the acquiring.” Tonga’s first publication sebold (slated for fall 2011) will be Alexander Maksik’s debut novel, You Deserve Nothing. Set in an international high school in Paris, it follows a teacher and two of his students.
NEW IN PAPERBACK 9780425236758 • $16
As the public face of Vows wedding planning company, Parker Brown has an uncanny knack for fulfilling every bride’s vision. She just can’t see where her own life is headed. Mechanic Malcomb Kavanaugh loves figuring out how things work, and Parker is no exception.
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b y BETH E . W ILLIAM S
by kathi kamen goldmark & Sam Barry
BUSH MEMOIR FOCUSES ON KEY DECISIONS
uring a year of big political books, the new memoir by former president George W. Bush promises to be the biggest.
To be published on November 9, one week after the midterm elections, Decision Points will examine 14 major decisions made by Bush during his life and tenure in the Oval Office. Crown Publishers promises that Bush’s descriptions will include “gripping, never-before-heard detail” on such historic events as Election Night in the controversial 2000 presidential race; aboard Air Force One on 9/11; the Taking an beginnings approach that of war in Afghanistan departs from and Iraq; and a traditional the reaction memoir, Bush to Hurricane Katrina. will offer The book “vivid detail” will also on 14 major examine important turnevents in his ing points personal and in Bush’s public life. personal life, including his decision to quit drinking; his commitment to religious faith; and his relationships with his family, including his father. Since leaving office almost two years ago, Bush has stayed virtually silent on his presidency, avoiding public speeches and interviews. Instead, his publisher says, he has spent “almost every day writing Decision Points” in an office near his Dallas home.
By George W. Bush, Crown, $35, 512 pages, ISBN 9780307590619, also available on audio
Crown says the 43rd president “writes honestly and directly about his flaws and mistakes, as well as his historic achievements.” Other topics to be covered “candidly” in the book include how he chose his closest advisors, including Vice President Dick Cheney, political strategist Karl Rove and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; his global initiative against AIDS; and his opposition to stem cell research. The publisher has announced a first printing of 1.5 million copies for the hardcover edition of the book and will also release the president’s memoir in several other formats, including an audio version and two e-book editions. One of those, described as a “deluxe e-book” which apparently targets iPad users, will include videos of events from the Bush presidency; examples of his personal correspondence; 50 additional photographs; and the full texts of several important speeches. A cloth-bound, signed and numbered limited print edition of 1,000 copies, priced at $350, will be published on November 30. Commenting on the multiple formats, Tina Constable, Crown’s senior vice president and publisher, says, “As readers will soon discover, Decision Points is a nontraditional presidential memoir that renders in vivid detail the circumstances in which President Bush made some of the most historically defining decisions of our era. It is exciting to be able to publish this news-making book across multiple platforms— print, audio, and digital—to bring history alive for readers.” The publication of Bush’s book follows a surge of political books to be released this year, including a memoir by his wife, Laura Bush, Spoken from the Heart; Sarah Palin’s bestseller Going Rogue; White House Diary, the latest release from prolific former President Jimmy Carter; A Journey: My Political Life, a memoir by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was a close Bush ally during their time in office; and several books about President Barack Obama, including David Remnick’s The Bridge.
Practical advice on writing and publishing for aspiring authors
keep it up! Dear Author Enablers, After building a local platform by self-publishing, selling by word of mouth, becoming a reading group selection, giving lectures at high schools and churches, donating to literacy fundraisers and receiving unsolicited praise for my book, what do I do now to spread my net wider? My efforts to find an agent and a traditional publisher have come to naught. Jill Schaefer Lompoc, California It sounds to us like you’re doing a great job, but no one ever said that success as an author will be easy or guaranteed. We can offer a few additional resources: Publicize Your Book, by Jacqueline Duval, provides ideas for grass-roots publicity and marketing. Finding a lecture agent or publicist could be another way to go; most self-published authors find their best sales are generated by speaking engagements and media appearances. Keep watching for public-speaking opportunities, and hone your skills as a presenter. Start blogging regularly, and submit short pieces to print and online publications. And don’t forget to start writing your next book before too much time goes by.
PRODUCT PLACEMENT Dear Author Enablers, I have been reading Stuart Woods’ latest Stone Barrington crime thriller, Kisser. I noticed that Knob Creek bourbon is mentioned frequently as Stone Barrington’s adult beverage of choice, eight or 10 times if it was mentioned once. Is this now a fixture of modern entertainment fiction— literary agents auctioning off naming rights for products supposedly preferred by the story’s characters? R. Haines Pittsburg, Pennsylvania Most novelists wish they could sell product placement in their books! Kathi is still waiting for that check from Martin Guitars, the ungrateful wretches. But seriously, while we can understand cynicism when so much is for sale in the media, we cannot assume that what you observed is the result of
a commercial agreement. Without more concrete evidence, we think it’s more generous to assume this reflects the author’s personal beverage preference. Now you know what to get Mr. Woods for Christmas!
NEXT STEPS Dear Author Enablers, I’m writing my first book, number one of a young adult fantasy trilogy. Even if it never gets published, I’ve had a lot of fun writing it! I’m constantly thinking of new things to work in, like personality traits, flashbacks, subplots, etc. My list is so long that the next rewrite could take years! So, when do I step away and say, “That’s enough!” and find someone to submit it to? It’s been three years in the making, and I think I could spend the next 20 on it without feeling like it’s done. When do I quit and start on book two? John Turtle Decatur, Indiana Congratulations on getting this far—it’s a real accomplishment. You sound like you’re having a little too much fun, though—remember, writers are supposed to be torturedartist types. We think your next step should be getting some feedback on your book while you begin the process of finding a literary agent. Perhaps you can join a writers’ group; maybe you can start one. (Check with your local library or bookstore to see if they sponsor writing workshops.) Give your manuscript to two or three people you trust to proofread and critique. Fix what needs fixing and then you are ready to say, “It’s done.” It’s time to head towards the finish line—which means settling on a completed first draft, and moving toward publication. One more thing—maybe some of your wealth of ideas could be incorporated into your next book. Email questions for Kathi and Sam to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name and hometown.
by sybil PRATT
b y j o a n n a b r i c h e tt o
SUSTAINABLE CONVENIENCE Thanks to the local food movement, most of us are within increasingly easy reach of foods grown or produced nearby. Yet even with community-supported agriculture programs, home gardens, farmers’ markets and enlightened grocery stores, some items remain out of reach, simply because of temperate zone limitations. You just can’t grow bananas in Nashville, for example— or can you? Growing Tasty Tropical Plants in Any Home, Anywhere,
Nigella’s comfort chronicle
your health and for our planet.” Most ingredients are basic pantry items, and others (like essential oils and beeswax) are easily found at health food stores. My favorites are instant recipes like one-step toners (which include orange juice and tea) and cleansers (yogurt exfoliates and moisturizes; oatmeal cleans and buffs), but more committed readers and even trade professionals will appreciate the plentiful technical details on how to select ingredients, “melt, blend, pour, store and preserve.”
The “Domestic Goddess” has done it again, just in time for homey holiday cooking. Nigella Kitchen (Hyperion, $35, 512 pages, ISBN 9781401323950) is an expression of her love of cooking and of making cooking lovable, spelled out in over 200 recipes, with gorgeous, almost edible full-color photos, great header notes, reassuring directions and tips for “making leftovers right.” Nigella wants to put her audience at ease and to allay entertaining
Hush Puppies and Fried Okra. Meanwhile, Tammy Algood has taken an ingredientoriented approach in The Complete Southern Cookbook (Running Press, $26.95, 496 pages, ISBN 9780762438648) that starts with Almonds and ends up—87 entries and over 800 recipes later—with Zucchini. Each ingredient comes with info on nutrition, preparation, selection and storage and a succulent array of down-home recipes.
anxieties, especially the dinnerparty heebie-jeebies; she wants us to consider the kitchen “an enduring place of comfort” and the food we create there “essential sustenance” for body and soul. To that end, the dishes included are consummately practical and pleasurable, whether it’s chorizo-adorned Crustless Pizza, Scallops with Thaiscented Pea Purée or Pantry Paella for a busy weekday night, or one of her informal weekend supper sensations, such as Roasted Seafood, polenta-based Venetian Lasagna or “gorgeously warming” Marmalade Pudding Cake.
Cookbook of the Month
TOP PICK FOR LIFESTYLES by Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin (Storey, $18.95, 160 pages, ISBN 9781603425773), claims that anyone can grow not only bananas, but limes, avocados, olives, figs, kiwis and 41 other tropical and exotic plants. The trick is to grow them inside. The authors present each fruit in a clear, colorful spread with photos, background info, growing conditions, care, potential challenges and sometimes recipes. This surprisingly simple concept makes more than ecological and economic sense; it also makes granitas, tapenades, sorbets, jams, vinegars and eaten-out-of-hand treats. And I’m saving the best for (nearly) last: It makes chocolate (not to mention tea, coffee, cinnamon, black pepper, vanilla and sugar, too).
GREEN AND GORGEOUS Ever look at the list of ingredients in hand lotion, lipstick or a bottle of baby shampoo? Most of the stuff we use to make ourselves clean and reasonably attractive can actually make us ill. Green Beauty Recipes (Petite Marie Ltd., $16.25, 268 pages, ISBN 9780956355812) offers an antidote to the ugly truth about beauty products: Make your own. Julie Gabriel, founder of Petite Marie Organics and author of The Green Beauty Guide, gives readers “a blueprint on how to make the green leap and formulate your own cleansers, toners, moisturizers and body products from scratch,” with the promise that all are “gorgeous, green and amazingly beneficial for
The beautiful thing about Green Interior Design, written by awardwinning and famously green designer Lori Dennis, is that the book can answer the needs of a huge range of readers, even folks who, were it not for the modifier “green,” might never pick up a book about interior design. From readers simply hunting carcinogen-free candles to those aiming at LEEDstandard new home construction, everyone will find plenty of help. Dennis thoroughly investigates green options large and small in furniture, accessories, fabrics, window treatments, surfacing, plants, appliances and plumbing fixtures, and then focuses on the two rooms where we spend most of our time: the bedroom and living room. Of special note is the chapter on cleaning and maintenance: No matter how green or not our homes may be, we can at least tidy without inflicting harm. Encyclopedic-scale resources, vendor lists, websites, checklists and a glossary boost this guide to reference status, while a section on the author’s favorite architects, designers and builders provides high-end inspiration.
Green Interior Design By Lori Dennis Allworth $24.95, 160 pages ISBN 9781581157451
Taste of the South Interest in Southern cooking never wanes, and neither does the number of Southern cookbooks. Two big (and I’m not whistling Dixie) new additions have come our way this season; both are worthy of landing on your holiday gift list. The fine folks at Southern Living magazine have compiled Southern Living 1,001 Ways to Cook Southern (Oxmoor House, $34.95, 928 pages, ISBN 9780848733117), a hefty, well-illustrated handful. Exceeding expectations, there are 1,232 recipes for every course and category imaginable, each with fail-proof, detailed instructions perfected by Southern Living’s test kitchen experts. And sprinkled throughout are “Taste of the South” vignettes that highlight recipes for iconic Southern delicacies such as Buttermilk Biscuits, Chess Pie,
David Tanis seems to have true simplicity at his core and an understated approach to the seasonal. Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys is not about artichokes but about getting to the essence of good food made at home. He is, refreshingly, a restaurant chef who really prefers to cook at home and is quite happy with a sharp knife, wooden spoon and cast-iron pan. Tanis divides his recipes into small—the “ordinary pleasures” of cooking for yourself, with a recipe for jalapeño-onion pancakes I could eat every day; medium—20 eminently doable menus that celebrate the seasons, accomplished without foam, blowtorches or wildly exotic ingredients, including Mussels Marinière, Spaghetti with Squid and White Beans and divinely dense Italian Spice Cake; and large—four “simple feasts for a long table.” Tanis’ recipes and his writing have a quiet elegance that invites you to slow down, think and savor.
Heart of the Artichoke and Other Kitchen Journeys By David Tanis Artisan $35, 352 pages ISBN 9781579654078
by sukey howard
by julie hale
Where does it hurt? People suffer from pain and always have; it is our mortal condition. For millennia, pain was a “spiritual signifier” blamed on spirits, deities and demons, or on bad deeds committed in this life or a former one. As recently as the mid-19th century, when surgical anesthesia was introduced, it was thought by many to “prevent men from going through what God intended.” Pain, its causes, its remedies, its effects on body and soul, has always perplexed us—and now it’s impelled Melanie Thernstrom to write The Pain Chronicles (Tantor Media, $34.99, 11.5 hours unabridged, ISBN 9781400118540), narrated in salutary style by Laural
the same day. Orphaned, he moved in with his aunt and uncle and fell madly in love with their adopted daughter, Tilda, who in turn fell madly and resolutely in love with a German student. But the world was at war; fear, anger and dismay were rampant and perceptions off-kilter, sometimes with devastating results, even in small-town Canada. There’s never any self-pity in Wyatt’s voice as he recounts his life, but rather a stoic, world-worn acceptance of unexamined choices, loss and, perhaps now, a slow crawl to redemption. Bronson Pinchot’s finely muted narration captures every nuance of Norman’s atmospheric, subtly shaped tale.
This month’s best new paperback releases for reading groups
SOUTHERN COMFORT Beth Hoffman’s delightful debut novel, Saving CeeCee Honeycutt (Penguin, $15, 320 pages, ISBN 9780143118572), is a sweet Southern tale with an unforgettable heroine at its center. Set in 1967, the book skillfully depicts the social dynamics of a South that’s still coming of age. After her high-strung mother—a former beauty queen named Camille—is killed by an ice cream truck, 12-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt leaves her home in Ohio to live with her great aunt, Tootie,
TOP PICK FOR BOOK CLUBS
Audio of the Month
Merlington. Unfortunately for her, Thernstrom comes to the subject as someone who’s had to deal firsthand with chronic pain, and she weaves her own story and her “pain diary” into her elegantly presented, wide-ranging research, which includes history, religion, biology, psychology, anthropology, neuroscience and intriguing observations on pain from the Bhagavad Gita, Heidegger, Susan Sontag and more. In Thernstrom’s accomplished hands, the nature of chronic pain becomes compelling and engaging listening—and it doesn’t hurt a bit.
Dearest daughter Howard Norman’s quiet but intensely affecting novel, What is Left the Daughter (Blackstone Audio, $29.95, 7 hours unabridged, ISBN 9781441765505), is written as a long and long-overdue letter from a father to his 21-year-old daughter, whom he hasn’t seen since she was a toddler. The reasons for Wyatt Hilyer’s decades of silence become clear as he pours out a story punctuated with suicide and murder, but shaped and misshaped by an enduring love. In 1941, when Wyatt was 17, his mother and father, discovering they were both in love with the same woman, leapt from separate bridges in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on
Jonathan Franzen’s latest, Freedom, is a big, brilliantly evoked novel that looks at contemporary American life through the fortunes and misfortunes of the Berglund family. It’s too good, too well-crafted to be called a “sweeping saga,” but its scope captures the past decades and teases out the good, the bad and the ugly in marriage and commitment, our polarizing culture wars, our concern—or lack of it—for the environment, our attempts to be socially responsible and our very American obsession with “freedom.” Patty and Walter Berglund, young parents when the book opens, are middle-aged when it ends, the baggage they’ve brought with them—and picked up along the way—unpacked in fascinating detail. Freedom’s strongly articulated characters will draw you in, and David LeDoux’s intelligent performance maintains the right narrative pace throughout.
Freedom By Jonathan Franzen Macmillan Audio $59.99, 24 hours unabridged ISBN 9781427210494
like opportunity, timing and luck also play important roles in the ascent of a star. Gladwell’s remarkable ability to synthesize diverse material, his talent for presenting historical anecdotes and his knack for unearthing little-known nuggets of trivia make this a wonderfully readable book. In this in-depth look at the mystery that enshrines success, he draws important conclusions about human nature, the motivations that drive us and the power of ambition. A staff writer at The New Yorker and author of The Tipping Point, Gladwell proves yet again that he’s a master of probing, investigative nonfiction.
in Savannah, Georgia. CeeCee soon finds herself surrounded by a group of surrogate mothers, all of whom teach her different lessons about life. She bonds quickly with the smart, insightful Oletta, Tootie’s black housekeeper. Tootie’s friend Violene, a racist, thrives on gossip, while Thelma Rae, another member of Tootie’s crowd, proves deceitful. Life among these vivacious women, as CeeCee quickly learns, is never dull. With its vividly drawn characters and old-fashioned charm, Hoffman’s novel will appeal to fans of Fannie Flagg and Sue Monk Kidd. Her portrayal of a still-evolving South is richly detailed and wonderfully authentic.
TOP OF THE HEAP In Outliers: The Story of Success (Back Bay, $16.99, 336 pages, ISBN 9780316017930), best-selling writer Malcolm Gladwell examines the secrets of modern-day success, questioning typical assumptions about business moguls, athletic stars and others who achieve peak performance. What do they have that the rest of us don’t? Gladwell looks at examples from history and pop culture—the Beatles, Mozart and Bill Gates—and asserts that singular talent and personal skill don’t necessarily ensure success. Factors
Set during the 19th century and rooted in fact, Tracy Chevalier’s sharply crafted novel Remarkable Creatures tells the story of two inspiring women who take on the scientific establishment at a time when females had no place there. Poor and uneducated, young Mary Anning has a keen mind and an observant eye. During her rambles along England’s Lyme Regis coast, she picks out unusual specimens among the rocks—fossils, as it turns out, that change the course of science. Initially met with skepticism by the pre-eminent scientific minds of her day, Mary finds a friend in Elizabeth Philpot, an independent spinster with a thirst for knowledge. Chevalier creates a vivid portrait of intellectual inquiry in the 1800s while spinning a thrilling tale of two unlikely heroines whose contributions to science and history are immeasurable. This winning book is a fascinating exploration of gender, history and female friendship.
Remarkable Creatures By Tracy Chevalier Plume $15, 320 pages ISBN 9780452296725
HARPERCOLLINS Absolute Risk by Steven Gore
As a desperately ill U.S. president prepares to hand over power to his vice president—a man in the thrall of religious extremists—Gage follows a trail of deceit and terror to a conspiracy that threatens to plummet the world into chaos. But for Gage, there is even more at stake. His wife is trapped between an uprising in Central China and the ruthless Chinese government. And unless Gage exposes the greatest treachery of our age before the clock counts down, Faith will die. 9780061782206, $9.99
columns Edge of Sight (Forever, $7.99, 432 pages, ISBN 9780446566582) by Roxanne St. Claire offers hot romance and sizzling suspense. Heroine Samantha Fairchild witnesses a murder. Afraid the assassin is out to silence her, Sam turns to friend and investigative reporter Vivi Angelino. But turning to Vivi means returning to memories of heartbreak—Sam had an affair with Vivi’s twin Zach right before his deployment as an Army Ranger three years before.
by C. L. Wilson
Seers had long foreseen an extraordinary destiny for Ellysetta Baristani. Already she had won the heart of the Fey King—the magnificent Rain, ever her ally, eternally her love. She had saved the offspring of the magical tairen and fought beside her legendary mate against the armies of Eld. But the most powerful—and dangerous—Verse of her Song had yet to be sung. 9780062018960, $7.99 by Lori Wilde
The townsfolk of Twilight, Texas, believe the legend, but not Sarah Collier—not since she was a pudgy teenager, running down the church aisle on Christmas Day in a jingle bell sweater and reindeer antlers, trying to stop Travis Walker from marrying someone else. She may be grown-up, slimmed-down, bestselling children’s book author “Sadie Cool”now, but Sarah will never forget that day. And she’ll never fall foolishly in love again! 9780061988424, $7.99
Next Time You See Me
by Katia Lief
Karin is determined to do whatever it takes to find her husband. But the answers waiting for her in the shadows are almost as unbelievable as his disappearance. Karin pursues the truth— leading her away from her home in Brooklyn to the terrifying heart of the Mexican drug wars to Cape Cod in winter—as dark secrets about the man she loves are revealed. 9780061809040, $7.99
Passions of a Wicked Earl by Lorraine Heath
Known throughout for his prowess in the bedroom, Morgan Lyons, the eighth Earl of Westcliffe, cannot forgive an unpardonable affront to his honor. Discovering his young bride in the arms of his brother was a staggering blow— so he banished the beautiful deceiver to the country and devoted himself to the pursuit of carnal pleasure. Look for Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman in December by Lorraine Heath 9780061922961, $7.99
HarperCollins.com • AvonRomance.com
b y c h r i s t i e r i d g way
Smoking, sexy suspense
Crown of Crystal Flame
The First Love Cookie Club
Even after she told him she loved him, Zach never contacted her again. But now Sam can’t escape the memories—or Zach himself, who has returned from war an even darker and badder bad boy. And even though he ended things with Sam before, Zach vows to stay close to her now—if only to protect her life. He’ll be her bodyguard while he and others in his extended family work on uncovering who is out to get Sam. Zach has another job, too . . . that of figuring out if he and Sam can finally have a future together. Steamy love scenes, a scarred hero and a passion that won’t go away add up to a thrilling read.
Last-minute mistress Kieran Kramer pens a sexy Regency romp in When Harry Met Molly (St. Martin’s, $7.99, 432 pages, ISBN 9780312611644). In a delightful opening, adolescent Lady Molly Fairbanks writes and recites a poem that reveals two things: She has a crush on her sister’s betrothed, and her sister has been kissing her betrothed’s brother, Lord Harry Traemore. As a result, both Molly and Harry are banished from their families, she to a strict school and he into the military, where more scandal follows this “spare” to the heir. Some years later, they end up in trouble again. Harry has been conscripted by the Prince Regent into a weeklong competition at a remote estate with four other men
to discover which has the most enticing mistress. When circumstances leave him with Molly as his only option, and she’s in her own desperate straits, they decide she’ll step into the role—in name only, of course. There’s a reward for her if she succeeds—Harry’s help in finding the perfect husband. But close proximity takes the edge off their enmity and hones a new sexual tension. Their play-acting becomes more intimate and soon Harry and Molly are almost making their fake relationship real. At week’s end, can they pretend this new closeness never happened? It’s fun and fastpaced, with a couple that wises up just in time.
Romance of the month The final installment in Nora Roberts’ wedding quartet, Happy Ever After, should not be missed. Parker Brown, the mastermind behind the wedding business that she owns with her three childhood friends, has her world under control. Until mechanic Malcolm Kavanaugh decides she’s the next intricate item he wants to take apart, that is. Mal is persuasive, however, with his argument that everyone is seeking that sizzling something they seem to have together. As with the rest of the series, wedding details abound, adding to the aura of romance. But it’s the opposites-attract of Parker and Mal that takes center stage. He’s the one who can rock Parker’s world, yet will the über-efficient woman let herself be unsteadied? Roberts writes with the confidence of an author who knows that a love story needs no bells or whistles—at least in her able hands.
Happy Ever After By Nora Roberts Berkley $16, 368 pages ISBN 9780425236758 Also available on audio
Whodunit by Bruce Tierney
searching for justice–and vengeance All Ash Levine ever wanted was to be a cop, yet several months back, he turned in his badge at the Los Angeles Police Department, devastated over the killing of a witness he had sworn to protect. When a fellow police officer is murdered, Levine is asked to rejoin the force, at least temporarily, to head the investigation; he agrees, with apparent reluctance, which allows him to both name his own terms for his return
and regain access to the files of the now-cold case that precipitated his early departure from the force. That’s the basic setup for Miles Corwin’s debut thriller, Kind of Blue (Oceanview, $25.95, 336 pages, ISBN 9781608090075), but it only hints at the intricacy of plotting, characters and dialogue to be found between the covers. Levine is a complex character, not averse to breaking the rules, particularly when it comes to dubious fraternization with members of the fairer sex (even ones related to his investigation, a distinct procedural no-no). Twists and turns abound, and the resolution should come as a surprise even to longtime mystery aficionados. Kind of Blue may be Corwin’s first thriller, but he’s no stranger to the world of the LAPD. Formally a crime reporter for the the Los Angeles Times, he is also the author of two behind-the-scenes looks at the LAPD: The Killing Season and Homicide Special.
All’s fair in love . . . Prior to reading Dead Spy Running (Thomas Dunne, $25.99, 320 pages, ISBN 9780312644765), British author Jon Stock was an unknown quantity to me, but not to fans such as Lee Child and Meg Gardiner— both of whom waxed poetic about his characters and relentless takeno-prisoners pacing. In the timehonored Shakespearean tradition of using all the world as a stage, Stock
takes the reader on a clandestine whirlwind trip from London to Poland, and then all the way to India, with the good guys (who are really the bad guys, sorta) in hot pursuit of the bad guy (who is, for the most part, a good guy). Confused yet? Hey, it’s a spy novel, you’re supposed to be puzzled until the final pages, and it is a pretty safe bet that you will be. Protagonist Daniel Marchant is the perfect post-Bond spy: cynical, a bit worldweary and jettisoned by the Service during an internal investigation into his loyalties. He is, however, in love, which may be his salvation or his undoing, as his girlfriend is also a spy (and possibly for the opposing team). Move over, Jason Bourne, there’s a new kid in Spyville!
Mystery of the Month Lee Child can always be counted on for a good read, and his latest Jack Reacher novel, Worth Dying For, is no exception. Good enough, in fact, to be our Mystery of the Month. Hard on the heels of the bestselling 61 Hours (June’s Mystery of the Month), which left the reader wondering whether Reacher had survived the explosive cliffhanger of an ending, Worth Dying For finds our hero once more on the move—battered, but still alive and kicking. This time out, he can be found in the deep nether reaches of Nebraska, minding his own business as usual, when he happens upon a situation that seems to require his white-knight attention: a badly beaten housewife, a drunken doctor scared witless (to the point of being unwilling to treat the bleeding woman) and two generations of bullies who have terrorized a small farm town for much too long. Mix in a group of Vegas hoods, an Iranian underworld contingent and a violent group of Cornhusker wannabes,
and you have a recipe for violence that will test Reacher to his extreme outer limits. If your taste in books runs to nonstop action, and particularly if you are partial to fisticuffs, look no further; Reacher may be getting older, like the rest of us, but unlike the rest of us, he shows no signs of letting up.
Worth Dying For By Lee Child Delacorte $28, 400 pages ISBN 9780385344319 Also available on audio
Too good to be true As Bill Pronzini’s The Hidden (Walker, $24, 224 pages, ISBN 9780802718006) opens, Shelby and Jay Macklin are not getting along; in fact, they are at the brink of divorce. Jay has recently lost his job, and the attendant financial burdens have weighed heavily on the couple. Now, thanks to a sympathetic friend, they have the opportunity to spend Christmas week at a seaside cabin, a luxury otherwise unthinkable in their reduced circumstances. Murphy’s Law is hard at work with respect to the Macklins, however, and before their first night has passed, they will lose their heat, their power and one of their Toyota Prius’ windshield wiper blades in the worst storm to hit the California coast in years. And then the murders begin. Bill Pronzini is an old-school craftsman, whose books are always well plotted and staffed, and the tension grows stronger with each passing page. A quick note: Have a look at my blog (www.bookpage. com) for a bit of comical backstory on The Hidden that would not fit in the print edition of BookPage! The post in question is called “Saints Prius-erve Us.”
A new day. A new danger. The small Vermont town of Black Falls finally feels safe again— until search-and-rescue expert Rose Cameron discovers a body, burnt almost beyond recognition. Almost. Rose is certain that she knows the victim’s identity… and that his death was no accident.
On sale now!
—Bookreporter on Cold Pursuit www.MIRABooks.com www.CarlaNeggers.com
meet Jan KARON the title of your Q: What’s new book?
© Mark Tucker
Gigante Vaz gv108607a Proof 1
ano t h e r n i g h t lost to iris johansen
How would you describe Q: the book?
Q: Of all the novels you’ve written, you say this is your favorite. Why?
“Johansen breathes life into her deeply drawn characters....Pulse-pounding.” —Suspense Magazine
Q: Are you good at keeping secrets? Q: What is your personal idea of paradise?
What one thing your readers would be most surprised to learn Q: about you?
change places with one person for a day, who Q: Iwould f you could it be and why?
Q: W ords to live by? Iris Johansen has stolen sleep from millions of readers with her bestselling Eve Duncan thrillers. Now, with Chasing the Night, forensic sculptor Duncan will stop at nothing to help a mother solve her son’s kidnapping. Is he still alive? As Eve gets closer to the truth, the real nightmare begins. Get Chasing the Night. Sleep can wait.
Visit irisjohansen.com to read an excerpt
Also available as an e-book
C M Y B
In the company of others
Jan Karon is the author of the Mitford series, which has sold more than 35 million copies worldwide. In the Company of Others (Viking, $27.95, 416 pages, ISBN 9780670022120) is the second entry in a new series featuring her much-loved character Father Tim Kavanagh, a retired Episcopal priest. Karon lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.
CARLOS EIRE Interview by Alden Mudge
REMEMBERING A BOYHOOD IN EXILE
fter Waiting for Snow in Havana unexpectedly won a National Book Award in 2003, Carlos Eire began hearing from schools asking him to apply for jobs teaching Cuban history. His evocative memoir of growing up in Cuba when Fidel Castro was coming to power had led many people to assume that his academic specialty was the history of his native country.
“I had to tell them, ‘I’m sorry, you have the wrong man,’ ” Eire says with a characteristic warm, wry laugh during a call to his home in Guilford, Connecticut. “People are often extremely surprised to learn that I teach late medieval and early modern European religious history.” In fact, in his non-memoirist identity—the one where he spent his early career studying John Calvin and Calvinism, where he writes scholarly, footnoted tomes on such matters as the early Reformation and “the art and craft of dying in 16th-century Spain,” and where he currently teaches a two-semester survey course on “all 2,000 years” of Catholic church history—Carlos M.N. Eire is the T. Lawrason Riggs professor of history and religious studies at Yale University. But for eight weeks in the summer of 2009, writing mostly at night in his office above the family garage, Eire once again put aside his professorial identity and “got back to footnote-less writing.” The resulting memoir, Learning to Die in Miami: Confessions of a Refugee Boy, is just as vivid and compelling as its predecessor. It, too, flashes with Eire’s jubilant humor and inventive wit. But it also tells a story that is shadowed by sadness.
Learning to Die in Miami opens with the 11-year-old Eire’s arrival in Miami in 1962. Along with his older brother, Tony, he was one of 14,000 children who fled Castro’s Cuba in what became known as the Pedro Pan airlift. “When the flights ceased abruptly in October of 1962,” Eire says, “there were still 80,000 Fleeing on the island Cuba at waiting to leave.” Among age 11, those was the Carlos Eire boys’ mother. struggled So for the next three years to cope in a brothers strange new the bounced miserworld. ably from place to place until they were finally reunited with their mother in Chicago, where things changed without getting all that much better. Up to a point, Eire says, his story is a representative one. “For all of us, there was the pattern of arriving at the camps and being sent somewhere else. Many of us were sent to institutions or to foster families. Many of us bounced from one place to another. And then there was the even more painful part of the pattern—reuniting with your family. . . . [You] had to care for your mom. You
had to go apartment hunting and find an apartment rather than the adult, because the adult was totally clueless and helpless and didn’t speak the language.” But as common as it might be, Eire’s story also had its own unique miseries. Chief among them is the surprisingly long time he and his brother spent at a place Eire calls with withering irony the Palace Ricardo. An unholy mix of a Dickensian orphanage and Lord of the Flies, it was a quasi-institution whose proprietors resented the privileged backgrounds of Eire and his brother and allowed the older, bigger, more criminally inclined boys to prey upon the younger ones. “It was a kind of crucible,” Eire says. “I had to decide who I was. Was I going to be like these thugs? Was I going to be intimidated by them or not? It taught me a lot about human nature, too. You come to terms with who you are. Most people come to that gradually through adolescence as they become adults. Being in a place like that, you have to come to terms with it very abruptly and definitively.” And the impact of those experiences carries forward to this very day. “It has made it very difficult for me to be a good parent,” Eire—the father of a son in high school and another son and a daughter in college—says ruefully. “When they’re having problems—I’ve learned not to do this because it backfires—but my [instinct] is to say, ‘After all I went through? You have it so easy. Why don’t you just get up and go?’ That’s not a good thing to do. I have to put myself in their place, and that’s nearly impossible for me to do.” As he movingly relates in Learning to Die in Miami, Eire found both solace and direction through his interest in school, an interest his brother did not share, and through a book: The Last Temptation of Christ. “It’s a very funny thing, this book,” Eire says. “You were only allowed to take one book with you from Cuba. I very quickly outgrew the three changes of clothing I had brought with me. So the two things that were left to me that were physical contact with my family were the religious medal my dad gave me and this book. Plus my mother and grandmother had given me instructions that if I ever had a problem I should just open the book at ran-
dom and I would find an answer. I kept doing that but I wasn’t ready. ” Eire’s memories of the events he describes so vividly in Learning to Die in Miami came flooding back to him during a 2009 trip to Eastern Europe. The minute he set foot in Prague, he says, “I knew immediately that I was back in the Soviet empire, or former empire, and I felt like a double exile. . . . Here I was in the very place my parents had tried to keep me from back then. It made me feel really weird and it just kept escalating as I traveled farther and farther. The high point was being in Berlin and seeing the remnants of the Wall and being able to move freely, so freely, on a bicycle between East and West. It just blew my mind. It reawakened all sorts of feelings and memories. And a lot of it was kind of painful. There was a lot of pain involved in thinking that for 20 years now these people have been free, and my people are not.” Then Eire tells a humorous anecdote. While in the Czech Republic, he discovered there was a Museum of Communism. It amazed him and it set him to questioning who he was. “I wondered: Am I an item to be exhibited in the Museum of Communism? Or am I supposed to be a visitor to the Museum of Communism? I asked one of our Czech tour guides—she was about my age—‘Hey, have you been to the Museum of Communism?’ She said [here Eire exaggerates a curt, indignant Eastern European accent], ‘I do not need to see it. I lived in it.’ ” Eire says he returned from that trip feeling exactly the same intense inspiration he felt when he began writing Waiting for Snow in Havana. He worked nights, writing from memory in a kind of white heat. The result is a book that, like its predecessor, is a deeply affecting portrait of a difficult boyhood, an unusual coming-of-age story that combines laughter with an abiding sense of sorrow.
Learning to Die in Miami By Carlos Eire Free Press $26, 320 pages ISBN 9781439181904 Also available on audio
Lisa scottoline Interview by Amy Scribner
AN ‘ORDINARY’ WOMAN SOUNDS OFF
isa Scottoline answers her phone. “Hello?” she says. “Hello?” At least, I think that’s what she says. Hard to tell with the multiple dogs barking hoarsely and frantically in the background. She hangs up. I call back. “Hello?” she says, laughing. “Can you call my cell phone? I can’t hear you well on this phone.” I call her cell phone, joking about how glad I am to have her secret backup number. This sends her into peals of laughter. “Yes, it’s my secret phone number,” she says drily. “If you know any single men age 55, please pass it along.” Thus begins a raucous conversation with one of today’s most prolific and popular writers. In addition to her new collection of essays, My Nest Isn’t Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space, in March Scottoline published her 17th suspense novel, Think Twice, which promptly hit the New York Times bestseller list. For this dog-loving, Diet Coke-
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author
Stephanie Laurens takes us on an unforgettable journey of extraordinary adventure
swilling single mom, no topic is taboo in conversation or in writing. Her essays—many of which are culled from her Philadelphia Inquirer column “Chick Wit”—explore the minutiae of middle age, from facial hair to watching her daughter move out of the nest and into the big city. That daughter, 24-year-old Francesca Scottoline Serritella, contributes several effervescent essays to the collection. The new book’s subtitle, “The Amazing Adventures of an Ordinary Woman,” is Scottoline’s nod to the unsung women who she believes make the world go around. “We live in a culture that is obsessed with Batman and Iron Man and superpowers, and that usually morphs into fiction with men with all kinds of abilities,” Scottoline says. “I always thought, where is that voice for women? Where is the ordinary woman who really does have superpowers? Anybody who has more than two dogs and more than two children, you have superpowers. Anybody who has a dog and a job has superpowers. Anyone with a successful marriage, you have superpowers. Anyone who makes dinner every night and manages not to make chicken every other night, you have superpowers. These are the stuff of everyday life. Instead of ignoring it, I wanted to highlight it and celebrate it.” She doesn’t just celebrate everyday life—she jumps in and swims in it. No subject is too big (aging parents) or too small (clogged drains). Scottoline examines everything with a razor wit and a keen eye for how the little stuff can add up to a big life. In perhaps her bravest essay in this collection (and that’s saying something for a woman with a book titled Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog), Scottoline writes about the horror of finding a gray chin hair. “The truth is, unless you’re wincing just a little, you’re not writing about something that matters,” Scottoline says. “I want everything original and fresh and real. Cutesy,
Lisa Scottoline with daughter and co-author Francesca Scottoline Serritella twee, trite: I don’t want to be any of that. I want it to be real and true.” It’s this willingness to not just expose but flaunt her flaws that endears Scottoline to her readers. She readily admits that she is quite possibly an animal hoarder (two cats and four dogs—beloved “Anybody dog Angie died this summer). who has She has a full more than toolbox of two dogs and procrastination tools, including more than an unhealthy two children, addiction to you have weather.com. superpowers.” (“It’s not a time waster,” she insists. “It’s an avoidance behavior, which is slightly different.”) But if there is a central theme to My Nest Isn’t Empty, it’s that there’s value in finding peace with yourself, warts and all. In an essay titled “Unexpected,” Scottoline writes about spending one Christmas without her daughter Francesca: “You should know that Daughter Francesca and I have spent every Christmas together ever since she was one, when Thing One and I divorced,” Scottoline writes. “She would spend Christmas Eve with him, and the day with me, and we were all happy about that, or at least as happy as anybody can be when their kid has to split herself in two.” She and her best friend, Franca, headed to the movies to drown their sorrows in Diet Coke, Raisinets and Meryl Streep. Turns out an entire theater of women had the same idea. Scottoline realized in that mo-
ment, laughing with a room full of strangers at a chick flick on Christmas, that it was OK to be happy, in a different way. “I’d love to have a man in my life or a marriage that lasted longer than the average hard-boiled egg, but this is real life,” Scottoline says. “I don’t want people who have that life, too, to feel ‘less than.’ I stand in for them.” That’s not to say that her two divorces (from Thing One and Thing Two) have left her completely cold to the idea of marrying again. In a recent Inquirer column, she even wrote, “A half-glass of wine, and I’m off and running. A margarita and I might remarry.” So . . . could a third time be the charm? “The prerequisite is a date,” she laughs. “It ain’t easy to get a date at 55 when you have gray chin hair and you never leave the house.” (It should be mentioned here that photos of Scottoline sprinkled throughout the book reveal a vibrant, fit woman with laughing eyes and really good hair.) “I wouldn’t rule it out,” she concludes coyly. “You never know. Men read BookPage, right?”
My Nest Isn’t Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space By Lisa Scottoline St. Martin’s $22.99, 256 pages ISBN 9780312662295 Also available on audio
BRUCE MACHART Interview by Carla Jean Whitley
HEALING A TEXAS-SIZED FAMILY RIFT
—Kim EdwardS, author of The memory Keeper’s daughter
© TESSA GOTH
strative, loving men. “I believe in writing what you want to know, rather than writing what you know,” Machart explains. “Writing fiction gives us the opportunity to live somebody else’s life, to gain a new layer of empathy. That’s the writer’s first job, to find empathy for characters unlike himor herself.” Even so, Machart did find inspiration in his own family and the Texas country they call home. Though the author is a Houston native, Machart’s father was raised on a cashcrop farm by a stern, but loving, Czech A gripping father. Machart horse race has always harseals a bored a conbrother’s fate nection with in Machart’s the rural area where his father hard-edged was raised and where the Western extended family drama. remained. He traveled to an area very much like The Wake of Forgiveness’ Lavaca County for every Easter, Christmas and family reunion. “I think the place had a hold on me because that country setting and those ranching and farming endeavors and that way of speaking, the idiom and the social sensibilities, were so very different from what I experienced growing up,” he says. “We lived in the big city. I felt kind of an outsider in my own extended family. That seemed like something worthy of investigation.” Although Machart’s grandfather ruled the farm, Machart recalls that his grandmother couldn’t get much rest at family reunions as her husband twirled her across the dance floor. “They had this beautiful, loving relationship, even though he did have a little bit of the devil in him.” The father of the novel, Vaclav Skala, is in some ways an imagined foil for Machart’s grandfather.
Now in paperback
“Unfolds like a lush Southern garden.”
n his powerful debut novel, Bruce Machart’s characters are as unforgiving as the blazing heat in which they toil. A father who works his sons like horses. A husband who lies and cheats on his wife while she’s giving birth to their first son. Brothers who defend each other, but not their youngest brother.
Set in the harsh landscape of south Texas in the early 1900s, Machart’s The Wake of Forgiveness has drawn critical praise (and comparisons to the work of Cormac McCarthy) for its evocative portrayal of a man coming to grips with his family’s great divide. Karel Skala’s mother dies on the novel’s first page, while giving birth to Karel, her fourth son. The boy endures life without a mother, and under the painful rule of a Czech-immigrant father who is so distraught by his wife’s death that he’s never able to show his youngest son any affection. The story skips through time, unveiling bits of Karel’s past and insight into his present with each vignette. A compelling part of that past is the split between Karel and his brothers, which comes to a head after a high-stakes horse race, described in thrilling detail. After the race, Karel’s brothers are promised in marriage to the daughters of a wealthy Mexican, while Karel is left to fend for himself—and ultimately, to come to terms with his self-imposed isolation. Reached at his office at Lone Star College in Houston, where he teaches writing, Machart says that while in graduate school in the late ’90s, he began work on a novella that he never could seem to finish. The story focused on young male characters with a rift between them that he simply couldn’t figure out. “What was at the root of this animosity or this conflict between these two boys? I just started imagining going backward in time. I arrived at a moment where a father was heartbroken, and for a certain kind of man in a certain place with a certain upbringing and a certain culture, it seems to me easier to share violence or easier to share meanness or easier to basically not share than it is to share grief.” The author, on the other hand, is a self-declared mama’s boy who grew up in a family of demon-
A New York Times BesTseller
“What would’ve happened to my grandpa if there hadn’t been a grandma?” he muses. Although the female characters in the testosterone-fueled novel rarely grace the book’s pages, Machart took care to create an emotional landscape colored by the presence (or absence) of women. “I wanted to use some of the conventions of Western or Southwestern writing,” Machart says. “But I didn’t want to write one of these novels you stumble upon every now and then where there’s just not a strong female character in the whole thing.” Karel chooses a strong, selfpossessed woman in his wife, Sophie. Even when Karel’s demons lead him away from his home life, Sophie knows how to confront her husband. “She knows she’s married a wounded man,” the author says. “But she’s seen the part of him that needs her. Even the slightest tenderness on his part is an affirmation of a kind of love.” And in Machart’s riveting first novel, Sophie’s steady patience allows Karel the freedom to come to terms with his past.
The Wake of Forgiveness By Bruce Machart HMH $26, 320 pages ISBN 9780151014439
Laugh-out-loud funny and deeply touching, Beth Hoffman’s sparkling debut is, as Kristin Hannah says, “packed full of Southern charm, strong women, wacky humor, and good old-fashioned heart.” “anyone in need of a Southern-girl-power fix will find [Saving CeeCee Honeycutt] engaging.” —People “a peach of a novel.” —Ladies’ Home Journal “i barely stopped laughing, even as my heart broke and broke again for CeeCee.” —Luanne rice www.bethhoffman.net Penguin Books A member of Penguin Group (USA) www.penguin.com
Graphic novels by Becky Ohlsen
Perfect pairings of art and prose
The Rabbi’s Cat—angular, sly and prone to curling up expressively.)
raphic novels continue to break new ground, with recent works that run the gamut in both style and content. Here we take a look at four of the best new releases, ranging from a colorful tale of pirates and sea monsters to a close examination of democracy in America.
On the high seas
A classic tale It took Joann Sfar’s touch to make me finally fall in love with the story of The Little Prince (HMH, $19.99, 112 pages, ISBN 9780547338026). Sfar’s illustrated version of the classic by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is more playful than precious; the combination of his captivating artwork and the pared-down prose allows the story to sneak up on you rather than blatantly yanking your heartstrings. As drawn by Sfar, the mysterious prince from a tiny, faraway planet is adorable, wise and funny, rather than simply tragic. Sfar gives him depth and attitude, with tired shadows around his big
blue eyes and subtle facial changes that express feelings it would be clunky to describe in writing. Sfar tells as much of the story as he can visually, employing words only when necessary, which gives the whole thing a feeling of restraint that the original lacks. In my favorite scene, the little prince meets a wild fox who begs to be tamed (“It means creating a bond,” the fox explains). So the prince tames him, but when it’s time to leave, the fox starts to cry. “So it hasn’t been worth it,” says the prince. “Oh yes it has,” the fox replies, and suddenly whole swaths of adult life make sense. (Sfar’s fox looks a lot like the namesake of his best-known book,
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Similar in tone and in its rich color palette, The Unsinkable Walker Bean (First Second, $13.99, 208 pages, ISBN 9781596434530) by Aaron Renier is, on the surface, a rollicking tale of pirates’ adventures on the open sea. But in fact it’s a story about loyalty, honor and keeping your promises. Walker Bean’s beloved grandfather has fallen ill after being cursed by a stolen skull; it’s up to Walker to return the skull to where it belongs and end the curse. But to do that, he has to keep the skull out of the hands of a creepy octopus man, a feisty pirate girl and his own father, among others. There are also huge, menacing lobster women and a ship that turns into a planetarium. Like all young boys trying to solve grown-up problems, Walker makes mistakes, but he also makes some very helpful friends, including a pirate boy named Shiv and, eventually, tentatively, that feisty pirate girl, Gen. Renier’s drawings are vivid and expressive, full of movement and sound, and the twist at the end of the story adds an unexpectedly heartwarming touch. Walker’s adventures will continue in Volume 2 of the series.
Try, try again At the other end of the graphicnovel spectrum is Good Eggs (Harper, $23.99, 272 pages, ISBN 9780061711466), Phoebe Potts’ memoir of her and her husband’s struggle to get pregnant. Her spare and simple line drawings invite you into the story; it’s mostly realistic, but with occasional flights of fancy that spring from Potts’ imagination. A discussion of a soul-sucking job, for instance, includes one panel showing a row of new college graduates on an assembly line, a “PhD factory,” as she puts it. And when she meets her future husband, something he says makes
her draw herself being held aloft by little doves (who then drop her to the floor when he mentions having a girlfriend). It’s sweet, and effective. The writing is also excellent: sharp, clever, realistic dialogue with no wasted words. Potts grew up in Brooklyn, and her characters talk the way people talk in Brooklyn— always entertaining, and usually hilarious, even when the subject matter is serious. The story centers on her desire for a child, but it’s all the other things she discovers—about her own life, her priorities and values—while pursuing this desire that make the book so rewarding.
An American journey Taking the search for fulfillment from the personal to the political is Maira Kalman’s And the Pursuit of Happiness (Penguin Press, $29.95, 480 pages, ISBN 9781594202674), an investigation into the roots of democracy in America and how it has changed throughout our history. Kalman was inspired by the 2008 elections, and on inauguration day she went to Washington, D.C., to begin a sort of political-science travelogue. She gets a crush on Abe Lincoln, discovers you can patent a peach, chats with farmers and meets diplomats. The sketches and collages she uses to illustrate what she learns are placed opposite pages of her hand-written observations, which are spirited and funny, keeping the material from ever seeming dull. On the very early origins of America, for instance, she says, “Growing tired of the ocean, creatures migrated onto the land. Then came dinosaurs and motorcycles.” Which sounds about right. A few pages later, we learn, “Then came Commerce and Greed.” It’s a fast-paced tour, hitting all the highlights and the lowlights, and enhanced with Kalman’s sketches and paintings as well as archival photos, postcards, pages from old books and diaries, etc. There’s a lot to learn from this book, but reading it never feels like hard work.
GOING TO THE DOGS By Deanna Larson
LIFE LESSONS FROM FURRY FRIENDS
he cooler weather of fall signals a time to get closer to friends and family—and the animals that add spice to our lives and teach valuable lessons along the way.
SMALL WONDERS The power of a 25-pound beast to alter a life is made evident in You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness (Riverhead, $24.95, 240 pages, ISBN 9781594487767). Julie Klam, a former intern for “Late Night with David Letterman” and Emmy-nominated writer for VH1’s “Pop-Up Video,” sees her solitary single life turn upside down after she rescues a fugly Boston terrier named Otto, who comes along at just the right time to remedy Klam’s status as a commitmentphobe. “It made me feel good to see him content,” Klam writes. “I took care of him and he took care of me. Within six months of adopting him, I grew up.” Klam eventually marries the producer of her VH1 show, a marriage that results in an adorable daughter, Violet, and a parade of foster dogs to and from their tiny apartment after she decides to volunteer for a Boston terrier rescue group. These little one-act adventures in the sacrifices and rewards of dog guardianship have humanity, occasional tragedy and sadness, and plenty of hilarity as this compact family in an even tinier space attempts to save the neurotic, unwanted and abandoned, including an elderly dog that provides a miracle just when the family least expects it.
PUPPY POWER Fans of the best-selling memoir Merle’s Door: Adventures from a Freethinking Dog will be ecstatic to hear that Ted Kerasote has another dog. Kerasote, a warm and winning writer, is an equally gifted photographer who traces his new puppy’s early development in Pukka: The Pup After Merle (HMH, $18.95, 208 pages, ISBN 9780547386089). Their action-packed and tender moments, narrated from Pukka’s point of view and accompanied by more than 200 color photos, provide a coda and healing for those who remember Kerasote’s journey with another special yellow dog. From
Pukka in front of the wood-burning stove in Kerasote’s beautiful cabin in Kelly, Wyoming, to exploring Yosemite National Park, rafting on rapids (complete with doggie life jacket) and hiking to the top of Jackson Peak, readers can follow the growth of a tiny puppy into an adventurous adolescent lucky enough to romp past some stunning scenery with an owner who appreciates him as deeply as any dog longs to be.
HOPE & HEALING Sages come in all sizes. A miniature black poodle named Bijou serves as her owners’ “Canine Zen Master” in What a Difference a Dog Makes: Big Lessons on Life, Love, and Healing from a Small Pooch (Doubleday, $21, 176 pages, ISBN 9780385532839). Springing from New York Times editor Dana Jennings’ “If you can popular blog manage to post about how make the his beloved elderly dog Bijou world small enough—say helped him recover from the size of a cancer (and get his son through miniature a concurrent poodle—it health cribecomes the sis), the book expands on universe.” the joy of dogs and the healing aspects of the “simple gift of their presence.” In touching and mischievous sections like “You Take the Dog Out, I Have Cancer” and “The Holiness of Dogs,” Jennings adds
simple Zen-like truths “by” his guru Bijou at the end of each chapter to illustrate the emotional power, insight and many blessings that one animal can provide. “Strangely enough,” Jennings writes, “if you can manage to make the world small enough—say the size of a miniature poodle—it becomes the universe.”
It’s time to taste the life she’s always dreamed of...
OFF THE BEATEN PATH Journalist John Zeaman creates a masterpiece of contemplation in Dog Walks Man: A Six-Legged Odyssey (Lyons Press, $22.95, 307 pages, ISBN 9781599219639). After becoming the de facto dog walker in his household, Zeaman discovers that the daily routine with standard poodle Pete moves from being a grind to serving as an inspirational return to boyhood and its “fringe places” like woods, abandoned lots and railroad rightof-ways. Pete shows a “boundless enthusiasm for the outside world [that is] like the reincarnation of that juvenile self.” As they set out each day with “anthropological curiosity,” like two innocent and hopeful vagabonds lost in the “aimlessness of childhood wandering,” they slow down and create a “space where things could just happen.” Their adventures, familiar to all dog walkers—from nasty weather and squirrel chases to prying a used “adult entertainment” item from Pete’s jaws—become extraordinary through Zeaman’s eyes. His droll observations on dogwalking combine insight, solace and meditation, taking readers into the heart of a routine task, dusting the ordinary with the divine. “At night, Pete and I would escape the sometimes suffocating sweetness of family life—the pajamas and stories, the smell of toothpaste and sheets, the damp goodnight kisses and prolonged hugs,” he writes. “We’d slip out into the silky night like a pair of teenage boys with high hopes for a Saturday night.”
HUNGRY for HAPPINESS a novel
JAMES VILLAS “Jimmy’s fiction is like his cooking, wry and ribald, languid, and laugh-out-loud funny.” —Marsha Norman, Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright on Dancing in the Low Country
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football season The Walk By Shaun Alexander Are you walking with God, dragging your feet, or running ahead of Him? Take the first step in living at God’s pace, guided by the former football star. Retail Price: $17.99 | With Discount Card: $16.19
Called to Coach By Bobby Bowden Thanks to his recent retirement, Bowden is ready to give fans and readers the behind-the-scenes story of his 55-year career as one of college football’s most successful coaches and patriarch of the sport’s most famous coaching family. Retail Price: $25 | With Discount Card: $22.50
The Auburn University Football vault
The Christmas Journey By Donna VanLiere The 80-mile journey of a common carpenter and a simple peasant girl is one of the most powerful stories in history. Accompanied by beautifully rendered illustrations throughout, VanLiere’s retelling shows that it is alive in our modern world. Retail Price: $12.99 | With Discount Card: $11.69
Learn about the amazing history of Auburn football in this book and collectibles set, which includes vintage game tickets, programs and other memorabilia. Retail Price: $49.95 | With Discount Card: $44.96
Alabama national championship Football vault The Crimson Tide won their 13th national championship by beating Texas in Pasadena, California. Here’s a retrospective of the Tide’s return to prominence under head coach Nick Saban. Retail Price: $49.95 | With Discount Card: $44.96
The University of Florida Football vault This book contains photos and text covering the history of the UF football program, as well as collectibles such as a 1950s pennant, vintage tickets and Spurrier’s handwritten passing fundamentals. Retail Price: $49.95 | With Discount Card: $44.96
BlacK Max Football
Christmas Eve at Friday Harbour
Throw farther with the Black Max™ Football! The patented spiral ring helps kids throw tighter spirals and longer throws. Special dimples make the ball easy to throw and catch! Ages 5 and up. Retail Price: $9.99 | With Discount Card: $8.99
By Lisa Kleypas Zachary has been a widower for two years, and his family and friends have decided it’s time for him to start dating. But will all their matchmaking efforts help to make Halle’s Christmas wish for a new mom come true? Retail Price: $16.99 | With Discount Card: $15.29
3-in-1 Collegiate Football puzzles Choose your favorite team and get to puzzling! Each box containes three different football-themed puzzles. From Alabama to Auburn, from LSU to Florida! Retail Price: $34.99 | With Discount Card: $31.49
FALL FICTION The Wolves of Andover By Kathleen Kent In the rugged new world, danger is ever present, whether it be from the assassins sent from London or the wolves—in many forms—who hunt for blood. A love story and a tale of courage, this is a powerful take on colonial history.
featuring . . .
Retail Price: $24.99 | With Discount Card: $22.49
Hell’s Corner By David Baldacci In the shadowy world of politics and intelligence, there is no one you can really trust. Nothing is really what it seems to be. And Hell’s Corner truly lives up to its name. Retail Price: $27.99 | With Discount Card: $25.19
Towers of Midnight By R. Jordan & B. Sanderson The Last Battle has started. The seals on the Dark One’s prison are crumbling. The Pattern itself is unraveling, and the armies of the Shadow have begun to boil out of the Blight. Retail Price: $29.99 | With Discount Card: $26.99
And then There Was You By Nora Roberts
My Reading Life By Pat Conroy Conroy acknowledges the books that have shaped him and celebrates the profound effect reading has had on his life. Retail Price: $25 | With Discount Card: $22.50
Two Roberts classics combine in this affordable paperback: Island of Flowers and Less Than a Stranger. Retail Price: $14.95 | With Discount Card: $13.46
Happy Ever After By Nora Roberts Dreams are realized in the eagerly awaited fourth novel in Nora Roberts’s Bride Quartet. Retail Price: $16 | With Discount Card: $14.40
Grim Reaper By Steve Alten Patrick “Shep” Shepherd was a promising baseball pitcher on September 11, 2001. Four deployments later, Shep finds himself in Manhattan’s VA hospital, missing an arm and his wife. Retail Price: $25.95 | With Discount Card: $23.36
The Swan Thieves By Elizabeth Kostova Moving from American museums to the coast of Normandy, from the late 19th century to the late 20th, this is a story of obsession, the losses of history and the power of art to preserve human hope. Retail Price: $15.99 | With Discount Card: $14.39
Full Dark, No Stars By Stephen King A new collection of four compelling, dark, never-before-published stories from Stephen King. Retail Price: $27.99 | With Discount Card: $25.19
featuring . . .
new and notable My Passion for Design By Barbra Streisand This is a rare and intimate private tour into the world of one of our most beloved stars. It will be welcomed by her many fans and all lovers of the great achievements of American design. Retail Price: $60 | With Discount Card: $54
Cleopatra By Stacy Schiff Pulitzer prize-winning biographer Schiff accomplishes a feat that has eluded artists and writers for centuries: capturing fully the operatic life of an exceptionally seductive and powerful woman Retail Price: $29.99 | With Discount Card: $26.99
The Imperial Cruise By James Bradley
Valley Forge By Newt Gingrich It’s the winter of 1777, and Washington’s battered, demoralized army retreats from Philadelphia. With no other options available, the men settle down for a season of agony. Retail Price: $27.99 | With Discount Card: $25.19
After the success of his two best-selling books about World War II, Bradley began to wonder what the real catalyst was for the Pacific War. What he discovered shocked him. Retail Price: $16.99 | With Discount Card: $15.29
Simple Times By Amy Sedaris America’s most delightfully unconventional hostess—and bestselling author!—delivers a new book that will forever change the world of crafting. Retail Price: $27.99 | With Discount Card: $25.19
Life By Keith Richards The long-awaited autobiography of the guitarist, songwriter, singer and founding member of the Rolling Stones. Ladies and gentleman: Keith Richards. Retail Price: $29.99 | With Discount Card: $26.99
The Little PRince By Antoine Saint-Exupéry & J. Sfar
Two Gentlemen of Lebowski By Adam Bertocci
Hand-chosen for his literary style and sensitivity to the original, Sfar has endeavored to recreate this beloved story, both honoring the original and stretching it to new heights. Retail Price: $19.99 | With Discount Card: $17.99
The cult-classic film The Big Lebowski—as writ in five acts by William Shakespeare. Retail Price: $12.99 | With Discount Card: $11.69
That’s Awesome! By TIME for Kids Magazine Kids and parents alike will learn mind-blowing facts and remember just how awesome it is to read! They will find tons of facts, charts and unusual records, as well as hundreds of exciting photographs guaranteed to amaze at every turn of the page. Retail Price: $19.95 | With Discount Card: $17.96
Teen selections Misguided Angel By Melissa de la Cruz As the Blue Blood enclave weakens yet further, fate leads Schuyler closer to a terrifying crossroads—and a choice that will determine the destiny of all vampires.
featuring . . .
Retail Price: $16.99 | With Discount Card: $15.29
Sugar and Spice By Lauren Conrad Conrad pulls back the curtain on young Hollywood and shows that sometimes the real drama is behind the scenes. Retail Price: $17.99 | With Discount Card: $16.19
The Mockingbirds By Daisy Whitney In this honest, page-turning account of a girl’s struggle to stand up for herself, debut author Whitney reminds readers that if you love something or someone—especially yourself—you fight for it. Retail Price: $16.99 | With Discount Card: $15.29
The Daughters By Joanna Philbin
DC Superheroes By Matthew Reinhart Reinhart celebrates the history, heroes and villains of the DC Universe in this ultimate 3-D masterpiece! Bursting with more than 25 impressive pop-ups, this deluxe format features a variety of unique novelty elements. Retail Price: $29.99 | With Discount Card: $26.99
Three daughters of the rich and famous bond in the first novel in an exciting new series by the daughter of Regis Philbin. Retail Price: $8.99 | With Discount Card: $8.09
The Daughters Break the Rules By Joanna Philbin After leaking a story about the family business, impetuous freshman Carina Jurgensen is cut off by her billionaire father. Retail Price: $16.99 | With Discount Card: $15.29
The Twilight saga By Stephenie Meyer This stunning set, complete with copies of Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn and The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, makes the perfect gift for fans of the best-selling love story. Retail Price: $97 | With Discount Card: $87.30
Stefan’s Diaries #1: Origins By L.J. Smith Against a backdrop of grand estates, unimaginable riches and deadly secrets, three teenagers in Mystic Falls, Virginia, enter a torrid love triangle that will span eternity. Retail Price: $9.99 | With Discount Card: $8.99
SI Kids: All Access By Sports Illustrated This new book is your pass to behind-thescenes photos of athletes, locker rooms and more—the perfect gift for the sports fan in your life. Retail Price: $19.95 | With Discount Card: $17.96
featuring . . .
New In Nonfiction I Remember Nothing By Nora Ephron Ephron takes a cool, hard, hilarious look at the past, present and future, bemoaning the vicissitudes of modern life, and recalling with clarity and wisdom everything she hasn’t (yet) forgotten. Retail Price: $22.95 | With Discount Card: $20.66
Stones into Schools By Greg Mortenson From the author of the #1 national bestseller Three Cups of Tea, the continuing story of this determined humanitarian and the schools he has established. Retail Price: $16 | With Discount Card: $14.40
Unbroken By Laura Hillenbrand
Cross Fire By James Patterson Cross and Bree’s wedding plans are put on hold when Alex is called to the scene of the perfectly executed assassination of a dirty congressmen and a scheming lobbyist. Retail Price: $27.99 | With Discount Card: $25.19
Telling an unforgettable story of a man’s journey into extremity, this long-awaited book from Hillenbrand is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body and spirit. Retail Price: $27 | With Discount Card: $24.30
The Christmas Spirit By Joel Osteen Osteen offers uplifting and inspiring true stories from family and friends about celebrating Christian Christmas traditions. Retail Price: $15.99 | With Discount Card: $14.39
Love Your LIfe By O, the Oprah Magazine This collection of the best articles, interviews, advice and inspiration from O, The Oprah Magazine covers everything from no-nonsense mindset makeovers to home decorating advice. Retail Price: $29.95 | With Discount Card: $26.96
Edge By Jeffery Deaver Deaver’s new independent thriller features his signature ticking-clock suspense, sharp plot twists and whip-smart dialogue. Retail Price: $26.99 | With Discount Card: $24.29
Lauren Conrad: Style By Lauren Conrad Conrad’s understated style is emulated by girls and women everywhere—now the television star, fashion designer and author will be showing her many fans how to adapt that style to their own lives. Retail Price: $19.99 | With Discount Card: $17.99
The Sunset Cookbook With more than 1,000 recipes from the more than 110 years of the magazine’s history, this book represents the best of American cooking—both its traditional cookery and its culinary inventiveness. Retail Price: $34.95 | With Discount Card: $31.56
just for kids Dewey’s Christmas at the library By Vicki Myron Inside the library, Dewey longs to be part of the holiday fun. After a series of silly misadventures, Dewey finds a way to add his own special touch to his beloved Christmas tree—and the results are Dew-rific!
featuring . . .
Retail Price: $16.99 | With Discount Card: $15.29
The Ugly Truth By Jeff Kinney Greg suddenly finds himself dealing with the pressures of boy-girl parties—without his best friend. Can Greg make it through on his own? Or will he have to face the “ugly truth”? Retail Price: $13.95 | With Discount Card: $12.56
The Harry Potter Box Set By J.K. Rowling Now for the first time ever, J.K. Rowling’s seven best-selling Harry Potter books are available in a stunning paperback boxed set! Retail Price: $83.99 | With Discount Card: $75.59
Dinosaur Vs. the Potty By Bob Shea Dinosaur doesn’t need to use the potty. Even when he’s making lemonade, running through the sprinkler, having a three-juice-box lunch and splashing in rain puddles
My Mommy Hung the Moon By Jamie Lee Curtis Mommy is the best at everything: Not only does she carpool, untangle kites, steal bases and bake cookies, she also seems to light up the sun with her love. This book defines the magical relationship a mother has with her son or daughter. Retail Price: $16.99 | With Discount Card: $15.29
Retail Price: $15.99 | With Discount Card: $14.39
The Lost Hero By Rick Riordan The best-selling author of the Percy Jackson series pumps up the action and suspense in the first book in The Heroes of Olympus series, which finds three kids going off to a strange school. Retail Price: $18.99 | With Discount Card: $17.09
Night whispers By Erin Hunter Thunderclan faces new challenges in the third exciting installment of Hunter’s latest Warriors series. Retail Price: $16.99 | With Discount Card: $15.29
Fancy Nancy and the Fabulous Fashion Boutique By Jane O’Connor Welcome to the Fabulous Fashion Boutique! Here you’ll find the fanciest almost-new outfits, accessories, jewelry and lots more. Ooh la la! Retail Price: $17.99 | With Discount Card: $16.19
Knuffle Bunny Free By Mo Willems Trixie and her family are off on a fantastic trip to visit her grandparents—all the way in Holland! But does Knuffle Bunny have different travel plans? Retail Price: $17.99 | With Discount Card: $16.19
BOOK CLUBS NOVEMBER PICKS
The Recipe Club
Half Broke Horses
A Gate at the Stairs
The Swan Thieves By Elizabeth Kostova
original BOOK CLUBS One Day By David Nicholls It’s 1988 and Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley have only just met. But after only one day together, they cannot stop thinking about one another. Over 20 years, snapshots of that relationship are revealed on the same day—July 15th—of each year. Retail Price: $14.95 | With Discount Card: $13.46
By A. Israel & N. Garfinkel
By Jeannette Walls
literary BOOK CLUBS The Lacuna By Barbara Kingsolver This is the story of Harrison William Shepherd, a man caught between two worlds—an unforgettable protagonist whose search for identity will take readers to the heart of the 20th century’s most tumultuous events. Retail Price: $16.99 | With Discount Card: $15.29
By Lorrie Moore
african-american BOOK CLUBS Sins of the Mother
By Victoria Christopher Murray Just when Jasmine has committed her life completely to God, her daughter Jacqueline is kidnapped from a mall the day after Thanksgiving. Retail Price: $15 | With Discount Card: $13.50
Total Eclipse of the A Deep Dark Secret By Kimberla Lawson Roby Heart By Zane
teenCLUBS BOOK Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender When things start getting weird around the house, Alexis is the only one who can stop her sister—but what if that green-eyed girl isn’t even Kasey anymore? Retail Price: $8.99 | With Discount Card: $8.09
By Jessica Verday
The Mockingbirds By Daisy Whitney
kidsCLUBS BOOK Keeper By Kathi Appelt This tale will pull right at your very core—stronger than moon currents—capturing the crash and echo of the waves and the dark magic of the ocean. Retail Price: $16.99 | With Discount Card: $15.29
The Graveyard Book Because of Winn-Dixie By Neil Gaiman
By Kate DiCamillo
BOOK CLUBS NOVEMBER PICKS
faithpoint BOOK CLUBS A Christmas Snow by Jim Stovall What could be worse than spending Christmas Eve by yourself? Spending it with two complete strangers who jerk you out of your safe, cozy comfort zone! Retail Price: $14.99 | With Discount Card: $13.49
One Lane Bridge
Sun Stand Still
By Don Reid
By Steven Furtick
I Am Nujood
nonfiction BOOK CLUBS LIt By Mary Karr This memoir is about getting drunk and getting sober; becoming a mother by letting go of a mother; learning to write by learning to live. It is a truly electrifying story of how to grow up. Retail Price: $14.99 | With Discount Card: $13.49
By Nujood Ali
By Aron Ralston
petsCLUBS BOOK Cleo By Helen Brown Through happiness and heartbreak, changes and new beginnings, Cleo turned out to be the unlikely glue that affectionately held Helen’s family together. Retail Price: $15.95 | With Discount Card: $14.36
By Janet Elder
By Larry Levin
Happy Ever After
romance BOOK CLUBS A Soft Place to Land By Susan Rebecca White For more than 10 years, Naomi and Phil Harrison enjoyed a marriage of heady romance, tempered only by the needs of their children. But on a vacation alone, the couple perishes in a flight over the Grand Canyon. Retail Price: $14.99 | With Discount Card: $13.49
By E. McLaughlin & N. Kraus
By Nora Roberts
Visit www.booksamillion.com/bookclubs for up-to-date reading guides and past selections.
Gifts for Everyone on Your List!
An exploration of global cake culture! From honey cakes to flat cakes, fritters to chiffons—here are 150 recipes for sweet traditions from around the world. STOREY $24.95 (Paperback) • 978-1-60342-576-6
The unprecedented biography of the Hammersteins, Broadway’s greatest and most influential family, as told by Oscar Andrew Hammerstein. Includes photos, theater blueprints, letters, and programs from the family archives. BLACK DOG & LEVENTHAL $35.00 (Hardcover) • 978-1-57912-846-3
Knitters: Take it to the next level! Debbie Stoller, hailed a “knitting superstar” by the San Francisco Chronicle, returns with 41 brand new patterns for the advanced knitter.
From private food rituals to large festive feasts, here is a soulful collection of downto-earth yet sophisticated recipes from renowned Chez Panisse chef David Tanis.
WORKMAN $17.95 (Paperback) • 978-0-7611-3597-5
$35.00 (Hardcover) • 978-1-57965-407-8
The Civil War as you’ve never experienced it—through first-hand reportage of The New York Times. Complete with maps, historical photographs, and 139,000 articles on DVD.
Here’s sweet news for the 30 million Americans who are gluten intolerant— New York Times bestselling author Anne Byrn transforms gluten-free cake mixes into 76 rich, easy-to-make desserts.
BLACK DOG & LEVENTHAL $40.00 (Hardcover with DVD) • 978-1-57912-845-6
WORKMAN $14.95 (Paperback) • 978-0-7611-6098-4
Ginger snaps, meringues, chocolate clouds. . . . Organized by texture, this delightful collection of recipes from award-winning baker Alice Medrich includes a cookie for every craving.
When an illness kept her bedridden, Elisabeth Bailey “found solace—and good material—in watching a snail.” (People magazine) This inspiring story beautifully demonstrates the rewards of observing nature.
ARTISAN $25.95 (Paperback) • 978-1-57965-397-2
ALGONQUIN $18.95 (Hardcover) • 978-1-56512-606-0
CELEBRITy sightings B y Pat H . B r o e s k e
Old Hollywood glamour
he holidays are a perfect time to reach for the stars—of the celebrity kind. This season’s offerings include the cool and the classic.
A complicated lady Before she became a campy caricature as the queen of mean, Joan Crawford was a box office goddess—and one of the hardestworking women in the business. In Possessed: The Life of Joan Crawford (Morrow, $25.99, 336 pages, ISBN 9780061856006), veteran Hollywood chronicler Donald Spoto helps restore his subject’s reputation by going film by film through her life. Reminding us of her professionalism, he also counters some of the claims of adopted daughter Christina Crawford, of Mommie Dearest notoriety. The survivor of a hardscrabble childhood, Crawford came to Hollywood as a dancer during the silent era. The former Lucille Le Sueur— her name was changed in an MGMsponsored contest—ultimately logged a staggering 87 films. (For comparison’s sake, Julia Roberts has made 40.) Some are classics (Mildred Pierce, Humoresque, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? ) ; many are forerunners of today’s “chick flicks.” Most remain watchable. Married four times, she once said, “I am a woman with a woman’s needs—a husband.” Yet her men were sometimes other women’s husbands, including Jeff Chandler and the director Vincent Sherman. Yes, she was a clean freak and perfectionist, and vodka became a too-frequent companion. But Crawford was a generous performer and a faithful friend, and her adopted twin daughters told Spoto she was a good and caring mother. (Cathy, one of four adopted Crawford children, is the only one still living.) A recluse in her final years, Crawford succumbed to cancer in 1971.
Time will tell if her movies—or her daughter’s tell-all—will become her legacy.
The king of cool Steve McQueen spent his last days in Mexico seeking alternative treatment for cancer. That, and some unfortunate post-mortem photographs, cast a shadow over his death, at age 50, in 1980. But today it’s the man, his movies and his undeniable screen presence that endure. The coolest of all the cool movie cats, McQueen was also the most contradictory. His characters were calm, collected. But he was tightly coiled, distrustful of women and ultra-protective of his professional turf. In Steve McQueen: The Life and Legend of a Hollywood Icon (Triumph, $25.95, 624 pages, ISBN 9781600783883), author Marshall Terrill, who has written previous McQueen titles, delves beneath the public persona. McQueen grew up fatherless, as his hard-drinking mother bounced from man to man. As a kid he was sent to reform school, worked the carny circuit and hopped freight trains. A place called Boy’s Republic turned him around, as did a stint in the Marines. He trained as an actor in New York, married popular Broadway dancer Neile Adams (they had two children) and came to L.A. He was starring in TV’s “Wanted: Dead or Alive” when he was cast in The Magnificent Seven. Sensing an opportunity, he gave a still-compelling taciturn performance, stealing the show from star Yul Brynner. With McQueen, less was always more. Ensuing hits included The Great
Escape, The Sand Pebbles, Bullitt, Junior Bonner and The Getaway. While making the latter he romanced costar Ali MacGraw—whose husband was the powerful mogul Robert Evans. McQueen and MacGraw later married. While they lasted, glamorous MacGraw stayed home to cook and clean. That’s how McQueen liked his “old lady” to behave—while he tomcatted about. He could be infuriating, even cruel. And he knew it. While quietly battling cancer, he manned up— seeking out old associates to make amends. And he did it on his terms, cool to the end.
A talented life cut short Sal Mineo was 37 when he was stabbed to death in what turned out to be a botched Hollywood robbery. With his 1976 murder came revelations of his closeted homosexuality, and rifts among family and friends who anguished over how he would be remembered. They needn’t have worried. Sal Mineo: A Biography (Crown Archetype, $25.99, 432 pages, ISBN 9780307718686), written by Michael Gregg Michaud, is a revealing but respectful work that captures his sweetness, likability and artistic passion—and the conflicts fostered by the times in which he lived. Professionally, Mineo was stuck in a time warp. Though Oscarnominated for both Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and Exodus (1960), he was hampered by his ’50s-era teen idol image, and his mother’s mismanagement of his career. Personally, his life was a series of private flings with men, and a very public romance with his Exodus costar-turned-lover-turned-friend to the end, Jill Haworth. Appropriately, the book is dedicated to Haworth as well as Mineo’s longtime male lover, model-actor Courtney Burr. Both gave the author candid, sometimes heartbreaking details about the man they loved. The book includes some eyeopeners, including eyewitness accounts of Mineo’s exploits with a pre-Shindig Bobby Sherman. But Michaud’s delivery is matter-of-
fact, not sensational—though he offers plenty of color in capturing the changing eras when rigid mores gave way to the counterculture. Of course, Mineo will forever be enshrined as Plato, the anguished lonely boy who makes surrogate parents of James Dean and Natalie Wood in Rebel. Michaud makes a case that Plato was the first gay teenager of the movies. Had he lived, Mineo might have eventually and bravely gone on to acknowledge that, yes, that really was so.
Caine’s comeback The Elephant to Hollywood (Holt, $28, 320 pages, ISBN 9780805093902) is a celebration of survival. Michael Caine (who grew up in London’s tough Elephant and Castle neighborhood) wrote this follow-up to his 1992 memoir, What’s It All About?, when he realized that the career he thought was over, wasn’t. He credits Jack Nicholson with helping him find his latter-life footing by coaxing him into co-starring in 1996’s Blood and Wine. Now enjoying a more subdued stardom, largely of the supporting actor kind, Caine has found memorable roles— including his Oscar-winning turn in The Cider House Rules, and the part of Alfred the butler in the new Batman franchise—and takes pleasure in working with new talent. Caine does some double dipping—repeating/embellishing stories from the past book (such as partying with John Lennon, boozing with Peter O’Toole). But he’s a vivid and compelling raconteur, gentle even when he’s barbed.
The man behind the magic Were it not for scribes there’d be no stars. Thus, our shout-out to Hollywood: A Third Memoir (Simon & Schuster, $24, 160 pages, ISBN 9781439159958), by the prolific novelist and screenwriter Larry McMurtry. (Earlier McMurtry memoirs were Books and Literary Life.) By his estimation, McMurtry has had about 70 Hollywood gigs via his novels, including The Last Picture Show, Terms of Endearment and Lonesome Dove, and scripts, such as Brokeback Mountain. In recounting how his relationship with Tinseltown unfolded and flourished, McMurtry writes with a sly wink and an ambling tone, to deliver evocative moments about Southern California, glamour, power—and, of course, stars.
reviews The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey
The power and magic of memory Review by Arlene McKanic
By probing the mind and heart of a man in extreme old age, Walter Mosley has produced what might be his most daring novel yet. Consider this: How many novels have you read lately that are about a very old person whose mind is fading and failing? Even if a few titles come to mind, you probably can’t think of one that is also a passionate and unorthodox love story—and that love story is what’s at the heart of the remarkable novel The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey. Ptolemy Grey is an obscure old man who lives in a cluttered and filthy apartment in a rundown part of Los Angeles. Reggie, his great-grandnephew—or maybe his great-great-grandnephew; such is the confusion when you’ve lived so long and have such an extended family—looks in on him now and then. When Reggie is gunned down in a drive-by shooting, he is replaced by Robyn, the teenage girl Reggie’s mother has taken in. By Walter Mosley, Riverhead, $25.95, 288 pages, After that, every single thing in Ptolemy’s life changes. Simply, Robyn gives ISBN 9781594487729, also available on audio the lonely and befuddled old man a reason to live. It’s not enough that she fearlessly cleans up his vermin-infested apartment, but she also takes him to a doctor whose wonder drug restores his memory. This semi-miracle comes with a cost, as the drug renders him occasionally comatose and besieges his frail body with raging fevers. But with Ptolemy’s revived memory comes a sense of purpose and responsibility that he’d long forgotten, and a deep, mostly platonic love (they’re not above some innocent flirting) that grows between him and Robyn. Mosley is masterful in bringing these characters to life, especially Ptolemy, whose restored memories bring back scenes from a childhood that was both idyllic and horrific—he was a young black child raised in the deep South in the early part of the 20th century. The much younger Robyn is almost as well-drawn; she has her loving heart despite a childhood that was far from perfect. The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey, so life-affirming and compassionate, is one of the best novels this reviewer has ever read. Whether you are young or old, male or female, it will likely become one of your favorites, too.
FULL DARK, NO STARS By Stephen King Scribner $27.95, 384 pages ISBN 9781439192566 Also available on audio
In his latest collection of neverbefore-published stories, Stephen King proves once again that he has no equal at delivering chills. While one can debate whether at least two of these stories might qualify as novellas, all four are meaty tales of humans in extremis, narrated with the propulsive energy that’s the hallmark of King’s work. Tess, the protagonist of “Big Driver,” is a writer of cozy mysteries who is raped on her way home from a library tea. Calling on her skills as a mystery writer, and with the aid of an unusual GPS device, she methodically stalks her attacker,
unleashing some unintended consequences in the process. In “A Good Marriage,” inspired by the grisly story of Wichita’s BTK killer, King imagines with clinical skill how a wife might react when she discovers her husband of 27 years, an accountant and coin collector, is a serial killer. There’s only one story in which the supernatural predominates. “Fair Extension” is a clever account of the pitfalls of selling one’s soul to the devil. Dave Streeter, a middleaged bank manager dying of cancer, meets the mysterious George Elvid, who offers to trade him at least 15 years of life in exchange for giving up the name of someone he hates, in this case a lifelong friend whose success has gnawed at Streeter. The collection’s title story, its longest, is set in 1920s rural Nebraska. Told in the form of a confession by Wilfred James, a farmer who brutally murders his wife to prevent her from selling an inheritance of 100 acres to a meatpacking company, it recounts the eight years he spends haunted by memories of the crime.
The story is also noteworthy for its stark depiction of the travails of the country’s midsection on the eve of the Great Depression. Each of the tales in this strong collection features enough frightening scenes to provoke a spate of nightmares. And yet, like all the work of this master of suspense and the macabre, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to put any of them down until you’ve reached the end. — Har v e y F r e e d e n b e r g
THE WOLVES OF ANDOVER By Kathleen Kent Little, Brown/Reagan Arthur $24.99, 320 pages ISBN 9780316068628 Also available on audio
Kathleen Kent has a unique talent for early American storytelling, as proven by the smash success of
her 2008 debut novel, The Heretic’s Daughter. Kent is back with a prequel to her bestseller, which digs into Colonial Massachusetts after the English Civil War. The Wolves of Andover, a story of love and BritishAmerican mystery, embodies the struggles of an entire young nation through the tale of 19-year-old Martha Allen. Martha, unwed and nearing spinsterhood, is sent to work as a servant in her cousin’s home in hopes of finding a husband. Similar in spirit to the ceaselessly roaming wolves of New England, she gains a reputation for her sharp tongue and stubborn brow. She attracts the attention of the towering Thomas Carrier, a former soldier with portentous ties to the death of King Charles I. A young but hardened love materializes between them as it becomes all too clear that the Colonies are not as safe from the past as is believed. It is not long before danger circles the little homestead in the forms of beast, man and death. The Wolves of Andover combines the steadfastness of well-researched historical fiction with the organic mien of oral storytelling. Less intimate voices are silenced as Kent gives one young woman the ability to represent herself independently. The Colonies, a pubescent and fiery version of what would eventually become America, provides the ideal backdrop for a story of deception and harrowing passion. — Ca t h e r i n e D . A c r e e
SUNSET PARK By Paul Auster Holt $25, 320 pages ISBN 9780805092868 Also available on audio
Paul Auster, with his characteristically masterful postmodern experimentation, once again proves himself equally adept at character development and emotional depth. His 16th novel, which follows a group of young squatters seeking refuge from the harsh demands on their generation, is both touching and timely—and showcases the unlikely adaptability of a much-
FICTION pigeonholed writer. While Auster’s characters have long orbited a Woody Allen-esque New York, where intellectual and financial successes seem completely congruous, the recession looms large in Sunset Park. The action centers on an abandoned house in the titular Brooklyn neighborhood, where four broke 20-somethings have taken up residence. The ringleader, Bing, eschews his bourgeois background to run a fledgling restoration business, which he calls The Hospital of Broken Things. Ellen is a reluctant real estate agent trying to find her legs as an artist, and Alice a nurturing graduate student of pop culture. They are soon joined by Miles Heller, a tortured Brown dropout who has fled his prominent New York family to bide his time in Florida, poignantly cleaning out a bevy of foreclosed homes and falling into an inappropriate love affair—perhaps the least believable part of the story. Yet Miles’ homecoming, and the effect that it has on the Sunset Park house as well as his broken family, is riveting and perfectly rendered. Thematically, the novel is preoccupied with relics, the physical reminders of emotion—for Miles, the abandoned possessions of hundreds of evicted tenants; for Bing, the beaten-up antiques he has pledged to save; for Ellen, the dangerously erotic images she is finally able to cultivate from the ephemera of her mind and put onto paper; and for Alice, an obsession with a World War II film which she believes captures the simultaneous hope and despair of a generation. And for Miles’ father Morris, a prominent publisher, it is books—perhaps, as Auster so deftly illustrates here, the most sacred relics of all. —Rebecca Shapiro
THE DISTANT HOURS By Kate Morton Atria $26, 576 pages ISBN 9781439152782
The Distant Hours is a multigenerational puzzle complete with a decaying castle, hidden manu-
scripts and not one but two families with secrets. Readers familiar with the novels of Kate Morton will recognize her distinctive way of weaving disparate elements together to create an intriguing tale, as well as the delicious way she tips her hat to previous novels that feature great English houses with something to hide, such as Rebecca, The Secret Garden and Jane Eyre. The Distant Hours opens with a 50-year-old lost letter arriving in the mail addressed to Edie Burchill’s mother, Meredith. The contents of the letter reveal that during WWII, Meredith had been billeted to Milderhurst Castle in Kent, a fact of which her husband and daughter knew nothing. Milderhurst was the home of the great writer Ronald Blythe, whose modern fairy tale brought the Blythes acclaim and fortune. Meredith was taken in by Ronald’s twin daughters Persephone and Seraphina, and became friends with their younger sister, Juniper. Though Edie and her mother have never been close, Edie is compelled to uncover this seminal event in her mother’s life. She journeys to the decrepit Milderhurst, where the elderly Blythes still live, the twins caring for the mentally unstable Juniper. Edie is attracted and repelled by their circumstances and is soon drawn into the many mysteries that surround them. Why haven’t the sisters ever left the castle? Was Ronald Blythe’s masterpiece a plagiarism? Most intriguing is what happened on the night Juniper’s fiancé jilted her. Did he really elope with another woman or did he just disappear? The further Edie delves, the more riddles arise and the more deeply readers are pulled into the story. The Distant Hours contains rapid shifts of point of view and moves back and forth over a half century. This can be tricky to get right, and though in earlier books Morton has proved herself skilled at this kind of plotting, she stumbles a few times here, caught in the complex web she has spun. Even so, Morton is the master of the atmospheric old-fashioned novel packed with enough stories to fill all the worn satchels in the Milderhurst attic. The Distant Hours is saturated with the sights and sounds of country life during wartime, Blitz-torn London and the ghostly passageways of the decaying castle. Fans of Morton and new readers alike will be delighted to
uncover the truth of what happened in the “distant hours” of the past. —Lauren Bufferd
THE MARRIAGE ARTIST By Andrew Winer Holt $26, 384 pages ISBN 9780805091786
“RAUCOUS, FASCINATING, AND FUN. Before the Mississippi River became a sedate highway for barges, it was wild, cruel, punishing, gorgeous, and a whole lot more fun.” —KIRKUS REVIEWS
An art critic, Daniel Lichtmann, wants to solve a mystery. Recently, his wife fell to her death from a building in New York. Within seconds, a famous artist also fell from the same building and died, inches away from her. The artist happens to be Benjamin Wind, a Native American sculptor whose works have inspired some of Lichtmann’s most renowned essays. Why was Wind with Lichtmann’s wife, and why did they fall to their deaths? Lichtmann’s investigation takes him to the American West, to Vienna and to the distant past, and it changes the way he thinks about art, love, religion and death. The Marriage Artist is soulful and poetic. Andrew Winer writes beautifully about Vienna in the years that preceded World War II, and he breathes life into the stories of men and women who perished in Hitler’s camps. His detailed, energetic descriptions of Jewish ink drawings are unforgettable; it’s no surprise that, before turning to fiction, Winer wrote extensively about the art world. The novel’s descriptions of thoughts and feelings are as evocative as its meditations on visual art. When a woman is troubled, “several painful involutions of thought” pass through her face. An upsetting letter causes “a chemical event” in a man’s gut, “something roily and electrical and cell-splitting.” Winer is not only a lyrical writer, but also a challenging and passionate guide through the history of Europe’s Jewish population. His interest in the early 20th century and his fearless prose will remind readers of Styron’s Sophie’s Choice, Bloom’s Away and the stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer. Like those masterworks, The Marriage Artist gives us a reason to celebrate. — D a n B a rr e t t
WHEN IT L AST R AN WILD
“A gripping book that plunges you into a rich, dark stretch of visceral history. I read it in two sittings and got up shaken.” —GARRISON KEILLOR
“Great stuff, essential stuff, and yeah, wicked.” —ROY BLOUNT JR.
A FATEFUL LITERARY LEGACY
ow does it feel to be immortalized in fiction by a parent? That’s the central question of Mr. Toppit, British author Charles Elton’s debut novel.
You’ve worked in the book business for many years. Have you seen fame affect a writer and his family the way it does with the Hayman clan? When I was a literary agent in the 1980s I worked for the firm that represented the Estate of A.A. Milne and I learnt the story of how much his son, Christopher Robin Milne, hated being in Winnie the Pooh. He ended up totally estranged from his parents. I also knew the huge sums of money that came in for the Estate, more than 50 years after the books’ publication. That was the inspiration for my book—really the only idea I had when I started it. I was lucky in that, during the 15 years it took me to write my book, the Harry Potter books began to be published and suddenly my notion of a series of children’s books “taking over the world” didn’t seem so farfetched. Speaking of the Hayman clan, they’re an extremely compelling and absurd bunch. Were these portraits drawn from anyone in your life? There are many autobiographical elements in the book. Sometimes, I took real characters I knew and put them in my fictional setting. Lila, the German illustrator, is based entirely on my sisters’ German teacher at school. Laurie’s mother Alma is based on my sister’s mother-inlaw, who really did call the police accusing her blameless son of trying to kill her. My mother was run over and killed by a cement truck, in the way that happens to the father in my book. With Luke as the series’ star and Rachel omitted entirely, you’ve set up an interesting dichotomy. Which child do you think got the better deal? It’s interesting to weigh up whether Rachel or Luke get the better deal. If Rachel had been a more stable character, I think she would have got the better deal, but her own demons bring her
down. In a strange way, Luke— because of his detachment—is probably the best able to cope with the fame the Hayseed books bring, even though he hates it. Was it always your intent to leave out the plot of The Hayseed Chronicles? Why did you choose to do so? It was a very conscious decision. I wanted to give a flavor and hint at the enigmas, but leave it to the reader to imagine what the books might be like. As one of the reasons for the Hayseed books’ success is the way that everyone interprets the character of Mr. Toppit in their own ways—I wanted my small excerpts to do the same thing. The success of The Hayseed Chronicles is due almost entirely to chance. These days, it’s said that a publisher’s commitment dictates sales, but do you think there are still real-life books that could take off in such a fashion? I think it happens less than it used to, but there are examples of books taking off by chance, or just word of mouth. The first Harry Potter book was bought for a tiny advance and there was no marketing push. Also (I think) Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin took off without any pushing by the publishers. With the proliferation of reading groups, I think it could happen more. Conversely, there are many examples of massive advances and hype that don’t pay off in sales for publishers. I’m not even sure that good reviews help that much always. There’s nothing like people simply loving a book and passing it on.
reviews MR. TOPPIT By Charles Elton Other Press $15.95, 400 pages ISBN 9781590513903 Also available on audio
Charles Elton’s funny, strange and often surprisingly insightful debut, Mr. Toppit, is a book about a series of best-selling children’s books, the details of which are kept conspicuously vague. We know that The Hayseed Chronicles follow the adventures of Luke Hayseed in a magical land called “Darkwood,” and that they combine fantasy with allegory and philosophy—à la The Chronicles of Narnia or even the Harry Potter books. But beyond that, we are at a loss, most notably concerning Mr. Toppit, Darkwood’s fickle Godot-like overlord, who appears only briefly at the end of the final Hayseed installment and for whom all the characters in Elton’s “real” world seem to be searching. Indeed, Mr. Toppit’s true stars are these “real” characters. And its true focus is the story of the Chronicles’ rise to cult fame—a story marked by events both absurd and tragic, the first of which is when Arthur Hayman, the books’ relatively unsuccessful author, is hit by a cement truck in the middle of London and spends his dying moments with Laurie Clow, an overweight and equally misunderstood American tourist. Laurie is so moved by the encounter that she goes on to (almost serendipitously) bring the series to renown, and in the process fundamentally alters the lives of Arthur’s children: Luke, who is reluctantly immortalized as the oeuvre’s famous hero, and Rachel, who markedly makes no appearance at all. As Hayseed mania grows, the siblings confront the mess their father— the true Mr. Toppit, some might say—has left for them, and in turn confront larger issues of family and obligation, celebrity and privacy, and the vast gulf between British and American sensibilities. From the comically bland sitting rooms of middle-class England to the boozy shenanigans of modernday Los Angeles, Mr. Toppit shows
FICTION the effects of legacy on its inheritors, while at the same time exploring the way in which we use fantasy worlds to better understand our own. —J i l l i a n Q u i n t
MOONLIGHT MILE By Dennis Lehane Morrow $26.99, 336 pages ISBN 9780061836923 Also available on audio
It’s often said that history repeats itself, and it would appear that literary history—at least where Dennis Lehane is concerned—is no exception. In the world of private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro, it’s been 12 years since four-year-old Amanda McCready vanished in Gone, Baby, Gone, only to be returned to her neglectful and conniving mother by a morally and ethically conflicted Kenzie. Now 16, Amanda, whipsmart and hardened by chronic parental neglect, has once more disappeared into the swirling eddies of Boston’s organized crime cartels. Her aunt Beatrice yet again appeals to Kenzie and Gennaro to find out what happened to Amanda, by extension offering a chance to lay to rest the demons that plagued them after the resolution of Amanda’s first disappearance. Kenzie is no longer a young man; now married (to Gennaro) and raising their own four-year-old daughter, he has more at stake personally than ever before, and the myriad complications of Amanda’s latest disappearance, along with the ghost of her previous kidnapping, have a personal immediacy that he can’t escape. As with any tale of crime and intrigue, there is far more at stake than Kenzie can guess, and he is quickly drawn into a situation that far outstrips his aging sensibilities and capabilities. The sixth book in the Kenzie and Gennaro series, Moonlight Mile is as much a meditation on what it is to love another person as it is a slyly woven action tale, in which the heroes are getting older while the
FICTION challenges they face seem only to become more morally fraught and powerful as time passes. What is left for someone when the life they once lived and loved, full of danger, blood and excitement, is no longer one they can sustain? How do you do right by the world when every choice hurts either those you love or those you strive to help? Lehane manages to address these weighty questions, deftly skirting tired moral platitudes and all the while keeping the reader’s pulse pounding. Those who enjoyed the previous books will certainly enjoy this
one, while new readers will have the opportunity to enjoy the crackling chemistry Kenzie and Gennaro share, all the while being drawn into tightly plotted action that keeps the pages turning. Snappy dialogue, questions with morally ambiguous answers, a sense of the enduring humanity that manages to draw people together despite their situation, and a winking acknowledgement of the ironic comedy that is life all come together to give this book a sense of reality that is both rare and refreshing. —T o n y K u e h n
nity steeped in the sea—its financial and emotional support system. Compass Rose, his highly anticipated follow-up novel, revisits that insular community, picking up just where Spartina left off. Elsie Buttrick, who was engaged in a passionate affair with Dick Pierce, the quiet, stoic fisherman, has just given birth to their daughter, Rose, as the novel opens. Dick is something of an enigma, but— despite his transgressions—he is fiercely loyal to his wife, May, and their sons Charlie and Tom. May Pierce is certainly admirable, yet
COMPASS ROSE By John Casey Knopf $27.95, 368 pages ISBN 9780375410253
John Casey’s 1989 National Book Award winner, Spartina, depicted a tightly knit Rhode Island commu-
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reviews nevertheless quixotic, in her surprising decision to welcome Rose so vigorously into their family—thus openly acknowledging Dick’s affair and resulting offspring to their decidedly provincial neighbors. Mary Scanlon serves for years as Rose’s nanny, becoming almost too attached to the beautiful, talented child as she transforms into a moody adolescent. And playing a significant role in Elsie’s life is her mentor, Miss Perry, who taught Elsie both Latin and a love for the environment, and to whom Elsie is increasingly devoted. Casey brings his large cast of characters to life by means of interior monologues, allowing the reader to be privy to the inner thoughts that both precede and follow their actions. He is especially adept at exploring female relationships, including that of Rose and Elsie as Rose enters adolescence and they become “locked in their growing apart.” As Rose matures, each of the novel’s disparate characters is determined to nurture her, insulating her
FICTION from the often cruel whisperings of a small town. But Rose is not blind to the world around her; as she cannily tells Elsie, “Face it, Mom—we live in a tiny ecosystem.” It is an ecosystem that Casey so obviously loves, his latest novel encapsulated in the words of Miss Perry, who as she is dying sums up her life as “a love affair with this small piece of rock-strewn woods and ponds, and the people who truly live in it.” —Deborah Donovan
FOREIGN BODIES By Cynthia Ozick HMH $26, 272 pages ISBN 9780547435572
In her latest novel, Cynthia Ozick confirms her position as our sorcer-
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ess of disenchantment, our wizard of lost illusions, the closest we will ever come to the irretrievable magic of broken spells woven by her idol Henry James. Both Foreign Bodies and her recent novella “Dictation” show Ozick to be smitten by James to the last degree. Now she has thrown off all restraint in her passion for The Master, lifting wholesale the plot of James’ later novel, The Ambassadors, and fashioning from it her own fable of hapless Americans in Paris a few years after World War II. With uncanny fidelity, Ozick’s obsession with Henry James recapitulates an abiding theme of his own fiction: Our loves continue to haunt us long after they are gone, far beyond the point where they might have eased our pain. This predicament torments each one of the central characters of Foreign Bodies. The fascination of the novel lies in how many different variations on the theme there can be. Ozick opens a window onto unhappy lives lived below the dignity of tragedy, and set pathetically in relief against its overwhelming historical background. Such is the plight of the novel’s unlikeliest of heroines, Bea Nightingale, whose ex-husband Leo refuses to make an exit from her life. Making things worse, Bea’s brother Marvin (even the names are denied the dignity of tragedy!) barges onto the scene, forces himself back into Bea’s life, and plunges her straight into the lives of his wayward children, who have gone off to Paris and broken his heart. Renunciation is another great Jamesian theme at the heart of this novel. Consistently, characters in James and Ozick relinquish desire. They close up like flowers at night, or (to invoke the image of James’ last novel) they crack like fragile bowls, no longer fit for the world of human affairs. Ozick goes further than James with this alarming idea, revealing the way an older state of mind can infect the young. Such renunciations are lessons either to be learned or deplored. Sphinxlike—and with all her paradoxical generosity—Ozick does not tell us which. The title Foreign Bodies projects an oddly coarse and unsettling synonym for James’ The Ambassadors. It has an almost clinical ring to it, preparing the reader for the visceral immediacy of Ozick’s
art. Every emotional insight in this novel arrives with a concomitant shock of physical recognition, ranging from the comic to the horrific. Ozick beats James at his own game, proving beyond any metaphysical doubt that our deepest feelings are always embodied events, as concrete and transformative as the crashing chord Bea gives to Leo to launch his great symphony. —Michael Alec Rose
EIGHTEEN ACRES By Nicolle Wallace Atria $25, 336 pages ISBN 9781439194829
There is one thing you can be sure of in Nicolle Wallace’s debut novel: Every background detail and procedural item is accurate to the very last degree. Wallace didn’t have to interview anyone but herself about internal operations within the 18 acres of the title—that is, the White House. As a former White House Communications Director (under George W. Bush), as well as a campaign advisor for John McCain and Sarah Palin, she has pretty much been there and known that. Wisely, though, she doesn’t push the protocol. This story instead covers the private lives of three women: the first female president, Charlotte Kramer; her White House chief of staff, Melanie Kingston; and Dale Smith, White House correspondent. Ambushed like all presidents by the sometimes murky details of other people’s lives and intentions, Charlotte struggles to bring her first term to a fitting close with the hope of running again. She gets no help at all from her husband, Peter, whose affair with Dale becomes public just in time to complicate the whole situation. A debatable emergency decision by Defense Secretary Roger Taylor thrusts all three women into the limelight at an unfortunate time, when Charlotte is making important choices for the next four years. This would include her selection of Palin-esque Democrat Tara Meyers as her new vice president, to head a startling, two-party Unity ticket.
FICTION The plot gets a little convoluted at the end, and some readers may feel that in places it supports the accusation that a woman in the White House might be more destructively emotional than a man. On the other hand, Eighteen Acres dares to probe the personal relationships that affect every campaign, even if some men pretend to ignore them. The emphasis on private issues makes the reader feel like a mouse in the House (albeit a female mouse) witnessing a variety of political human dynamics that don’t get much attention publicly, except at their most scandalous. At any rate, Eighteen Acres raises questions we might not have thought about before. Nicolle Wallace neatly melds the political and personal facets of public life to produce an absorbing suggestion of future possibilities in the American presidency in this absorbing novel. —Maude McDaniel
THE NEIGHBORS ARE WATCHING By Debra Ginsberg Crown $23.99, 336 pages ISBN 9780307463869
In The Neighbors Are Watching, Debra Ginsberg explores the delicate equilibriums of her characters’ lives behind the closed doors of their southern California neighborhood. The arrival of Diana, a pregnant teenager—and her subsequent disappearance—causes a frisson of energy to surge around the cul-de-sac. Interpersonal drama plays out against the backdrop of the California wildfires of 2007, an experience the author lived through herself. The novel opens with a series of entries on an Internet message
board following Diana’s disappearance, intriguingly setting the scene. From this outside glimpse of the neighborhood, Ginsberg turns back the clock and refocuses on her characters’ homes, where they watch Diana’s initial arrival. Ginsberg’s story features five families, all of whom are affected by Diana’s entrance. Sam, who left her manicured suburban life—and husband—for Gloria, with whom she had an affair, can’t look at Diana without seeing a younger version of herself. For Allison, the wife of Diana’s biological father Joe, Diana’s arrival raises painful questions about her own relationship. Why had her husband allowed his former girlfriend to have Diana 17 years ago, but twisted her arm into getting an abortion while they were dating? The question nearly unravels her life—and her marriage. For Joe, a likable restaurant manager who has always had a knack for talking his way out of anything, Diana’s arrival and his wife’s undoing throws his world into a tailspin. And
for Kevin, a disaffected youth who is the son of two ultra-conservatives (suitably named Dick and Dot), Diana’s arrival marks the beginning of a friendship, and the possibility of teenage love. Dick and Dot initially seem like overdrawn caricatures—both to this reader and to others in the novel—but soon they too are pleasingly human, flawed but relatable. The households teeter and totter, and readers will wonder how all the miniature worlds could possibly right themselves again. Ginsberg deftly and believably draws her characters, who often misunderstand each other in fascinating and realistic ways. Her protagonist’s disappearance (and seeming desertion of her new infant) is a cause that rallies the neighborhood into action, and a series of satisfying twists bring the plot to a close. An immensely interesting novel, The Neighbors Are Watching just may cause readers to look more closely out of their own windows. — K e l ly B l e w e t t
his holiday season give the gift of excitement with the Stories from the Golden Age collection by L. Ron Hubbard. Originally penned in the 1930s and ’40s, these literary gems will captivate you with their gripping storylines, pulse-pounding action and riveting characters in tales that span the genres of mystery, western, adventure, science fiction and fantasy. The companion audiobooks are also full-cast cinematic theatrical performances done in the style of old-time Hollywood radio shows. • Trade paperback $9.95 • Unabridged audio CD $9.95
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survival against all odds
Review by Amy Scribner
By Laura Hillenbrand, Random House, $27, 496 pages, ISBN 9781400064168, also available on audio
Laura Hillenbrand first encountered Louis Zamperini while researching her 2003 bestseller Seabiscuit—and how lucky for us that she did. You may not know his name, but Zamperini was famous in his day, an Olympic runner who was secretly held in Japan for two brutal years during World War II after a plane crash left him stranded at sea, presumed dead. How he survived—and how his family never lost hope for his return—is the epic story at the heart of Unbroken. Zamperini grew up a mischievous trouble magnet in Southern California. Steered toward competitive running by his brother, he earned a spot on the 1936 U.S. Olympic track team and competed in Berlin. He didn’t medal, but he was on his way to becoming a world-class athlete. Many thought he would be the first man to run a four-minute mile. Then Germany invaded Poland, and everything changed. Drafted into the Army Air Corps, Zamperini was stationed in Oahu as a bombardier. When his B-24 crashed into the Pacific during a rescue mission, he spent 47 days huddled in a raft, battling sharks and the equatorial sun, before
being captured by Japanese forces. Most Pacific POWs were held with little regard for the protections of the Geneva Convention. Zamperini’s hellish experiences came at the hands of Mutsuhiro Watanabe, a sadistic man who mercilessly and systematically beat, starved and degraded POWs. At his lowest, a battered Zamperini found himself forced to clean a pig pen with his bare hands: “If anything is going to shatter me, Louie thought, this is it. Sickened and starving, his will a fraying wire, Louie had only the faint hope of the war’s end, and rescue, to keep him going.” Hillenbrand is undoubtedly a terrific reporter and storyteller, with an eye for details that make each page sing. But her truest gift may be her innate respect for her subjects. Hillenbrand never deifies Zamperini, who returned from war a broken man prone to flashbacks and barroom brawls before a chance encounter with evangelist Billy Graham turned his life around. Unbroken is a spellbinding celebration of resilience, forgiveness and the human capacity for finding beauty in the unlikeliest places.
ATLANTIC By Simon Winchester Harper $27.99, 512 pages ISBN 9780061702587 Also available on audio
Only Simon Winchester, the bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman and Krakatoa, would have the tenacity and the talent to tackle a biography of the Atlantic Ocean. A modern-day Melville, he takes to the waters in pursuit of a larger-than-life creature, adeptly capturing his prey in the engaging Atlantic. Winchester first focuses on the geological history of the Atlantic, discussing its formation and evolution, then shifts to the more interesting human history. It is here that the reader appreciates Winchester’s abilities as both a
researcher and writer, for he is able to present detailed historical information in lively prose. Interspersed among these accounts are musings on his personal relationship with the ocean, beginning as an 18-yearold Brit crossing the Atlantic on an ocean liner bound for America. But the Atlantic is the real star here, and when you consider Western civilization alone, you realize just what an impact the ocean has had on mankind. Winchester discourses on the explorers, from the Vikings to Christopher Columbus, and writes about how the Atlantic inspired artists, including Shakespeare, Monet, Beethoven and, perhaps most famously, Melville and his Moby-Dick. He relates tales of the warriors of the sea, among them pirates, the British Royal Navy, Old Ironsides and German U-boats. And there were also many tragedies on the sea, including the sinkings of the Lusitania and the Titanic, the slaughter of the whales and the use of the waters as routes for ships bringing slaves from Africa to the New World. Finally, Winchester
deals with the contemporary life of the Atlantic, particularly the environmental threats it faces from pollution, overfishing and global warming. To read Atlantic is to take a fantastic voyage filled with romance, drama, tragedy and inspiration. Simon Winchester has once again written a masterpiece of nonfiction, one that likely will be as enduring as man’s eternal quest for adventure on the high seas. —J o h n T. S l a n i a
KINGDOM UNDER GLASS By Jay Kirk Holt $27.50, 400 pages ISBN 9780805092820
Those who are aware of it at all are likely to regard taxidermy as an
art principally appreciated by those who like to kill animals and then have them stuffed and mounted to appear alive. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, however, taxidermy was considered a legitimate branch of the natural sciences, the only method by which the world at large could study the variety, structures and habitats of exotic animals (many of whom were even then being hunted to extinction). Of the many practitioners of this grisly discipline, none was as skillful and as celebrated as Carl Akeley, the subject of Jay Kirk’s engrossing new biography, Kingdom Under Glass. Akeley was born in 1864 in Clarendon, New York, and became absorbed in taxidermy in his early teens. Largely self-taught, he first showed his genius for physical resurrection in 1885 when he was called upon to preserve P.T. Barnum’s main animal attraction—the elephant Jumbo—after a locomotive shattered the luckless beast. In the years ahead, Akeley would create exhibits for major museums in Milwaukee, Chicago and New York City and lead months-long expeditions into Africa to collect specimens for his grandly conceived projects. His work earned him the respect and friendship of Theodore Roosevelt, also an avid hunter/collector, as well as the sponsorship of photography pioneer and philanthropist George Eastman. The slaughter brought on by this passion for collecting was epic. On one of Akeley’s hunting forays with Roosevelt, the party killed four elephants before noon, two of which Akeley discarded for imperfections. On that same expedition, Kirk reports, Roosevelt and his son Kermit “shot seventeen lions, six giraffes, four buffalos, five rhinos, four hippos, and, give or take, about a thousand birds.” Such massacres were commonplace. Kirk presents Akeley as a driven, exacting, humorless man who lived for his art—and who ultimately died for it, succumbing in 1926 to exhaustion, dysentery and related maladies while on safari in the Congo. But the most interesting figure by far in this book is Akeley’s first wife and fiercest protector, Mickie. A tomboyish sort, she was so devoted to implementing her husband’s visions that she had become a wildlife expert in her own right by the time the two divorced. Motion picture photography
NONFICTION and cheap travel to exotic places eventually undercut the lure and usefulness of taxidermy. But Akeley set a standard for verisimilitude that was never surpassed. In Kingdom Under Glass, Kirk strives for the same liveliness that Akeley imparted to his creations, writing with such specificity, color and drama it appears he’s looking over Akeley’s shoulder. —Edward Morris
THE MIND’S EYE By Oliver Sacks Knopf $26.95, 288 pages ISBN 9780307272089 Also available on audio
Neurologist and psychiatrist Dr. Oliver Sacks’ The Mind’s Eye is the latest offering from an always
624 pages $35.00 cloth
eloquent and brilliant observer of the workings of the human brain. As with many of his previous books (among them Awakenings, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Musicophilia), this new work explores the dysfunctions of the brain through selected patient case histories, compellingly presented as poignant, inspiring and absorbing stories. The dysfunctions discussed here involve the sense of sight and the complexities of visual perception. In seven elegant essays—one of which is in the form of Sacks’ personal journal of his cancer diagnosis, subsequent treatment for ocular melanoma and the impairment of his right eye—the author takes us on a journey into “the complex workings of the brain and its astounding ability to adapt and overcome disability.” These disabilities include such intriguing conditions as aphasia (loss of speech and language comprehension), agnosia (the inability to identify objects) and prosopagnosia (the inability
320 pages $30.00 cloth Also available in a Large Print edition
to recognize faces). Sacks depicts these and other conditions in human portraits that include the story of Lilian, a concert pianist who can no longer read music, but can still play beautifully by ear; Howard, a “man of letters” and novelist who can no longer read, but painstakingly finds a new way to read and write; and “stereo” Sue, an academic neurobiologist with monocular vision, who gradually gained and self-improved her normal stereoscopic vision. Sacks’ blended use of story, anecdote and reference to explore fundamental and mysteriously interconnected complexities of human sight, perception and experience works to great effect. But what makes The Mind’s Eye stand tall is his recounting of how humans— and the human brain—can adapt, finding creative and ingenious ways to cope with physical losses and disorders. The final essay on perception, which discusses blindness, visual imagery and memory, direct visual experience and the
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the university of north carolina press
paradox of the power of language, is breathtaking. From first phrase to final sentence, Dr. Sacks will draw you into a fascinating mental landscape that will leave you in awe of its strange, often spiritual and exquisite pathways. —Alison Hood
Cleopatra: A Life By Stacy Schiff Little, Brown $29.99, 384 pages ISBN 9780316001922 Also available on audio
Cleopatra was queen of a large, rich, highly sophisticated country for more than 20 years, yet almost everything we know about her comes from a legend created by her most deadly enemy, the Roman emperor Augustus.
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As author Stacy Schiff points out, it’s as if our only information about Napoleon came from 19th-century British historians: “She effectively ceases to exist without a Roman in the room.” Schiff, the much praised biographer of Vera Nabokov and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, adeptly evens the score in Cleopatra: A Life by exploring the queen’s Egyptian context and reading the Roman sources with a keen eye for Augustan propaganda. Schiff’s Cleopatra is not the sexually voracious, treacherous poisoner who seduced Julius Caesar and destroyed Mark Antony. Rather, she is an intelligent, able ruler who did nothing that male kings didn’t do routinely. She tried to protect her own and her country’s interests in the face of Roman aggression. If Antony had been more clever than Augustus, her children with Caesar and Antony would have ruled the East. Did she seduce Caesar and Antony? Both men were hardened lifelong womanizers. Was Antony too besotted with her to make sound decisions? It seems unlikely; he wrote a letter to Augustus at the height of his alliance with Cleopatra referring to her with ugly vulgarisms. His mistakes were his own. Schiff persuades us that the queen’s liaisons with both men were mutually beneficial. She got expanded territory, protected by Roman legions, while her lovers got her money. And for Caesar, Antony and Augustus, it was all about Egypt’s wealth, not the color of Cleopatra’s eyes. Certainly, even a Cleopatra seen with fairness was no George Washington, and Schiff doesn’t ignore her ruthlessness. Cleopatra lived up to her family tradition by having her siblings killed. She also executed her political opponents—and so did Antony and Augustus. Schiff brings alive not only the personalities but the ambience of the gilded Hellenistic Middle East and still-crude Rome. Her writing beautifully evokes Cleopatra’s stupendous capital Alexandria, “a city of cool raspberry dawns and pearly late afternoons.” Male Roman writers may have hated Cleopatra because she wasn’t the virtuous Roman matron of their own myths, but she was consistently popular with the cultured Alexandrians. As Schiff concludes, Cleopatra did many things right, but got the
NONFICTION main thing wrong: She backed the less talented Roman politician. In the end, Augustus used her captured treasure to make Rome more like Alexandria. —Anne Bartlett
RUNNING THE BOOKS By Avi Steinberg Nan A. Talese/Doubleday $26, 416 pages ISBN 9780385529099
make you laugh and cry, but it will also have you re-evaluating items in your home for their potential as weapons. Running the Books is a powerful look at the prison system and a highly personal memoir in one. —Heather Seggel
THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES By Siddhartha Mukherjee Scribner $30, 592 pages ISBN 9781439107959 Also available on audio
Avi Steinberg was meant for greater things. If not a doctor or lawyer (per his family’s expectations), his time in yeshiva should at least have turned out a decent rabbi. But no; he left yeshiva for Harvard, then stalled out as a freelance obituary writer for the Boston Globe. In search of a new direction, and the security of a job with benefits, Steinberg answered an ad on Craigslist and began life anew as a librarian in a Boston prison. Running the Books chronicles Steinberg’s years on the job, introducing a cast of inmates with whom his involvement went beyond mere book recommendations. He gathers culinary school applications for a gangster who plans to turn his life around by becoming a cooking show host (working title: “Thug Sizzle”). Initially befriending a charming pimp who is writing his memoirs, Steinberg is chilled when a cursory Google search reveals more about the man’s crimes than he was prepared to learn. The simple act of giving a cupcake to a depressed inmate opens up a meditation on the power dynamic between staff and prisoners, and the multiple ways that trying to treat a prisoner as an equal can backfire, most often at the staff member’s expense. It’s ultimately a conflict with a prison officer that leads Steinberg to leave the job—had the officer pressed charges, they would have included assault with a Post-It note—though the accumulated stress had taken a significant toll. “I’d taken the job largely to get health insurance, but the truth was, I hadn’t needed health care until I took the job.” Steinberg’s account may very well
Cancer, a disease with tens of millions of faces, will require many biographers. But those future biographers and historians of the disease will labor from deep within the long shadow cast by Siddhartha Mukherjee’s remarkable The Emperor of All Maladies. Starting with the teachings of the Egyptian physician Imhotep (circa 2625 B.C.), Mukherjee’s “biography of cancer” offers a sweeping “attempt to enter the mind of this immortal disease, to understand its behavior.” It is a vivid and profoundly engaging read. Mukherjee, an assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University and a former Rhodes Scholar, is both a cancer physician and a cancer researcher. He is also extraordinarily good at explaining complex medical and scientific issues and controversies. He devotes most of his pages to developments in laboratory research and clinical treatment since the 1950s, as cancer medicine moved from a gruesome regimen of radical surgeries, through the development of radiation treatments, into chemotherapy and combined therapies and, finally, to the present era, in which research and treatment have finally come together and biotechnology has given rise to targeted therapies that attack cancer cells and the genes within those cells. Science and medicine, like all human endeavors, are driven by the knowledge, intelligence, ambitions and egos of the people involved, and Mukherjee presents lively thumbnail portraits of doctors and researchers and of the battles that
engaged them. He writes vividly of the political struggles to fund cancer research and to limit known carcinogens like tobacco. He quotes poets, philosophers and writers, particularly Susan Sontag, and he writes with empathy about the experiences of his own patients. All of this makes The Emperor of All Maladies not just an exceptional work in the history of science but a fine example of literary nonfiction. Cancer, as Mukherjee writes in his epilogue, is “the scrappy, fecund, invasive, adaptable twin to our own scrappy, fecund, invasive, adaptable cells and genes.” This means that we may never completely defeat this many-headed disease. But, he suggests, with a greater understanding of cancer, we may at least be able to forestall its fatal effects until old age. With The Emperor of All Maladies, Siddartha Mukherjee makes a large contribution to a better general understanding of this dread disease. —Alden Mudge
LOUISA MAY ALCOTT By Susan Cheever Simon & Schuster $26, 320 pages ISBN 9781416569916 Also available on audio
Biography fans will devour Louisa May Alcott, Susan Cheever’s briskly paced examination of the Little Women author, who died at age 55 in 1888. Even if Alcott’s background hadn’t included writing an enduring classic of American literature, her life would have made for a rollicking read. It’s an opportunity that Cheever does not squander. In her short life, Alcott was neighbors with Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau in Concord, Massachusetts (where she wrote Little Women), served as a nurse in the Civil War, worked as a teacher, seamstress and magazine editor, possibly inspired Henry James’ Daisy Miller and lived through America’s shift from an agricultural- to an industrial-based society. Most of the drama in her life came from her large family—specifically from her father, Bronson, a
NONFICTION principled, domineering education reformer who managed to wear out his welcome everywhere. The Alcotts were perpetually impecunious, and they relocated as if they were musicians on a never-ending tour. Alcott wrote for love and to get her family out of debt. Her generosity continued after the phenomenal success of Little Women: She wrote to provide security for her two fatherless nephews, and when her sister May passed away, she became the guardian of her infant niece. Alcott’s closeness to her family was almost suffocating. Her relationship with Bronson was especially thorny. “But although she never spoke a word against her father, against his irresponsibility or his bullying or his prejudice against her, she took her revenge in a far more effective and literary way,” Cheever writes. “She left him out of her masterpiece.” Cheever—who, as the daughter of John Cheever, is from a literary lineage herself—succeeds at eliciting emotion from the research and tying America’s changing cultural and political scene to Alcott’s own evolution as a writer and woman. Though she sometimes slows down the story’s momentum by venturing into first-person interludes and theorizing (was Alcott gay?), that doesn’t tarnish her vivid profile of a well-lived whirlwind of a life. —Pete Croatto
FIRST FAMILY By Joseph J. Ellis Knopf $27.95, 320 pages ISBN 9780307269621 Also available on audio
When John Adams was sworn in as our nation’s second president, his wife Abigail was in Massachusetts taking care of John’s dying mother. It wasn’t long before a lonely and politically isolated John pleaded with her to join him in Washington. “I can do nothing without you,” he wrote. Although she did much more, Abigail’s chief role as John’s wife, throughout 54 years of married life, was to provide, in his word, “bal-
last” in his life. This was necessary because of the two aspects of John’s personality. On one hand, he was patriotic and fiercely ambitious, eager to play a major role in history. On the other, he was moody and erratic, and he put off many of those around him. By contrast, Abigail was also patriotic but uncommonly sane and grounded, not to mention well-read and an excellent letterwriter. She possessed all the skills of someone raised to live the life of a traditional New England woman. John and Abigail were separated for long periods, and most of what we know of their married life comes from their remarkable correspondence of roughly 1,200 letters that have survived. In the letters they share many of their concerns, both public and private, with a rare emotional honesty. Pulitzer and National Book Award-winning historian Joseph J. Ellis has deeply studied the letters and other sources and is struck by the interaction between crucial founding events and their family story. In his outstanding new book, First Family, he describes that relationship in a most compelling way. Ellis is that rare professional historian who can eloquently convey both information and insight with remarkable clarity in a short space. He shows that Abigail’s political judgments usually reinforced John’s well-founded instincts, which, even though unpopular at the time, usually proved the right decisions in the long run of history. This was not the case, however, with the passage of the four pieces of legislation that are known as the Alien and Sedition Acts, which John signed and later acknowledged were a permanent stain on his term of office—the most prominent example of when Abigail’s judgment failed (but for which John never blamed her). While John was making his important contributions in Philadelphia or on the Continent, Abigail had to cope with the fact that, for their four children, their father was an absentee parent much of the time. It is hard to know what effect this had on them. Their sons Charles and Tommy suffered from alcoholism, and their daughter Nabby found herself in a bad marriage with a husband who could not support his family. Even their incredibly accomplished son John Quincy felt that his private life had not been successful. We learn of
the many sacrifices Abigail and the children made to help the young nation prosper and to help John achieve his dream to be remembered as a key mover in the cause of American independence. In First Family, Ellis has once again given us a consistently engaging dual biography and love story as well as an incisive exploration of early American history. —Roger Bishop
MUST YOU GO? By Antonia Fraser Nan A. Talese/Doubleday $28.95, 336 pages ISBN 9780385532501 Also available on audio
In her preface to Must You Go?, Antonia Fraser characterizes her latest work, a memoir about her life with the Nobel Prize-winning playwright and political activist Harold Pinter, as a love story in which “the first light and the twilight” are dealt with “more fully than the high noon in between”—but what a high noon it is! Fraser and Pinter wrested an incredible “in between” out of their interwoven story and certainly made the most of their extraordinary 33 years together. Based on diaries she began keeping in 1968, Must You Go? is a love story (with a dash of scandal for spice), but it succeeds on many other levels as well. It is a window into British high society, a glimpse of the inspiration behind some of Pinter’s finest achievements and a kaleidoscope of historical and personal events. Most significantly, it is a testament to the “private happiness” possible in a supportive marriage between two dynamic and ambitious people. Their “high noon” springs to life in these pages as Fraser reveals Pinter’s ardor for her, his zeal for writing and theater, his bold political activism, his valiant fight against illness and his incredible resolve to deliver his Nobel Prize speech despite his failing health. When she first met him at the dinner party that changed both their lives, she was a married mother of six and had established a noteworthy literary career herself. As she
was about to leave the party, Fraser recalls, “He looked at me with those amazing, extremely bright black eyes. ‘Must you go?’ he said. I thought of home, my lift, taking the children to school the next morning. . . .” But those eyes won out. Fraser and Pinter began living together in 1975, and for the next 33 enviable years, these two shared not only the writing life, the life of the theater, the “celebrity” life stemming from their long list of famous friends (Helen Mirren, Judi Dench, Norman Mailer, Salman Rushdie—they knew everyone!), the life political and the life domestic (at the book’s conclusion there are 18 grandchildren), but also a mutual tenderness and respect that buoyed them in times of turmoil. These “true connoisseurs” of life, as the writer Margaret Atwood (also a friend) might call them, often celebrated their literary successes and other elations with a glass of champagne. With this latest triumph, I believe I hear the popping of a distant cork! —Linda Stankard
Saturday, Nov. 13 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Forsyth Park, Savannah GA Presented by Live Oak Public Libraries & the City of Savannah
Anna Dewdney Elizabeth Dulemba Brian Jordan Alan Katz Melinda Long Pat Mora Kyle Puttkamer Miles & William Rabun Judy Schachner Charles R. Smith Jr. Don Tate Marjory Wentworth For details: www.liveoakpl.org Major support from the Live Oak Public Libraries Foundation, Gulfstream Aerospace and the Savannah Morning News
ne night last summer, author Jeff Kinney was astounded to see that the upcoming book in his Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, The Ugly Truth, was number two on Amazon’s bestseller list. “I didn’t even know what ‘The Ugly Truth’ was yet,” he remembers. “They’re printing five million of these things, and I hadn’t even decided.” His series chronicling the adventures of middle school student Greg Heffley is definitely a publishing phenomenon, having sold more than 37 million copies in the U.S. and millions more in 30 countries around the world, inspired a movie and eagerly anticipated sequel (for which he is executive producer) and catapulted this quiet cartoonist to sudden fame. “It’s been a strange life so far,” Kinney says. And no doubt getting stranger. On November 8, the day before The Ugly Truth goes on sale, Kinney will
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share the podium with Laura Bush and Condoleezza Rice at Barbara Bush’s “Celebration of Reading” in Dallas. Later in the month he’ll watch a Wimpy Kid balloon float by in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. All of this might not have happened had not a savvy editor, Charles Kochman of Abrams, recognized his talent. While a student at the University of Maryland, Kinney cartooned for the campus newspaper and studied (of all things) computer science and criminal justice. He planned to become a federal law enforcement agent until a hiring freeze squashed that idea. While trying to break into syndicate “It feels like cartooning, I go off and he collected pretend to be several years’ worth of what an author, he calls “souland pretend crushing” rejection letters. to make The probmovies, and lem was his then come drawing style: “I could never back to my get a consistent normal life.” line,” Kinney says. “My hand would never obey what my mind wanted it to do. And still, it’s very hard for me to draw.” That’s why he draws Greg as a middle schooler, although he originally had an adult audience in mind. After Kochman saw Kinney’s work at Comic-Con in 2006, Abrams decided to publish Diary of a Wimpy Kid as a children’s book, and the rest, as they say, is history. The resulting hoopla feels “makebelieve,” Kinney says, adding, “It feels like I go off and pretend to be an author, and pretend to make movies, and then come back to my normal life.” His normal life takes place on a quiet street in Plainville, Massachusetts, where he lives with his wife and two sons, ages five and seven. From there Kinney heads off to a day job as executive producer and creative director of a website called Poptropica, and returns to be as-
sistant soccer coach for his son’s team. Through it all, Kinney remains remarkably grounded, seeming as if he has all the time in the world, despite the fact that a film crew from CNN would soon arrive on the cloudy autumn day when we talked. At times, however, the balancing act is worrisome. “If I were throwing the football with my son and hurt my hand, then that would really send everything upside down,” Kinney says. Now that he’s finished writing, what is The Ugly Truth? “If I said that, it would blow the ending,” Kinney says, “but I’ll say that this book is about growing up. The book is sort of a metaphor for my decision on whether or not to move forward. . . . Is Greg going to move on, or is he going to stay in a state of arrested development forever?” Will there be more Wimpy Kid books? “I truly haven’t decided that,” Kinney says. “I’m trying to take a few weeks to really think about this. These books look like you could put them together in a day or two, but they take about nine months of really hard work.” The work takes place in his small upstairs office, usually at night or on weekends. The walls are purposely bare to minimize distraction, and Kinney’s concentration method is decidedly unconventional. “I sit right here,” he says, pointing to a corner of a small couch. “I usually put a blanket over my head.” A blanket? “Sensory deprivation,” he explains. “I’ve tried all sorts of different things . . . to help get my mind into a thinking mode. To make a good book I need maybe 700 ideas, so it’s about four hours a night of just thinking, for about four months. Most of the time I fall asleep.” Kinney next labels each idea A, B or C, depending on how he judges its worth. He tries to throw out all of the “C” ideas, and then strings the rest together. Finally, he’s ready to draw, necessitating another four months of 8- to 12-hour days, and
© ALICE CARY
DIARY OF A BUSY MAN
I n t e r v i e w b y A l i c e Ca r y
sometimes 13- and 14-hour days. He listens to books on tape, usually history or historical fiction, or sometimes political books about the CIA and terrorism. “It’s very strange,” he notes of his selections. “It doesn’t really compute with what I’m drawing.” “I do all of my drawings on that tablet,” he says, pointing to a device that links to his computer. “I just draw like mad. In fact, my eyes still can’t focus even though it’s been about 10 days since I drew my last drawing [for The Ugly Truth].” The merging of text and drawings comes late in the process, much like a giant puzzle, Kinney says. “A drawing might end up falling halfway on one page and half on the other, so sometimes you’ll change the story itself just to make the drawings fit.” After a tour to promote the new book, Kinney looks forward to getting back to his daily routine, putting his sons on the school bus each morning, and waiting for them when they get off. “I’m happiest when I’m leading a normal life,” he says. “That’s what I strive for.”
The Ugly Truth By Jeff Kinney Amulet $13.95, 224 pages ISBN 9780810984912 Ages 8 to 12
LOVES a little ADVENTURE!
UNDER THE GREEN HILL
THE KNEEBONE BOY
Ages 9 to 12 Sent to the English countryside to stay with elderly relatives, Meg and her siblings unexpectedly find themselves in the middle of a fairy war.
Ages 9 to 12 Life in a small town can be pretty boring when everyone avoids you like the plague. But a shocking family secret is about to change everything for the Hardscrabble children.
Laura L. Sullivan
THE FANTASTIC SECRET OF OWEN JESTER
THE LIFE AND OPINIONS OF AMY FINAWITZ Laura Toffler-Corrie
Ages 10 to 13 Amy Finawitz and her motley group of new friends are traipsing around New York City, discovering historical treasures, visiting Houdini’s grave, and more in this laugh-out-loud novel told in hilarious e-mails and one-act plays.
Ages 8 to 12 An amazing secret has tumbled off a freight train and Owen Jester is the only person who knows about it. He’s in for the summer of a lifetime.
A FINDERS-KEEPERS PLACE Ann Haywood Leal
Ages 9 to 12 When people start asking questions about what’s going on at home, Esther Page tries to find the one person she thinks can help— the father she can barely remember.
THE MIDNIGHT CHARTER David Whitley
Ages 11 to 14 In the ancient city of Agora, where everything can be bought and sold, two orphans are fighting to survive.
RADIANCE Alyson Noël
Ages 9 to 12 Riley has crossed the bridge into the afterlife and picked up where she left off when she was alive. But she quickly learns that the afterlife isn’t just an eternity of leisure.
THE UNSINKABLE WALKER BEAN
THE BLACK BOOK OF SECRETS
Ages 9 to 14 Walker Bean never wanted to be a high-seas pirate waging a pitched battle against the forces of the deep. It just worked out that way.
Ages 9 to 12 A pawnbroker, who buys people’s deepest, darkest secrets, and his assistant hold the key to unlocking the mystery behind a village’s evil tyrant.
F. E. Higgins
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children’s books The Other Side of Dark
caught BETWEEN TWO WORLDS R e v i e w b y K i m b e r l y G i a rr a t a n o
Law Walker comes from a home of wealth and prestige. His father is a prominent black Harvard professor who preaches in favor of reparations for slavery. Law’s mother, an architectural historian (and a white woman), is desperately trying to save Pinebank, a Boston landmark and the center of much controversy, from demolition. A child of mixed race, Law struggles with his identity: “I feel less black than Eminem,” he says. Living in a very different world is Law’s high school classmate Katie Mullens, an orphan who has been grieving the death of her mother for the past year. Labeled crazy by her peers, she sees ghosts and draws deeply disturbing images of death. She is almost swallowed up in her grief until she and Law begin a life-saving relationship. Unfortunately, Law’s parents don’t approve of Katie. Not only is she poor, and from a broken home, but she’s also white—a fact not lost on Law either. For a guy struggling with being black, By Sarah Smith, Atheneum, $16.99, 320 pages, having a white girlfriend isn’t easy. ISBN 9781442402805, ages 12 and up The two couldn’t be less alike, and yet they are drawn together by a centuries-old mystery surrounding the decrepit Pinebank and the ghosts who reside there. For Law and his mother, Pinebank is an irreplaceable historical gem, even if Law’s father condemns the house for the crimes committed by its slave-owning proprietor. For Katie, the key to freeing herself from the spirits who haunt her is buried somewhere in that house. In her first novel for teens, Sarah Smith tells Law’s and Katie’s stories in alternating chapters, masterfully weaving in the very real and detailed history of Pinebank. The result is a haunting, emotional tale about a teenage girl’s unraveling, and a boy whose very identity feels entwined in a house condemned for demolition. The Other Side of Dark is no ordinary ghost story, but rather a meticulously researched and poignant tale about grief, identity and the dark pasts that can define us.
The Chiru of High Tibet By Jacqueline Briggs Martin Illustrated by Linda Wingerter HMH $17.99, 40 pages ISBN 9780618581306 Ages 5 to 8
It’s rare for a children’s book to both shock and inspire, but Jacqueline Briggs Martin, author of the Caldecott Medal winner Snowflake Bentley, achieves both in her latest undertaking, The Chiru of High Tibet. Spare yet elegant, this unique picture book takes readers to cold and windy Chang Tang in the northern plains of Tibet, home of the chiru, sheep-sized animals that resemble antelopes. While many Tibetans believe the chiru’s horns have healing powers, outsiders would probably never know of these unique creatures if not for their wool, called shahtoosh, the finest and softest in the world.To make one shawl of shahtoosh, up to five chiru are killed.
Through poaching, the chiru have been brought to the brink of extinction. Conservationist George Schaller believed that the key to saving these animals was to identify the secret place where they give birth and ask the Chinese government to make this ground protected land. After Schaller’s unsuccessful attempts with trucks and camels, four mountain-climbing men volunteer to follow the chiru more than 200 miles, across chilly canyon streams and rocky gorges, to locate the secret birthing ground. As spectacular as the story are Linda Wingerter’s gorgeous paintings in pastel blues, pinks and oranges that capture the icy, rugged terrain in early morning light. A concluding double-page spread features color photographs of Schaller, the four trekkers and a baby chiru. Martin, who traveled to the Chang Tang Reserve in Tibet as part of her research, highlights both man’s threats to wildlife and the impact of a few individuals on an entire species. The chiru’s plight is an enlightening reminder to all readers of Earth’s fragility. —Angela LeepeR
about everyone in town. Downhearted and dejected, Holler longs for folks to appreciate him for who he is. But he doesn’t have long to ponder his misery: A fierce tornado is approaching the town and threatening to obliterate all that he loves. Cynthia Leitich Smith’s comical Southwestern tall tale perfectly captures the frustration that comes from being misunderstood. Barry Gott’s illustrations are as colorful and active as Holler’s intense voice. Young readers will be delighted by the amusing details Gott includes when depicting the huge cast of townsfolk and animal creatures. Holler Loudly is an apt reminder that we are all unique, and in celebrating our gifts, sometimes it may be just as necessary to bellow boldly as to listen quietly. —J e n n i f e r R o b i n s o N
A LONG WALK TO WATER By Linda Sue Park HMH $16, 128 pages ISBN 9780547251271 Ages 10 and up
HOLLER LOUDLY By Cynthia Leitich Smith Illustrated by Barry Gott Dutton $16.99, 32 pages ISBN 9780525422563 Ages 4 to 8
Babies cry. Much to the chagrin of parents, they sometimes cry rather vociferously. But nothing compares to the whooping and hollering of Mama and Daddy Loudly’s infant son, Holler. Baby Holler’s wails were “so LOUD that the pecans fell from the pecan trees and the prickly pear cacti sprouted more needles.” Though Holler Loudly’s parents try to gently admonish their infant son to “hush,” no amount of hushing or shushing will do. Holler’s excitement for school, the movies, fishing with Grandpa and just about everything in life prompts him to exclaim with phrases like “Yippee Ti Yi Yo!” and “Ye Haw!” Unfortunately, Holler’s verbal gusto is mistaken for racket, and he is scolded by just
Few children can imagine walking eight hours a day or digging by hand deep into the mud, just to find water for their family. But the backbreaking work under the hot African sun is just a typical day for 11-year-old Nya, growing up in Sudan circa 2008. She rarely complains; it would do no good. Salva, also 11, is from a prominent, upper-class Sudanese family. As the Second Sudanese Civil War erupts in the mid-1980s, Salva is forced to run as bombs hit his village. Fleeing quickly and leaving his family behind, he joins up with bands of strangers—all headed out of their war-torn homeland to Ethiopia. Difficult as it may be, both Nya and Salva come to accept their own long walks to water—each peppered with challenges and each tied to family and survival. Nya’s sister becomes very ill; Salva loses several loved ones. But Newbery Award winner Linda Sue Park’s brilliant dual narrative provides a soulful insight into both journeys. Both Salva and Nya are urged on by their individual reserves of
reviews hope—for a better tomorrow, a better future—but neither really knows what lies beyond. The book’s denouement, however, intertwines their stories in a soul-satisfying and optimistic way. A Long Walk to Water is based on Salva Dut’s true story of perseverance amid adversity. But beyond that, it’s a touching narrative about strife and survival on a scale most American readers will never see. —SHARON VERBETEN
intelligent, heartfelt hilarity from these two talented authors. — H eather S e g g e l
meet DAVID SMALL of: Q: Illustrator
would you describe Q: How the book?
By Daisy Whitney Little, Brown $16.99, 352 pages ISBN 9780316090537 Ages 15 and up
has been the biggest influence on your work? Q: Who
Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares By Rachel Cohn & David Levithan Knopf $16.99, 272 pages ISBN 9780375866593 Ages 12 and up
Dash is perusing the 18 miles of books at New York City’s legendary Strand bookstore when a flash of red catches his eye. It’s a Moleskine notebook with “DO YOU DARE?” scrawled on the cover, and a series of clues encoded inside. Will he take the bait, even if it means approaching the counter to ask for a novel called Fat Hoochie Prom Queen? Lucky for us, the answer is “Yes.” Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares is the third collaboration between Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, and the magic they create together is not just holding but getting stronger. Dash and Lily are each spending the winter holidays without their parents, and they begin sending each other on more ridiculous and risky missions, abetted by friends, family, a custom-designed Muppet and the iconic red notebook. Along the way a department-store Santa is inappropriately groped, a baby is catapulted through the air in Washington Square Park, and information is extorted under the threat of a spontaneous recitation from the works of James Patterson. Did I mention the 2 a.m. Christmas/ Hanukkah mosh pit? Somehow all these antics (and more!) combine to create a surprisingly chaste and tender love story. Lily’s sweet optimism might soften the “snarly” side of Dash that everyone sees, and he lures her out of a comfort zone that’s concealing a fear of life. So here’s my list for the next several Christmases: more
Themis Academy is the kind of high-powered boarding school where the students take on extra projects, perform challenging music for the faculty and volunteer their time for worthy causes. In short, it’s a school where the students can do no wrong—or so the teachers think. They’re so convinced they’re teaching the best and the brightest that they turn a blind eye to bad behavior. So what’s a student to do if she or he is the victim of injustice? That’s where the Mockingbirds come in. It would be tempting to call their brand of justice “vigilante,” but that would misrepresent their vast organization, efficient tactics and strict codes of conduct. The group of students known as the Mockingbirds (inspired by Harper Lee’s famous novel) serve as judge, jury and jailer for the perpetrators they try in their laundry/courtroom. When Alex is date-raped after a party, she can barely remember the event, let alone stand up to her attacker. But when he starts spreading rumors about Alex, her older sister—the founder of the Mockingbirds—encourages her to take her case to the secret society. Alex, who usually feels most comfortable sitting at a piano, must find her memories—and her voice—if she hopes to feel like her old self again. In The Mockingbirds, Daisy Whitney effectively captures the simultaneous disorientation, guilt, embarrassment and fear that arise in the wake of rape. Even if some of the details of Themis life, or Alex’s musical knowledge, seem a little unrealistic, Alex’s story—her selfdoubt, slow recovery and reliance on old friends and new supporters—rings true. Readers will be cheering for Alex to recapture her old life, and to discover a new one that might be even better. — N orah P i eh l
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?
ELSIE’S BIRD Caldecott Medal-winning artist David Small has illustrated more than 40 picture books. His latest is Elsie’s Bird (Philomel, $17.99, 40 pages, ISBN 9780399252921), written by Jane Yolen. Small and his wife, the writer Sarah Stewart, live in Michigan.