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discover your next great book feb. 2013

Snuggle Up

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america’s book review

with a good book

true love Finding your one and only

GHOSTMAN Casino heist takes a deadly turn

MEGASTAR A young idol comes of age

58 c d reviews inside

THE HOUSE GIRL Searching for justice across the centuries


paperback picks PENGUIN.COM

ON SALE 2/12

Chasing Midnight

Hunting Daylight

Stay Close

The Last Trade

A group of violent, armed men have taken control of one of Florida’s private islands, their true identity unknown. Communications from the island have been cut off, and Doc Ford knows he has to act. Luckily, the militants do not know Ford’s capabilities, or that he is still on the loose. But that situation won’t last for long…and the clock is ticking.

Caro Barrett has had doubts about the death of her husband, who disappeared while looking for a tribe of day-walking vampires. Now, their daughter is struggling through her teenage years without a father. Waiting in the wings is an ancient vampire ready to possess Caro’s heart—and to protect them both from harm.

Three people living lives they never wanted are hiding secrets that even those closest to them would never suspect. And as each confronts the dark side of the American dream, they will discover the hard truth that the line between one kind of life and another can be as whisper thin as a heartbeat.

Drew Havens made a killing for the Rising Fund, but his work has cost him his marriage. And now it may cost him his life. As the violence escalates to an international level, Havens frantically tries to construct a model that will reveal the catastrophic event that only he can see—and confirm that his boss and the Rising Fund are at the center of it.

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Did You Miss Me?

Not Planning on You

The Shadow Patrol

Haunted Moon

Daphne believes her son’s kidnapping is connected to a high-profile trial, and at first FBI special agent Joseph Carter agrees. But together they find the reality to be even more troubling. With her son’s life in jeopardy, she must unlock a dreadful secret about her past and, if she survives, threaten the lives of everyone she loves.

A recent corporate merger is making Suzy Denton’s job very difficult—mostly due to Grayson Merimon, wealthy CEO. When circumstances continue to throw them together—and with Gray determined to show her that two opposites can be a perfect fit—Suzy realizes that she might just have found the one man who can give her what she’s always needed…

When the CIA ask John Wells to investigate the Taliban, he reluctantly agrees to return to the country where his career began. One thing is certain: Americans are dying, and an American is responsible. Wells is the only one who can unearth the truth—if it doesn’t bury him first.

There’s a new Fae sorcerer in town—Bran, the son of Raven Mother and the Black Unicorn. With cemeteries being ransacked and spirits being harvested by a sinister, otherworldly force, Aeval is sent to rescue the missing wife of a prominent member of the Fae nobility.

9780451414090 • $7.99

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The new novel from New York Times bestselling author Jen Lancaster “Scathingly witty and lots of fun.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review) Twenty years after ruling the halls of her suburban Chicago high school, Lissy Ryder doesn’t understand why her glory days ended. Back then, she was worshipped...beloved...feared. Present day, not so much. She’s been pink-slipped from her high-paying job, dumped by her husband and kicked out of her condo. Now, at thirty-seven, she’s struggling to start a business out of her parents’ garage and sleeping under the hair-band posters in her old bedroom. Lissy finally realizes karma is the only bitch bigger than she was. Her present is miserable because of her past. But it’s not like she can go back in time and change who she was...or can she? NEW AMERICAN LIBRARY A Penguin Group (USA) Company

9780451236722 • $25.95


contents

February 2013 w w w. B o o k Pa g e . c o m

features

19

13 Tara Conklin

true love

A pragmatic look at the most influential, ineffable emotion throughout history—love—and what makes it work.

An elegant debut illuminates the lasting effects of slavery

15 Roger Hobbs Ghostman introduces an exciting new voice to the thriller genre

18 Christie Ridgway A trilogy filled with second chances and sun-kissed romance

Cover photo © iStock.com/STEEX

reviews

Meet the author of Here I Go Again

21 Teddy Wayne Getting inside the mind of an 11-year-old pop idol

27 BLack History Month Remembering turning points in African-American history

28 black history for Children Tales of perseverence and big dreams

H.G. Wells inspires a haunting teen novel

31 Wendy ANderson Halperin Meet the author-illustrator of Peace

columns Lifestyles The Author Enabler Book Fortunes Well read Whodunit Book Clubs Romance Cooking Audio

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• BookPageXTRA • Top 10 • Book of the Day • Children’s Corner

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Revenge by Yoko Ogawa The Dinner by Herman Koch The Comfort of Lies by Randy Susan Meyers Schroder by Amity Gaige Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell Moon Over Edisto by Beth Webb Hart The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord See Now Then by Jamaica Kincaid Truth in Advertising by John Kenney The Tin Horse by Janice Steinberg The Antagonist by Lynn Coady Indiscretion by Charles Dubow

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columns

lifestyles

THE author enabler

by joanna brichetto

by Sam Barry

bridal dreams come true “Cult favorite” wedding blog StyleMePretty branches into book mode with Style Me Pretty Weddings (Clarkson Potter, $30, 256 pages, ISBN 9780770433789) by Abby Larson. This gorgeously illustrated volume is sure to have a broad appeal beyond its built-in blog readership. The allure of style choices will be irresistible to anyone planning a “bespoke wedding,” the wonderfully old-fashioned term for a marriage ceremony customdesigned for the happy couple. After

ous of all) “ruthless self-talk,” the whispers in your ear that you are not good enough to do what you’ve set out to do. In the same spirit of keeping those enemies of creativity at bay, the second half of The Muse Is In provides a “Day-to-Day Maintenance Datebook,” 365 gems of advice from many angels of creativity on how to keep your muse present and accounted for. This nugget from A.A. Milne (on his birthday, January 18) is not to be pooh-poohed: “Ideas may drift into other minds, but they do not drift my way. I have to go and fetch them.”

TOP PICK IN LIFESTYLES a thorough introduction on “The Anatomy” of such an event—including how to select a “couple style,” a feel, a venue, a color palette and the sources of your own inspirations— Larson details various options for wedding styles, ranging from “classic” to “whimsical.” Much of her advice may seem out of range for those of us not quite so well-heeled as the brides on view here, but Style Me Pretty nicely addresses budget constraints, suggesting (for example) “incredibly inexpensive” carnations for a centerpiece that “would take your breath away” . . . but not your bank account.

CULTIVATING CREATIVITY

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“Creativity” is the buzzword of our epoch, a democratic awareness that artfulness is everyone’s birthright and not only the province of “artists.” Jill Badonsky travels around the world, speaking at conferences and giving workshops to help everyone from filmmakers to business executives unlock their inner Edison. The Muse Is In (Running Press, $18, 238 pages, ISBN 9780762444670) offers heaping bushels of Badonsky’s wisdom, slyly arranged as a DIY manual of instructions for opening up your own box of creative tools. The first half of the book offers strategic advice on how to do battle against the “demons” who threaten our creativity at all times, a legion that includes fear, perfectionism, procrastination and (most insidi-

Americans have been in love with the lawn for far too long. Our green dreams are fueled by a nightmare of pesticides, fertilizer, gasoline and water consumption, all to maintain a sterile monoculture of little use to human or beast. But coming up with alternatives is tricky. What we need are easy, functional, earthfriendly lawn substitutes, and here’s a book-full for the taking: Lawn Gone! Low-Maintenance, Sustainable, Attractive Alternatives for Your Yard by Pam Penick. Whatever your experience level, climate, lifestyle or needs, landscape designer and garden writer Pam Penick has solutions. She provides a gorgeous variety of options and inspirations: native, low-mow lawns; lawnlike mixes of grasses and flowers; full-on wildlife habitats; children’s playscapes; patios and walkways for entertaining; ponds; multi-use hardscapes and more. As a bonus, she includes regional plant recommendations and tips for smoothing the way with neighbors and homeowner associations.

Lawn Gone! By Pam Penick

Ten Speed $19.99, 192 pages ISBN 9781607743149 eBook available

GARDENING

Practical advice on writing & publishing for aspiring authors

TRICKS OF THE TRADE Dear Author Enabler, I received an answer from a trade publisher requesting that I send my manuscript. What should writers know about trade publishing? Is it better than other kinds of publishing? Does it guarantee sales? And what do you know about Holiday House? Laura Crowder Ohio, Illinois To answer your last question first, Holiday House is a reputable, established publisher of children’s books. Trade publishers sell to the broadest possible audience through retail bookstores and libraries. These publishers are the source of the majority of books that make the bestseller list, and in an era of bigger and bigger conglomerates, there are fewer independent trade publishers and more divisions and imprints within these larger entities. When you go to a bookstore or library to get a specific book, chances are it was published by a trade publisher. Trade publishing is neither better nor worse than other types of publishing, such as academic publishing—it simply has a different focus. Trade publishers want to reach the greatest number of readers as quickly as possible. The trend in trade publishing is toward signing up books that are likely to be immediately profitable. However, no one can guarantee sales.

WELL VERSED Dear Author Enabler, I would like to ask for information on promoting my book, Enero en Poesia. I have an ISBN for it and it appears at a few public libraries here in the Rio Grande Valley. I would like to know if I could find a publisher to promote my book. I’ve looked into self-publishing but this seems a bit expensive to me. I feel I have a title and content that can sell. Sergio Lopes Houston, Texas Most poets who succeed in getting their poems published in book form do so by first getting individual poems published in poetry journals. I suggest you submit your work to literary magazines and journals, which will lead to recognition

among editors and your peers. Once your poetry has appeared in some periodicals, submit your collected work to the small presses and university publishers best known for publishing poetry. You might want to start in your home state of Texas. Self-publishing is also an option. There are so many ways to selfpublish today, including eBook only, that cost need not be the deciding factor. But I’d suggest exhausting the traditional path first.

FROM THE INBOX For you writers on a budget who are in need of a good copyeditor, Dawn Kline of St. Germain, Wisconsin, offers this suggestion: “I am writing my first book and pinching pennies like everyone else. I would like to remind your readers that public libraries are wonderful and free resources. My local library directed me to a writer’s group where I can receive free editing, proofreading and feedback. Local colleges might also have students who could lend a hand for free or barter.” Also, more vigilant readers wrote in about the epidemic of hair-tucking and other clichés in novels: Kathleen Winkler of Pewaukee, Wisconsin, spotted two hair-tucking incidents. From The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty: “He reached up under the brim of her hat and pushed a loose curl behind her ear.” And in Sarah Jio’s The Violets of March: “ ‘OK, honey,’ she said, tucking a stray lock of my blond hair behind my ear, ‘I’ve missed you.’ ” C.C. Harrison of Anthem, Arizona, says, “I can handle hair tucking, but what about lip biting? For years every romance novel I read had the female character biting her lip, chewing her lip, gnawing her lip. Who does this? Do you bite your lip? I don’t.” Ron Timmons of Indianapolis wonders if any fictional police officer has ever had a good cup of coffee. “It’s always ‘burned’ or ‘tastes like battery acid,’ ” Ron notes. “We should take up a collection to provide our police officers with some decent coffee.” Presumably that would be a fictional collection. Send your questions about writing and publishing to authorenablers@gmail.com.


Our crystal ball predicts your next great read Reader name: Kristen Hometown: Florissant, MO Favorite genres: American history, mystery series, books about baseball, well-written fiction Favorite books: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak; Five Smooth Stones by Ann Fairbairn; Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series; City of Refuge by Tom Piazza Though Kristen’s favorite books take place in settings as different as post-Katrina New Orleans, World War II-era Germany and within the Sûreté du Québec, they have one major thing in common: They are artfully written and emotional stories. And isn’t that what we’re all really looking for? Based on Kristen’s book list, it appears that this reader has an interest in race and class. The Invisible Line by Daniel J. Sharfstein is a fascinating read—a nonfiction book that provides “a detailed and instructive look at America’s tortured history and still-evolving attitudes toward race,” wrote reviewer Ron Wynn in the February 2011 issue of BookPage. The book traces the lives of three black families who crossed over the “color line” and passed for white—a little-acknowledged aspect of American history. (For more books that examine different areas of African-American history, see the Black History roundup in this issue.) Much has been written about families coping with life during and after Hurricane Katrina (such as City of Refuge), but one that is sure to endure is Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward, an intense story of overcoming adversity in the fictional town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi. (This powerful narrative was a critical favorite, winning the 2011 National Book Award for Fiction.) For something visual, I love A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge, a nonfiction graphic work by Josh Neufeld. I am not usually drawn to

Book FortuneS

well read

by eliza borné

by robert Weibezahl

graphic stories, but this tale of seven New Orleanians after the storm is both heartbreaking and beautiful to look at. The Cutting Season by Attica Locke is also set in Louisiana, though I’m suggesting it because I think the novel will appeal to fans of Louise Penny. The setting (an antebellum mansion) is quite different from Penny’s Québec, but both Penny and Locke are skilled at combining mystery with character development, history and atmos­ phere. The Cutting Season was Dennis Lehane’s first pick for his new imprint at HarperCollins, if you need any proof of Locke’s credentials as a thriller author. (I assure you that you won’t after diving into this murder mystery.) There are two novels I would suggest for a fan of The Book Thief. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein is a “complex story of friendship and courage,” as Deborah Hopkinson wrote in the May 2012 issue of BookPage. Starring a young spy, the novel is set during World War II in Great Britain and occupied France. One of my personal recent favorites is Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys, a haunting survival story. The novel follows a teen girl whose family is forced from their home in Lithuania in 1941 and sent to labor camps in Siberia. The plot was inspired by true events in history, a chapter that is overwhelmingly undocumented in popular literature. Like The Book Thief, these novels are classified as “young adult”—but they have a classic quality that will appeal to readers of all ages. Finally, as for contemporary baseball books? It doesn’t get better than The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, a coming-of-age story about a prodigy shortstop, set on a fictional Midwestern college campus. (Read it if you like engrossing fiction— who cares if you’re a baseball fan.) I also liked The Might Have Been by Joseph M. Schuster, a 2012 debut novel about the dashed dreams of a might-have-been professional baseball player. Devotees of America’s pastime should also direct their attention to baseball memoirs by stars of the game, like One Last Strike by Tony La Russa and Wherever I Wind Up by R.A. Dickey. For a chance at your own book fortune, email bookfortunes@bookpage.com with your name, hometown and your favorite genre(s), author(s) and book(s).

THE ELECTRIFYING BIRTH OF Mary Shelley’S MONSTER When Mary Shelley published Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus in 1818, it immediately captured the public’s attention. Two centuries later it remains a canonical work, despite—or perhaps because of—numerous Hollywood bowdlerizations that often have relegated a serious, philosophical novel to the realm of horror or even kitsch. Roseanne Montillo restores some of the luster to Shelley’s masterpiece in The Lady and Her Monsters, a work of literary history that explores the origins of the book through the lens of the writer’s melodramatic life and the times in which she lived. Montillo intertwines three narrative threads in this engaging book. First, there is Shelley’s own story, which has become legend. While still a teenager, Mary Godwin ran off Montillo to Europe with her married explores the poet-lover, Percy origins of Bysshe Shelley, Frankenstein and her stepsister, Claire through Clairmont. The the lens of trio settled into Shelley’s life. a Swiss chateau with Lord Byron and a young doctor, John Polidori (author of another horror classic, “The Vampyre”). A storytelling competition among these friends and lovers spawned Frankenstein. As with all legends, Montillo shows, this one has been romanticized. Mary Shelley certainly achieved greatness with this literary work, but it was a long time germinating, and grew out of the zeitgeist of an age fascinated by notions of the regeneration of life. Experiments in “galvanism,” pioneered by the 18th-century surgeon Luigi Galvani, make up the second part of Montillo’s story. Often attended by a public hungry for sensational entertainment, these attempts to raise the dead using electricity could not be carried out without corpses. This inescapable reality provides the impetus for Montillo’s third thread: grave-robbing. Montillo supplies a thorough account of this gruesome practice, which sometimes even led to serial murder, and caps it with a curious coda from our own century involving the remains of beloved broad-

caster Alistair Cooke. Yet, despite the ghoulish charms of these well-researched and welltold portions of the story, it is the antics of Mary Shelley and her cohorts that drive the book. From a modern perspective, these young artists were little more than a band of Regency-era hippies, traipsing around Europe, scrounging for money (except for the well-heeled Lord Byron), experimenting with mind-altering substances, partaking in free love and bearing children out of wedlock. It was all very scandalous, but as Montillo shows, often tragic, especially for the women (there were a number of suicides within the extended group). As the daughter of the proto-feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and the progressive writer William Godwin, Mary Shelley was herself a freethinker and, as Frankenstein proves, deeply intelligent and talented. But she was not always happy with her unconventional domestic situation, Montillo suggests, and the romantic version of events she left us with in her introduction to the 1831 revision of Frankenstein hides some ugly truths. With all the other principals of the story dead, Montillo says, “There was no one to contradict Mary, no one to say the events she was describing had not taken place or hadn’t taken place in the sequence she remembered.” With a few revisionist strokes, Shelley created not only the myth of Frankenstein’s monster, but the myth behind the novel as well. Montillo’s clever blend of history, science and biography makes The Lady and Her Monsters a closer version of the truth.

The Lady and Her Monsters By Roseanne Montillo

Morrow $26.99, 336 pages ISBN 9780062025814 eBook available

literature

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columns

Whodunit by Bruce Tierney

ANOTHER Tough case for Scotland Yard The mother/son writing team known as Charles Todd hails from the East Coast of the United States, but you’d swear they were Brits through and through, given the style and tone of their popular Inspector Rutledge series. Set in the years following World War I, the books chronicle the cases of a Scotland Yard inspector, back after a long and harrowing wartime tour of duty that has left him somewhat shell-shocked. The latest in the series, Proof of Guilt (Morrow, $25.99, 352 pages, ISBN 9780062015686), centers on an apparent hit-and-run on a quiet suburban street. Forensic examination suggests that the body was dragged, yet there is not a loose hair nor a stray fiber at the scene. An expensive watch found on the corpse belongs to one Lewis French, an importer of wine from Madeira, but the body is not his. However, French is missing in action, leading to speculation that he could well be the perpetrator. The plot thickens when French’s partner in the wine company goes missing as well, and an unidentified body washes up on a nearby beach. If your taste in mysteries runs toward Agatha Christie, or her modern-day successors Ruth Rendell and P.D. James, Proof of Guilt should be right up your alley.

CALIFORNIA CRIME It is always a pleasure to happen upon a debut novel that reads as if the writer has toiled at his craft for ages, and that is definitely the case with Lachlan Smith’s San Francisco thriller, Bear Is Broken (Mysterious Press, $24, 272 pages, ISBN 9780802120793). Fledgling attorney Leo Maxwell is having lunch with his elder brother, Teddy, a high-profile Bay Area criminal lawyer known for his borderline unethical shenanigans, when someone walks up, takes quick aim over Leo’s shoulder, and shoots Teddy in the face. Leo is so transfixed at the sight in front of him that he cannot give the police any information about the perp; by the time he thinks to look around, the shooter is long gone. Miraculously, Teddy survives the operation to remove the bullet from his

brain, but he is hanging on by the thinnest of threads. The police will be of little help, as they have been embarrassed repeatedly by Teddy’s uncanny ability to secure acquittals for blatantly guilty clients. Clearly, if Leo wants a proper investigation, he will have to do it himself, a task for which he is singularly ill-equipped. For starters, he can’t handle a gun. His internal lie detector is seriously flawed, and, for that matter, so is his sense of impending peril. The read-

er will definitely have more than one of those “noooo, don’t open the basement door!” moments. Leo is a good egg, and you will find yourself pulling for him—and more importantly, strongly hoping he survives for a second installment!

DISRUPTING THE PEACE Reunion at Red Paint Bay (Other Press, $14.95, 288 pages, ISBN 9781590515457), George Harrar’s incisive look at the soft-focus lens through which we view our respective pasts, chronicles the days leading up to a high-school reunion in a small coastal town in Maine. Simon Howe, the publisher and editor of The Red Paint Register, jokingly suggests to his wife that the new motto for the small newspaper should be “Nothing Happens—And We Report It.” That is all about to change, and in ways Howe cannot begin to fathom. In the space of a few days, he will receive several disturbing letters, his son will go missing and he will be accused of rape; in short, his complacent small-town life will be turned totally upside down. The root of the trouble seems to be Howe’s hormone-driven graduation night activities all those years ago. Is the rape accusation a case of after-the-fact remorse, or was there an element of force in the encounter? Whichever the case, that fateful night set off a chain of events that altered lives in unforeseen ways, and the residents of Red Paint will

be forced to reconsider the nature of relationships they thought they’d had pegged for many years.

TOP PICK IN MYSTERY Timothy Hallinan is no stranger to the Top Pick in Mystery award; his Bangkok-set series featuring gonzo travel journalist Poke Rafferty has long been a BookPage favorite. So I had some trepidation about the author’s new direction when, a month or so back, I received two Hallinan books featuring a new protagonist: amiable Los Angeles burglar (and ad hoc P.I.) Junior Bender. The first of the series, Crashed, came out in November of last year, so it was too late for me to review it for this column; nonetheless, I powered through it so I would have perspective on the second installment, Little Elvises. The title of the book refers to any number of one-hit wonders who rode Elvis Presley’s coattails onto the pop charts in the late 1950s. In his heyday, aging impresario Vinnie DiGaudio was responsible for the success of several of them. Now, DiGaudio is the prime suspect in the murder of an annoying tabloid journalist, and he wants out from under the rap. DiGaudio’s nephew, a somewhat bent Los Angeles cop, bullies Junior into looking into the situation, and from there on, things get, um, convoluted. Little Elvises begs comparison to Tim Dorsey or Carl Hiaasen novels: It’s quirky and hip, and often laugh-out-loud funny. And apologies to Hallinan; my trepidation was misplaced.

Little Elvises By Timothy Hallinan Soho Crime $25, 352 pages ISBN 9781616952778 eBook available

MYSTERY


MAEVE BINCHY Meet her unforgettable cast of characters as they spend a winter week together at a truly wondrous inn.

A Week in Winter Sweepstakes Enter for a chance to win: • a cozy cashmere robe • cashmere slippers • a copy of Binchy’s warm and wonderful new novel Go to Facebook.com/ MaeveBinchyAuthor for details and official rules

knopf

aaknopf.com • Also available as an ebook and audio Illustration © Maeve McCarthy / Photo © The National Gallery of Ireland

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Make This Your Year of Great Reading

“A hypnotic tale.” —USA Today

“From the minute Tess sets foot on the Titanic, this is the kind of novel you simply cannot put down and cannot forget.” —Tatiana de Rosnay, author of Sarah’s Key

“The queen of mystery.”

A BookPage Best Book and New York Times Notable Book

—The Plain Dealer

P. D. James delivers a major treat for fans of mystery and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

“Powerful....

Jaw-dropping in its beauty and audacity.... Brims with affection and optimism.”

“A magnificent novel.... Incomparably perfect.”

—The San Francisco Chronicle

“Luminescent.... Remarkable.”

—USA Today

—The Boston Globe

“A glamour-drenched guilty pleasure.”

A BookPage Best Book and Washington Post Notable Book

—O, The Oprah Magazine

“Riveting.”

“Just in time to fill the gap between seasons of Downton Abbey...[with] characters so richly drawn you’ll feel as if you’ve lost friends when the book is over.”

—Los Angeles Times

“A big, complicated portrait of marriage, culture, family, and love.... Every minute I was away from this book I was longing to be back in the world she created.”

—USA Today

—Ann Patchett

“Terrificc.... Fascinating....

As solid and engaging as as...her early vampire chronicle fiction.” —The Boston Globe

Man Booker Prize Finalist

“Rich and complex....

A deep love of the South African countryside shines through, woven together with creation myths and earthy folk tales.” —The Times (London)

“Extraordinary.... An impossible love story.” —Kirkus (starred review)

A Vintage Original

VINTAGE

ANCHOR

Now in Paperback and eBook

“A lushly written, gothic gothic...metaphysical tale. This time, with werewolves.” —The Wall Street Journal

Treat Yourself and Your Book Club to Exceptional Stories Visit ReadingGroupCenter.com/2013Reads to plan your year of great reading. Use our interactive calendar to organize a fantastic reading plan for you and your book club. Read excerpts, find author tour schedules, connect with other readers, print reading group guides, and more!


columns New paperback releases for reading groups

BACK TO HER ROOTS Aimee Phan’s stirring debut novel, The Reeducation of Cherry Truong (Picador, $16, 368 pages, ISBN 9781250024022), is the story of a brave daughter’s efforts to heal her broken family. The Truongs came to America after the Vietnam War, settling in Southern California and struggling to assimilate. Cherry, who is 21, is caught between the past and the present as she watches her formerly formidable grandmother grapple with daily existence in Little Saigon. Her grandfather, meanwhile, suffers from dementia. To make matters worse, Cherry’s parents have decided to ship her rebellious older brother back to Vietnam to

stay with relatives. When Cherry goes after him, she finds herself on the quest of a lifetime—a trip that teaches her about her native land, its dramatic past and the history of her own family, which has secrets that she never suspected. Phan writes with empathy and authenticity about the immigrant experience, and she moves through historical eras and exotic locales with ease. This enthralling tale about loyalty, selfhood and the importance of home impresses from start to finish.

FIGHTING TO BE FREE Set in South Africa in the 1830s, Philida (Vintage, $15, 320 pages, ISBN 9780345805034), by Booker Prize nominee André Brink, is a powerful account of one woman’s fight for freedom. Philida, a young slave in Cape Town, is the mother of four children, all fathered by Francois, the son of her master. Francois loves Philida but is being forced by his father to marry the daughter of an important Cape Town family—a union that results in Philida’s being sold to new owners and transferred to a farm in a more dangerous region. There, she allies herself with a Muslim slave named Labyn. Against all odds, they embark on a peril-

book clubs by julie hale

ous journey in search of a better life. This heartrending novel— Brink’s 21st book—was inspired by the story of an actual slave whose story Brink researched. One of South Africa’s most acclaimed novelists, he’s a writer of remarkable compassion and insight. His deeply emotional, complex mix of history and fiction will haunt readers long after the final page is turned.

FALL IN LOVE WITH GREAT READS A poignant love story that explores the toll a medical crisis can exact upon a family

“I read this first novel two times. The first time, I was intrigued. The second time, I felt privileged to share in such an amazing story.” —Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean

TOP PICK FOR BOOK CLUBS In his sweeping, multi-generational saga, A Good American, Alex George tells the unforgettable story of a young immigrant couple and the life that unfolds for them in America. In the early 1900s, Frederick and Jette Meisenheimer leave Germany and settle in Beatrice, Missouri, putting down roots that will endure for years to come. When World War I arrives, Frederick signs up to do his part. Jette misses Germany but has the duties of motherhood to distract her, as she looks after their son, Joseph, and daughter, Rosa. Together, the Meisenheimers weather the Great Depression and World War II and bear witness to other landmark moments in our country’s history. Their own development as immigrants takes on extra poignance against the backdrop of these larger-thanlife events. Narrated by Frederick’s grandson, James, this big-hearted book is a tribute to the fortitude of family and tradition. George, an Englishman who moved to Missouri a decade ago, has imbued the story with wonderful detail, bringing America’s past to life in a way that feels fresh while delivering an intimate, deeply human portrait of the ties that bind us all.

A GOOD AMERICAN By Alex George

Berkley $16, 432 pages ISBN 9780425253175 Audio, eBook available

FICTION

A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of 2012

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9


DO YOU KNOW HER

S · E · C · R · E ·T ? No Judgments. No Limits. No Shame. Cassie Robichaud spends her days waiting tables, her nights alone. It’s a world away from the passion she craves…but after discovering a mysterious notebook she suddenly finds herself introduced to an underground society known as S·E·C·R·E·T, dedicated to helping women realize their wildest, most intimate fantasies. And all she has to do is say yes.

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S·E·C·R·E·T is revealed February 5, 2013.

Photo Credit: Michael Lionstar


columns

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

ESCAPE FROM MADNESS On a mission to make amends to his best friend’s widow, Lord Ian Blake leaves India and returns to Victorian England in Maire Clare­ mont’s atmospheric The Dark Lady (Signet, $7.99, 336 pages, ISBN 9780451417992). But he discovers Lady Eva Carin—with whom he grew up—has lived in a madhouse for more than a year, sent there by her brother-in-law after becoming dangerously distraught following the death of her husband and baby son. Ian can’t believe she’s insane, and he visits the asylum to see for himself. After witnessing the despicable conditions, he helps Eva escape to his estate. There, she struggles to recover from physical ordeals that include a laudanum

addiction—and she rediscovers her deep bond with Ian. As Eva’s health improves, passion flares between the couple, though ugly secrets and deep anguish make a future for them seem impossible. Further threatening the pair’s romance is the mistress of the asylum, who is bent on exacting terrifying revenge on Eva. Claremont’s debut is an intense, shiver-inducing page-turner.

WOLF ON THE HUNT Botanist and werewolf Shelley Campbell travels from the United States to Grand Cayman Island and finds much more than exotic plants in A Howl for a Highlander (Sourcebooks, $7.99, 352 pages, ISBN 9781402258930) by Terry Spear. Upon landing at the airport, Shelley is noticed by Scottish Highlander Duncan MacNeill, a fellow wolf. While he’s there to track down the financial wizard who stole his pack’s money, the lone she-wolf is just too appealing to ignore. Circumstances bring them together, and Shelley finds out that the bad guy Duncan is after also stole from her employer— so now she has her own stake in the wolf’s hunt. Though the two share a series of kisses, they are reluctant to

take physical contact further. Full intimacy could lead to mating, and neither is sure about committing forever. But violence drives them even closer, and soon they pair up to stop the villain. When Duncan stops fighting Shelley’s appeal and acknowledges her as the wolf for him, the stakes are even higher as they try to save their love and their lives. Full of action—both in and out of the bedroom—this story will steam the windows.

TOP PICK IN ROMANCE In The Seventh Victim by Mary Burton, a serial killer appears to have moved from Seattle to Austin and restarted his gruesome work after a years-long hiatus. When Texas Ranger James Beck learns that the only surviving victim of the Seattle string of crimes now resides nearby, he’s determined to learn what she knows. With the help of a former Seattle detective, he locates Lara Church—and is frustrated to find that she has little recollection of the terrible attack. But Beck persuades her to share what she can, and as long-buried memories surface, menacing things begin to happen to Lara. Moved to protect her for more than professional reasons, Beck allows himself to care for Lara, and she finds he’s the first man she can trust in years. But more killings occur, and it’s not certain whether Beck and the woman he’s coming to love can stop the murderer before he finishes the task he started years ago. With plenty of procedural details, red herrings and spine-chilling danger, this tale of romantic suspense will keep readers up all night.

The Seventh Victim By Mary Burton

Zebra $7.99, 416 pages ISBN 9781420125054 eBook available

New York Times Bestselling Author

WENDY CORSI

STAUB A novel of suspense

SO

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11


columns

cooking

audio

b y s y b i l P RATT

by sukey howard

The Perfect Crime

Kitchen Secrets Revealed Chefs, thank goodness, can’t be arrested for insider trading, so they’re free to share trade secrets and insider tips. And they do so with gourmet abandon in Adam Roberts’ Secrets of the Best Chefs (Artisan, $27.95, 400 pages, ISBN 9781579654399). Adam, who gave up the lucrative lawyer’s life to become a food writer and creator of the popular blog The Amateur Gourmet, spent a year visiting 11 cities, cooking with 50 of the best chefs in America and scoping out how they do what they do. The result is not just a fabulous compilation of recipes, but an approach that gives you access to the wisdom and knowledge that will make you confident in the kitchen and ready to find and trust your own inner chef. At the beginning of every cooking encoun-

ter, Adam jots down the essence of each chef’s “Kitchen Know-How,” then adds extra tips for each of the 150 recipes, including Alice Waters’ Farmer’s Market Salad with Garlic Vinaigrette, Curtis Duffy’s Short Ribs Braised in Coconut Milk and Alain Allegretti’s Chocolate Cherry Clafoutis.

Rooting for Roots

12

Winter root veggies seem drab when compared to the bright greens, reds, yellows and stripes of their summer cousins, and they’re often gnarly and inelegant looking. But this vast subterranean kingdom can be a treasure trove of culinary delights that not only taste good but are a good source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. The more you know about these underground wonders, the easier it is to be a happy, seasonally correct locavore—or just a better shopper and cook when the days grow shorter and the cold winds blow. Diane Morgan gets to the root of the matter with Roots: The Definitive Compendium with More Than 225 Recipes (Chronicle, $40, 432 pages, ISBN 9780811878371). Twenty-eight chapters take you from Andean

Tubers to Yucca, with the familiar— parsnips, turnips, beets, carrots—and the exotic—scorzonera, burdock, crosne—in between. Basic use and prep are supplied for each one, as well as its history and lore. The recipes, ranging from appetizers, soups, sides, braises and breakfast fare to pickles and even a few desserts, offer routes to the riches of roots.

Top Pick in Cookbooks Move over, Mediterranean, you’ve got real competition from another ancient, world-renowned cuisine that’s just as wonderfully sensible and sense-pleasing. Chinese cooking can be elegant, complex and daunting. But, like all exalted cuisines, there’s a flip side: the food that ordinary people cook at home without cadres of knife-wielding sous-chefs. Over the centuries, Chinese home cooks have learned to cook and eat in a frugal, healthy way, making vegetables and grains sing with flavor while using meat, poultry and fish sparingly. Now, with Fuchsia Dunlop’s consummate guidance, you too can become an accomplished creator of Chinese home cooking. Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking, her latest, has everything you’ll need—a primer on basic ingredients, including Dunlop’s richly flavored, nothard-to-find “magic” seasonings, essential tools, prep methods, cooking techniques, menu ideas and an extensive, illustrated glossary. And then come the 150 enticing, definitely doable recipes, with full-color photos, that will inspire you to try an extraordinary range of deliciously different dishes and make them part of your own everyday family fare.

Every Grain of Rice By Fuchsia Dunlop Norton $35, 352 pages ISBN 9780393089042

CHINESE

Keigo Higashino, the most widely read author in Japan, hasn’t achieved that kind of fame here, but he’s getting increasing attention from American mystery readers. Salvation of a Saint (Macmillan Audio, $39.99, 9 hours, ISBN 9781427221339) is the second of his intricately plotted procedural puzzlers to be published in English, and it’s a doozy. If you listen carefully, you know early on who murdered Yoshitaka Mashiba and why (you may even root for the killer). What you don’t know and, try as you will, won’t know, is how the crime was committed. For this, you, and the Tokyo Police detectives, need the brilliant analytical mind of physics professor Yukawa, aka Detective Galileo, last heard from in The Devotion of Suspect X. The police

know that Mashiba’s wife, Ayane, is the most logical suspect, but she was hundreds of miles away when her husband sipped a lethal cup of arsenic-laced coffee. So, instead of whodunit, we have a howdunit that baffles the police and almost stymies Detective Galileo. Narrator David Pittu gives an impeccable performance, brushed with just a whisper of a foreign accent.

Reversal of Fortune Malcolm Bannister, the hero of John Grisham’s latest legal thriller, The Racketeer (Random House Audio, $45, 13 hours, ISBN 9780307943255), is not a racketeer. He’s an African-American lawyer, now disbarred, serving an excessive 10-year sentence in a minimumsecurity prison for a crime he didn’t commit. But he’s going to get out— don’t worry, I’m not giving too much away. The real fun here is trying to follow and fathom Mal’s Byzantine scheme for revenge, redemption and then some. As a jailhouse lawyer, he’s been privy to lots of criminal secrets and had the time to construct a plan that just might get him released into the witness protection program. When a slimy

federal judge is murdered, Mal comes forward with the killer’s name and motive, and when the suspect is indicted, Mal is out of jail, free to carry out a fabulously complex caper so convoluted and clever that you can’t help but cheer him on, even if you have a moral twinge or two. J.D. Jackson’s narration is pitch-perfect and pace-perfect. This is Grisham at his storytelling best.

Top Pick in Audio “All we have is the story we tell,” says one of characters in Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins. And, wow, does Walter have stories to tell in his brilliant tour-de-force of a novel. It begins in 1962 in a tiny fishing village on the Italian coast that boasts only one slightly shabby pensione, the Hotel Adequate View, when Dee Moray, a beautiful, blond American actress, turns up, escaping from the movie set of Cleopatra in Rome. Dee’s story, and many others, play out as the plotlines leapfrog forward and back in time and space, from la dolce vita Italia of the ’60s to the present, from Hollywood to England, Seattle and Idaho. The cast of characters, major and minor, is fabulous, including the shameless movie PR operative who meddles with the lives of actors; the innocent young Italian innkeeper who never forgets Dee and turns up 50 years later to find her; and Dee herself— plus a masterful conjuring of Richard Burton, drinking and talking with his signature bravura. Narrator Edoardo Ballerini captures Walter’s wit and romantic pathos and fleshes out each character, getting the Italian, the Italian accents (even an American’s faulty pronunciation) and the mellifluous Burton-esque tones just right.

Beautiful Ruins By Jess Walter

HarperAudio $19.99, 13 hours ISBN 9780062268365

fiction


interviews

Tara conklin By Amy scribner

Mary Grace Long

Dreams of freedom that wouldn’t die

T

ara Conklin didn’t always think of herself as a novelist. Sure, as a kid she always kept a journal and was, as she puts it, “scribbling stories.” And as a corporate attorney living in New York City, she loved her job in part because it included so much writing. But she wasn’t a writer.

“I was still writing just as a hobby,” she says. “It was my dirty little secret—I was a closet writer.” Conklin spoke with BookPage from her home in Seattle. On the day we spoke, she was busily packing her young family for a trip to London, where her husband is from. Even so, the gracious Conklin spoke passionately about The House Girl, the luminous debut novel she has been writing on and off for several years. After she started early drafts of the book, Conklin wasn’t quite sure what would become of it. “I didn’t think I was writing a novel,” she says. “It was just another story but it kept getting longer and longer. There were many times I set it aside. I had two young kids. I didn’t have time to be spending on this pie-in-the-sky dream of writing a novel.” But she couldn’t get Josephine Bell out of her head—she even had dreams about the character. A teenage house slave on a Virginia tobacco farm, Josephine dreams of freedom and plots an escape to Philadelphia, away from the cruel master who permanently hobbled one slave who tried to run away by slicing his heels. The House Girl intertwines Josephine’s story with that of Lina Spar-

The House Girl

By Tara Conklin

Morrow, $25.99, 384 pages ISBN 9780062207395, eBook available

row, a modern-day attorney who is helping with a lawsuit seeking reparations for slavery. Her work leads her to Josephine, who may have been the real artist behind paintings attributed to her mistress. As Lina dives deeper into her research, she struggles not only to find out what happened to Josephine but also to convey the breadth of slavery’s intergenerational impact— the “nature of the harm,” in lawyerspeak. And Lina has some mysteries in her own past she needs to confront, too, like what happened when her mother disappeared Conklin’s so many years novel toggles ago. Conklin between played with centuries and the story for several years, characters but it was only who are after she quit her job in Big searching Law and moved for love and to Seattle that meaning in she decided to commit to betheir lives. ing a writer. “I was sort of done with big cities, and we wanted to think of a good place to live with kids and where I could write,” she says. “It was definitely touch and go for awhile. People thought we were crazy.” As she got deeper into The House Girl, it wasn’t lost on Conklin that another young white woman— Kathryn Stockett—was getting some pretty significant pushback for writing about black women in 1960s Mississippi in The Help. That was part of the reason Conklin chose to write in the third person and not try to accurately capture the diction of a 19th-century slave. “When I was writing this, first of all, I never thought anyone would read it. I was just interested in the person,” she says. “Josephine is a character with universal human experience—she is someone who wanted all the same things we all want: freedom and love and mean-

ing in her life.” At this point, Conklin loses her train of thought and can’t pluck the word she wants off the tip of her tongue. “Can you tell my baby is teething and I didn’t get much sleep last night?” she laughs. Though Conklin concedes that writing while parenting can be a challenge, “It’s one of the few careers that really lends itself well to being a parent. It’s not like you have to be in an office. I’m very unprecious about my writing time and space. I can pull the laptop out and write for 20 minutes while the kids play. I can write in a moving car. We have a very strict bedtime of 8 p.m. and then I sit down and write everything I thought about that day.” The House Girl is the rare novel that seamlessly toggles between centuries and characters and remains consistently gripping throughout. It would appear that thoroughly modern Lina—self-sufficient, unattached—is everything the women in her research are not. But Lina feels a kinship when she reads a letter from a Virginia woman whose family helped slaves escape and run north, a woman who has realized she only wants a simple life full of love and kindness. “Lina closed the biography. For a moment, Dorothea was present with her in the office, layered in skirts and petticoats, with her convictions and resolve, talking to Lina. Is it too much to wish for such a life? Is it too little? Lina laughed with tears in her eyes because the words written 150 years ago by a young woman she would never meet seemed truer than anything she’d read in her textbooks, anything she’d been told by her law professors. . . .” Conklin’s debut novel is a quiet book; she never sends Lina breath-

lessly chasing down leads, and Josephine suffers her heartbreak not with The Color Purple-esque monologues but with unending dignity. But it is that very quietness that makes The House Girl so powerful.

USA Today Bestselling Author

ALISON GAYL I N

Missing Persons Investigator Brenna Spector remembers everything…but how can a stranger share her memories?

“Label me a big fan.” —HARLAN COBEN “Brenna Spector is tough, loyal, and canny…. One of the most memorable protagonists to come along in years.” —LAURA LIPPMAN

www.AlisonGaylin.com

13


interviews

roger hobbs

A young crime writer’s riveting debut

R

oger Hobbs knows that his parents and sister are proud of him. He’s just not completely certain they’ll read his edge-of-the-seat detective thriller Ghostman, published this month with much fanfare—and a movie deal—less than two years after he graduated from college. “It’s not their kind of book,” says the 24-year-old Hobbs, who has the face of a cherub and enunciates his words with precision. “It’s got far too much graphic violence for them.” His mother, he says, acknowledging the irony, is a professor of communications who has spent much of her career studying how media violence affects children. In middle school, while he and his family were in Italy, Hobbs encountered The Da Vinci Code. It was his first experience reading a thriller. He remembers thinking, “I could do something like this.” He began writing each and every day—science fiction at first—on his 12th birthday, when he was given a computer and word-processing software. “But I didn’t really stumble upon my genre until I was in an independent bookstore and came across a copy of The Monkey’s Raincoat by Robert Crais, which grabbed me and thrilled me. It was an old-school detective novel, with a classic detective voice, an incredibly engaging, incredibly addictive voice, a character that just spoke to me. Literally. And I thought, I want to create characters that speak to people, where the voice drives the narrative.” So Hobbs became a student of the genre. Literally. For his year-long senior thesis project at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, he examined the

ghostman

By Roger Hobbs

Knopf, $24.95, 336 pages ISBN 9780307959966, audio, eBook available

ideas of two French literary theorists. But “even though the paper was about these very high academic concepts, I used as an example the mystery novel. I wanted to explore from a theoretical level what it is that creates suspense.” About a year before that—between his sophomore and junior years—Hobbs determined to write a heist novel, the story that would eventually become Ghostman. To prepare, he “read maybe 100 crime novels and watched maybe 100 heist movies, and I wrote down every scene on an index card so I could see in front of me on my wall what a heist novel looks like at its base level.” Ninety-nine percent perspiration combined with one percent inspiration when sometime later Hobbs envisioned “a medium-built man in a pale suit driving a Chrysler 300 really, really fast at night, talking on a cell phone. When he’s done with the conversation he takes the cell phone, crushes it, and throws it out the window.” Out of that primal image—and the coolly deliberate research behind it—both the Ghostman character and Ghostman the thriller were born. Knopf made a pre-emptive offer for the book, with noted editor Gary Fisketjon (who has edited the work of Cormac McCarthy, Raymond Carver and Tobias Wolff, among many others) handling the project. Foreign rights have been sold in 16 countries, and Warner Bros. has acquired film rights. Hobbs’ thriller has more twists and turns than a 10-yard-long corkscrew. It opens with an earlymorning attack on an armored car delivering money to an Atlantic City casino. Things go terribly wrong when the carefully planned heist turns into a scene of epic carnage. What happened and why? Most importantly, where is the bundle of money with an explosive timer buried inside set to go off in 48 hours? In Seattle, Marcus, the organizer of the heist, wants some answers and, of course, his money. He turns to a guy who made a mistake on a job in Kuala Lumpur and owes him

something in return for that fatal error. Enter the Ghostman, sometimes called Jack, a character with a distinctive voice, a passion for translating Latin in his spare time and no fixed or permanent identity: the antihero as detective. “Ghostman is what the mystery novel would look like if Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had decided that Moriarty was his central The enigmatic character,” Hobbs says, hero of Hobbs’ then adds: “The central thriller has conceit of the a distinctive Ghostman is the psychologvoice, a ical, spiritual passion for and emotional translating fallout of having no identity. Latin and no I know for me, fixed identity. societal feedback is absolutely necessary for shaping my sense of identity. But here’s a man with no identity. What does he think about himself? What does he know about himself?” These are questions that percolate well beneath the hard-edged surface of Ghostman. What will rivet and impress a reader is the level of credible procedural detail in Hobbs’ inaugural outing. You’ve heard of police procedurals? Ghostman is a crime procedural. Hobbs grew up in Massachusetts and went to high school near Philadelphia (where he developed the habit of wearing a suit and tie every day because he found it was “a lot harder for an adult not to take me seriously when I dressed

michael lionstar

By alden mudge

like that”). He composed the first draft of the novel over three months between his junior and senior years of college in “an incredibly crowded second-floor coffee shop in Borders in center city Philadelphia.” He walked the streets of Atlantic City to scout locations. He snuck into an armored car depot near his house in Portland to discover telling details. He conducted research on the “deep web,” the encrypted, unindexed part of the Internet where anonymous drug users “talk about their shared fandom of drugs.” And he occasionally drove up to Seattle and “sat in bars and traded cigarettes for stories about certain methods of criminality. You’d be amazed what people will tell you for a cigarette.” Hobbs sent his agent the manuscript of Ghostman on the day he graduated from Reed in 2011. He says he is now about midway through writing a second Ghostman novel. “What I want with the Ghostman series is not to write the same book over and over again,” he says. “Instead I want to create a series of books that fit together like puzzle pieces. So I’m creating one mystery, one story, one question that is raised in the first book that I will answer over the course of five more books.” And with that, Hobbs’ career and his unforgettable character are born.

15


Torn between duty and desire…

A gripping and emotionally driven novel by international bestselling author

In the dark days of war, a mother makes the ultimate sacrifice….

Paris, 1919. Against the backdrop of one of the most significant events of the century, a delicate web of lies obscures the line between the casualties of war and of the heart, making trust a luxury that no one can afford.

“A breathtaking debut... This is historical romance at its finest.”

Bestselling author

Sophie Littlefield weaves a powerful tale of injustice, triumph and the unspeakable acts we commit in the name of love.

—Publishers Weekly, starred review, on The Kommandant’s Girl

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interviews

CHRISTIE RIDGWAY By eliza borné

Love is in the (salty, sun-kissed) air

P

icture this: Colorful cottages nestled on pristine white sand. Palm trees and bougainvillea. Bluffs rise above the beach, and at 5 o’clock every day, someone blows in a conch shell to mark the coming of happy hour. Welcome to Crescent Cove, California.

Focus your attention on Beach House No. 9, a beautiful place that veteran romance author Christie Ridgway invented for “two yearning hearts” to fall in love, as she tells me by phone from her home in Southern California. She lives about an hour south of the beachfront community that inspired fictional Crescent Cove, the idyllic setting introduced in an eBook novella, Beach House Beginnings. Now, readers can journey from the slush and snow of winter to summertime in SoCal in a back-to-back trilogy: Beach House No. 9 (January 29), Bungalow Nights (February 26) and The Love Shack (March 26). A lifelong Californian, the author believes that two people can fall in love anywhere, but she also thinks “some palm trees and some coconut-scented oil in the breeze might help things along a little.” That’s exactly what happens in the Beach House books, though the path to happily ever after is never easy. Ridgway, who has written 40 novels and is BookPage’s own romance columnist, based her setting on

BEACH HOUSE NO. 9

18

By Christie Ridgway

HQN, $7.99, 384 pages ISBN 9780373777402, eBook available

the real-life Crystal Cove in Orange County, which was once a location for silent films and is now a state park. Her research trips sound like something out of a dream: lunch at a beachside restaurant, trips to avocado groves and gourd farms. Reality check: It must be noted that the research trips weren’t always totally dream-like, since Ridgway was laid up with a broken leg from a fall for much of the writing of Bungalow Nights, and her “wonderful, loving, loyal” husband drove her around to see the settings for the trilogy while she was on crutches. Still, Ridgway is sunny about the less-than-ideal experience. “I couldn’t put any weight on my leg for three months. So I remember thinking to myself, this is kind of a bummer—but I could take myself away every day and go write about Crescent Cove, which I’m sure was very helpful.” In Beach House No. 9, the first full-length book in the trilogy, we meet Jane Pearson, a buttonedup book doctor (with a weakness for shoes) who has been recruited to work with Griffin Lowell, a war journalist under contract to write a memoir about his harrowing experience in Afghanistan. Griffin is by all appearances a (handsome) wild man, turning Beach House No. 9, where he’s staying for the month of June, into Party Central. Jane can hardly get him to speak of his time embedded with American troops, let alone commit to putting his memories down on paper. In spite of Griffin’s impenetrable façade—he’s either playing the tough guy or the partier, or closing up completely—it eventually becomes clear that he’s suffering from PTSD. Jane, patient and kind, seems to be the only person who can get him to face his demons and show his true personality. It doesn’t

hurt that the two share an electric connection and just can’t keep their hands off each other. Parallel to this plotline is a tender and wrenching story about Griffin’s sister, Tess, and her husband, David, who have reached a bit of a stalemate in their marriage. Though Ridgway’s books are packed with witty dialogue, sexy love scenes and a setting that will have readers fantasizing about margaritas and suntans, the stories are much more than easy, breezy reads. They pack an emotional punch, dealing with forgiveness in relationships, second chances and the trust we must have in the people we love. “A lot of the situaRidgway is tions in the Beach House especially trilogy are readept at ally about the differences writing the men sort of snappy between and women, banter that and how they showcases the yearn for the same things,” confidence Ridgway says. “I’m fasciand brains of nated by that her heroines. because I feel like men are not naturally emotional, and yet they still put themselves out there. They want to be with these women that open their hearts.” Ridgway knows this from personal experience. Beach House No. 9 is dedicated to her husband; her brother and her brother-in-law; and her two sons, 20 and 23. The dedication reads: “I’ve seen what’s underneath those all-guy exteriors—deep family bonds and strong yet tender hearts that are reflected by every hero in my stories.” In addition to those guys, Ridgway turned to military men for inspiration, including her father-in-law, a retired Naval aviator. She also did a lot of reading on PTSD, coming to the conclusion that “all service people—the people who are carrying weapons, people who are journalists

or doctors and nurses—everybody is affected by what they see and what they experience.” The other books in the series focus on other couples from Griffin’s circle and the community of Crescent Cove—like the combat medic who stays in No. 9 in July and falls for the daughter of a fallen officer; or Griffin’s photojournalist twin brother, who has kept up an old-fashioned letter correspondence with the rental property manager of the beach houses. Each of these relationships, though distinct, is marked by believable romantic chemistry—an authentic attraction that Ridgway conveys by describing “the great attention to detail that two people have for each other,” she says. Ridgway is especially adept at writing the sort of snappy (and sometimes silly) banter that showcases the confidence and brains of her heroines— like Jane, who is all business, until she just can’t resist Griffin’s charms. Perhaps it was fate that a woman who was supposed to be born on Valentine’s Day (she was actually born on February 4), and who grew up reading love stories, would one day become a romance novelist. The way Ridgway talks, it seems like writing romance must be the best work in the world. She almost squeals when I ask about her favorite part of the job. “I’m just such a lover of reading romance novels,” she gushes. “It’s so fun to create the kinds of books that have given me so much joy. I never tire of them.”


True love by Amy scribner

meet JEN LANCASTER

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

jeremy lawson

features

THE SECRETS OF SUCCESSFUL SUITORS It’s hard enough to find someone worthy of a second date, let alone worthy of your heart. This Valentine’s Day, pick up one of these books for more insight into that most intangible and mysterious thing: true love. In his truly fascinating history of online dating, Love in the Time of Algorithms (Current, $25.95, 272 pages, ISBN 9781591845317), Dan Slater traces the concept as far back as the 1960s, when a geeky Harvard undergrad gave up on mixers and devised a $3 matchmaking questionnaire that was then transferred to a punch card and fed through an

IBM computer the size of a bookcase. In fact, Slater’s own parents met through one such service, which spat out a printed list of matched college students and mailing addresses—a far cry from today’s sophisticated services, like Match.com and OkCupid, which use complicated algorithms to match up potential suitors. But doesn’t some valuable information get lost when we go online to find love? What about scent, a hair toss, a flirtatious look? Turns out, that doesn’t matter as much as we once thought. “People will use whatever communication tools they have at their disposal to connect,” Slater concludes. “A mood becomes an emoticon. A fast email response communicates warmth. . . . Of course, you can’t smell the person you’re looking at—until later—but meanwhile, the computer is crunching more information than you could ever gather in a glance across the bar.”

CASANOVA’S CHARM Betsy Prioleau may be an academic, but she writes like a dream. A study of the history and science of seducers, Swoon (Norton, $26.95, 288 pages, ISBN 9780393068375) is sharp, sexy and completely engrossing. Prioleau examines both why some men are great seducers and how they do it. And Paul Newman-

like looks don’t factor into the equation as much as one might think. Take Luke, a 31-year-old Brit living in Baltimore: “Luke is a too tall six feet seven inches, with chipmunk cheeks, a receding hairline, and rectangular geek glasses,” writes Prioleau, who heard about Luke from no fewer than four women. “Yet he’s an erotic mage with a flair for the pleasures of the flesh.” (See the book for more on that—probably not suitable for inclusion in this family publication.) Whether Prioleau is writing about Casanova, Bill Clinton or the great French actor Gérard Depardieu (“I turn around, and it’s as though I’ve touched a live socket”), she brings to life those elusive qualities of the world’s great seducers.

LIFE AFTER ‘I DO’ In these times of disposable marriages, the story of Barbara “Cutie” Cooper and husband Harry inspires: They met in 1937 and spent the next 73 years together. “He thought I was special, and I agreed with him,” Cooper writes. “So as long as he thought I was the kingpin, what was there to discuss?” Their granddaughters Kim and Chinta started a blog in 2008 called The OGs (Original Grandparents), where they shared videos chronicling their grandparents’ love story. The blog translates nicely to their book Fall in Love for Life (Chronicle, $18.95, 208 pages, ISBN 9781452109169), a delightfully sweet mix of memoir and self-help. Cutie offers smart and surprisingly modern advice on love: “Make time in your busy life for romantic getaways,” she advises. “Turn off the cell phones and leave the computer at home. You’d be amazed what just a night or two away from it all can do for your love life.” Now in her 90s, and a widow since 2010, Cutie has clearly kept her perspective and her humor. “Harry was always five years my senior, which means that he had five years to sow his wildest oats before I came along,” she writes. “Maybe this means that the next five years are all for me to enjoy, so that we come out equal in the end.”

would you describe the Q: How  book in one sentence?

Q: W  hat do you miss the most from 1991?

Q: W  hat’s your own biggest regret about high school?

Q: What was the most fun part of writing this book?

Q: H ow do you plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Q: W  ords to live by?

HERE I GO AGAIN The self-styled “Governor of Jensylvania,” Jen Lancaster was best known for her hilarious, snarky memoirs, including Bitter Is the New Black, before turning to fiction in 2011 with the release of If You Were Here. Her second novel, HERE I GO AGAIN (NAL, $25.95, 320 pages, ISBN 9780451236722), follows a former mean girl who relives her high school days. Lancaster and her husband Fletch live in Chicago.

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reviews THE LOVE SONG OF JONNY VALENTINE

FICTION

Coming of age in the spotlight Review By Megan Fishmann

Strap on a pair of hi-top sneakers, take an Adderall with your orange juice and prepare yourself for a wild ride with Jonny Valentine, the pop sensation and tween hero of Teddy Wayne’s hilarious and heartbreaking second novel. Wayne, whose debut was the Whiting Writers’ Award winner Kapitoil, has turned his attention to the high cost of stardom at a young age, following Jonny and his hard-partying manager-mother (a momager, if you will) during a pivotal tour across America. Jonny—who has genuine talent but is also a byproduct of marketing genius if there ever was one—doesn’t remember much about life before it included paparazzi, personal chefs, a bodyguard/best friend and all the designer threads he could possibly want. But this 11-year-old megastar has the simple desires of any preteen: to play his favorite video game, have his back scratched by his mother— and secretly search online for information about his absentee father. Writing in the voice of a child star is challenging, but Wayne does so By Teddy Wayne superbly. Jonny is a hybrid of naivete and cynicism, unsure of his place Free Press, $24.99, 256 pages in Los Angeles (his new home base) or St. Louis (his original home). ISBN 9781476705859, eBook available Whether he’s dealing with feelings for girls, searching for a father figure in the 20-something lead singer of his opening band or challenging rumors that the label is “this close” to dropping him, at the end of the day he just wants to be loved: by his crew, by his millions of fans and, most of all, by his mother. An original, poignant and captivating coming-of-age story, The Love Song of Jonny Valentine not only examines our fascination with celebrities but also scrutinizes the boundaries of a tight-knit mother-son relationship. Does Jane Valentine really want what’s best for her son, or does she want him (and his money) all for herself? In an age dominated by Honey Boo-Boos and Disney pop princesses, this is a breathtakingly fresh novel about the dark side of show business.

Revenge By Yoko Ogawa

Picador $14, 176 pages ISBN 9780312674465 eBook available

short stories

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The subtitle of Revenge, Yoko Ogawa’s slender collection of stories, is “Eleven Dark Tales.” But while dark in subject matter, these tales are nearly delicate, and their overwhelming emotion isn’t revenge but an excruciating sadness. Filled with lonely people who are incapable of human contact, or who can only make human contact in macabre and unsatisfactory ways, they’re also interlinked, with bits of one story illuminating parts of another. Numbers and motifs—like strawberry shortcake or the creepy figures that emerge from a public clock—recur. “Fruit Juice” features

an abandoned post office full of perfectly edible kiwi fruit. In “Old Mrs. J.” we find out how the kiwis got there in the first place. In one story a character is young and lonely, while in another story the character is old and just as lonely—or dead. Speaking of deaths, Ogawa’s writing is full of such grace and sorrow that even the most grisly death has a weird beauty. She also adds touches of magical realism that are so skillful and subtle that the reader wonders if the things she describes can really happen. Can the young woman in “Sewing for the Heart” actually live with her heart beating outside of her chest? Why does absolutely everything handled by the lonely bachelor uncle in “The Man Who Sold Braces” and “Welcome to the Museum of Torture” fall to pieces? As for the title: Yes, some people do get revenge, large or small, on people who displease them. But in Ogawa’s heartbreaking stories, life itself seems to have the last laugh.  —Arlene McKanic

The Dinner By Herman Koch

Hogarth $24, 304 pages ISBN 9780770437855 Audio, eBook available

world fiction

Herman Koch’s mesmerizing and disturbing novel starts out slowly, as two couples meet for dinner at a pricey, somewhat snobbish restaurant in Amsterdam. The two men are brothers: Serge, in the midst of a campaign to become the prime minister of the Netherlands, and Paul, a high school teacher. Paul and his wife Claire arrive first, as usual, for as Paul well knows, Serge “never arrived on time anywhere,” preferring to make a grand entrance. Paul’s aversion to this whole evening planned by Serge and his wife Babette escalates with the ar-

rival of each skimpy yet ridiculously overpriced course. From the “Greek olives from the Peloponnese, lightly dressed in first-pressing, extravirgin olive oil from Sardinia,” to the tiny 19-euro appetizer lost in the “vast emptiness” of Claire’s plate, to the miniscule portions of guinea fowl accompanied by a mere shred of lettuce, Paul becomes increasingly fascinated with the “yawning chasm between the dish itself and the price you have to pay for it.” At this point, the reader assumes that The Dinner will remain what it seems on the surface to be—a subtle, yet piercing, skewering of the haughty, conceited, upper-class brother by his intellectually superior, middle-class sibling. But as the main courses arrive, the reason for the arranged dinner becomes clear: The four of them must deal with the shocking actions taken by their 15-year-old sons against a homeless person. The reader is drawn into their dispute, forced to think about what he or she would do in a similar situation. How hard is it to admit our children’s failings—and how far are we willing to go to protect them? Koch’s fast-paced, addictive novel raises these questions and more. Readers will be able to identify with the faults and fears of each of his perceptively drawn characters. Already a bestseller in Europe, The Dinner is sure to find an enthusiastic American readership as well. —Deborah Donovan

The Comfort of Lies By Randy Susan Meyers

Atria $25, 336 pages ISBN 9781451673012 Audio, eBook available

popular fiction

Tia, Caroline and Juliette live in various neighborhoods and suburbs of Boston, but their worlds are farther apart than the miles would suggest. Tia works every day to rise above the hardscrabble circumstances of her youth. She’s a 20-something orphan, a single woman who is looking for a person to call her own. Caroline is a pathologist who is deeply in love with both her work and her husband. She struggles,


FICTION though, to feel at home in their sprawling, sterile McMansion and in her role as an adoptive mother to the couple’s daughter, Savannah. Juliette seems to have it all: a thriving business, two smart sons and an attractive, loving husband. And then she stumbles upon a secret that her husband, Nathan, has hidden for years—one that connects these three very different women in surprising ways. In The Comfort of Lies, the latest effort by best-selling author Randy Susan Meyers (The Murderer’s Daughters), hiding the truth proves no comfort at all. Meyers offers plenty of insight into each woman’s psyche as they struggle to untangle the web that has brought them together. By facing the realities of their lives and relationships, Tia, Juliette and Caroline come to terms with their challenges. Meyers’ carefully told story is a satisfying examination of the imperfect paths we all walk. —Carla Jean Whitley

Schroder By Amity Gaige

Twelve $21.99, 288 pages ISBN 9781455512133 eBook available

literary fiction

first place. But it also displays the special bond between him and the intelligent Meadow. As the authorities close in, Eric, cornered by his fraudulent identity, must face the fact that he could lose his beloved daughter forever—and, in the process, his entire constructed self. Written as a confession to his wife, Schroder is Eric’s chronicle of his crimes and a poignant ode to his lost love. He utterly adored Laura—their breakup still stumps him—and Gaige’s elucidation of his bewildered pain is cutting. Meanwhile, he is confused by his own errors as a parent. Is he a bad father? What makes a good parent? His flaws, concurrent with his obvious love for Meadow, make us question our own judgments, decisions and delusions. A lost man, Eric Kennedy is falling apart, the ghosts of his past coming to claim him. Gaige presents this weighty tale with enigmatic grace: This is a sad story, with multiple layers, carried on sentences light as air. She mixes warmth, lovely tenderness and wit with fear and loathing, nakedness and shame, moving her narrative swiftly to an end that hits like a punch in the gut. Schroder, like its namesake, is an engrossing paradox. And Gaige is a talent who deserves attention. —Sheri Bodoh

Vampires in the Lemon Grove Schroder, the heartbreaking tale of a man who kidnaps his 6-year-old daughter, could be O My Darling author Amity Gaige’s breakout work. Starring a doggedly compelling lead character and Gaige’s signature smooth prose, this novel wows with its exacting, subtle grace. Erik Schroder has not been known by that name since he was 14. An East German immigrant bullied in the tenements of 1980s Boston, he reinvented himself as “Eric Kennedy” in high school. But when his marriage falls apart and he loses his custody rights, the lie on which Eric’s life is built may prove his final undoing. Depressed and desperate for more time with his daughter, he proposes a road trip during a scheduled visit, and the unflappable Meadow is game. So begins a weeklong sally into rural New England that reveals the erratic parenting that made Eric’s ex nervous in the

By Karen Russell

Knopf $24.95, 256 pages ISBN 9780307957238 eBook available

short stories

In Karen Russell’s universe, by the time a story sets itself in motion the worst has already happened. You may be a bloodless vampire who has lost the taste for anything but the tang of lemons. Or you could be a young woman sold into slavery so complete that it literally dehumanizes you. Or perhaps you are the president of the United States who awakens to find himself metamorphosed (among other former presidents) into a farmyard horse. In any case, things certainly seem like they could not get worse, for your very

q&a

teddy wayne By trisha ping

Behind the Music

S

tandard coming-of-age dilemmas—figuring out who your real friends are, realizing your parents are people, deciding who you are— come with a twist when you’re a world-famous pop star. We asked Teddy Wayne a few questions about the issues faced by the young hero of his compulsively readable second novel.

It’s impossible to read Jonny Valentine without thinking of Justin Bieber. Was there some particular musician or incident that inspired this book? When my first novel, Kapitoil, came out in 2010, I experienced what most writers go through: a feeling of vulnerability that something you’d worked on in private for so many years was now out there for the public and critics to dissect. I started wondering how people who experience real fame handle it. It seemed even more mind-boggling that a teenager could manage the rigors of celebrity. Bieber seems very poised and capable; I imagined what it might be like for someone even younger and with a less hardy constitution to negotiate a global spotlight. You really nail the voice of an 11-year-old boy here. How did you accomplish this? Thank you; sadly for me, the question should be less about how I got into an 11-year-old boy’s voice for this novel, and more about how I escape it in my daily life. I knew from the start that I wanted a hybrid voice for Jonny: part kid, part savvy and cynical marketing executive (Jonny has internalized the branding lingo of his handlers). I was tutoring young kids in the 826NYC program when I began writing, but I think neither that nor my own memories influenced the voice so much as my attempt to develop a narrative style that didn’t feel too sentimental or rose-colored about childhood. Why do you think these young entertainers are so popular? We’re becoming more infantilized as a nation, escaping the frightening tenor of the times by sinking into the comforting rhythms and content of childhood. My generation (I was born in 1979) and those younger are deferring adulthood, in part because it’s difficult to begin a real adult-

hood when you’re mired in crushing debt and working an entrylevel job, and also because the responsibilities no longer look as appealing or necessary as they once did. Is there something particularly difficult or damaging about dealing with fame as a preteen? It would be far harder, since you don’t know who you are yet and aren’t permitted to make the mistakes that we afford adolescence. A metaphor I hope readers draw from the book is that this isn’t simply about famous kids—that’s a small demographic—but about how, as a nation, we over-parent our children, micromanaging their lives and treating them all as “gifted.” That can warp childhoods just as much as fame can. A former child star tells Jonny, “The people with real power are always behind the scenes. Talent gets chewed up and used. Better to be the one chewing.” Do you think this is good advice? Well, it’s cynical advice, but for people in the entertainment industry—and most industries, for that matter—I’d say it’s accurate. The workers in the trenches, whether they’re flipping burgers or singing on national TV, are still getting exploited by people calling the shots from a corner office. If you were an 11-year-old megastar, what’s the first thing you’d want to do? At that age, I probably would have leveraged my fame for as much interaction as possible with the New York Mets, though that’s becoming a less appealing option as they continue racking up losses.

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reviews self has been ripped away, leaving you with nothing left to lose. These ordeals—three among the eight lying in wait for you within Vampires in the Lemon Grove— happen to “you” because Russell’s language is so vivid and sensuous that they become breathtakingly real experiences. This is horror fiction at its playful and unflinching worst . . . and therefore best. No wonder Stephen King expressed his delighted recognition of a worthy young colleague when Russell’s first novel, Swamplandia!, came out last year. Just because the worst already appears to be a matter of record, events in each story tend to get suddenly much, much worse, making the former “worst” look stupid by contrast. That’s what happens in the collection’s finest tale, “Proving Up,” which won this year’s National Magazine Award for Fiction. The denouement of this startling fable of pioneer hardship belongs spiritually to Willa Cather’s darkest nightmares, chilling to the last horrific sentence. The strange predicate offered in the first sentence of this review— the notion that a story “sets itself in motion”—is as precise as I can make it. Russell’s short tales—like the acclaimed Swamplandia!—have the feel of autonomous creatures: The author gives a wicked little push and they’re off and chomping. If the worst has already happened; if, Joblike, you’ve got nothing left to lose, then the whirlwind best is yet to be—as in the last, haunting story of the book, “The Graveless Doll of Eric Mutis,” where you are a boy who has been dreadfully cruel to another boy and now the time has come for your comeuppance. You can hardly wait. —Michael Alec Rose

Moon Over Edisto By Beth Webb Hart  Thomas Nelson $15.99, 320 pages  ISBN 9781595542021 eBook available

inspirational fiction

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The pace of Beth Webb Hart’s Moon Over Edisto builds slowly, meandering among her characters in a manner befitting the leisurely cadence of its coastal South Caro-

FICTION lina setting. Artist and art professor Julia Bennett has been far removed from her Southern home for years, having retreated to New York almost 20 years ago, after her father left his wife and family for Julia’s college roommate and best friend, Marney. The wounds are still raw for the Bennett women, especially Julia. Panic attacks plague her from the story’s outset, a situation made worse by a surprise visit from Marney. Now widowed, Marney has lung cancer and needs an operation— and someone to look after her three children, Julia’s half siblings, after the surgery. Julia is the unlikely (and unwilling) choice, but her reluctant “yes” sends her on a painful and ultimately healing journey. Back in South Carolina, Julia begins to deal with the past alongside the pull of the future she’s working so hard to build, even as her mother and sister face a similar battle. It comes as a surprise to them all when Julia begins to open her heart to her half siblings, particularly young Etta, who shares the same artistic skill as Julia and their father. Hart captures the voice of the winsome yet mysteriously silent Etta in occasional chapters told from her perspective.  Hart paints her characters vividly and excels in her minute detail of the Low Country, elevating the place to the status of a character through evocative descriptions that draw in her protagonist—and her readers as well.  —Melissa Brown

The Best of All Possible Worlds By Karen Lord

Del Rey $25, 320 pages ISBN 9780345534057 eBook available

Science fiction

Karen Lord’s new book, The Best of All Possible Worlds, is a strange creature. On one hand, it’s unmistakably a piece of science fiction. Lord has crafted a rich, coherent, consistent universe filled with offworld colonies, alien races and the bureaucracies that exist to serve them. There are fantastic abilities; mysterious, long-absent progenitors; and a crisis brought on by at-

tempted genocide. Yet, if a genre work can be said to leave a specific taste in one’s mouth when finished, then The Best of All Possible Worlds also includes the flavor of romance. Most of the book takes place on Cygnus Beta, a “galactic hinterland for pioneers and refugees” on which Grace Delarua, a self-professed language enthusiast, works as the second assistant to the chief biotechnician. Enter the Sadiri, the latest refugee population to come to Cygnus Beta. Facing the prospect of extinction—most of the remaining Sadiri are male—the stoic, mentally advanced race has sent a contingent, led by Dllenahkh, to gauge the genetic compatibility of groups of Sadiri-related settlers on the planet. As Delarua, Dllenahkh and their team embark on an intra-planet tour of various outposts, Lord places the budding, subtle relationship between the two protagonists against the disparate backdrops of the places they visit—a story arc reminiscent of a condensed travel itinerary for the USS Enterprise and crew. Usually, in a conflation of genres, one reigns supreme—this is especially true with science fiction and romance, two of the showier genres. Nonetheless, in The Best of All Possible Worlds, the two coexist in a harmony that’s unrelentingly understated. The result is a unique experience that’s equal parts Jane Austen and Ray Bradbury. Lord’s latest may not be the best of all possible works of sci-fi or romance to come out this year—but it’s more than satisfying. —Michael Burgin

Visit BookPage.com to read an interview with Karen Lord.

See Now Then By Jamaica Kincaid FSG $24, 192 pages ISBN 9780374180560 Audio, eBook available

literary fiction

Jamaica Kincaid’s new novel, See Now Then, begins in a small house in New England inhabited by the Sweets—mother, father and two children—and at first appears as

simple and as pleasing as a child’s drawing. But wait! The house once belonged to Shirley Jackson, author of “The Lottery” and other stories of the worst in human behavior. When Mr. Sweet lets slip how much he hates his wife, it becomes clear that this slim volume is no fairy tale, but rather a study of a family on the brink of dissolution. Mr. Sweet is a frustrated composer with a rash of phobias; Mrs. Sweet is a gardener and a writer whose Jamaica husband and Kincaid’s children mock her exploits latest novel and resent her is a study of work. Mr. Sweet a family on comes from an upper-class inthe brink of tellectual New dissolution. York family; Mrs. Sweet hails from a Caribbean island and, as Mr. Sweet says disparagingly, came to the United States on a banana boat. Whatever brought them together has long soured, an attraction of opposites turning to a dislike born of familiarity. The children, boldly named Heracles and Persephone, are each aligned with the oppositesex parent, but the connections between them weaken as their parents’ love turns to contempt. Kincaid uses names and tales from Greek mythology to suggest a kind of universality, but the specifics of her characters imply that she is drawing from her own experience. In fact, at one point Mrs. Sweet quotes from her novel—recognizably one of Kincaid’s own. Kincaid has used her family as subjects in her fiction before—her biological parents in Autobiography of My Mother and Mr. Potter, to name two—but there is something more ruthless and unsentimental about See Now Then, perhaps because it is about a bond made by choice rather than biology. Kincaid’s fiction relies on simplicity of vocabulary and looping, almost cyclical, rhythms, zooming in to read her characters’ thoughts and shifting back to encompass the politics of race and vicissitudes of history. Her lightly punctuated and repetitive, almost stream-of-consciousness style may not work for everyone, but her implication that a deep unknowingness lies beneath even our closest ties will strike close to the heart. — L a u r e n B u ff e r d


FICTION Truth in Advertising By John Kenney

Touchstone $24.99, 320 pages ISBN 9781451675542 eBook available

life or maybe it simply happened.” And yet, he concludes, “We look for something deeper than merely a paycheck.” There’s a certain nobility in this story of an Everyman whose stumbles and small triumphs illuminate our own lives. —Harvey Freedenberg

life as the neighborhood bookmaker, to her mother’s harrowing childhood exodus from Romania. Each Greenstein has a dramatically disparate personal narrative of their family’s shared history, reminding readers that in the end, all we have are our memories. —Karen Cullotta

debut fiction

The Tin Horse Fin Dolan, advertising agency copywriter and narrator of John Kenney’s engaging first novel, is approaching his 40th birthday while still “waiting for my life to begin.” That Kenney, who brings to this story his own experience of 17 years in the advertising business, is able to transform a man who’s basically drifting through life into such an appealing character is a tribute to his skill. Belying its debut status, Truth in Advertising is a mature novel that veers from pathos to humor and back without a misstep. After eight years with a New York agency owned by Japan’s largest shipping company, it’s easy to understand why Fin thinks he’s stuck in neutral. He fights to keep his creative juices flowing while crafting ads for a demanding diaper manufacturer, and he’s only recently ended his engagement for reasons even he doesn’t fully understand, leaving him with two first-class airline tickets but nowhere to go. When he’s recruited to produce a Super Bowl commercial for the world’s first biodegradable diaper—a job that will require him to abandon his plan to flee to Mexico alone for the Christmas holiday— he’s tossed into the middle of a nasty existential crisis. If Kenney had been content to confine his story to Fin’s floundering performance at work and nearly nonexistent love life, this novel would be entertaining enough, if slight. Instead, he layers over the sharply observed, often witty portrait of Fin’s professional and personal troubles an empathetic account of his protagonist’s struggle to come to terms with the legacy of an abusive father. For Kenney, the business of advertising—a business that exists to sell us products we didn’t even know we needed—serves as a proxy for the world of work that, for most of us, consumes the majority of our waking hours. “We settle into a life,” Fin muses. “Maybe we made this

By Janice Steinberg

Random House $26, 352 pages ISBN 9780679643746 Audio, eBook available

popular fiction

Though more than six decades have passed since Elaine Greenstein’s twin sister, Barbara, disappeared without a trace, the octogenarian heroine of author Janice Steinberg’s new novel, The Tin Horse, is still reeling from the heartbreak endured by her fractured family circa 1939. Steinberg, the author of five mysteries, has transcended genre to weave a rich story that will appeal to readers who appreciate multigenerational immigrant family sagas as well as those who simply enjoy psychological suspense. Set in the historically Jewish neighborhood of Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, the chronology of the story begins in the present day, as Elaine is packing up a lifetime of long-forgotten family memorabilia in preparation for her move to a retirement community. When she inadvertently stumbles across a clue to her missing sister’s whereabouts, Elaine—a retired civil rights attorney—joins forces with a young Ph.D. student, Josh, whose dissertation research dovetails serendipitously with the elderly woman’s determination to unravel the mystery of her twin’s disappearance. While the belated search for Elaine’s missing sister drives the plot of The Tin Horse, the grace and rhythm of the novel are provided by its poignant portrayal of the messiness of sibling rivalry, young love and economic hardship, something that wreaks havoc within even loving families. Indeed, perhaps the most deftly written and mesmerizing chapters of the novel are those that are told in flashback, from Elaine’s dignified grandfather Zayde’s double

The Antagonist By Lynn Coady

Knopf $25.95, 304 pages ISBN 9780307961358 eBook available

A finalist for Canada’s Giller Prize, The Antagonist is a rich and nuanced novel about growing older and wiser that transcends borders and holds universal appeal. —Stephenie Harrison

Indiscretion By Charles Dubow

Morrow $25.99, 400 pages ISBN 9780062201058 Audio, eBook available

debut fiction

epistolary fiction

A wise man once wrote that the pen is mightier than the sword. Unfortunately, the reluctant protagonist of The Antagonist has never considered himself a wise man. Having spent most of his life being valued for his brawn, not his brains, it is a bitter pill to swallow when Gordon Rankin (or “Rank,” as he prefers to be called) discovers that an erstwhile university friend has published a successful novel featuring a hulking goon of a character whose backstory overlaps rather alarmingly with Rank’s own biography. Incensed and aggrieved by this unlicensed pilfering of his life story, Rank starts up a correspondence with the man he once thought of as a brother in an attempt to set the record straight—and perhaps even right some wrongs in the process. In the tradition of Canadian literary greats such as Robertson Davies, Edmonton author Lynn Coady has created a spirited—sometimes spiritual—tale about growing up that is truly larger than life. Coady’s rendering of individual characters is lively, but particularly impressive is her knack for nailing the interpersonal dynamics, whether between mother and son, father and son, or young college students trying to find their way in the world. Also remarkable is how keenly Coady evokes her homeland: The book is undeniably and unabashedly Canadian. Yet one does not require any special knowledge of our neighbors to the north in order to identify with Rank’s journey to self-acceptance, or appreciate his discovery that, in life, we are each of us authors of our own story.

“Life is a series of remembered impressions.” With this simple phrase, author Charles Dubow summarizes his alluring and elegant tale of love, loyalty and betrayal. A founding editor of Forbes.com, Dubow has composed an addictive first novel that keeps the reader guessing with the turn of each page. Told by a third-person narrator, the story slowly pieces together memories that reveal trouble within a seemingly perfect marriage. The novel begins in a Gatsbyesque setting of extravagant parties, flowing cocktails and intelligent conversation during a summer in the Hamptons. Our narrator, Walter, is a successful attorney and longtime friend of award-winning author Harry Winslow and his lovely wife, Maddy, who met while they were all students at Yale. A wedding and a child later, the couple still possesses the kind of love that seems pure and unfaltering to all who witness it. Then Harry meets Claire. Young and zealous, Claire’s addition to their group of friends ultimately marks each of their lives forever. When a story contains unfaithful parties, it is assumed that there is always someone to hate. Indiscretion is different. The complex characters evolve until the final pages, allowing the reader to sympathize and bond with each one. Equal parts passion, heartache and anger, Indiscretion transcends the love story archetype. Regardless of the painful circumstances that unfold, there is space for questions and speculation, reinforcing the notion that nothing is ever black and white. —Meg Bowden

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reviews

NONFICTION Vow By Wendy Plump

Drinking With Men

A toast to friends near and far Review by Henry L. Carrigan Jr.

Sidle up to the bar, order a shot of your favorite whiskey, trade friendly greetings and engage in some warm chatter, then listen transfixed as Rosie Schaap, a kind of Irish bard, regales you with tales of the bars in her life, the regulars with whom she has hoisted a few or closed down the place, the moments of love and affection she’s experienced, and the enduring freedom to be herself that “being a woman at home in a bar culture” brings. In Drinking With Men, Schaap, a cracking good storyteller, takes us along on her journey as she comes of age, follows her heart, falls in and out of love and discovers who she’s meant to be. From sitting on the bar car (at 15 years old) on the Metro-North train, where she discovers her kind of people—commuters drinking enough to get a little buzzed, telling dirty jokes and smoking—through her years as a Deadhead in search of freedom, and into her college and grad school years, when she finds a local By Rosie Schaap bar that serves as more of a community than her college and where the Riverhead, $26.95, 288 pages regulars become like family to her, Schaap gets “another kind of education ISBN 9781594487118, audio, eBook available altogether” in the bars she frequents. Some expand her horizons: Puffy’s is “a protracted, whiskey-soaked lesson in art history and New York culture, a repository of downtown lore and legend.” Some offer a lesson she’d rather not learn: At Else’s in Montreal, she begins to understand that “self-reinvention has a cost, and it is high, and it is terrible.” Each bar teaches her something about the world she loves to inhabit: “There are loud bars where conversation is not a priority. . . . There are quiet bars, lit low and engineered for tête-à-têtes. And at the Man of Kent, which was neither of these things, but a place both brightly festive and undeniably civilized . . . I started to understand, with greater clarity than ever, how to behave in a bar.” Schaap delivers an affectionate and loving tribute to the bars she has known—with names as varied as Grogan’s Castle Lounge, The Pig, Good World and The Liquor Store—as well as to the many fellow regulars with whom she has become lifelong friends over a pint or a shot.

Alone on the Ice By David Roberts

Norton $27.95, 368 pages ISBN 9780393240160 Audio, eBook available

adventure

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This winter marks the 100th anniversary season of the “greatest survival story in the history of exploration” you’ve probably never heard of. Fans of Antarctic exploration know well the stories of Robert Scott’s tragic attainment of the South Pole in 1912, or Ernest Shackleton’s two ice-bound years on the Endurance. If we’ve overlooked Douglas Mawson’s 1912-1913 Australasian Antarctic Expedition, perhaps that’s because—as author David Roberts proposes—the expedition was Australian and scientific in purpose, not British and hero-

ically single-minded. Roberts, the respected author of more than 20 books on climbing and exploration, turns his attention in Alone on the Ice to the relatively unknown survival story of Douglas Mawson. Setting out to explore more than 2,000 miles of the Antarctic coast closest to Australia, Mawson’s team survived two Antarctic winters while establishing the first radio towers linking the remote continent to the rest of the world. The suspense of the story, however, lies in the remarkable survival of Mawson himself. After building a small hut as base camp on Cape Denison, Mawson and his men set out in small sledging teams to explore and map the area and gather rock samples. Roberts’ storytelling is taut and suspenseful as he brings the reader into the almost unimaginable hardships of Antarctic travel. Although the men brought dogs with them to pull the heavy sledges, the uneven ice and fierce wind ensured that the men hauled as much as the

dogs. Surviving mostly on hoosh—a high-calorie mixture of pemmican, biscuit and water—the men eventually amplified this near-starvation diet with dog-meat. Mawson’s two sledgemates died out in the field: One tumbled into a crevasse with sledge and dogs, and the other may have succumbed to the toxic diet of dog’s liver. One hundred miles away from the base hut, alone and starving, Mawson himself fell into a crevasse, his fall arrested, providentially, by the sledge. Dangling from a rope, too exhausted to climb up to the surface, Mawson considered giving up. The story of how he managed to extract himself from the glacier and miraculously make it back to the hut is a stunning testament to human endurance. David Roberts is a master story­ teller and adventure historian, and Alone on the Ice succeeds in being both suspenseful and well researched. Even better, this story has a happy ending. —Catherine Hollis

Bloomsbury $25, 272 pages ISBN 9781608198238 eBook available

memoir

Barely a year after her marriage in 1987, Wendy Plump embarked on the first of three volcanically passionate affairs she would immerse herself in before she and her husband, Bill, began having children. She did so, she freely admits, simply because she wanted to, because it was so exciting, so different from the humdrum of domestic life. But each affair was undercut by such feelings of guilt and the endless fatigue of covering up that she would ultimately confess them to Bill, who would first rage, then adjust. And so their marriage—later undergirded by the birth of two sons—continued to limp along. Then, in January 2005, friends told Plump that Bill not only had a mistress living nearby in the same town, but that the two of them also had an 8-month-old child. (All these distressing details are revealed in the first chapter.) Plump was aware that Bill had strayed before, just as she had, but this news was devastating. Despite its glaring imperfections, she wanted her marriage to last. By the end of that year, however, Bill had moved out for good. Plump and her husband had met in college and dated for eight years before they married. After college, she became a newspaper reporter, while he went to work as a financial advisor, a job that involved a lot of travel and which gave them both ample opportunities to find other sexual partners. Having drawn the general outlines of their infidelities, Plump spends the remainder of her book examining where and how things went wrong. Even so, she doesn’t engage in a lot of blaming or self-excoriation. She still remembers her affairs as glorious interludes, and she understands that her husband’s temptations must have been much the same as her own. She does blame him, though, for steadfastly refusing to discuss his feelings for her or for the other women.


NONFICTION In 2008, Bill lost his job, the upshot of which was that Plump and her two sons had to move from their large home into a tiny rental property. It’s been mostly a downward spiral of disappointments for her ever since. Still, she finds comfort in recalling the vividness of her affairs. “When I am eighty years old,” she muses, “I will sit on my front porch, wherever that may be, and I will have sumptuous memories of these men. I will have to see if that is enough compared with the loss that infidelity has wreaked.” —Edward Morris

Going Clear By Lawrence Wright

Knopf $28.95, 448 pages ISBN 9780307700667 Audio, eBook available

religion

What do Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Nicole Kidman, Katie Holmes and Kirstie Alley have in common? Yes, they are all celebrities. But they have also been linked to the Church of Scientology, a controversial religion that some critics call a cult. And there are plenty of juicy stories about these and other celebrities in Lawrence Wright’s Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief. The book is an in-depth examination of a mysterious, murky religion that, despite its relatively small membership, “plays an outsize role in the cast of new religions,” says Wright. The Church of Scientology attracts a lot of attention by aggressively courting celebrities. In Going Clear, we read of Cruise being recruited by the church, and how his girlfriends and wives, Kidman and Holmes among them, are indoctrinated, only to later leave Cruise, and Scientology, behind. Then there is Travolta, who displays his devotion to Scientology by starring in the movie Battlefield Earth, based on the science fiction novel of the same name by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Going Clear is much more than a celebrity tell-all, however. Wright is a gifted writer for The New Yorker, whose deep and thorough reporting won him the Pulitzer Prize for

The Looming Tower, an investigation of al-​​Qaeda and 9/11. Going Clear doesn’t simply recast stories about celebrities and Scientology, but takes us inside the organization via interviews with former church members and through research that most notably includes the writings of Hubbard. We learn how this mildly successful sci-fi writer became an overnight sensation in 1950 when he published Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. The selfhelp book explained how humans can improve their lives by ridding themselves of painful memories and emotions buried in the subconscious. The book became a bestseller and inspired Hubbard to establish the Church of Scientology. Wright describes how a seemingly plausible self-improvement theory became more complicated when Hubbard began hooking church members up to an E-Meter—tin cans affixed to the ears, with wires running to an electrical conductor—in an attempt to release the bad thoughts inside the brain. And we learn that Hubbard, who always had a fascination with Hollywood, made a conscious effort to attract movie stars to Scientology in order to boost its profile. If you have been intrigued by the exploits of Cruise, Travolta and other celebrities with Scientology ties, or have ever wondered what the religion is all about, then Going Clear is a must-read. Wright treats the subject with intelligence, objectivity and careful research, making it the definitive book on the history and practice of Scientology. —J o h n T. S l a n i a

Fresh Off the Boat By Eddie Huang

Spiegel & Grau $26, 288 pages ISBN 9780679644880 Audio, eBook available

memoir

Fresh Off the Boat, the new memoir by rising culinary star Eddie Huang, is one roller coaster of a ride. Written with headlong ferocity, the book takes us from Huang’s early Taiwanese taste bud revelations (“Soup dumplings, sitcoms, onenight stands—good ones leave you

wanting more”) to the establishment of his restaurant Baohaus, a realization of his vision for a youthculture-oriented hot spot in the East Village where no one would “kick you out, call the cops, or serve you shitty 7-Eleven pressed Cubans.” But it isn’t a swift or easy ride; like many bright, talented, angry and angst-filled young people, Huang struggles to discover and embody his authentic self—a struggle compounded by his Asian upbringing in American culture. He vows to “detox” his identity and cleanse it of everything he doesn’t consciously want or choose. But the fight isn’t only internal; he takes it to the streets, is constantly in trouble and hopscotches through five schools in seven years. At 13 he was already hustling, “running NCAA pools, taking bets on NFL games and selling porno,” and by the time he’s in college it’s skirmishes with the law. One night, the situation gets out of hand and there’s a trip to Orlando’s 33rd Street Jail, and a conviction. Rather than “sit at home on felony parole,” Huang takes a hiatus to Taiwan for a while, where he is relatively free and able to contemplate his future. By the time he returns, he’s on a mission: finding a place for himself in the world, “or making one.” Food is a lifelong interest, but before Baohaus materializes, Huang “samples” many other venues: hip hop, law school and stand-up comedy among them. But “the sky broke and everything was clear” once he knew he was going to open a restaurant—one that specialized in Taiwanese gua bao and, even more importantly, one that would be the manifestation of his “friends, family, and memories.” Though much of Huang’s writing is raw and intense, there are dollops of tenderness and zen-like wisdom when he writes about someone or something he loves, such as his mother, his grandmother or wellprepared food: “The best dishes have depth without doing too much. It’s not about rounding up all the seasonal ingredients you can find, it’s about paying close attention to the ones you already have.” Like the dishes he describes as “jumping off the plate,” Huang’s memoir jumps off the page. Its flavors are “big, deep, kid-dynamiteMike-Tyson-knock-you-out-ofthe-box” intense and will leave you wanting more! —Linda Stankard

Blindspot By Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald Delacorte $27, 272 pages ISBN 9780553804645 eBook available

psychology

Most of us would like to believe that we’re free-thinking, fair-minded folks who treat everyone equally. In this age of political correctness and diversity, that’s built into the code of everyday life. There’s proof. Americans elected an African-American president—twice. Yet, according to Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald, authors of Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People, such gestures don’t atone for the various “mindbugs” we possess: “ingrained habits” that dictate how we perceive and react to, well, everything around us. That I can summarize the book so easily is a credit to the authors, longtime psychology professors at Harvard University (Banaji) and the University of Washington (Greenwald), who complement their data with straightforward explanations and examples, whether it’s reallife stories or famous “Seinfeld” episodes. The result is a riveting book steeped in research that feels personal, sometimes uncomfortably so. Blindspot’s first moment of clarity comes when you take the authors’ much-discussed Implicit Association Tests (IATs), especially the one on race. You may find that you’re not as enlightened as you believe. (A 2009 meta-analysis of 184 studies showed that “the race IAT predicted racially discriminatory behavior.”) By allowing us to participate in the science—as I did—and not just digest data, Banaji and Greenwald capture our attention. And what we learn is fascinating. Examples: Stereotypes may help us navigate the world, but they can force the affected to live up (or down) to that description—which can be good and bad. Discrimination doesn’t have to involve overt acts of hatred, but can be as simple as “maintaining the status quo.” (The authors describe a doctor at a university hospital whose effort increased when he learned that

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reviews his youthful-looking patient was a professor.) Automatic preferences steer us away from uncomfortable situations, which is why undertakers may have a hard time finding dates. In this accessible and sobering book, Banaji and Greenwald dig into our soul’s deepest crevices. And that’s great. Because it turns out that before we can all get along with each other, we need to work on ourselves. —Pete Croatto

Ike and Dick By Jeffrey Frank

Simon & Schuster $30, 448 pages ISBN 9781416587019 Audio, eBook available

biography

Throughout U.S. history, presidents and vice presidents usually have not been close to each other. One has all the power of his office; the other does not. That invariably leads to many opportunities for misunderstandings, slights and mistrust. The mix is especially difficult if the president is an elder statesman and the symbol of victory in World War II, known to the public as being “above politics,” and the vice president is an ambitious young politician with a reputation as a ruthless campaigner. Such is the situation Jeffrey Frank explores in Ike and Dick: Portrait of a Strange Political Marriage. “There was never a real breach, there was, rather, a fluctuating level of discomfort,” he writes. Dwight Eisenhower’s attitude toward Richard Nixon

Hunger’s Season by Paul H. Wilson Blue Atlas Press • $15.99 ISBN 9781439260685

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Misadventures of an ex-baseball star and a young jazz musician during the Civil Rights Movement.

NONFICTION ranged from “mild disdain to hesitant respect.” Yet their relationship continued—especially through the marriage of Nixon’s daughter, Julie, and Eisenhower’s grandson, David— until Ike’s death in 1969, shortly after Nixon was elected president. Exactly how their coupling as a political team began is something of a mystery. No one present in the Chicago hotel room where Nixon was chosen by Republican Party leaders seems to have a clear memory of what happened. Eisenhower seems to have taken a back seat in the selection process. Until his own nomination, Eisenhower did not realize that he would need to name a vice-presidential candidate. Three years later, when he was asked about his role in the VP choice, he replied that he wrote down the names of five or six younger men he admired, including Nixon, and said to Republican Party leaders that any of them would be acceptable to him. The two men barely knew each other, but Nixon understood that any hard partisan campaigning would be up to him while Ike remained, as much as possible, above the fray. This was to remain the pattern throughout their two terms in office, and it affected how the public regarded them. In addition, Ike used Nixon for such unpleasant tasks as firing his chief of staff, Sherman Adams, who had become the focus of a scandal. Nixon pointed out much later that Ike was “a far more complex and devious man than most people realized.” This first became apparent to Nixon during the initial campaign when reports of a “Secret Nixon Fund,” supported by millionaires, came to light, and Eisenhower did not rush to the defense of his running mate. It was not until the generally positive reaction to Nixon’s nationally televised “Checkers” speech to explain himself that Ike expressed his support. Frank devotes a revelatory chapter to the circumstances surrounding the speech. Shortly before he went on the air, Nixon was told that “all of Eisenhower’s top advisers” wanted him to end his remarks by submitting his resignation to Ike. Nixon came to understand that this “suggestion” was what Ike also wanted. Nixon refused, and after that neither man felt he could completely trust the other. Nixon craved Ike’s approval, though, and the maneuvering be-

tween the two men to achieve their individual objectives runs throughout the book. Once in office, Ike made lists of other men who would make good vice presidents, and raised questions—both publicly and privately—about Nixon’s suitability for the presidency. In 1955, even before Eisenhower had decided to run for re-election, he proposed that Nixon accept a cabinet position in a new administration. And in 1956, he did nothing to stop the effort to replace Nixon on the Republican ticket. This lively narrative touches on various personalities whose relationships with Nixon were particularly important. He became close to John Foster Dulles, the secretary of state, who tried to give Nixon a larger role in the administration. Nixon was the one major official at the time who made a special effort to meet regularly with black leaders. He had been on friendly terms with Martin Luther King Jr. for several years when, in 1960, during the run-up to the presidential election, King was arrested after a civil rights demonstration and sentenced to prison in Georgia. Yet when Coretta Scott King contacted both presidential campaigns for help, it was John F. Kennedy who returned her call and helped to obtain her husband’s release. Nixon said he had “frequently counseled with Dr. King and [had] a great respect for him,” but he did not want to make what he called “a grandstand play.” Anyone interested in U.S. politics will enjoy Jeffrey Frank’s absorbing tale of two very different men and their turbulent relationship. —Roger Bishop

Saturday Night Widows By Becky Aikman

Crown $26, 352 pages ISBN 9780307590435 Audio, eBook available

memoir

Those who have found solace in Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, Joyce Carol Oates’ A Widow’s Story or Sally Ryder Brady’s A Box of Darkness should take note of a new arrival on the shelf: Saturday Night Widows by Becky Aikman.

While more traditional widow memoirs spend pages reflecting on the marriage, remembering the spouse and contemplating the future, Aikman and her gang of midlife widows are most concerned with the final part of the equation. How can one transcend what Aikman calls “the worst thing that could possibly happen”? Not by following the “normal” script for grieving, she soon determines. When her beloved husband dies, Aikman is totally lost. She skims over the worst of the grief—waking up sobbing at 5 a.m., obsessively remembering the final days of her husband’s life—and cuts instead to a scene of a widow’s support group. She’s there, a year and a half after the death of her husband, looking for camaraderie on the road to healing. Instead, she simply doesn’t fit in (and actually gets kicked out). These widows are lonely and see no alternatives in the future. Aikman, on the other hand, intends to be joyful again. This attitude informs Aikman’s personal story and the group of widows she eventually brings together. The Saturday night widows, who refer to themselves as the Blossoms, are younger, more interested in sex and romance, and more determinedly forward-moving than your stereotypical widow. They meet every month for a year—at art museums, cooking classes or the spa— and culminate their experience with an international trip. The vibe may be more Eat, Pray, Love than The Year of Magical Thinking, but it is compelling stuff. Along with the stories of six remarkably resilient and admirable women (ranging from an entrepreneur to a housewife), the book offers an arresting analysis of the literature of grief. Aikman, working with researchers at Columbia University, dismisses typically endorsed platitudes about how grief works (think Kübler-Ross’ five stages) and shares the latest studies, which are far more in tune with the Blossoms’ approach to healing than the depressed widow group from chapter one. A compassionate, inspirational and deeply personal read, Saturday Night Widows is relevant for a wider audience than the grieving. This book is for anyone who has faced adversity but refuses to let it define them. — K e l ly B l e w e t t


spotlight

black history B y J o h n T. S l a n i a

THE MARCH TOWARD FREEDOM

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lthough they examine three separate, significant times in the span of African-American history, these books share common themes: the struggle for freedom, the quest for equality and the achievement of these goals with the help of a great leader. Spanning more than a century, from the Civil War to the Civil Rights movement, these new volumes provide important perspective as we celebrate Black History Month.

The Great Emancipator Much has been written about Abraham Lincoln’s evolution from a president who simply sought to preserve the union to one who ultimately realized he must free the slaves. But James Oakes makes the case in Freedom National (Norton, $27.95, 596 pages, ISBN 9780393065312) that even before the Civil War, Lincoln held a firm anti-slavery view and pursued that goal until his death. While January 1, 2013, marked the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, Oakes writes that long before that historic order was issued, Lincoln and the Republican Party were orchestrating political and military maneuvers to free the slaves. Oakes, a noted professor of history, provocatively sets the starting date of the emancipation at less than four months after the first cannon shot of the Civil War. It was on August 6, 1861, that Lincoln signed the First Confiscation Act, instructing the Union Army to seize any property and free any slaves owned by Southerners disloyal to the union. “[F]irmly convinced that slavery was the source of the rebellion, Republicans began attacking it almost as soon as the war began,” Oakes writes. While experiencing some success with military action, Lincoln realized he needed a broader decree— the Emancipation Proclamation—to achieve full freedom for slaves. Thus, Oakes writes, the Emancipation Proclamation wasn’t the beginning or end of Lincoln’s mission, but a more aggressive phase of his anti-slavery campaign. The final steps were victory over the South in the war, and then passage of the Thirteenth Amendment outlawing slavery, which Lincoln shepherded through Congress. He was assassinated before the amendment was ratified by the states. Freedom National is a refresh-

ing new look at Lincoln because it refutes a growing body of work arguing that it was only after exhausting every other political and military tactic that he adopted an antislavery stance. Oakes’ conclusion: “[Lincoln] was neither the Great Emancipator who bestrode his times and brought his people out of the darkness, nor was he in any way a reluctant emancipator held back by some visceral commitment to white supremacy.”

Give ’em Hell It is altogether fitting that this Black History Month trilogy moves from one great military conflict— the Civil War—to another: World War II. In fact, the theme of Rawn James Jr.’s The Double V (Bloomsbury, $28, 304 pages, ISBN 9781608196081) is how the nation’s military conflicts, and their use of African-American soldiers, reflect our attitudes toward racism and equality. “From exclusion and segregation, to integration and diversity, the armed forces, for better or worse, have always reflected our country at large,” James writes. The Double V refers to the attempt by black soldiers to achieve two victories in World War II: on the battlefield and at home, where they sought to be treated as equals. James, an accomplished historian, writes that the Double V campaign was best described by prominent civil rights activist Roy Wilkins, who said that blacks should “fight on for the full freedom of 100 percent democracy at home while we are fighting a war for democracy abroad.” Providing critical historical context, James details how African Americans were mustered into the U.S. military beginning in the late stages of the Civil War. Yet it wasn’t true integration, he writes, since black soldiers often performed menial tasks in segregated units. Two factors led to the complete

integration of the military, according to James: the loyalty and heroics displayed by black soldiers in World War II, and the presidency of Harry S. Truman. As a U.S. senator, Truman headed a committee to investigate misappropriation of military defense contracts. Inspecting dozens of military bases and field operations, Truman grew to understand not only the nation’s vast military apparatus, but also its soldiers, including the bravery of its black soldiers. Once the war was over and the foreign enemies dispatched, Truman turned to combating the internal enemy of segregation. On July 26, 1948, African Americans finally enjoyed the “Double V” when Truman issued Executive Order 9981, desegregating the armed forces. Of course, the order did not end racism in the military, James points out. But this bold decision by a conservative, white Missourian did establish a doctrine to bring equality to the military. While the struggle for equality continues, James concludes that evidence of progress can be seen six decades later with the election of Barack Obama, who, as president, is commander in chief of the armed forces.

Triumph and Tragedy Not all wars involve the military. This is a lesson from Taylor Branch’s The King Years (Simon & Schuster, $26, 224 pages, ISBN 9781451678970), which chronicles Martin Luther King Jr.’s fight for equality during the Civil Rights era. Here, the clash is between white supremacists—who refuse to allow blacks to eat at the same lunch counters, drink from the same water fountains or use the same bathrooms—and African Americans asking for the rights granted to all citizens by the U.S. Constitution. The offensive is conducted in a peaceful fashion by King, but frequently met with bloody violence.

The King Years is a distillation of Branch’s acclaimed trilogy, America in the King Years. The series totaled more than 2,000 pages, offering a comprehensive and exhaustively researched exploration of the Civil Rights movement. Branch was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for History for the first installment, Parting the Waters, and received praise for two subsequent volumes, Pillar of Fire and At Canaan’s Edge. Here, Branch selects 18 passages from the trilogy in an attempt to capture the essential moments of the Civil Rights era. Branch’s hope in publishing a condensed edition is to make history accessible to a new generation of readers. “Our goal in this edition,” Branch writes, “is to convey both the spirit and sweep of an extraordinary movement.” Moving chronologically, The King Years begins with the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955, moves through the Selma March in 1965, and finishes with King’s assassination in Memphis in 1968. These condensed passages allow readers to grasp the significance of these and other key moments in King’s life and offer an invitation to Branch’s more complete writings. In an interview with his publisher, Branch revealed the inspiration for publishing The King Years: “For all readers, I believe, lessons from the Civil Rights Era apply not to bygone forms of racial segregation but most urgently to a troubled future. . . . They show how ordinary people can work miracles against intractable burdens to advance both freedom and the common good.” The war against racism is not over. But The King Years shows how King and others advanced the cause of equality in the same noble fashion as the great leaders who preceded them. It is Branch’s hope that a new generation who learn about King’s crusade for civil rights may be inspired to continue the fight.

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black history By robin smith

Overcoming the odds in stories of inspiration ust when I think there are no more stories to be written about African Americans in history, I am blown away by new and inspiring books. Each of these beautiful picture books tells a story of perseverance in the face of overwhelming obstacles.

THE LIGHT OF LITERACY

DREAMS FULFILLED

Most folks know that it was against the law for slaves to learn to read, but it’s clear that some were able to learn despite the prohibition. How did they do it? In Light in the Darkness (Jump at the Sun, $16.99, 40 pages, ISBN 9781423134954) author Lesa Cline-Ransome and her husband, illustrator James E. Ransome, tell the story of pit schools— large holes dug deep in the ground where slaves would meet and learn from a literate slave, usually at night. The book’s dark blue palette is perfect for showing the fear of the slaves, hidden in the hole while patrollers are about. One especially chilling spread shows a slave being whipped—one lash for every letter she had learned. It’s impossible not to be inspired by the book’s portrayal of enslaved people and their dedication to learning.

In Fifty Cents and a Dream (Little, Brown, $16.99, 48 pages, ISBN 9780316086578) Jabari Asim and illustrator Bryan Collier depict the early life of educator and writer Booker T. Washington. Collier’s collage and watercolor illustrations are perfect for detailing the struggles the young man overcame to attend Hampton Institute and eventually to lead the new Tuskegee Institute. One particularly moving painting shows Washington kneeling in prayer while the trees are filled with images of slaves, symbols of his older neighbors who told him their stories. “Booker listened, and carried their dreams with him.” The backmatter—timeline, author’s and illustrator’s notes and bibliography—add depth to this emotional tale.

A DRAMATIC RESCUE Another husband-and-wife team, Judith Bloom Fradin and Dennis Brindell Fradin, bring us a tale of stubbornness and bravery in The Price of Freedom: How One Town Stood Up to Slavery (Walker, $16.99, 48 pages, ISBN 9780802721662). Stirringly told by the authors and beautifully illustrated by Eric Velasquez, this is the story of John Price, an escaped slave sheltered by Quakers in Oberlin, Ohio, in 1858. The Fugitive Slave Act allowed slave catchers from the South to legally capture slaves and return them to their owners. When John was recaptured and imprisoned by slave catchers in a hotel in nearby Wellington while they waited for a train south, news of the capture spread. Hundreds of Oberlinians— students, teachers, shopkeepers and more—raced to rescue Price. And they did! Thirty-seven members of the town were eventually accused of violating the Fugitive Slave Act and jailed for three months. A moving archival photo of the rescuers adds much to the story. More people will now know of the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue, thanks to this dramatic book.

SEEING RED Perhaps my favorite new book of the season is A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin (Knopf, $17.99, 40 pages, ISBN 9780375867125). Jen Bryant and illustrator Melissa Sweet, who partnered on A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams, team up again with the tender tale of artist Horace Pippin. His story is one of dedication, loss and determination to create art. Using his own words as part of the design, Sweet’s gouache, collage and watercolor paintings tell of the boy who answered the call of his friends and neighbors, “Make a picture for us, Horace!” As Bryant recounts the triumphant

day when Pippin won a magazine drawing contest, the reader can feel the excitement he must have felt when the prize of pencils, paints and brushes arrived. Now he could add his trademark splash of red. His life, which was filled with challenges, including a shoulder injury suffered in World War I, was not an easy one. Bryant and Sweet portray Pippin with honesty and heart, introducing this true American artist to a new generation. The back cover shows paints and brushes and includes a final quote from Pippin: “Pictures just come to my mind . . . and I tell my heart to go ahead.” Stunning.

HISTORY REVEALED Kadir Nelson’s gifts as an artist are on full view in I Have a Dream (Schwartz & Wade, $18.99, 32 pages, ISBN 9780375858871). Words from the famous 1963 speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are interspersed with Nelson’s soaring paintings of the March on Washington and portraits of Dr. King in front of the Lincoln Memorial. This is no simplistic rehashing of the familiar words. Each page turn brings a new, glorious image celebrating one of the most important speeches of the 20th century.


megan shepherd interview By heather seggel

© kristi hedberg photography

RED IN TOOTH AND CLAW

I

n The Madman’s Daughter, Megan Shepherd revisits the H.G. Wells classic The Island of Dr. Moreau from the point of view of Juliet, the doctor’s daughter. Forced to leave her London home, she travels to the island where the father she thought had died is still conducting cuttingedge experiments—sometimes on live animals. The story is full of big ideas, romantic intrigue and exotic locations, but it’s also intense, dark and scary.

There’s an amusing contrast when I reach Shepherd by phone at her home in Asheville, North Carolina: She’s still pinching herself over her good fortune. “It’s a debut novel, so I still can’t believe all this has happened,” she says. “All this” encompasses a lot for Shepherd. She’s about to launch The Madman’s Daughter with a signing at Highland Books, the store her family owns in Brevard, North Carolina, where she used to work. But the book is the first in a trilogy, which she’s still writing, along with a second series, which took shape, she says, when she asked fellow attendants at a writer’s retreat, “‘Has anyone ever written a book about a human zoo?’ And it was just . . . silence.” People told her, “That’s the weirdest idea we’ve ever heard,” so she gamely dove in. When asked where the inspiration for The Madman’s Daughter came from, she laughs. “It came out of my love of television, actually. I was a huge fan of the show ‘Lost,’ and thinking I’d like to set a book on a mysterious island, maybe with scientific experiments going on . . . and I realized, oh, H.G. Wells already did that!” But while rereading The Island of Dr. Moreau, she noticed, “There are no female characters in

The Madman’s Daughter

By Megan Shepherd

Balzer + Bray, $17.99, 432 pages ISBN 9780062128027, eBook available, ages 13 and up

the book,” so the potential was there for a new story to unfold. While the characters and story will remain consistent throughout the trilogy, the second book draws inspiration from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and the third from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. “It’s a challenge to do,” says Shepherd, “and I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t think it would feel organic, but now that I’m deep into books two and three, it just works. It works perfectly to do it that way.” The three Gothic novels have much in common “in terms of the dangers of science, arrogance versus science, man versus self, man versus animal and that kind of thing.” There are big questions raised by The Madman’s Daughter, which contains some harrowing scenes of experiments done on animals (Dr. Moreau’s work centers on surgically combining animals to create an “improved” almost-human being). For Shepherd, an avid horseback rider and co-parent with her husband to two terribly spoiled cats, the scenes were hard to get through. “I’m a huge animal lover, which made this book tough to write,” she says. “I get a little shaky even thinking about it because I scared myself writing those scenes. It was a challenge.” Although the island is chock full of animals and manimals, Juliet still manages to round up two hot love interests: Montgomery, her childhood friend, now employed as the doctor’s right-hand man, and the mysterious Edward Prince. “My first draft didn’t have as much romance in it,” Shepherd allows, “but my editor and I both enjoy that, so I decided to put a little more in. A book can have romance in it and still have lots of other elements because people are just as complex as books can be.” There’s an advantage to the historical setting, too. “[In] the Victorian time period you could just mention a wrist or an ankle and it was so sexy. There doesn’t have to be gratuitous sex in the book. It can be subtle but still very sexy.”

The book is so assured for a first-time effort, I asked Shepherd if her time working in a bookstore gave her literary chops via osmosis, or influenced her decision to start writing. She says that’s nearly the opposite of what happened. “I had such reverence for books that until just a few years ago I never even dreamed that normal people could be authors! Books were these sacred things, and the idea of the people that wrote them? I thought they must be somehow special.” She says, “It never occurred to me to be a writer until about five years ago. I decided to give it a try, and my husband and my parents were just super-­supportive, and I pretty much instantly became obsessed with it and fell in love, and ever since then it’s been my absolute passion.” That’s a good thing, since she’ll be at it for a while. When asked what she does when she’s not writing, she reminds me, “Right now because I have six books under contract, I’m pretty much only writing” for the foreseeable future. When things settle down she’ll likely travel and make time for some hiking, and she says, “I’d love to be able to read more for pleasure than for work.” For now, bringing The Madman’s Daughter and its sequels into the world is priority number one. I asked if Juliet would be returning to the island in later books and was surprised to hear it’s unlikely. “I will say that she is probably going to find herself in similar situations in other really cool locations. The second book takes place in London in wintertime. It’s almost the opposite of the island, but there are quite a few scenes that take place in the Royal Botanical greenhouse, so that captures that steamy jungle atmos­

phere in these little pockets within the city.” While marketers have labeled The Madman’s Daughter Gothic horror, Victorian romance and a host of other labels, Shepherd has always thought of the book as historical science fiction. “I wanted to try to write a book that would be both entertaining and that . . . would let [readers] think about complicated questions.” At the end of the day, she says, “I hope that readers get swept away into the world [of the book] and escape from their own lives for a while. If they come away having learned something or having felt something new, that’s even better.”

RIPPED—a Jack the Ripper Time-Travel Thriller by Shelly Dickson Carr New Book Partners • $19.95 ISBN 9781939003003 eBook available • www.Ripped-book.com In a flash, Katie Lennox is separated from her friends—by more than 100 years. It’s London, 1888. Can this smart, gutsy teen stop a serial killer?

29


children’s books Beholding Bee

reviews

Facing the world anew Review by Jennifer Bruer Kitchel

We all know that there is magic in the world—and it is not the spellsand-wands kind of magic you find in most fantasy books. Real magic is created by love and conjured up by need. In Kimberly Newton Fusco’s enthralling Beholding Bee, there is an abundance of real magic. And it’s a good thing, because Bee needs all the help the world can give her. Orphaned at the age of 4 by carnival folk parents, Bee is raised by a teenager, Pauline, who helps her run the hot dog stand. The carnival’s owner decided to keep Bee because he hopes to use her as a “freak show” attraction when she gets older. In the 1940s when this story takes place, being born with a large diamond-shaped birthmark on your face can make you an object of fear, ridicule and fascination. Bee spends most of the early parts of this story trying to keep her hair pulled down over one side of her face. Only Pauline and a strange old lady in a floppy hat—a lady only Bee can see— By Kimberly Newton Fusco give her comfort. When Pauline leaves to work at another carnival, Bee Knopf, $16.99, 336 pages is on her own and more scared than ever. With a stray dog and a piglet as ISBN 9780375868368, audio, eBook available her companions, Bee finds the strength to run away to the nearest town, Ages 8-12 and, miraculously, finds the house where the old lady lives. Here the magic truly begins as Bee makes a home for herself. She follows the guidance of the ghostly lady and another “aunt” as she learns to cook and shop and go to school. As all the pieces come apart and then come together again, Bee finds her voice and the strength of self to show the world who she really is. Fusco’s lyrical prose enhances the magic of the story as we are drawn into Bee’s unconventional world and her touching transformation.

one came home By Amy Timberlake

Random House $16.99, 272 pages ISBN 9780375869259 eBook available Ages 9 to 13

middle grade

30

Georgie Burkhardt knows that the unidentifiable body buried in the family plot is not that of her older sister, Agatha, who recently ran away. In the adventurous historical novel One Came Home, based on two actual events in Wisconsin in 1871, the spunky 13-year-old heroine and best shot in Placid, Wisconsin, sets out to find her sister. She prepares for the trip with advice from Randolph B. Marcy’s The Prairie Traveler (a real book from which the author quotes), a few gold dollars and a Springfield single-shot rifle, and is surprised when Billy McCabe, Agatha’s unrequited love interest, shows up to accompany her.

The pair follow the path Agatha took with pigeoners, who crossed the Midwest trailing the country’s largest recorded migration of the now-extinct passenger pigeon. On the long ride atop a stubborn mule, the outspoken, headstrong girl has plenty of time to reflect on the events that led to Agatha’s departure (including Georgie’s own guilty actions), the handsomeness and unexpected kindness of Billy, and the meager clues that may lead to Agatha’s return. She tells it all in folksy narration, topped with selfdeprecating humor. Georgie’s not just a thinker, though. She roars into action when faced with cougars, ruthless counterfeiters, a mistaken woman who resembles Agatha and even death. As she makes some hard decisions, she learns to see the world beyond appearances and her own wishes. The author seamlessly introduces food, clothing, transportation and societal manners from the time period, allowing readers to learn about the era without even realizing it. Through Georgie’s unrelenting journey, Timberlake has crafted a True Grit for the middle school set. — ANGELA LEE P ER

Better Nate Than Ever

to underestimating the number of kids interested in playing Elliot in E.T.: The Musical, Nate’s big plan for escape crumbles all around him. However, just like on stage, all you need is one twist of fate and everything can turn around. A confession: Your reviewer is a huge fan of Broadway musicals. And on its surface, this book is written for fans like me. However, there is so much more to this story. Nate is rash and immature, yes, but he is also determined and courageous, and desperate to figure out where in the world he fits. Filled with adventure, suspense, humor and unique characters, Better Nate Than Ever will be enjoyed by anyone who has ever decided to stop waiting and make their own dreams come true. —Kevin Delecki

scarlet By Marissa Meyer

Feiwel & Friends $17.99, 464 pages ISBN 9780312642969 Audio, eBook available Ages 12 and up

teen

By Tim Federle

Simon & Schuster $16.99, 288 pages ISBN 9781442446892 eBook available Ages 8 to 12

middle grade

Nate Foster will never fit in with the kids in his hometown of Jankburg, Pennsylvania. In a place that worships sports stars, 12-year-old Nate prefers to belt out Broadway tunes loud enough for the neighbors to hear. So when Nate learns about an open casting call for E.T.: The Musical, he knows that this could be his only chance to escape. In Better Nate Than Ever, by Broadway veteran Tim Federle, Nate travels to New York armed only with his cell phone, a box of Entenmann’s donuts and his mom’s ATM card. Once Nate arrives in the city, things don’t go exactly according to plan. From getting caught in a downpour (in his audition clothes),

Eighteen-year-old Scarlet was happy with her quiet life as an outsider, working on her beloved grandmother’s farm and ignoring the whispers about her eccentricities. But when her grandmother is kidnapped and the police refuse to believe she was taken by force, Scarlet sets out to find her with the help of a handsome stranger called Wolf. Meanwhile, 16-year-old cyborg Cinder—still reeling from the news that she’s actually Princess Selene, Lunar Queen Levana’s own niece— manages to escape from her prison cell and certain death at the hands of the Queen. Cinder begins to develop her newfound power of mind control while coming to terms with her new identity, and her conflicting feelings about the morality of using her powers of manipulation are well portrayed. Marissa Meyer has created a rich, unique, yet accessible fantasy world. While the technology of halfmachine girls plants the story firmly outside the reader’s reality, the constant presence of portscreens and


reviews “comms” seems no different from the ubiquity of present-day smartphones and texts. Scarlet doesn’t try to recreate the fairy tales it borrows from, but instead takes their most interesting characters and gives them new purposes that expose emotions never revealed in the original tales. — M o l ly H o r a n

The Whole Stupid Way We Are By N. Griffin

Atheneum $16.99, 368 pages ISBN 9781442431553 eBook available Ages 14 and up

teen

Dinah seems much younger than her 15 years. She’s innocent and hopeful, someone who always sees the bright side of any situation. She and her best friend Skint help out at church as part of the “Girls’ Friendly Society” (even though Skint’s a boy) in their small Maine town. But as Skint likes to remind her, a lot of complicated problems—like hunger, poverty, mental illness and abuse— are everywhere, including right in their own backyard. And Skint should know: His father suffers from early-onset senility, and his mother, desperate to keep her husband out of an institution, is at the end of her rope. Unlike Dinah, Skint is cynical and angry about the world around him, and he often grows frustrated with Dinah’s inability or unwillingness to comprehend the extent of the world’s troubles. As a long Maine winter takes its toll on the town’s residents, Dinah becomes increasingly aware of the problems that consume Skint. When she must change her own opinion of her best friend, Dinah finds herself feeling unexpectedly unmoored, “like a child whose balloon has come undone from her wrist.” N. Griffin’s debut novel raises issues (such as religious faith, social responsibility and poverty) not commonly found in young adult fiction. In the end, Griffin encourages readers to consider important questions: Is it possible to see the troubles that surround us without succumbing to despair? And what is left when loving someone is not enough to save

meet   WENDY ANDERSoN HALPERIN

them? Simultaneously quirky, funny, thoughtful and sad, The Whole Stupid Way We Are will remain with readers long after its heartbreaking final pages. —Norah Piehl

Out of the Easy By Ruta Sepetys

Philomel $17.99, 352 pages ISBN 9780399256929 eBook available Ages 14 and up

teen

The French Quarter of New Orleans is no place for a child. Josie Moraine, the daughter of a prostitute, grew up there and made her own way by cleaning the brothel and working in a bookstore. She’s 17 now and ready to make a better name for herself, which means getting away from her past. When a murder ties all the strands of her life in knots, will Josie make it Out of the Easy in one piece? Author Ruta Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray) sets her story in 1950 and decorates it with both glamour and grime. The city’s nightlife is decadent, but morning finds the streets littered with broken glass, Mardi Gras beads and bottles. Josie cleans up after nights of revelry, finding a high heel here, a cufflink there, and delivers them to madam Willie Woodley, whose brusque manner belies a genuine love for this tough, smart girl. There are many supporting players here: mechanic Jesse and Josie’s best friend Patrick, either of whom may be a potential suitor; the working girls who’ve watched Josie grow up; and Cokie, Willie’s driver and right-hand man, who wants to help Josie escape and get an education. Through all the plot twists, Josie’s desire to better herself and maintain a moral center in a place where that’s decidedly unfashionable keeps us in her corner. Out of the Easy has a mystery at its center, but in many ways it’s a book about family and how the ones you’re born to aren’t necessarily your true tribe. Rough-edged and glamorous by turns, this is a wild ride worth taking. —Heather Seggel

PEACE Wendy Anderson Halperin has illustrated more than 25 books for children, including Soft House by Jane Yolen and Let’s Go Home by Cynthia Rylant. Her new book, PEACE (Atheneum, $16.99, 40 pages, ISBN 9780689825521), explores the path to peace in the world and incorporates the work of young artists from eight elementary schools in several states.

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WORDNOOK

By the editors of Merriam-Webster

STICKY SITUATION

THE ROSE KNOWS

Dear Editor, When something bothers my husband, he calls the annoyance a fly in the ointment. What does this mean and where does the expression come from? D. C. Fairfax, Virginia

Dear Editor, I sometimes see the term sub-rosa, as in sub-rosa business or sub-rosa affairs. Can you explain what it means? C. T. Eugene, Oregon

Fly in the ointment is a very old expression that can be traced to the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes: “Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour; so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.” So your husband is right—a fly in the ointment is an annoyance that spoils an otherwise pleasant situation, or in the case of the passage above, a person’s reputation. Ecclesiastes is the source of many familiar bits of wisdom, such as “Vanity of vanities, and all is vanity,” “Cast your bread upon the waters” and “Nothing under the sun is new,” to name just a few.

Many people became familiar with sub rosa from its appearance in Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code. When used as an adjective, sub-rosa means “secretive” or “private” and is usually hyphenated. When used as an adverb, as in to meet sub rosa, it means “in confidence” or “secretly.” The term is from New Latin (the Latin of the modern era), and literally translated it means “under the rose.” Its meaning derives from the ancient association of the rose with secrecy, much like that of the lily with purity and the daisy with deceit. According to Greek myth, the goddess of love, Aphrodite, was enjoying a secret love affair when Harpocrates, the god of silence, spied her and her lover. Aphrodite’s son,

CARVED IN BONE Dear Editor, I have a collection of scrimshaw and I was wondering where the word scrimshaw comes from. D. B. Warren, Michigan Scrimshaw refers to the practice originating with American whalers of carving various articles

from shell, whalebone and ivory. It also refers to the carved objects themselves. As a noun, it was first recorded around 1864. The verb scrimshaw, meaning “to carve or engrave scrimshaw,” was first recorded about 40 years earlier. The origin of scrimshaw is obscure. One popular theory holds that the word came from the name of a sailor particularly skilled in such carving. But if such an individual did exist, he is unknown today. Another theory suggests a relationship between scrimshaw and scrimshank, a verb meaning “to shirk responsibility or duty” that is chiefly found in British English, specifically in military slang. (The origin of scrimshank is itself unknown.) It could be that the idle hours spent carving moved sailors to associate their activity with evading duty. However, there is no concrete evidence to support this hypothesis.

Send correspondence regarding Word Nook to: Language Research Service P.O. Box 281 Springfield, MA 01102

Palindromes

CROSS-TRAIN YOUR BRAIN!

Targets: long-term memory working memory executive functioning

Palindromes are words or phrases that read the same backward and forward. Madam, I’m Adam is a well-known palindrome. In this game, all of the answers are one-word palindromes.

This challenge has been adapted from 399 Games, Puzzles & Trivia Challenges Specially Designed to Keep Your Brain Young. Targets:

trivia

ON A FIRST NAME BASIS

1. A quick glance, or a chick’s chirp. 6. Dunce, nitwit, idiot.

long-term memory executive functioning

All of the answers in this quiz share a common first name.

• A nineteenth-

Eros, who happened by, protected his mother’s privacy by creating the first rose and buying Harpocrates’ pledge of silence with it. The rose thus became a well-recognized symbol of secrecy. Around the time of the Renaissance, paintings and sculptures of roses often decorated the homes of the wealthy, especially in those rooms where the conversation among guests might require a reminder that sub vino sub rosa est, or “what is said under the influence of wine must remain a secret.” The first written use of the term sub rosa in English to mean “in secret” appeared in 1654, and it is still in common use today.

century English author; the creator of Peanuts; and a river in Boston.

• Jimmy Carter’s vice president; an actor who played Oscar Madison; and a former news anchorman.

SOLUTIONS: Trivia—On A First Name

• An astronaut;

an actress who played Gidget and Norma Rae; and the actress who played Archie Bunker’s daughter Gloria.

7. Legal proof of property

3. A technology that uses

8. A principle or belief, especially

4. A short, sharp, sound . . . from

9. A carpenter’s tool used to ensure

5. Novels or series of novels in

10. Pertaining to cities or citizenship;

revolution.

ownership.

• The capital of

British Columbia, Canada; the largest lake in Africa; and a nineteenthcentury British queen.

SOLUTIONS: Palindromes

Basis Peep Shahs Radar Toot Sagas Boob

7. Deed 8. Tenet 9. Level 10. Civic 11. Tot

• Charles (Dickens and Schulz) • Walter (Mondale, Matthau, and Cronkite) • Sally (Ride, Field, and Struthers) • Victoria

WORKMAN is a registered trademark of Workman Publishing Co., Inc.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

workman.com

2. Iranian rulers—before the Islamic

electromagnetic waves to detect objects in its path.

a car horn or a trumpet, for example.

which generations of people in a group or family are chronicled over many pages.

one of the main principles of a religion or philosophy.

that a surface or edge has no part higher than another.

it’s also a Honda car model.

11. A small child.


BookPage February 2013