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discover your next great book www.bookpage.com

jan. 2013

america’s book review

READ & renew Brit Lit Picks for fans of ‘Downton Abbey’

lose weight, feel great Getting back on track with diet & health books

C’MON, GET Happy Fresh strategies for a happier you



paperback picks PENGUIN.COM

Chance of a Lifetime

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Choke Point


Covert Warriors

Emily’s writing group stumbles through both the fiction and reality of their lives—they’re learning much more than how to write. But Emily suddenly has other things on her mind when a friend from her past shows up in Harmony’s library. Now she must deal with a secret she’s kept for 15 years—a secret that changed her life and threatens to shatter her future.

When the American ambassador to Colombia is kidnapped, the Ghost Recon team battles its way through rebels and discovers evidence of a new Islamic fundamentalist group. Their goal: stop the flow of oil in the Indian Ocean and cause devastating international economic chaos. Ghost Recon’s goal: stop them at all costs.

When Elvis Cole and Joe Pike are hired to find a missing girl, the investigation derails into a nightmare. Cole himself disappears and Pike is left to burn through the deadly world of human traffickers to find his friend. But he may already be too late.

At a Mexican roadblock, a US Embassy SUV is stopped at gunpoint, three of its passengers murdered, and a fourth kidnapped. Castillo & Company believe the murders and kidnapping were ordered to lure them to their deaths. Powerful forces in the US government are arrayed against them as well, and if one side doesn’t get them...the other side will.

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9780425264751 • $9.99

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Perfect Fit

All Necessary Force

Weekends Required

Sea Glass Winter

When Mike returns as Cara’s boss, the sexual tension between them is impossible to ignore. Both are convinced a future together is impossible. Until Mike’s real father’s secrets come back to haunt him and he realizes there are some things worth staying and fighting for. Including Cara.

A terrorist hit is coming. CIA, FBI, and Department of Defense systems have spiked, but traditional intel is going nowhere. It falls to the Taskforce— a top secret team that exists outside the bounds of U.S. law and is charged with finding and destroying asymmetric threats—to stop the unknown conspirators…

To support her ailing mother, Claire is forced to work a second job at a party-planning company. But when her handsome boss ends up with a front-row seat to the action, she’s mortified— and he’s intrigued. The more time they spend together, the more he realizes how much he wants to offer her a happily ever after of her own.

Claire Templeton moved her troubled teenage son to the small town of Shelter Bay. But when his attitude earns her a visit from the handsome basketball coach, she wonders if this role model might be too much of a temptation—for her. But what she doesn’t realize is that Dillon isn’t playing games—he’s playing for keeps… .

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The New York Times bestseller!

Jocelyn Butler has been hiding from her past for years. But all her secrets are about to be laid bare… Four years ago, Jocelyn left her tragic past behind in the States and started over in Scotland, burying her grief, ignoring her demons, and forging ahead without attachments. Her solitary life is working well—until she moves into a new apartment on Dublin Street where she meets a man who shakes her carefully guarded world to its core. Braden Carmichael is used to getting what he wants, and he’s determined to get Jocelyn into his bed. Knowing how skittish she is about entering a relationship, Braden proposes an arrangement that will satisfy their intense attraction without any strings attached. But after an intrigued Jocelyn accepts, she realizes that Braden won’t be satisfied with just mind-blowing passion. The stubborn Scotsman is intent on truly knowing her… down to her very soul.

NEW AMERICAN LIBRARY A Penguin Group (USA) Company

9780451419705 • $15


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



13 Brad Meltzer

the pursuit of happiness

Ring in the new year by taking the first steps on your path to a happier, healthier life.

Meet the author of The Fifth Assassin

14 Eleanor Morse Set in Africa, a novel of the human heart

Cover photo © iStock.com/PIKSEL

16 Jennifer Chiaverini The former slave who inspired a novel

17 Stephen Hunter

Looking for answers at Dealey Plaza

19 Sonja Lyubomirsky

reviews 24 Fiction

Advice for your wallet and your career

21 Diet & Health Losing weight to transform your life

25 British Fiction spotlight Books with “Upstairs Downstairs” drama

31 Snowy Picture books Cozy reading for chilly days

31 Steve Breen Meet the author-illustrator of Pug & Doug

columns 04 04 05 06 08 09 10 10 12



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top pick:





She Matters by Susanna Sonnenberg

also reviewed:

The Universe Within by Neil Shubin On the Map by Simon Garfield Chanel Bonfire by Wendy Lawless The Fall of the House of Dixie by Bruce Levine The World Until Yesterday by Jared Diamond Kill Anything That Moves by Nick Turse


Book Fortunes The author Enabler WELL READ Whodunit ROMance Book Clubs COOKING Audio Lifestyles

read all our reviews online at bookpage.com

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes also reviewed: The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier The Drowning House by Elizabeth Black The History of Us by Leah Stewart Tenth of December by George Saunders The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell

27 NonFiction

29 Clare Vanderpool A new novel from the Newbery Winner

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

top pick:

Redefining joy in The Myths of Happiness

20 Personal Finance

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top pick:

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

also reviewed:

Hokey Pokey by Jerry Spinelli Gingersnap by Patricia Reilly Giff Splintered by A.G. Howard

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BookPage is a selection guide for new books. Our editors evaluate and select for review the best books published each month in a variety of categories. Only books we highly recommend are featured.

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Our crystal ball predicts your next great read Reader name: Shawntaye Hometown: Lexington, KY Favorite genre: literary fiction and creative nonfiction Favorite books: Water for Elephants (Sara Gruen); Unbroken (Laura Hillenbrand); The History of Love (Nicole Krauss); Eat, Pray, Love (Elizabeth Gilbert)


Like so many BookPage readers, Shawntaye is passionate about the written word. “I love when a book is so beautifully written I have to stop often and re-read a passage over and over and over again,” she wrote. “I also enjoy reading books with various themes and lots of symbolism: a book I can analyze in my mind or with others for days after finishing it. And I enjoy work that is reflective. If a book manages to be all three, I’m in heaven.” That’s a tall order, but I believe there are many books that will appeal to this thoughtful reader. In particular, I recommend Heft by Liz Moore, which is now available in paperback. (It would be perfect for book clubs!) Moore weaves the first-person narrative of a morbidly obese man in Brooklyn with the story of a poor baseball prodigy in Yonkers. The novel is both sad and lovely, and I found myself underlining many lyrical passages (when I wasn’t wiping away tears). Like the best fiction, it unfolds in surprising and satisfying ways. As far as creative nonfiction, a fan of Eat, Pray, Love should enjoy two recent memoirs that detail transformative experiences abroad. Radio Shangri-La by Lisa Napoli is about the author’s experience in Bhutan (a country that measures its success in “Gross National Happiness” instead of GDP). After traveling to the capital city of Thimphu, a place remarkably untouched by outside media, Napoli advises a youth radio station and meets many charming

Book FortuneS

THE author enabler

by eliza borné

by Sam Barry

people—of course, changing her own life along the way. In Sideways on a Scooter, author Miranda Kennedy quits her job in New York City and moves to Delhi. Though her own candid coming-of-age story is fascinating, readers will be especially interested in Kennedy’s depiction of the challenges women face in contemporary Indian society. Reader name: Larry Hometown: Acton, MA Favorite genres: historical fiction, history Favorite books: Caleb’s Crossing (Geraldine Brooks); Sarah’s Key (Tatiana de Rosnay); Those Who Save Us (Jenna Blum); Truman (David McCullough); Mayflower (Nathaniel Philbrick) Ah, historical fiction. There are so many wonderful choices! Chief among any list of recommendations should be the four historical novels written by Hilary Mantel—with a particular emphasis on Wolf Hall, a portrait of Thomas Cromwell. Both this novel and its sequel, Bring Up the Bodies, won the Booker Prize. Read these books and be fully immersed in Henry VIII’s court. Another good bet is The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer, a novel set in France and Hungary during the 1930s and ’40s. Though a 600-pluspage story of the Holocaust may sound like difficult reading, Orringer’s old-fashioned epic is beautifully written and a powerful tale. We also loved The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean, a story of trauma, love and hope set during the 1941 siege of Leningrad. In the story, a museum docent takes refuge in the Hermitage and creates a “memory palace” in her mind. Finally, readers interested in American history should not miss two recent books about our third president. Master of the Mountain by Henry Wiencek confronts Jefferson’s relationship with slavery and Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power is an elegant biography by Jon Meacham. BookPage reviewer Roger Bishop wrote that it is “surely one of the best single volumes about him written in our time.” 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).

Practical advice on writing & publishing for aspiring authors

JUDGING A BOOK Dear Author Enabler, It seems that many times the layout, typeface and artwork of new books are very similar to one another. As a retired graphic designer, it surprises me that a professional assumes that a successful cover for one book would work just as well for another. I’ve also noticed that many self-published eBooks have the same type of covers copied over and over. Why does this professional “laziness” (IMHO) occur? Do new authors have any input on the cover art of their book? How do new/young cover designers break into the business? MiLee Belasto Winter Springs, Florida There are trends and fads in the design of book covers. Publishers imitate the covers of successful books, hoping that some of the magic will rub off. And there is another, more practical reason for repetition: With only a few moments to capture consumers’ eyes, the cover needs to communicate instantly “this is a thriller” or “this is a cookbook.” This need for a clear message often results in imitation. Given these constraints, I am struck by the number of beautiful covers I see. There are a lot of creative people engaged in designing books today. In general the author isn’t in a position to insist on a particular cover design, or for that matter, title. Art directors make the best decisions on creating attractive, effective covers. I suggest that new artists offer their services on a freelance basis to self-published authors; this can lead to revenue in the present and the chance of future work with established publishers. And of course there is the traditional route: reaching out to art directors at publishing houses and asking them to take a look at your portfolio.

TRIAL & ERROR Dear Author Enabler, Having worked for over 30 years in a job that involved a lot of proofreading, I am increasingly frustrated by the number of errors I find in the many books I read. The impression is that no one bothers with proofreading; they just run the text through a

spell-checker and think that takes care of the problem. I am a very fast and accurate proofreader— do you know of any way I could offer my services to authors who seem uninterested in doing it for themselves? Penny Mason Columbus, Ohio There certainly is a need for proof­ readers. Books, especially self-published books, are increasingly riddled with errors and inconsistencies. As a writer, I don’t know what I would do without capable people like Lynn Green, my editor at BookPage, or the editors of my books, Michelle Witte and Brendan O’Neill. To find clients in need of your proofreading skills, I would suggest advertising in journals that writers read—such as BookPage, Writers Digest, Poets & Writers—and getting the word out to publishing people via bookstores, libraries, social networks, creative writing departments and writers’ conferences. Correction: Several professional proofreaders were disappointed by an answer in my November column, in which I advised that it was acceptable to have “someone close to you proofread your work.” Ceil Goldman of Ormond Beach, Florida, writes, “Your thoughts on ‘proofreading’ make it seem more like an editing function. The term in the last few decades has been conflated with editing and copyediting, but a proofreader does not give critiques, honest or not; their job is to compare the current draft with the previous production draft and mark errors.” Cliché alert: In response to our reference to the hair-tucking explosion in fiction, many vigilant readers reported similar complaints. “I’ve noticed that most of the striking characters in novels have an ‘aquiline nose,’ ” writes Mary Warren of Worth, Illinois. Jean Lamoureux of Villa Park, Illinois, observes, “Too many books have a character with green eyes. Seriously, how many green-eyed people does anyone know?” [At least one—your Author Enabler has green eyes.] Send your questions about writing and publishing to authorenablers@gmail.com.

well read by robert Weibezahl

Notes on writing well Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of such notable books as Among Schoolchildren and The Soul of a New Machine, Tracy Kidder is one of our finest writers of narrative nonfiction. That was not always the case. As he tells us in Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction, whatever raw talent he possessed at the start was honed under the exacting guidance of his longtime editor, Richard Todd. Their serendipitous pairing occurred at The Atlantic when both were young men, and the collaboration has been an amiable and clearly fruitful one. Kidder and Todd have teamed up to write Good Prose, providing a fond glimpse into their own symbiotic working relationship along with a healthy dose of practical advice for writers of nonfiction. Pulitzer “Editing isn’t just somewinner Tracy thing that Kidder and happens to his longtime you,” Kidder writes in what editor share might be the writing tips book’s core and the statement. secrets of their “You have to learn how to successful be edited.” collaboration. That essential learning curve plays out in the intertwined stories of these two literary men, which began in 1973, when Kidder was 27 and Todd 32. Their subsequent 40-year partnership seems an enviable throwback to a slower-paced, more genteel—and much lamented—era in publishing. Structured more as a writing manual than a memoir (and it is both), Good Prose tackles the usual fundamentals, such as story, point of view, characters and structure. The two men giving the instruction, though, are masters, so even these nuts-andbolts aspects of the book rise above the norm. Pulling examples from many great writers of nonfiction— from Joan Didion and John McPhee to David Sedaris to Thoreau and Emerson—they plumb the specifics of what makes good writing great. Much of this discussion, appropriately, focuses on Kidder’s own work and the ways Todd has helped him

sharpen and invigorate it. Kidder writes candidly about the false starts and lost direction that any writer encounters; Todd supplies the rudder for getting back on course. Good Prose might be pigeonholed as a manual for aspiring writers, but it is so much more, not least of all because it is written with the same narrative grace it espouses. By building the book around their singular working relationship, Kidder and Todd are allowing us into their professional and, to some extent, personal lives, yet without the narcissistic posturing or calculated manipulation that saturates so much of today’s memoir writing. At its core, the book exudes a passion for good writing achieved through hard work—not the sexiest of topics, for sure, but one these accomplished men manage to make seem so. The proof of Kidder’s talent rests on library shelves everywhere, but one of the delights of Good Prose is discovering an equally skilled writer in Todd. Editors, by nature, are self-effacing, and while some of them can identify good writing and even improve it, they might not have the writer’s gift themselves. Not so Todd. His sections of the book are as elegant and eloquent as Kidder’s, his insight invaluable: “All good writing is ultimately a contest with the inexpressible,” he tells us. “Every good passage leaves something unsaid. So it ought to be hard.” Brisk and informative, Good Prose is recommended reading not only for writers, but for anyone who cares about, well, good prose.

A new tale of romance from the

#1 New York Times bestselling author

Good Prose By Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd Random House $26, 224 pages ISBN 9781400069750 eBook available

Available in stores everywhere!



The brilliant anatomist Dr. Thomas Silkstone returns in this vivid and compelling mystery series set in 1780s London…




“Well-rounded characters, cleverly concealed evidence, and an assured prose style point to a long run for this historical series.” —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, starred review


“Densely plotted...we await— indeed we demand—the sequel.” —The New York Times Book Review


kensingtonbooks.com • tessaharris.com


Whodunit by Bruce Tierney

APPARITIONS in plane sight John Connolly’s Charlie Parker books push the limits of the whodunit genre. They read like detective novels, but then they step over the line into Stephen King country, where apparitions dance at the periphery of the senses and where evil becomes palpable—and ever so believable. Connolly’s latest, The Wrath of Angels (Atria, $26, 480 pages, ISBN 9781476703022), finds the intrepid P.I. sitting in a bar, listening to a strange tale about a private airplane that went down in the dense woods of northern Maine. A pair of elderly hunters stumbled upon the scene long after the crash, and the plane gave up a couple—but only a couple—of its secrets: a seat with a handcuff attached (but no person or remains present) and a satchel full of money accompanied by a curious list of names and numbers. Both hunters are now dead, and their family members want some closure around the whole affair. In short order they will fervently wish that they had never stirred up those ghosts. This tale is spooky, macabre and deliciously entertaining from start to finish.

A COMPROMISING POSITION Though I suppose murder could be committed in any number of ways, it is nonetheless Taut suspense, unusual for complex modern-day cops to be characters investigating and deft a homicide storytelling performed via crossbow. combine in However, Watching that is exactly what Chief the Dark, a Inspector whodunit Alan Banks tour-de-force. is doing in Peter Robinson’s latest Yorkshire police procedural, Watching the Dark (Morrow, $25.99, 368 pages, ISBN 9780062004802). The victim is one Bill Quinn, a decorated policeman

and recent widower who was by all accounts devoted to his wife. That seems to be at odds with lurid photos found near the crime scene, however: photos of Quinn in flagrante delicto with a beautiful, perhaps underage, girl. Was he being blackmailed? And if so, was he murdered because the blackmailers had no real hold over him after his wife’s death? Banks is convinced that the murder is related to a case

Quinn investigated six years back, when a girl went missing in Tallinn. So with many more questions than answers in hand, Banks sets off for Estonia in search of clues. Taut suspense, complex characters and deft storytelling combine in this whodunit tour-de-force.

IRISH INVESTIGATION Politics makes strange bedfellows —rarely so much as in postwar Ireland, where a number of Nazi collaborators were given sanctuary and set up with new identities. Fast forward to 1963, where Stuart Neville’s edgy political thriller, Ratlines (Soho, $26.95, 368 pages, ISBN 9781616952044), begins. John F. Kennedy is about to visit the Emerald Isle, the first world leader to pay a state visit to the newly formed republic. Shortly before Kennedy’s arrival, a German immigrant is murdered in an Irish resort town; this is potentially a devastating embarrassment for the government, as the dead man was a wanted Nazi war criminal, hiding in plain sight for some 18 years. For investigator Albert Ryan, his brief is short and sweet: Find the killer, keep the investigation on the down low, and bury it without a trace. This will be no easy feat for Ryan, who is caught between the conflicting mandates of his government handlers and the powerful Nazis they have shielded

for so long. According to Neville’s prologue, the setup is real-life history and the rest is “just a story.” But what a story it is!

TOP PICK IN MYSTERY In the early days of “Law & Order,” the commercial spots advertising upcoming episodes began with the catchphrase, “Ripped from the headlines.” Now, Dick Wolf, the producer of the show, has turned his hand to writing—and once again, that lead-in is dead on, as evidenced by his debut thriller, The Intercept, a tale of modern-day terrorism set at what must surely be the epicenter of terror, Manhattan’s Ground Zero. A terrorist threat clouds the upcoming July 4th dedication of the new One World Trade Center project, and NYPD detective Jeremy Fisk is tasked with heading the investigation. The cost of failure is unthinkable, as the president and countless other luminaries will be on hand for the Independence Day festivities, and the gaze of the world will be fixed on the event. Fisk should be the perfect agent for the job: He is fluent in Arabic and versed in the nuances of the terrorist mind. Nonetheless, he cannot seem to catch a break; every lead either blows up in his face or proves to be a time-wasting red herring. And time is something Fisk can ill afford to waste. In moving from the small screen to the printed page, Wolf has clearly lost not one iota of his ability to deliver first-rate suspense “ripped from the headlines.”

the INTERCEPT By Dick Wolf

Morrow $27.99, 400 pages ISBN 9780062064837 eBook available



Novel Reads


Facebook.com/AvonRomance • AvonRomance.com

“Three popular grand dames of historical romance team up again (after The Lady Most Likely...) to create a charming three-part farce set in 1819 Scotland. Witty dialogue and good-natured, down-to-earth characters make this a nice quick historical romance fix.” –Publishers Weekly “A great read for anyone who loves a good romance, a must-read for historical-romance fans.” –Kirkus, Star review

The Lady Most Willing … by Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Connie Brockway After the success of The Lady Most Likely, New York Times bestselling authors Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Connie Brockway have joined together once again, but this time to ask the question, who is The Lady Most Willing? When Laird Taran Ferguson’s nephews refuse to wed and secure his birthright, he raids a ball and kidnaps four likely brides—a bonny lass, an heiress with a slight reputation problem, a rich English beauty, and a maiden without a name or a fortune. But which one is ready to fall in love with the Scottish lord? This historical romance novel in three parts—a single story with three compelling voices—is one that will not soon be forgotten.

All available as eBooks Visit LibraryLoveFest.com for more great reading



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

in love in the country Kat Murray offers a feel-good contemporary Western romance in Taking the Reins (Brava, $9.95, 288 pages, ISBN 9780758281043). Peyton Muldoon loves her family ranch above all else, and she is working hard to get it back on its feet, despite the pressure she feels as a woman in a man’s world. There’s also the memory of her dead mother to battle. The shallow woman’s choices—including her affair with the nasty character she hired as a horse trainer— nearly destroyed Peyton’s legacy. But Peyton has kicked the bad guy out, and she rejoices when the best man for the job becomes available. Red Callahan has an impeccable reputation as well as a penchant for

taking on only short-term assignments . . . but Peyton’s determination gets under Red’s skin and has him rethinking the appeal of putting down roots. Will Peyton let him get close, or is she too stubborn to see that she’s nothing like her mother? Well-detailed and spiced with a touch of suspense, this sexy read goes down easy.

A GILDED AFFAIR The Husband List (St. Martin’s, $27.99, 320 pages, ISBN 9780312651329) by Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly is a historical romance spiced with a dash of intrigue. In 1894, American heiress Caroline Maxwell is being pressured by her mother to marry into the English aristocracy. She has managed to frighten off titled men before, but now that Lord Bremerton is to arrive in America, Caroline’s mother is determined that her daughter will be his bride. Caroline, however, longs for independence and adventure, and she sees a way to both in her brother’s handsome best pal, brash Irish-American Jack Culhane. Though Jack enjoys his bachelor status, Caroline is making

marriage sound better by the minute. The two fall in love, but it may prove impossible to overcome maternal expectations and the unsavory Lord Bremerton’s resolve to have Caroline as his wife. Details of Newport mansions, Worth gowns and a transatlantic ocean voyage infuse this gently sensual and sparkling story of childhood friends becoming so much more. A frothy tale of Gilded Age fun.

TOP PICK IN ROMANCE A paranormal adventure brings romance into the lives of two people with special talents in Dream Eyes by Jayne Ann Krentz. Psychic counselor Gwen Frazier is accustomed to talking to ghosts, but she feels an urgent jolt when the spirit of her mentor starts communicating. Gwen’s slain friend was part of a research group that was stalked two years before—some of the members were murdered—and she knows it’s time to get to the bottom of these crimes. Sent to her aid in the small Oregon town is Judson Coppersmith, a psychic investigator. Gwen and Judson had met once before, though in spite of their mutual attraction they didn’t pursue romance; Judson hadn’t felt ready for a relationship. When Judson and Gwen inevitably fall into bed after their reunion, they tell themselves they’re only working off the stress of their sleuthing. But their attachment only grows—not to mention their worry that they might not live to experience a future together. Imaginative and exciting, this tale will have readers guessing (and second-guessing) their way to its conclusion.

Dream Eyes By Jayne Ann Krentz Putnam $26.95, 336 pages ISBN 9780399158957 Audio, eBook available

paranormal romance

book clubs by julie hale

New paperback releases for reading groups

Edwardian party crashers Set in England in 1912, Sadie Jones’ third novel, The Uninvited Guests (Harper Perennial, $14.99, 288 pages, ISBN 9780062116512), brims with sophisticated charm. The scene is an elegant old estate called Sterne, where the Torrington-Swift family is preparing to celebrate the 20th birthday of daughter Emerald. A glittering celebration has been organized, but plans go off course when a train accident occurs near Sterne, and some of the people involved arrive at the estate in search of assistance. The presence of strangers of the wrong sort (they were all traveling third class!) lowers

the tone of Emerald’s special evening. A storm brings extra tension to the proceedings, as does a questionable parlor game. When Smudge Torrington, the family’s youngest daughter, launches what she calls her Great Undertaking, she caps off a night that won’t soon be forgotten. Jones has written a delightful novel that cleverly dissects the stuffy social mores of Edwardian England. Her depiction of a society and a family in flux feels picture perfect.

Sea change Charlotte Rogan’s novel, The Lifeboat (Back Bay, $14.99, 304 pages, ISBN 9780316185912), is a suspenseful and provocative debut set in 1914. Grace Winter, the story’s narrator, is 22 years old and freshly married to Henry, a man of substantial wealth. When the luxury liner carrying them from London to America is rocked by an explosion, Henry jeopardizes his own well-being to help Grace escape to a crowded lifeboat. On board, Grace joins forces with John Hardie, a seasoned sailor who coldheartedly refuses to rescue other survivors from the water. Grace, as it turns out, makes it through this nightmare only to face another kind

of catastrophe: She and two other survivors face criminal charges when they return. Rogan has woven a knotty tale about survival, self-sacrifice and human motivation with a complex figure at its center. Grace is at once canny and somewhat naïve, a woman with a sharp wit and an iron will. Rogan, a new author who possesses the narrative instincts of an old pro, writes about the natural world and human nature with equal facility.

Top Pick for Book Clubs A finalist for the National Book Award, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain takes on the media and the military as it tells the story of Bravo Squad, a celebrated Army unit, and one of its heroes, Billy Lynn. Caught in a firefight in Iraq that’s documented by an embedded Fox News team, the members of Bravo Squad are instant heroes. Back in the states, they embark on a Victory Tour that takes them to Texas Stadium and a Thanksgiving Day Dallas Cowboys football game. The Bravo boys experience mixed emotions in the midst of this media blitz. Billy recalls comrades who died overseas even as he’s distracted by a Cowboys cheerleader. The celebratory moment is further diluted by the prospect of a return to Iraq. Expertly crafted in exuberant prose, this intelligent, funny novel offers an inside look at the soldier’s life while questioning the nature of patriotism and celebrity. A late bloomer in the literary world (he published his first book, a short story collection, at the age of 48), Fountain proves himself a writer to watch with this timely novel.

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime walk By Ben Fountain

Ecco $14.99, 320 pages ISBN 9780060885618


Start the New Year Right with Great Reading From New York Times Bestselling Author Jennifer McMahon “One of the brightest new stars in literary suspense.” —Los Angeles Times

A Bess Crawford Mystery Set in England & France in WWI “Readers who can’t get enough of Maisie Dobbs. . . are bound to be caught up in the adventures of Bess Crawford.” —New York Times Book Review A Novel of Lattes, Literature, and Love “Megan Caldwell’s Vanity Fare made me laugh out loud..” —New York Times Bestselling Author Sabrina Jeffries

The Second Book of Phillip Rock’s New York Times Bestselling Trilogy —Now Available Again Before Downton Abbey there was Abingdon Pryory…



William Morrow Paperbacks

Book Club Girl





b y s y b i l P RATT

by sukey howard

A FIESTA OF MEXICAN FOOD Cinco de Mayo is months away, but if you start working your way through two new cookbooks that serve up a super selection of southof-the-border delights, you’ll be a Master of Margaritas and the Toast of Taco Makers by fiesta time (and getting there is half the fun). Rick Bayless, that renowned maven of Mexican cuisine, has dedicated his latest book, Frontera: Margaritas, Guacamoles, and Snacks (Norton, $24.95, 256 pages, ISBN 9780393088922), to this quintessential, pre-prandial, Mexican trifecta. With Rick as bartender, you’ll find: every margarita recipe you’ll ever need, from classics to seasonal fruit and herb variations; a meditation on making mezcal the mainstay instead of tequila (as a fan of mezcal, I can


testify to its sublime effect); and a rico roster of other kinds of tequila cocktails, including divine dulce dessert drinks. Now, you’ll need some nibbles to go along with your bebidas. No problema, there’s a year’s worth of extraordinary guacamoles and a surprising selection of bright, boldly flavored veggies, fruits and spiced nuts and seeds. ¡Salud! Mexican street food is among the world’s best, a culinary bazaar of sizzling bits of pork, charcoal-scented beef, juicy slices of chorizo, fresh crispy spears of jicama and cucumber sprinkled with chile, sweet fried plantains drizzled with creamy condensed milk, grilled ears of corn smeared with mayonnaise, cheese and spices and so much more. In his new book, Tacos, Tortas, and Tamales (Wiley, $19.99, 224 pages, ISBN 9781118190203), Roberto Santibañez, a fabulous Mexican chef who’s an aficionado, student and practitioner of Mexican street food, takes us on a walk through the griddles, pots and street-side kitchens to spotlight tacos, tortas (best translated as sandwiches) and tamales, the tri-part heart of everyday Mexican

Harry’s homecoming hell

food. Each of these portable pleasures gets a chapter of its own, with an in-depth discussion of how to make them, how to vary the fillings, which lively salsas and condiments to spice them up with and the easy-to-follow, authentic recipes for everything, plus a cooling array of aguas frescas (fresh fruit drinks) and a few everyday sweets. ¡Buen provecho!

Top pick in cookbooks Sometimes being obsessive is a plus. When Deb Perelman, creator of the wildly popular, award-winning blog SmittenKitchen.com, calls herself “obsessive,” it means that you’re in the hands of a hands-on, passionate home cook, without professional training or a professional kitchen, who knows how she wants her food to taste and will fine-tune, twiddle and tweak until it’s just right, then share her culinary insights and inspirations with you. If you’re already a Deb devotee, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, her first cookbook (with food photos to die for), will confirm your zeal. If Deb is an unknown quantity, her chatty, reassuring style, her practical take on what to serve when and her irrepressible enthusiasm will win you over. Just a quick perusal of the more than 100 recipes will have you racing to the kitchen to whip up Apricot Breakfast Crisp, Mushroom Bourguignon, Leek Fritters, Harvest Roast Chicken with Grapes, Olives and Rosemary, S’more Layer Cake and the best and easiest lemon bars (made with whole lemons pureed in a food processor) I’ve ever tasted.

THE SMITTEN KITCHEN COOKBOOK By Deb Perelman Knopf $35, 336 pages ISBN 9780307595652 eBook available

HOME cooking

Detectives don’t come any tougher or more appealing than Harry Hole, cocooned in his Scandinavian angst, never parted from the heavy emotional baggage he can’t seem to check anywhere. In his latest, Phantom (Random House Audio, $40, 16 hours, ISBN 9780449013632), Jo Nesbø brings the ex-cop back to Oslo, after three years of self-exile in Hong Kong and Shanghai, probing Harry’s troubled soul as he tries to right the wrongs that haunt him. He’s returned to rescue the adolescent son of his only true love from a murder rap. Oleg, who loved Harry as a father, has become a heroin addict and been jailed for killing his drug-dealing buddy. As Harry digs into the complex, crime-infested world Oleg fell into, he comes up

against a new, super-addictive synthetic heroin controlled by a sinister Siberian-based syndicate and his old slick, corrupt nemesis high in the police hierarchy. Subplots within subplots, ingeniously fleshed-out characters and an extraordinary performance by Robin Sachs make this the best Nesbø/Hole novel yet.

freedom of speech I’ve been dazzled for decades by Christopher Hitchens’ brilliant, cutting prose, by his endless, energetic delight in debating the issues he found so important and by his vitality and searing wit. So it was with some surprise that I found myself weeping as I listened to Mortality (Hachette Audio, $22.98, 2 hours, ISBN 9781619691889), read with perfect cadence by Simon Prebble. Hitchens, who reveled in burning the candle at both ends without more than a nasty hangover, entered “the land of malady” in 2010 when he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. But he didn’t stop sending dispatches about his “year of living dyingly” until the end. There’s not a drop of self-pity in these essays, which first appeared in Vanity Fair. Hitchens suffered greatly in “tumor-

ville,” lost his hair and his vigor, but never his acuity, his sass, his mordant sense of humor. He battled bravely and wrote bravely and never surrendered the freedom of speech he so treasured. In addition to these essays are unfinished “Fragmentary Jottings” Hitchens made in his last days, a moving foreword by Graydon Carter and an afterword by Hitchens’ wife, Carol Blue.

Top pick in audio A real spy can be more intriguing than the fictional variety, and when that spy is Kim Philby—the most notorious of the notorious Cambridge Five, double agents in the British Secret Service spying for the Soviets—that intrigue grows exponentially. Robert Littell delves into Philby’s early years in his latest novel, Young Philby, conjuring him up through the eyes and observations of his friends, comrades, lovers, Soviet handlers, British colleagues (including the wonderfully outrageous Guy Burgess) and his eccentric, patrician father. And John Lee gives each character an authentic accent, German, Russian, uppercrust Brit, even Philby’s ever-present stutter, as he skillfully moves the narration along. The scene moves from London, Vienna, Berlin, Spain during the Civil War, France as the Nazis crash through the Maginot Line, to the mind-boggling, Byzantine horrors of Soviet interrogation sessions. A living, breathing Philby emerges, but his true heart, motives, treachery or abiding patriotism (a minority view) stay fascinatingly clouded by the smoke and mirrors of real-life espionage.

Young philby By Robert Littell

Macmillan Audio $29.99, 7 hours ISBN 9781427227171

spy fiction

“Reignite—instead of retire.” —Gail Sheehy, author of Passages and New Passages

“Essential reading for the rest of your life.” —Daniel H. Pink, author of Drive and A Whole New Mind

“A fast-paced and hugely helpful guide.” —Ellen Goodman, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and author

“For baby boomers who want to reenergize their careers and do some good in the world at the same time. . . . Highly recommended!” —Reid Hoffman, cofounder of LinkedIn and coauthor of The Start-up of You


lifestyles by joanna brichetto

HERBAL HEALING AT HOME with both urban and suburban lots in mind. All 14 designs are architectural wonders of reductive space and ample imagination. For any family with a shred of aesthetic sensibility (and just a tiny patch of backyard), this book can transform the chore of building a coop into a co-op of communal vision and hammer-and-nail-andlumber-and-mesh constructive energy.

Among the many self-help volumes on herbal medicine, Hands-On Healing Remedies (Storey, $18.95, 320 pages, ISBN 9781612120065) by Stephanie L. Tourles stands out as a literally well-oiled handbook for treating an alphabet’s worth of ailments from A to Z. Got insomnia? Two drops of a chamomile, sweet marjoram and lavender blend on your pillowcase might be the answer, as could a rubdown with lemon-balm-based moisturizer. Cold feet? Just cook up some chopped ginger along with some cloves, cayenne and sesame oil, and you’ll have the toastiest toes in the house. Hot flashes, bee stings, razor burns, sore muscles, colds and coughs, anxiety and headaches can

TOP PICK FOR LIFESTYLES Geek Mom could not be more timely. Ideas have become the main capital of our technologically oriented culture. So the best thing you can do for your children and their future success is to cultivate their minds—and the best way to do that is to empower their natural sense of curiosity. This is the tremendous excitement of Geek Mom, a maternal breakthrough at once spiritual and pragmatic. The authors, senior editors at GeekMom.com, present a broad curriculum of strategic parental intervention, all underpinned by the principle that complex learning can be not only a daily practice, but also something a child naturally loves to do. In six parts, focusing on topics ranging from Superheroes to Lava Lamp Chemistry to Cupcakes, the book lays out the main lines of benevolent attack against intellectual inertia. Being a geek can be a double-edged sword: The geek manufactures things which make it easier for others not to create anything at all. But in Geek Mom, there’s no such paradox. In the end, as the Beatles remarked, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

all be soothed with pure, nontoxic ingredients that are safe and easy to prepare. Tourles, a licensed holistic aesthetician, certified aromatherapist and “a gardener with training in Western and Ayurvedic herbalism,” gives sage (and sometimes sage-oil) advice and topical (and topically applied) insight into even the deepest issues compromising the health of women, men, children and elders.



ritten by Marci Alboher, vice president of Encore.org, here is a nuts-and-bolts guide to finding passion, purpose, and a paycheck in the second half of life. Includes inspiring stories of people already in their encores and a Hot List of 35 viable encore careers.

encorehandbook.com • workman.com


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

Backyard chicken-keeping: Everybody seems to know somebody doing it, and many of us have chickenscratched our heads wondering how we might set out to do it ourselves. The reasons for keeping chickens are plentiful, especially if you’ve got kids: low maintenance, low cost, beautiful creatures—and (as Woody Allen famously remarked) we need the eggs. One obstacle to establishing your own little chicken farm is figuring out how to accommodate the ladies in style. For this purpose, Kevin McElroy and Matthew Wolpe lay out a comprehensive guidebook in Reinventing the Chicken Coop (Storey, $19.95, 192 pages, ISBN 9781603429801). The projects are free-ranging in difficulty, from beginner to intermediate to advanced,

GEEK MOM By Natania Barron, Kathy Ceceri, Corrina Lawson and Jenny Williams Potter Craft $19.99, 224 pages ISBN 9780823085927

craftS & Hobbies


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

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

Q: W  hat’s the most surprising thing you learned about presidential assassinations in researching The Fifth Assassin?


Do you think the U.S. could ever elect a president as devious as the fictional President Orson Wallace?

hat’s the most fascinating riddle you’ve investigated for the Q: W History Channel’s “Brad Meltzer’s Decoded”?

“This book quickly became a word-of-mouth sensation, and the passion of booksellers and readers launched it to international bestsellerdom. Here’s why: it’s a story about the power of a love that can’t be diminished by time or distance …Beautifully written, even a bit magical, it’s a love story like no other I’ve ever read.” —BookPage

t r A e Th

of Hearin



Q: W  hat accomplishment are you proudest of?

Q: W  hat’s your #1 resolution for the new year?

the fifth assasSin Best-selling suspense writer Brad Meltzer is a history buff, a former congressional intern, a graduate of Columbia Law School and a comic book fan. His latest thriller, THE FIFTH ASSASSIN (Grand Central, $27.99, 448 pages, ISBN 9780446553971), follows a Washington, D.C., killer who appears to be copying some of history’s most famous assassins. Meltzer and his family live in Florida.

tory set in urma … “A lovhefasiry-tale romanticismB .” —

ed wit imbu

Kirkus R ev iews

OT H E R P R E S S . C O M



ELEANOR MORSE By alden mudge



ome novels percolate in their authors’ minds for years. In the case of Eleanor Morse’s superb third novel, White Dog Fell from the Sky, the brew-time was at least a dozen and possibly as many as 40 years.

“Alice came to me more than 12 years ago as part of another book that didn’t get off the ground,” Morse says during a call to her home on Peaks Island, a three-mile ferry ride across Casco Bay from Portland, Maine. Alice Mendelssohn, one of two central characters in the novel, is an American woman who has come to Botswana with her husband in the mid-1970s, shortly after the new African nation gained its independence from Great Britain. “My books are not plot driven,” Morse continues. “I count on the characters to drive the story, so I have to know who they are and what they are about before the story can really get going. And that requires a kind of patient listening to them.” Isaac Muthethe, the novel’s other central character, was born in Morse’s mind some years later while she was teaching a fiction writing class. Isaac is a medical student who is forced to flee from South Africa to Botswana after he witnesses the shocking murder of a friend by white police officers. Isaac and Alice, both of whom feel profoundly displaced, develop an awkward acquaintanceship when she hires him to work as her gardener. Their friendship deepens dramatically when Isaac is mistakenly deported to South Africa and is imprisoned and tortured, accused of being an


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African National Congress terrorist, and Alice sets out to find him. “It matters to me to write a book that has some significance to it,” Morse says. “I’ve felt over the years that this is something that needs to be written. I’ve been interested in people who have been displaced for some time. I think that’s connected to all the moving around we did when I was a child. I understand what it feels like not to belong to a place.” Morse’s father worked for General Electric, and as a child she moved frequently “I wanted the around the Northeast and setting to be the Midwest. something She has been that embraced writing fiction since she was a reader very young, throughout she says, but the book and “didn’t feel was a constant very supported in that companion.” desire. I had no models in my family. When I hit about 40, I decided that no matter what else is going on in my life, I have to do this. That’s when I went back and got an M.F.A.” Morse’s first novel, An Unexpected Forest (2007), won a Best Regional Fiction prize from the Independent Publisher Book Awards. She now teaches fiction writing in the M.F.A. program at Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. While her characters Isaac and Alice may feel out of place, Morse’s descriptions of that place—the vast landscapes of Botswana—are specific and ravishing. “When I was going through the editing process there was some question about whether there was too much setting in the book. I argued strenuously for keeping as much setting as there is. Because like a character, it doesn’t just appear and then you forget about it. I wanted the setting to be something that embraced a reader throughout the book and was a con-

stant companion.” Morse was familiar with much of that landscape after living in Botswana from 1972 to 1975 as a newlywed. Her then-husband, the son of British missionaries, was born there and was serving as permanent secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture. The couple had two children. She found a job at the tri-country University of Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland as head of the adult education wing. She had a weekly radio program and ran a national education campaign that trained learning groups in remote parts of the country to run conversations on what it meant to be part of a government. “This was only six years into being an independent African country. It was fascinating work,” Morse recalls. Little wonder then that White Dog Fell from the Sky touches on the politics of the era. But it’s a light touch. “I didn’t set out to write a political novel,” Morse says, “but it certainly has political aspects to it. I didn’t want to make it a polemical novel, and I was anxious to make the sections having to do with South Africa balanced. So there’s a white family [Isaac’s benefactors] who are not oppressors. “There’s some remorse in me that I was not more political when I lived in Botswana. I was certainly aware of what was going on next door. Every time I went over the border I was stopped for 45 minutes or an hour because I had a radio program and I was teaching and I was an American. Those three things made me suspect in South Africa. So I experienced the regime, and I experienced white South Africans needing to justify how they were living. They couldn’t keep away from it. It just worried them. You could see it worried them.” Within the political and natural

landscape of the novel, Isaac and Alice—particularly Alice—struggle to become and remain fully human. “Alice is a seeker,” Morse says. “She wants to live a large life. She bumbles around some as she struggles to accept the discomforts around her and make something of them.” Of her own challenges in writing her new novel, Morse says, “Once characters are born in me I have a responsibility to be as true to their story as I can be. From writing this book, I know that takes a certain amount of courage. It meant returning again and again to that place of deep imagining.” Then, referencing William Faulkner’s Nobel address, she says, “I wanted to write about the human heart, its losses and joys, its separations and connections.” A reader finishes White Dog Fell from the Sky believing Morse has accomplished exactly that.

white dog fell from the sky

By Eleanor Morse

Viking, $27.95, 368 pages ISBN 9780670026401, eBook available

Rediscovering life— one Saturday night at a time

© SeanTPhoto.com

Read the inspiring story of six young widows who cook, shop, and adventure their way forward, reminding us all that it’s never too late to celebrate life again.

“A gem of a read that will affirm the power of friendship, new beginnings, and the ability of the human spirit to survive and thrive.” —Lee Woodruff, author of Those We Love Most and In an Instant To arrange to have Becky Aikman visit your book group via phone chat, email crownreadinggroups@randomhouse.com. Reading Group Questions are available at Facebook.com/AuthorBeckyAikman.

© Nina Subin

Available everywhere January 22, 2013

behind the book A FORMER SLAVE’S SURPRISING STORY By Jennifer Chiaverini


ore than a decade ago, I was researching ante­ bellum and Civil War-era quilts for my fourth novel when I discovered a photograph of an antique masterpiece. Arranged in the medallion style, with appliquéd eagles, embroidered flowers, meticulously pieced hexagons and deep red fringe, the quilt was the work of a gifted needleworker, its striking beauty unmarred by the shattered silk and broken threads that gave evidence to its age. The caption noted that the quilt had been sewn from scraps of Mary Todd Lincoln’s gowns by her dressmaker and confidante, a former slave named Elizabeth Keckley. I marveled at the compelling story those brief lines suggested—a courageous woman’s rise from slavery to freedom, an improbable friendship that ignored the era’s sharp distinctions of class and race, the confidences shared between a loyal dressmaker and a controversial, divisive First Lady. A few years later, while researching my Civil War novel, The Union Quilters, I realized that many of my secondary sources cited the same work—Behind the Scenes, or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House, Elizabeth Keckley’s 1868 memoir. I immediately found a reprint and plunged into her story, which told of her harrowing years as a slave, her struggle for freedom

mrs. lincoln’s dressmaker

By Jennifer Chiaverini


Dutton, $26.95, 352 pages ISBN 9780525953616, eBook available

and her ascendance as the most popular dressmaker of Washington’s elite, including the new president’s wife. Sewing in the Lincoln family’s chambers within the White House, Keckley observed Abraham and Mary Lincoln in their most private, unguarded moments, and with them she witnessed some of the most glorious and tragic events in the nation’s history. For years afterward, I longed to delve more deeply into Keckley’s story, to learn about the woman she was beyond her friendship with Mary Lincoln, to discover what had happened after the closing passages of her memoir and to uncover the details of everyday life in wartime Washington. How, I wondered, had Keckley spent that tense and fateful day in 1860 when the increasingly divided nation awaited the results of the election that would send Abraham Lincoln to the White House? What emotions had swept through her when invasion by the Confederate Army seemed imminent? What sights, sounds and smells had she encountered while all around her the capital became an armed camp? And the most provocative question of all: How had the publication of her memoir transformed Keckley’s life? As she awaited the publication of Behind the Scenes, Keckley worried that she might be criticized for revealing too much about the private lives of President Lincoln and the First Lady. Her fears proved all too prescient, making the last chapters of her remarkable life as compelling as any that had come before. Elizabeth Keckley’s relationship with Mary Todd Lincoln is the focus of Jennifer Chiaverini’s new novel, Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, a compelling fictional account of Keckley’s life.


stephen hunter B y J ay m ac d o n a l d

unlocking the mystery of a fateful day


t seems inevitable that Bob Lee Swagger, thriller writer Stephen Hunter’s retired Marine sniper, would one day find a place in the November 22, 1963, assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Swagger isn’t the rumored second gunman, mind you, favored by conspiracy theorists as a more plausible presidential assassin than Lee Harvey Oswald. Quite the contrary; in his latest outing, The Third Bullet, the nation’s top fictional ballistics expert takes his best shot at solving America’s most baffling murder mystery—the assassination that marks its 50th anniversary this year. As The Third Bullet kicks off, the widow of a prominent thriller writer very much like Hunter tracks Swagger down to his Idaho home to ask him to investigate the death of her husband, who was killed in a latenight hit-and-run that may have had links to the Kennedy assassination. Swagger heads to Dealey Plaza, connects with the JFK conspiracy underground, tracks the author’s killer to Moscow and eventually encounters a CIA operative named Hugh Meachum who provides a shockingly plausible alternate answer to the age-old question: Who killed JFK? By Hunter’s own admission, The Third Bullet was a tough slog between a mountain of hard evidence and a valley of public doubt about what actually happened on that long-ago Dallas afternoon. To flesh out his storyline, the author immersed himself in the Warren Commission Report, took inventory of the various conspiracy theories,

the third bullet

By Stephen Hunter

Simon & Schuster, $26.99, 496 pages ISBN 9781451640205, audio, eBook available

then set off like Swagger for Dealey Plaza to have a look for himself. “What I tried to do from the very beginning was establish hard data points, things that everyone knew and all investigators agreed had happened,” he says. “Then I tried to plot between and around them.” As he looked down from the famous sixth-floor window of the Texas School Book Depository, then sat on the park bench directly below it facing the 90-degree turn that the Kennedy motorcade negotiated before the fatal shot, Hunter’s own hunter’s instinct interceded. The motorcade had slowed to a nearstop for the turn, offering a fish-inthe-barrel shot that even a mediocre marksman like Oswald could have made, compared to the much longer, extremely difficult shot at a moving target as the motorcade pulled away. “I was stunned,” he recalls. “I looked up and saw the window was about 75 feet away and I thought to myself, good God, why did he not take the easy shot?” That epiphany unlocked the central mystery of The Third Bullet: If not Oswald, who? To find a plausible explanation, Hunter recalled a book written by ballistics expert Howard Donahue that theorized Kennedy had been killed by a rogue Secret Service agent shooting from a trailing car. “It was a thoroughly absurd book and was immediately condemned to purgatory by sentient people, but he understood the science of what happens when a bullet is fired at a man,” Hunter says. In the case of the Kennedy assassination, the third bullet, unlike the previous two, exploded on impact when it hit and killed the president. How could that happen if all three bullets came from the same rifle? To answer that question, Hunter introduces us to Meachum, a vainglorious Yale-educated veteran of the CIA’s Plans Division with his own secret plans. As frighteningly cold and calculating as Meachum’s story is, Hunter challenged himself by presenting it as excerpts from the

man’s diary, his first foray into first-person narrative. “I wrote that first and I really enjoyed that but there were all kinds of problems,” he admits. “A lot of the effects I get come from cutting and juxtaposing points of view, and it frightened me to get away from those points of view and be stuck in a single head, and yet I found the voice right away. In the end, my problem was shutting Hugh up, not getting him to talk. I discovered a lot of the plotting around Hugh while writing him.” Hunter, who lives in Baltimore, wrote for the Baltimore Sun for more than 25 years before moving to the Washington Post, where he won the Pulitzer Prize in 2003 for film criticism. He launched the Bob Lee Swagger series in 1993 with Point of Impact, incorporating an encyclopedic knowledge of guns and ballistics, and has gone on to write 17 thrillers. Did conducting his own investigation into the Kennedy assassination change his view on what happened that dark day in Dallas? “I suppose I confirmed my suspicions,” Hunter allows. “My theory of the world is that nothing works the way it’s supposed to work, so if anyone argues for perfection, they’re barking up the wrong tree. I wanted my Kennedy assassination conspiracy to be small and adept, but at the same time, mistakes were made, improvisations were made, the whole thing is thrown together on the fly and everybody happens to have a very good day on that day. To me, that was far more realistic than a theory that involves the CIA, Czechoslovakian intelligence and the Mattel toy company and their headquarters is under a volcano. You just don’t believe that.” Does he agree with Stephen King, who concludes in his JFK speculative novel 11/22/63 that there’s a

99-percent chance Oswald did it? “That’s how I felt when I started, but now I feel that figure is more like 95 percent,” Hunter says. “There’s a much larger chance than we know that something like [what] I came up with actually happened.”







cover story

happiness by heather seggel



s we greet the new year, many of us are not where we’d like to be in life. Whether that means personal relationships that could be improved or bad habits that need to be broken, progress begins when we lace up our shoes and take the first step. A handful of new books each have a different subject in mind, but share a common endorsement of mindfulness as the key to a happier, healthier life.



Bette Midler’s signature song used to be “You’ve Gotta Have Friends,” back before she got all wind-beneath-my-wings-y. Carlin Flora’s Friendfluence: The Surprising Ways Friends Make Us Who We Are (Doubleday, $25.95, 288 pages, ISBN 9780385535434) seconds that emotion, noting the enormous health benefits of friendship along with

A professional relationship with a religious leader led to a great friendship for Victor Chan. He traveled with the Dalai Lama for many years, recording talks and meetings with everyone from sick children to two men on either side of the long-standing “troubles” in Northern Ireland. In The Wisdom of Compassion (Riverhead, $26.95,

(not just the ones we like most), we hold the potential to alleviate much of the world’s suffering.

BOOST YOUR BRAINPOWER If you think attention and mindfulness are just for the spiritually inclined, you may be shortchanging your own intelligence. Sandra Bond Chapman’s Make Your Brain Smarter (Free Press, $26, 304 pages, ISBN 9781451665475) leads with the advice to stop multitasking and utilize what she calls the “brainpower of none,” emptying the mind to allow your thoughts to sort and settle. From there, focusing on just one thing intently or working only on your top two priorities lead to increased productivity and a healthier brain. While it’s disappointing to learn that crosswords and sudoku do less for brain health than previously thought, Chapman’s program encourages thinking broadly and creatively to stimulate the frontal lobe. Considering that she created a program designed to sharpen the minds of Navy SEALs in the same way their elite training hones their bodies, you may want to toss the crosswords and give this a try.



the idea that our friends shape our personality and choices even more than families do. Flora, formerly the features editor for Psychology Today, discovers that one unexpected benefit of friendship is that it allows us to be altruistic and care about others. This may be why the kids who make friends most easily are those who can quickly change gears and empathize with a wide variety of personality types. (It also helps if their names are easy to pronounce.) If you’ve been thinking of starting a book club with your BFFs, here’s your first assignment.

272 pages, ISBN 9781594487385), Chan recounts a variety of these encounters as they relate to “Overcoming Adversity,” “Educating the Heart” and “Compassion in Action.” We get a good sense of what Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader experiences on a typical day, and his personality, which can be fiery but is more often full of effusive giggling, comes through nicely. Chan inserts himself into the narrative more than is warranted, but the overall message of the book is uplifting and inspiring: If we generate compassion within ourselves, then extend it to all people

The new year is when we often resolve to take up better fitness habits and put down some of our vices; after all, if you can stick with it for three weeks it locks in, right? Actually, no, says PsyBlog creator Jeremy Dean. In Making Habits, Breaking Habits (Da Capo Lifelong Books, $26, 272 pages, ISBN 9780738215983) he argues that one of the keys to changing a habit is—don’t say you weren’t warned— mindfulness. Despite the slew of books raving about the power of intention as the key to personal success, research finds that intention creates false expectations and leads more often to disappointment than to thin thighs or an Aston Martin. Instead, the practice of mindfulness helps us act on our intentions

consciously, which reinforces new habits and makes it easier to break old ones despite the social cues that can trigger them. Thinking both abstractly and analytically can also develop the mind’s capacity and flexibility. Begin with the mind, then get on the treadmill, and you’re well on your way to self-improvement.

A PATH THROUGH THE DARK Sometimes the urge to care for ourselves is slow in coming. When Katrina Kenison’s second son left home, she was confronted with an overwhelming sense of loss. It wasn’t just the empty nest or uncertainties of middle age, but also the shifting terrain of her marriage and the long shadow cast by the death of a friend that weighted her days. Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment (Grand Central, $24.99, 288 pages, ISBN 9781455507238) follows Kenison for a year in which she gently plumbs her intuition to find new purpose and resilience in the face of sorrow. When her life seems most empty, she realizes, “I do at least know this: . . . I can either run away from my loneliness, or I can practice tolerating myself as I am.” Yoga proves central to her healing, and its focus on mindfulness helps even the darkest places to reveal their beauty.

DOWN TO THE ROOTS Garden blogger (and Kenison’s writing partner) Margaret Roach pulls together the scientific and spiritual in The Backyard Parables: A Meditation on Gardening (Grand Central, $25.99, 288 pages, ISBN 9781455501984), but it doesn’t feel like work when you’re out getting your hands dirty. A year spent in her garden includes a glimpse of her “new spiritual practice—a moving meditation aimed specifically at dandelions, a ritual that brings me into touch with my own powerlessness, and also my own power.” By turns wise and witty, the book is also jam-packed with practical tips for gardeners, from the basics of succession sowing to winning a showdown with chipmunks. Roach, former editorial director for Martha Stewart, followed a passion, cultivated it devoutly and turned it into a career. She doesn’t need to discuss the how-to of mindfulness; her life is the best example of the way love and attention will make things bloom.

sonJa lyubomirsky b y AMY SCRI B NER

Making choices for a happier you


he cover of The Myths of Happiness says it all: An attractive brunette stands on her slightly browning lawn and peers over at her neighbors’ emeraldgreen grass and luscious flower bed. What is it about our culture—and our very nature—that makes us place such importance on happiness? Why are we programmed to expect happiness only if we check certain boxes, such as marriage and wealth—and a perfectly green lawn? Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside, has been researching happiness for more than two decades. In a new book, she offers a fresh way of thinking about happiness, and smart tips on how to get it. You write about the links between money and happiness and suggest that people embrace thrifty habits. Is that feasible in our society? It is absolutely feasible to become more thrifty. Indeed, although overconsumption is highlighted by the media and ubiquitous in some social circles, I believe that many, many people in the West are repelled (or at least not attracted) by materialism, and, instead, practice a very experience-focused and familyfocused approach to life. If you are not one of those people, then my and others’ research suggests ways that you can thwart poor consumer decision-making and curtail overspending—for example, by spending your money on experiences (a dinner with friends) rather than possessions (e.g., a nicer stereo). You offer great advice on choices

the myths of happiness

By Sonja Lyubomirsky

Penguin Press, $27.95, 320 pages ISBN 9781594204371, eBook available

that will lead to happiness. Which of those tips do you find most personally difficult to follow? A recurring theme in the book is the importance of trying to appreciate what you have and see “the big picture.” One of the strategies that I use is to ask myself after a crisis or a really bad day, “Will it matter in a year?” Yet this is not always easy to follow. My favorite anecdote is one day when I was telling my husband, Pete, about what a great strategy this is and how well it works. Just when I finished talking, my daughter, who was then 7, walked in and her long, beautiful hair was completely entangled with gum. I just lost it! I started yelling at her: “How could you do such a thing?!” And Pete started laughing. “What were you just telling me? Will this matter in a year?” “But it will matter in a year!” I cried. “I’m going to have to cut her hair off and it’s still going to be short a whole year later!” Though that was clearly not an occasion in which I used the strategy effectively, I still try to practice it as often as I can. You write that “the effects of sharing troubles and obtaining help from a friend, companion, lover, family member, or even a pet are almost magical in their power.” Why is that? I allude to an occasion in the book when I was heartbroken over a break-up and I was crying for hours; then I picked up the phone and talked to a close friend about what happened and my despair dropped from about a 10 to a 2 or 3. I wasn’t suddenly joyful, but I was no longer so distressed. It really shocked me how just one social interaction—the act of sharing with a close other— would have such a powerful effect. Of course, a great deal of research confirms my experience. When we have social support, we experience pain less intensely, we bounce back quicker from adversity, and we even judge hills to be less steep. If you were to give a family member or friend one piece of advice about being happy, what would it be?



If I had to give one general piece of advice to anyone about how to attain and sustain happiness, it would be to nurture their interpersonal relationships. Investing in relationships—expressing gratitude, doing kindness, trying to be empathetic, and staying positive and supportive—will probably contribute to your happiness and health more than anything else. (But work is a close second!) What is the greatest misconception that most people have about happiness? My book describes several misconceptions about happiness, but I think the biggest is the one that I call “I’ll be happy when_____.” That is, we believe that we may not be happy now, but we’ll be happy when Mr. Right comes along or we get a new boss or we have a baby. The problem with these beliefs is not that they’re wrong—they’re right, but only in part. We likely will be happy when or if those events come to pass, but that boost in happiness is likely to be short-lived. Do you think people can overthink happiness? People can definitely become too focused on happiness and its pursuit. New research shows that if we are wrapped up in trying to become happy to the exclusion of other goals and if we are constantly monitoring our happiness (“Am I happy yet? Am I happy yet?”), then such efforts may seriously backfire. My recommendation is to keep the pursuit of happiness in the back of your mind but to focus primarily on those goals that will get you there— e.g., absorbing yourself in meaningful goals, investing in relationships, expressing gratitude, etc. What makes you happy? Freud suggested that lieben und arbeiten—“to love and to work”— are the secrets to well-being, and that has certainly been true for me.

Room 939 Jenny Lynn Anderson Jenny Lynn Anderson fell victim to a vicious attacker who turned hotel room 939 into a torture chamber, lasting but fifteen minutes. Anderson’s candid recount of sexual assault will convince the reader there is merit in surviving, even if it takes twenty years in its deliverance. Lewis Publishing 978-0-9839923-0-1 | $14.95

Worry Wart Lisa Kildahl Chloe Lore is a worrywart. She is a sweet young girl, but she worries about everything, even things out of her control. Get to know the world of Chloe, her family, and friends as you learn about being able to take control of your own life. Parables & Books 978-0-9833188-8-0 | $9.99

Mary’s Choice Dr. Barbara Horton Jones A delightfully illustrated children’s book shows how God loves and blesses Mary as she grows from a baby to a young woman. An affirming tale full of joy. Recipient of a 5-star Clarion Review Turtle Dove Press 978-0-9882546-0-2 | $15.99

The Absolute Mari Carmen Ortiz Monasterio, Carolina Fuentes, Catherine Fabbro For the first time in all of the Ages, the Konocimiento Kósmico (Kosmic Knowledge) is revealed. It tells us who we are, where we come from and where we’re going, to avoid once again being manipulated and diverted from our destiny. Carolina Fuentes Catherine Fabbro 978-0-9860259-0-7 | $14.99

Order online at ATLASBOOKS.COM or call 1-800-BOOK-LOG


personal finance


B y a b i g a i l d a lt o n

Money makeovers for the new year


s the new year begins, many readers are looking for advice on getting their finances or careers in order. Whether you need a kickstart for saving and organizing your money, a guide to planning your retirement, a blueprint for considering a second career or a handy encyclopedia of money-saving tips and tricks, these books will help you get your footing when it comes to your finances.

Though you may be reluctant to be seen reading it in public, Jan Cullinane’s The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement (Wiley, $18.95, 307 pages, ISBN 9781118229507) is a guidebook in the best possible sense. Carefully organized and exceedingly thorough, Cullinane’s guide covers everything from financial basics—including taxes, retirement funds and costs of living—to where to live now that the kids have left the nest and what to do with your sudden influx of free time. Featuring first-hand accounts from women who have gone through a myriad of life changes, including being widowed or divorced, or changing careers or locations, Cullinane moves through the considerations many retiring women face with logic and heart. Lest you think this is only for the older (and, as the title suggests, single) women in your life, the book opens with information on how women are statistically likely to outlive men, or suffer financially from a divorce. It’s full of good advice for all, although the carefully researched and detailed specifics Cullinane includes at the end of each chapter might be best for those single women close to, or in, their retirement years.

Attitude changes


When Carrie Rocha and her husband took stock of their finances early in their marriage, they realized that though they always met their financial obligations to others, they had little to nothing left over in case of an emergency. In Pocket Your Dollars (Bethany House, $13.99, 224 pages, ISBN 9780764210877), Rocha details how an emergency can, in fact, happen to you (delightful though it may be to imagine otherwise). Although your financial situ-

ation may seem dire now, it needn’t always be that way, she writes. Using her own story, and those of others, she provides concrete plans for getting your financial life in order. She also focuses strongly on the “attitude changes” or psychological barriers many people must face when trying to improve their personal finances. “Today is the day,” she says, “to let go of your past and start focusing on your future.” Rocha follows up with concrete plans for overcoming any personally imposed impediments; for example, she writes, “make a list of everyone . . . you need to forgive in order to accept your present financial situation.” For readers who think that they weren’t taught to handle their finances correctly, or that everyone around them is making financial change impossible, Rocha’s methods should prove worthwhile.

Saving time and money Chock full of interesting, useful and (occasionally) bizarre tips for everything from your household to your finances and your car, Mary Hunt’s Cheaper, Better, Faster (Revell, $14.99, 400 pages, ISBN 9780800721442) is an incredibly thorough amalgamation of ideas to make your life exactly that—cheaper, better and faster. Though some of the tips were hard to understand—I’m still grappling with the logistics of a tip involving frozen fish and a milk carton— most of

them were enlightening and helpful, and the book is one I would encourage anyone to keep on hand. Need to clean your microwave? Hunt’s suggestion to “stir 2 tablespoons baking soda into a cup of water. Set in the microwave and allow to boil for at least 5 minutes,” remove, and wipe down, got my own microwave clean when years of struggling with cloths and frustration couldn’t. The book could benefit from an index of sorts, but a quick skim through your chapter of choice should be enough to obtain whatever tip you’re looking for. Whether you need advice on holiday decorating or renter’s insurance, Cheaper, Better, Faster is a great resource to have in your library.

Your second chapter Nancy Collamer’s Second-Act Careers (Ten Speed, $14.99, 272 pages, ISBN 9781607743828) is an excellent starting point for retirees who are starting to think about going back to work in a new field. The emphasis here is not on providing detailed resources for those heading back into the workforce, but rather on offering an overview of the possibilities for a new career—including starting a business, freelancing, consulting, working part-time in a variety of capacities, and in one

particularly engaging chapter, traveling. This is a better resource for a fairly well-off individual looking to explore her options, as opposed to a retiree desperate for a new source of income, and at times the occupational suggestions seem slightly unrealistic. (It’s unlikely that many people will pursue a second career as a fitness instructor, for instance.) But if you’re interested in exploring your options and engaged by selfadministered reflection exercises (Collamer features many toward the end of the book), then Second-Act Careers is a useful launching pad. What Second-Act Careers lacks in specificity, Marci Alboher’s The Encore Career Handbook (Workman, $15.95, 336 pages, ISBN 9780761167624) more than compensates for in attention to particulars. Alboher starts with a realistic view of the post- and semi-retirement landscape, accounting for age discrimination, the flailing economy and the changing job market, and moves on to detail ways to both brainstorm and find a new career that fits your lifestyle and skills, as well as concrete steps to make that new career work financially and logistically. Each chapter features a detailed Frequently Asked Questions section, as well as carefully listed resources for further research. She also provides thorough firsthand accounts from others who have taken on second careers. The real goldmine, however, is the lengthy list of possible career options listed at the back of the book, along with extensive resources for further pursuing those options. Alboher’s attention to detail will prove incredibly useful—from verbatim suggestions on how to network via email and in person, to budget worksheets and business plan builders, this is the ultimate workbook for anyone looking to branch out professionally in retirement.

diet & HEALTH B y t h e e d i t o r s o f b o o k pa g e



aybe you’re looking to drop the five (or 10 or 15) pounds you packed on during pie season—er, the holidays. Maybe you’ve noticed some health problems getting worse as you’ve gained weight over the years. Today’s diets aren’t just about dropping pounds; they’re about investing in yourself and your health. Change what you eat to change your life—it all starts with finding the right book for your body.

Rodale, $25.99, 384 pages, ISBN 9781609618438


PERFECT HEALTH DIET By Paul Jaminet, Ph.D., and Shou-Ching Jaminet, Ph.D.

Scribner, $28, 448 pages, ISBN 9781451699142

Frustrated by years of chronic health problems, a husband and wife (both scientists) set out to determine whether their diet was making them sick and what they should eat to become healthy and stay that way. The result is a detailed and rigorous guide to eating an ideal diet—one that will help you avoid illness and reach your optimum weight. WHY YOU’RE FAT: The standard American diet (SAD) is deficient in nutrients and filled with food toxins that can cause chronic disease and obesity. HOW YOU FIX IT: Eat a low-to-moderate-carbohydrate, high-fat, moderate-protein diet. FIRST STEP: Familiarize yourself with the Paleoera diet of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. COMMITMENT: Readers are free to choose either a total commitment to the plan or to browse and find areas that interest them. EAT THIS: A balance of plant and animal foods, including “safe” starches, fruits, low-calorie vegetables, meats, seafood, eggs and healthy oils. DON’T EAT THIS: Grains, cereals, sugar, beans, peanuts and vegetable seed oils (such as soybean oil and corn oil). STARTLING CLAIM: “Weight loss should be easy and hunger-free.”

FAT CHANCE By Robert H. Lustig, M.D.

Hudson Street Press, $25.95, 336 pages ISBN 9781594631009

Dr. Robert Lustig is on a crusade to end obesity. However, as he explains in Fat Chance, what he is actually fighting is the raft of chronic metabolic diseases that are correlated with obesity, including heart disease, diabetes and cirrhosis of the liver. A person can be overweight and still be perfectly fit and healthy, especially if they exercise regularly. WHY YOU’RE FAT: A complex mix of reasons, but one main culprit is sugar, the “Darth Vader of the Empire, beckoning you to the Dark Side.” HOW YOU FIX IT: Decrease your sugar intake, increase your fiber intake and make moderate exercise a regular habit. (Exercise may not make you thinner, but it will make you healthier.) FIRST STEP: Begin reading labels to seek out sugar in the food you buy, and cook your own meals from fresh ingredients whenever you can.

COMMITMENT: Hardest for those who are in the soda-and-fast-food habit. EAT THIS: Foods high in fiber (especially insoluble fiber) and low in sugar (especially fructose), such as whole grains, nuts, eggs, whole fruits and vegetables. DON’T EAT THIS: Foods high in sugar and low in fiber—that includes both soda and fruit juice! STARTLING CLAIM: Forty percent of “normalweight” people (those with a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9) are insulin resistant, which is a sign of chronic metabolic disease. Many people whose BMI is in the “normal” range actually have the visceral fat of an obese person—a condition called “thin on the outside, fat on the inside.”

THINNER THIS YEAR By Chris Crowley and Jennifer Sacheck, Ph.D.

Workman, $24.95, 368 pages ISBN 9780761168003

Chris Crowley, co-author of Younger Next Year, offers a new guide that teaches you how to lose 25 pounds (and keep it off!) when in life’s “third act.” Jen Sacheck, a nutritionist and exercise physiologist, shares the science behind the importance of diet and exercise and offers a regimen to get healthier. Crowley puts her know-how to the test in chatty “day-in-the-life”-style essays. WHY YOU’RE FAT: You eat too much “dead food” (food with little nutritional value) and you don’t exercise enough. HOW YOU FIX IT: Eat approximately 20 percent less than you’re eating now (with vegetables and fruit making up 50 percent of your diet) and exercise six days a week for the rest of your life— including aerobic activities and strength training. FIRST STEP: Make up your mind to change your lifestyle—then read this book! COMMITMENT: High. For the program to work, you’ve got to exercise regularly and eat well— forever. This is no fad diet, but sound advice for taking care of your body. EAT THIS: Vegetables, fruits, lean protein, whole grains (think barley, quinoa and brown rice). DON’T EAT THIS: Dead food (think processed foods, soda, refined white flour, sugar). STARTLING CLAIM: “People who are in good shape and exercise regularly also burn fat much more effectively for much more of the time. . . . So they can run or swim or bike much longer, because the whole process becomes so well-tuned.”

By Rob Thompson, M.D.

We’ve all heard that obesity is a risk factor for diabetes, but the reasons are rarely explained. Diabetic cardiologist Rob Thompson sheds light on the cause of type 2 diabetes among overweight people and reveals a plan to prevent and treat the disease while losing weight. WHY YOU’RE FAT: The refined-starch-heavy diet of Americans is too rapidly digested as glucose, which causes loss of sensitivity to insulin leading to obesity and type 2 diabetes. HOW YOU FIX IT: Avoid excessive starches. When you do eat starches, add certain types of foods called “sugar blockers” that slow the absorption of glucose. FIRST STEP: Learn what foods are sugar blockers. COMMITMENT: Easy. You don’t have to give up any food forever. EAT THIS: Fibers such as bran and flax seeds; vegetables and fruits that are low in sugar; vinegarbased dressing with salad and small amounts of fatty snacks such as nuts or cheese before a meal. DON’T EAT THIS: Refined carbs like white bread, unless eaten with a sugar blocker. STARTLING CLAIM: Indulging in dessert only after you’ve finished the main course will help the digestive system absorb glucose slower, leading to weight loss.

THE PLAN By Lyn-Genet Recitas

Grand Central Life & Style, $25.99, 320 pages ISBN 9781455515486

You’re over age 35 and no matter what you do—lots of exercise, a measly diet of 800 calories a day—your weight refuses to budge. According to nutritionist Lyn-Genet Recitas and her team of naturopathic doctors, everything you know about being healthy is completely wrong. WHY YOU’RE FAT: It’s not carbs, it’s not too much fat; it’s low-grade inflammation caused by socalled “healthy” foods. HOW YOU FIX IT: Determine and stop eating the “reactive” foods that cause your inflammation, thus losing half a pound a day, reversing illness and improving digestive function and happiness. FIRST STEP: Horror—mysterious “healthy” foods are making you fat. After you’ve calmed down, commence a three-day cleanse with a diet of universally non-reactive foods, then start testing the reactivity of every other food in the world. COMMITMENT: Relatively high. You’re essentially training to be your own nutritionist, and your list of reactive foods changes as you age. EAT THIS: Whatever works. DON’T EAT THIS: One of the “Devil Foods” (oatmeal, salmon, asparagus, tomato sauce, tofu, black beans and turkey) might make you gain three pounds overnight. STARTLING CLAIM: “There is no such thing as healthy. There is only what works for your body.”



_publisher Killer Show John Barylick This definitive book on The Station nightclub fire tragedy has been called “a modern cautionary tale that will take your breath away” by Publishers Weekly. [University Press of New England] 9781611682656 $27.95

Cross Roads Wm. Paul Young When egotistical businessman Anthony is left comatose from a cerebral hemorrhage, he finds himself in a surreal world that leads him on a hopeful path to redemption. [FaithWords] 9781455516049 $24.99

I Lay My Stitches Down Cynthia Grady This moving and eloquent set of poems, brought to life by vivid and colorful artwork from Michele Wood, offers a timeless witness to the hardship endured by America’s slaves. Each poem is supplemented by a historical note. [Eerdmans Books for Young Readers] 9780802853868 $17


favorites____ The Forgotten David Baldacci Things get personal for Army Special Agent John Puller when he must investigate his aunt’s death in Florida. But this was no accidental death, and Florida is far from paradise. [Grand Central] 9780446573054 $27.99

Drinking Boston Stephanie Schorow An intoxicating history of America’s first drinking town, Drinking Boston examines the city’s politics, mythology and the struggle between morality and freedom through its historic and celebrated barrooms. [Union Park Press] 9781934598092 $18.50 pb

An American Tune Barbara Shoup An achingly poignant story of a family crushed under the weight of suppressed truths, illuminating the irrevocability of choices and their effect on our lives. [Indiana University Press] 9780253007421 $19 pb

Julie Andrews Treasury for All Seasons Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton This collection of classic and new poems celebrates every day, every season and every holiday. Sweet introductions by Julie Andrews make this the perfect family read. [Little, Brown Books for Young Readers] 9780316040518 $19.99

Back to Blood Tom Wolfe Tom Wolfe sets his newest novel in Miami’s bad-tothe-bone Biscayne Bay, where a high-energy cast of characters bursts to life in a panoramic story of the new America. [Little, Brown] 9780316036313 $30

Fashion DK Tracing the evolution of fashion from ancient times to the catwalk couture of today, this illustrated guide looks at 3,000 years of shifting trends and innovative designs. [DK] 9780756698355 $50

A Ball for Daisy Chris Raschka Have a ball with Daisy in the 2012 Caldecott Medal winner, a beautiful wordless picture book from Chris Raschka! [Schwartz & Wade] 9780375858611 $16.99

Basher History: U.S. Presidents Dan Green Every president has his own entry and speaks directly to the reader. In Basher’s humorous fashion, these lively and enlightening articles bring history to life. [Kingfisher] 9780753469644 $14.99 hc 9780753469248 $8.99 pb

Splendors and Glooms Laura Amy Schlitz “Few books can be called both delightful and eerie. Utterly transporting.” —Rebecca Stead, Newbery Medal winner “As mysterious and timeless as a fairy tale.” —Booklist (starred review) [Candlewick] 9780763653804 $17.99


Vanished Irene Hannon Vanished is the exciting first book in the Private Justice series: Three justice seekers who got burned playing by the rules now have a second chance to make things right. [Revell] 9780800721237 $14.99 pb

Dog Company Patrick O’Donnell “Patrick O’Donnell takes you from the scaling of Pointe du Hoc’s murderous cliffs on the Normandy coast to the Battle of the Bulge and into the rubble of Germany. World War II comes to life through the eyes of this one company of intrepid U.S. Army Rangers.”—Douglas Waller, author of Wild Bill Donovan [Da Capo Press] 9780306820298 $26

The Time Keeper Mitch Albom The author of Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven crafts his most imaginative novel yet: the story of the first man on earth to count the hours. [Hyperion] 9781401322786 $24.99

Diet for a New America (25th Anniversary Edition) John Robbins Drawing a clear line connecting America’s factory farm system with disease, animal cruelty, and ecological crises, John Robbins makes an eloquent argument for vegetarianism. [New World Library] 9781932073546 $18.95 pb

Your Food Is Fooling You David A. Kessler, MD Is your diet a vicious cycle of sugar, fat, and salt? Your food is fooling you! David A. Kessler, M.D., best-selling author of The End of Overeating, delivers this new book adapted especially for teens. [Roaring Brook Press] 9781596438316 $9.99 pb

Regional Catalog page Immortal Diamond Father Richard Rohr Examines the fundamental issues of who we are, to help us on our path of spiritual maturity. Written by Father Richard Rohr, the best-selling author of Falling Upward. [Wiley] 9781118303597 $19.95

Delia’s Dull Day Andy Myer Poor Delia, her life is so dull. But if Delia would just pay attention, she’d realize that amazing things are happening all around her! [Sleeping Bear Press] 9781585368044 $16.95

Truth in Advertising John Kenney A funny, smart first novel for fans of Nick Hornby and Jonathan Tropper. The winning story of how a clever ad man learns how to be a real man. [Touchstone] 9781451675542 $24.99

The Boy Kings of Texas Domingo Martinez A 2012 National Book Award finalist, this lyrical, gritty coming-of-age story about a Texas border-town family illuminates a little-understood corner of America. [Lyons Press] 9780762779192 $16.95 pb

Clifford Collection Norman Bridwell Celebrate Clifford’s 50th anniversary with this collection of six classic stories that were originally published beginning in 1963! [Cartwheel] 9780545450133 $12.99



Lincoln Karl Weber This companion book to the major motion picture has leading historians answering the question: What Would Lincoln Do? [PublicAffairs] 9781610392631 $14.99 pb

American Drive Richard E. Dauch with Hank H. Cox American Drive answers the question everyone’s been asking: Can America compete with cheap foreign labor and restore skilled, well-paying jobs to our economy? [St. Martin’s] 9781250010827 $27.99



reviews Me Before You


Love in a hopeless place R e v i e w b y Abb y P l e s s e r

Louisa Clark lives a small, simple life. At age 27, she shares a home with her quirky family, works at a local café and maintains a lackluster relationship with her beau of seven years. She may have dreamt of leaving her tiny English village once or twice, but it just doesn’t seem practical; with the recent economic downturn, Lou’s salary has kept the family afloat. And then her boss closes his café and Louisa is left adrift. Forced to take almost any job that will pay the family’s bills, Louisa agrees to serve as caretaker for a wealthy quadriplegic, despite having absolutely no training. As she quickly discovers, the job is much more—in ways both triumphant and tragic—than she bargained for. Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You is a most unconventional love story. Lou and her charge, the handsome, privileged Will Traynor, are at first like oil and water. Will is cold and aloof with everyone, but he seems generally displeased to have Lou around. Lou comes to realize that’s because By Jojo Moyes she isn’t just a caregiver—she’s a babysitter. Will was an adventure junkie Pamela Dorman Books, $27.95, 384 pages with career success, complete independence and a slew of gorgeous ISBN 9780670026609, audio, eBook available women by his side. His injury has left him physically and emotionally devastated—and certain that he doesn’t want to live this way. But both Lou and Will have surprises in store for each other, and Moyes lets their relationship develop in wonderful, hilarious and unexpected ways. Lou simply will not let Will go down without a fight, and in her battle to save his life, she ends up changing her own. Moyes’ twisting, turning, heartbreaking novel raises provocative moral questions while developing a truly unique relationship between two people brought together by chance. With shades of David Nicholls’ beloved One Day, Me Before You is the kind of book you simply can’t put down—even when you realize you don’t want to see it end. This may not be a novel for the faint of heart, but it is a bigVisit BookPage.com for a Q&A hearted, beautifully written story that teaches us it is never too late to with Jojo Moyes. truly start living.

The Last Runaway By Tracy Chevalier Dutton $26.95, 320 pages ISBN 9780525952992 Audio, eBook available

historical fiction


Tracy Chevalier, of Girl With a Pearl Earring fame, shifts her focus from Europe and enigmatic works of art to 1850s Ohio and the Underground Railroad in her latest, The Last Runaway. Jilted by her fiancé, quiet Quaker Honor Bright departs safe England for untamed America, and learns there that living according to one’s principles is easier said than done. Left suddenly alone on her new continent after a family tragedy, Honor seeks comfort in the meditative routine of her beloved quilting. Her talent for stitching gains her

an unlikely friend: the whiskeyswilling, cursing Kentucky export Belle Mills, who, to Honor’s shock, is hiding runaway slaves. Opposed to slavery like other Quakers, Honor silently approves of Belle’s actions, but when she begins helping slaves herself, she is met with resistance from her new community of Friends—despite their passionate abolitionist speeches. Further complicating matters are Honor’s first stirrings of lust: Belle’s brother, Donovan, is coarse, violent and, worst of all, a slave hunter—yet Honor can’t get him out of her head, even as she’s drawn to red-blooded Quaker farmer Jack Haymaker. As Honor moves deeper into the risky world of aiding slaves, she is confronted with several difficult choices. Evoking 19th-century Ohio life with a quiet lushness, Chevalier seamlessly seeds vivid period details into her writing. Though minor bits test patience—Honor can supposedly hear an eye blink—the conflicts of this young woman’s head and heart will pull readers to the last

page. Chevalier questions the difference between bravery and foolishness and explores whether ideology should displace family ties, and her characters are drawn with satisfying shades of gray. Having lived in England for nearly 30 years, the American-born Chevalier calls this novel her “love letter home.” Warm and thoughtful, The Last Runaway gratifyingly probes America’s growing pains. —sheri bodoh

cosm, existing both as its own slightly warped little world and as an important thread in the national fabric. It’s Texas but not Texas; tourist-filled and welcoming, yet uniquely distant; and always dangerously close to natural disaster. Elizabeth Black sets her spellbinding debut novel, a story of secrets, loss and the redemptive power of truth, against this compelling backdrop. Clare is a celebrated New York photographer whose life crumbles in the wake of tragedy. When an invitation to stage an exhibit of her work promises to take her back to Galveston, her hometown, Clare relishes the chance to escape the stifling world of her married life. But back home, she finds old secrets stirring, and she becomes captivated with a decades-old legend of a drowned girl and what it means for her family’s own relationship with the wealthy, almost mythological Carradays of Galveston. Black’s luxurious prose makes Galveston into a dark, fading fairytale world, and her descriptions of Clare’s internal strife reveal a keen insight into the human condition that eludes many more seasoned novelists. A page-turning chronicle of grief and memory, The Drowning House is a remarkable blend of human drama and satisfyingly Southern Gothic mystery, propelled by Black’s lyrical, haunting narration. —Matthew Jackson

The History of Us By Leah Stewart

Touchstone $24.99, 384 pages ISBN 9781451672626 Audio, eBook available

popular fiction

The Drowning House By Elizabeth Black Nan A. Talese $25.95, 288 pages ISBN 9780385535861 eBook available

debut fiction

The island of Galveston is a strange kind of American micro-

Leah Stewart’s fourth novel, following 2011’s Husband and Wife, opens as 28-year-old Eloise Hempel, newly hired as a history professor at Harvard, receives a phone call from her 11-year-old niece Theo in Cincinnati. Eloise’s sister, Rachel, and her husband have died in a crash while on vacation. Theo and her siblings, Josh, 9, and Claire, 2, had been staying with Francine, Eloise and Rachel’s mother, who somehow

FICTION finds herself unable to make that difficult call herself. Though she loves Boston, especially her plum job at Harvard, Eloise realizes she is the logical choice to raise her sister’s children in Cincinnati—with their familiar schools, their extracurricular activities, their friends. The story then shifts to 2010, 17 years later. Eloise, Theo, Josh and Claire all live in Francine’s huge old house in Clifton, the Cincinnati neighborhood close to the university where Eloise now teaches. With the kids about to leave home, Eloise feels this is the perfect time to put the house on the market—maybe she could even move back to Boston at long last. But therein lies the snag, for the children, now grown, are all very attached to the house where they grew up as orphans. Unfortunately, none of them have the means to keep it.Theo feels the strongest—but still a student working on her dissertation, she has nothing to contribute to the bills. Josh dropped out of his band a year earlier, and has a mediocre job; Claire, a ballerina, is leaving soon for a position in New York City. Stewart is a wonderful observer of family relationships, and she adroitly weaves the stories of Eloise and the children she’s raised—their work, their loves, their disappointments and dreams—while focusing on what ties families together, and what ultimately keeps those ties from breaking. —Deborah Donovan

Tenth of December By George Saunders

Random House $26, 272 pages ISBN 9780812993806 Audio, eBook available

short stories

George Saunders is one of the masters of the difficult art of the short story. In his latest collection, Tenth of December, wounded characters confront situations that range from slightly skewed to downright Orwellian. In “Victory Lap,” a teenaged boy prevents a catastrophe by breaking all the rules his smothering, control-

freak parents have laid down for him. In “Escape From Spiderhead,” prisoners are subjected to high-tech Milgramesque experiments where their emotions are manipulated, effortlessly, by intravenous drugs. The point of the exercise is uncertain to the prisoners, the experimenters and the reader, and the story is so matter of fact in its depiction of horror that the reader almost Saunders is wishes she’d never read it. a brilliant This is not the observer of last story in weirdness— which impossible but cleverly and a fierce named psychobeliever tropic drugs in human will mess with connections. the insides of people’s heads. Most of the stories are narrated by men, or have men as their protagonists. The boys are outsiders, either too fat or too nerdy, and many of the men have soul-crushing and even bizarre jobs. In “Exhortation,” a director urges his staff to keep up their “positive energy” for some task that has a whiff of both uselessness and nefariousness about it, lest their shady overlords grow extremely displeased. At last, the reader comes to the title story. It’s about an unpopular schoolboy, a dying man and a frozen lake. A masterpiece that reveals the power of stubborn love and redemption, it seems, in a strange way, to make the suffering in the other stories worthwhile. In Tenth of December, Saunders proves that he’s both a brilliant observer of weirdness and a fierce believer in the connections that keep people going. —Arlene McKanic

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie By Ayana Mathis

Knopf $24.95, 256 pages ISBN 9780385350280 Audio, eBook available

debut fiction

The saga of Hattie Shepherd, an African American who leaves Georgia in 1925 in pursuit of the American dream in Philadelphia,


brit FICTION By lauren bufferd

Inside the great house


o you have “Downton Abbey” fever? Novelist Fay Weldon and interior design expert Elizabeth Wilhide have just the books to keep you happily distracted until the third season begins on January 6—or to ease the wait for season four.

Over her 40-year career as a writer, Fay Weldon has been known for her unpredictability, from controversial early novels such as The Life and Loves of a She-Devil to the commercial tie-in The Bulgari Connection. Now the author of the first episode of the original “Upstairs Downstairs” turns her attentions to 1890s England. The first in a planned trilogy, Habits of the House (St. Martin’s, $25.99, 320 pages, ISBN 9781250026620) is a comedy of manners that takes advantage of Weldon’s rich sense of farce.

Habits of the House opens on the well-appointed front steps of 17 Belgrave Square, where Eric Baum, financial counselor to the Earl of Dilberne, is ringing the doorbell. The relentless pealing sets off a chain of responses from the domestic staff, who ignore the bell, deeming Baum “too foreign looking” to be worthy of the front door. Lady Isobel and her adult children, the ne’er-do-well Robert and his fiercely independent suffragette sister, Rosina, can’t be bothered to get out of bed. It is the Earl who finally allows Baum in, noting that this is the first time he has opened the front door himself. The news Baum brings isn’t good—the Earl’s investments in South African gold mines have been badly affected by the Boer war. The only real answer is to marry the children off to money without delay, despite the fact that Rosina seems unmarriageable and Robert is keeping a mistress. Cue the entrance of wealthy Ameri-

cans—beef baron Billy O’Brien, his vulgar wife, Tessa, and their daughter Minnie, a beautiful girl with a questionable past. Habits of the House moves quickly, and though the characters sometimes seem like they’ve been ordered from Central Casting (doughty cook, brash American, street-smart manservant), the novel retains a tongue-in-cheek humor even when it examines the tougher issues of the times. Elizabeth Wilhide’s Ashenden (Simon & Schuster, $24.99, 352 pages, ISBN 9781451684865) traces the history of a grand British home from the 18th century to the present. Middle-aged New Yorker Charlie Minton is awoken by a phone call from his sister: They have inherited the estate owned by their Uncle Hugo and Aunt Reggie. Charlie goes to England to find the house in terrible disrepair. The National Trust isn’t interested, and he and his sister can’t agree on another solution. The novel then moves from the present day through the two centuries since the house was built. Readers meet the financially insolvent Mores, who never even paid the initial builder; Mrs. Trimble, who spent years as a housekeeper only to end up impoverished; a POW during World War II; and finally Reggie and Hugo, for whom the restoration of the house was an extension of their loving marriage. This is Wilhide’s first novel, though she has written books on interior design and collaborated on projects with notables like designer Orla Kiely. Ashenden’s history is based on the history of Basildon Park, which was also built in the 18th century, lived in by many families, turned into an army hospital and a prisoner of war camp, and lovingly restored in the 1950s. This charming book suggests a house is a living, everchanging thing, deeply affected by the people who live and work in it.


All you need is love. A humorous and flirty new trilogy from New York Times bestselling author

Shannon Stacey

Available now!

reviews may sound as if it would be made of common elements. But the talent of her creator, first-time novelist Ayana Mathis, is uncommon, as the opening pages of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie—an Oprah Book Club 2.0 selection—make clear. Her preacher in Georgia declared the North to be “a New Jerusalem,” but Hattie’s long road of trouble and travail over six decades begins very soon after she arrives in Philadelphia, where her twin babies become desperately ill.“She pressed her cheeks to the tops of their heads. Oh, their velvet skin! She felt their deaths like a ripping in her body.” Out of fear that her nine later children and her grandchildren will fail to survive in a world of hatred and poverty, Hattie becomes a hard, demanding woman. Mathis dramatically shows this shift through the perspectives of 12 different characters. The author’s electric style is both tough and compassionate, creating almost unbearably poignant moments. Mathis moves the reader from Hattie’s perspective to the story of her grown son Floyd, a horn player, 23 years later. Then the focus shifts to Six, a preacher; then to the child Ruthie; and on to eight more of Hattie’s descendants. But Hattie is a vibrant participant in the drama of each separate narrative. In fact, the dialogue throughout is achingly real. This is a novel of distinctive and haunting voices that yearn for love. The Promised Land of the North fails Hattie and her family. What succeeds is the culture of a people, of a family, that has struggled to endure. —David Madden

March 2013

May 2013

The Death of Bees By Lisa O’Donnell

“Shannon Stacey’s books deliver exactly what we need in contemporary romances.... I feel safe that every time I pick up a Stacey book I’m going to read something funny, sexy and loving.” —Jane Litte of Dear Author on All He Ever Needed

Learn more at www.ShannonStacey.com


Harper $25.99, 320 pages ISBN 9780062209849 eBook available

debut fiction

No matter how you and your family choose to celebrate the holidays, chances are it doesn’t involve burying your parents in the backyard on Christmas Eve. Alas, the same cannot be said for the sibling protagonists in Lisa O’Donnell’s first novel,

FICTION The Death of Bees. Setting the tone for what is to come, the book opens with 15-yearold Marnie telling readers that not only is it Christmas Eve, but it is also her birthday, and the parents that she and her sister have just O’Donnell buried in their backyard were is a brazen anything but new voice in beloved. the literary Rest assured, this is world. no saccharine, gentle story of a loving family torn asunder. As far as Marnie is concerned, her parents’ deaths are just one more mess they have left for her to clean up, just one more burden far too heavy for her and 12-year-old Nelly to have to carry. Yet carry it they must, leaving readers to root for these two newly minted orphans as they attempt to outwit child protective services, settle debts with their father’s drug dealer—who is owed money they don’t have—and keep their lonely next-door neighbor from discovering the truth about what his dog keeps trying to dig up in their back garden. Through it all, the girls navigate the more traditional hardships of adolescence with pluck and determination, proving that though they may be damaged, they can never be fully broken as long as they have each other. From its first line to its last, The Death of Bees is unapologetically candid and heralds a brazen new voice in the literary world. O’Donnell, a Scot who now lives in L.A., is also an award-winning screenwriter. Her prior career experience shows in her novel: She imbues Marnie and Nelly with voices that are honest and authentic, and the narrative flows with the exact right current to hook readers early and then slowly reel them in. This is a dark and mordant novel, yet despite its fighting words, a tender heart beats deep at its center. Although undeniably bleak at times, Marnie and Nelly’s story is not devoid of hope and has much needed punches of humor throughout. The result is a riveting and rewarding read. —Stephenie Harrison

Read more reviews at bookpage.com



THE FRIENDS WHO SHAPE US R e v i e w b y k e l ly b l e w e t t

For fans of searingly honest memoirs, the publication of Susanna Sonnenberg’s She Matters is a cause for celebration. Sonnenberg’s previous book, Her Last Death, explored her tumultuous relationship with her provocative and ultimately destructive mother. This book turns to more nurturing, though occasionally heartbreaking, women in Sonnenberg’s life: her friends. Comprised of 20 short essays, Sonnenberg’s book discusses all kinds of friendships—those that ended well, ended badly, ended mysteriously or (occasionally) continue today. Her Rolodex of friends includes a writer, a painter, a stay-at-home mom, a rabbi and a massage therapist. I can only imagine what her friends must have thought when they found themselves drawn by her pen; but for readers, the rewards are rich. The book’s honesty, eloquence, laugh-out-loud humor, finely wrought prose and magnificent By Susanna Sonnenberg scope will keep readers eagerly turning the pages. Scribner, $24, 272 pages The Sonnenberg who closes the book is not the same woman we meet ISBN 9781439190586, eBook available on page one. Because the essays are arranged chronologically, readers learn how major life decisions—from embracing motherhood to moving to Montana, from becoming a writer to working in an abortion clinic—have shaped the way she chooses and fosters her friendships. We see how time and change impacted some of her oldest relationships. Given this benefit of space and reflection, Sonnenberg adds asides that deepen some of the early stories. “Had I paid attention,” she says of one friend, “she would have shown me a first real lesson in grief, its disorganizing confusions, its inescapable solitude.” One of the many things to appreciate about this book is its refusal to bundle each friendship into a neat bow. Instead, these memorable and lovely essays gesture to the real-life intricacies of relationships. They celebrate the many pleasures of knowing and being known. For readers who welcome a complex perspective beautifully rendered in writing, this book is not to be missed.

rough chronology, beginning with the Great Library of Alexandria, where Eratosthenes of Cyrene in the third century B.C. came remarkably close to calculating the true circumference of the earth, and ending with contemporary medicine’s attempt to map the human brain. In between, he regales readers with tales of mapmakers and map thieves, treasure maps, the origins of the atlas and the development of the beautiful schematic map of the London tube. Who was Mercator and why do we think his distortion-filled map is so important? How did the Americas come to be named after Amerigo Vespucci, a former bank clerk who sailed for South America nearly a decade after Columbus reached the Caribbean? Why did a nonexistent mountain range remain on maps of Africa for almost a century? The answers can be found in On the Map. An Englishman, Garfield’s topic selections skew toward the British, but On the Map also includes chapters on the grid map of Manhattan and the mapping efforts of the Lewis and Clark expedition (with an interesting aside on Native Americans’ evanescent sand maps). So On the Map is capacious rather than comprehensive. It is also vastly entertaining. —Alden Mudge

the universe within By Neil Shubin

Pantheon $25.95, 240 pages ISBN 9780307378439 eBook available


The biblical passage, “You are dust, and to dust you shall return,” is a poignant reminder of our fragile place in the world. It also reminds us how deeply we are connected to the earth, the water, the air and to the other creatures who roam the land. Neil Shubin’s The Universe Within is a further reminder of this critical relationship. At a time when we pay increasing attention to the effects of our actions on the planet, The Universe Within also reveals how the universe has had a huge impact on the development of the human race. For

example, many scientists believe that our universe was created by the Big Bang. Shubin writes that atoms from the Big Bang can be found in our air, our water and inside of us, as a sort of recycling process for the ages. “The particles that make us,” Shubin writes, “have traveled billions of years across the universe; long after we and our planet are gone, they will be a part of other worlds.” Once Shubin establishes his thesis that we humans and our universe are made of the same tiny particles, it’s easy to accept his arguments for how we are connected in other ways. Consider that humans are made up mostly of water, which also covers most of our earth; or look at Shubin’s illustration of the strong likenesses even among wildly diverse creatures, such as the strikingly similar shapes of the leg bones of an elephant and a mouse. The Universe Within gives us an appreciation of how we are just small specks and small moments in time. But it also challenges us to

take steps to protect our environment so our world can last a little longer. —J o h n T. S l a n i a

on the map By Simon Garfield

Gotham $27.50, 464 pages ISBN 9781592407798


“Maps hold a clue to what makes us human,” Simon Garfield writes in the introduction to his lively, looselimbed exploration of our seemingly tireless quest to visually represent the lay of the land. Garfield’s interest in the human side of mapmaking—the personalities, anecdotes, curiosities—is what makes On the Map such an enjoyable read. Garfield’s 22 chapters follow a

chanel bonfire By Wendy Lawless Gallery $25, 304 pages ISBN 9781451675368 eBook available


There are bad mothers and there are alcoholic mothers, and then there are bad, alcoholic, psychotic mothers like Georgann Rea. Add glamour, beauty and a rapidly dwindling divorce settlement, and you’ve got Chanel Bonfire. A small-town blonde from Kansas City, Georgann married up and out, catapulting herself and her two small daughters from a Midwestern first marriage to the luxuries of life in New York and London. In doing so, she effectively kidnapped the girls, blocking them from any contact with their father and holding


reviews them hostage to her volatile moods, her drinking, her florid romantic conquests and her suicide attempts. Older daughter Wendy tries to protect her little sister Robbie from the worst of it, but she can’t stop the destructive spiral of her mother’s rage: how she breaks their toys, locks them in a closet, flirts with their boyfriends and tells them they’ve ruined her life. A fortuitous connection with a therapist helps Wendy, even as the violence between Robbie and their mother escalates. Little by little, the girls raggedly break away from their mother, although physical separation is easier than mental detachment. This miracle of a memoir is completely free from self-pity, and it’s surprisingly suspenseful. Written from the point of view of Wendy’s younger self, it unfolds for the reader as it unfolds for the daughters: with no clear resolution in sight. And yet it is clearly the product of a healthy retrospection, driven by a cinematic attention to detail, dialogue and scene. In writing Chanel Bonfire, Wendy Lawless has given up disguising her mother’s craziness in favor of telling the truth as clearly and objectively as is possible to do. —Catherine Hollis

the fall of the house of dixie By Bruce Levine

Random House $30, 464 pages ISBN 9781400067039 eBook available

american history

NONFICTION slavery was merely one of many issues over which the war was fought, Levine, a professor of history at the University of Illinois, shows that it was at the center of everything—the economy, culture, social relationships and worldview. While it was true that most Southerners didn’t own slaves, those most active in the push for secession did—and they were the ones who stood to gain the most if the war went their way. After describing the brutal conditions under which slaves lived, Levine then quotes a series of masters on how happy and contented their slaves are with their lot. “A fascinating quality of the human mind is its ability to hold firmly and simultaneously two contradictory ideas,” he observes wryly. The dynamics of the war, even when the South seemed to be winning, made slavery increasingly untenable. Both sides needed their labor for military purposes, which gave blacks a certain leverage. With the men of the plantations away, it was more difficult to keep the slaves subdued and productive at home— and impossible to keep them from hearing the siren call of liberation, especially as Northern armies took control of the Mississippi and the vital port of New Orleans, and as General Sherman’s forces did their scorched-earth march from Atlanta to Savannah. Yet many slaveholders, instead of becoming gallantly selfsacrificing when the South needed them most, clung to their sense of entitlement, refusing to contribute war materials, pay higher taxes or allow their slaves to be used for the common good. Nobody was going to tell them what to do. —Edward Morris


Few experiences are as exhilarating as watching a bully being brought to his knees. And if his former victims have had a hand in his collapse, it’s all the more delicious. That, in essence, is the scene Bruce Levine presents in The Fall of the House of Dixie as he traces the smug rise and ignominious fall of the Confederacy in America’s Civil War. Levine offers a fresh perspective on this oft-told story by relying heavily on personal letters, journals and diaries to reveal just how vile, self-serving and, ultimately, delusional the slaveholders were. Brushing aside the notion that

the world until yesterday By Jared Diamond

Viking $36, 512 pages ISBN 9780670024810 Audio, eBook available


As he did in his Pulitzer Prizewinning Guns, Germs, and Steel, Jared Diamond continues to make us think with his mesmerizing and

kill anything that moves

absorbing new book. In The World Until Yesterday, he pushes us to reconsider the contours of human society and the forces that have shaped human culture. Drawing on both his personal experiences of traditional societies, especially among New Guinea Highlanders, and in-depth research into cultures as diverse as Amazonian Indians and the !Kung of southern Africa, Diamond convincingly argues that while many modern states enjoy a wide range of technological, political and military advantages, they often fail to offer an improved approach to such issues as raising children or treating the elderly. Hardly naïve, Diamond acknowledges that the modern world would never embrace many practices, such as infanticide and widow-strangling, embedded in traditional cultures but horrifying to modern ones. Yet traditional societies also value societal well-being over individual well-being, so that care for the elderly is an integral part of their social fabric—an arrangement that “goes against all those interwoven American values of independence, individualism, self-reliance, and privacy.” Ranging over topics that include child-rearing, conflict resolution, the nature of risk, religion and physical fitness, Diamond eloquently concludes with a litany of the advantages of the traditional world. “Loneliness,” he observes, “is not a problem in traditional societies,” for people usually live close to where they were born and remain “surrounded by relatives and childhood companions.” In modern societies, by contrast, individuals often move far away from their places of birth to find themselves surrounded by strangers. We can also take lessons from traditional cultures about our health. By choosing healthier foods, eating slowly and talking with friends and family during a meal— all characteristics Diamond attributes to traditional societies—we can reform our diets and perhaps curb the incidence of diseases such as stroke and diabetes. Powerful and captivating, Diamond’s lucid insights challenge our ideas about human nature and culture, and will likely provoke heated conversations about the future of our society.

The literature of the Vietnam War does not feature much hagiography, just stories of inner torment, senseless deaths and shattered ideologies. What’s tragic—and overlooked—is that the soldiers were not the only ones who endured an unimaginable hell. In the sobering Kill Anything That Moves, Nick Turse provides an exhaustive account of how thousands upon thousands of innocent, unarmed South Vietnamese civilians were senselessly killed by a military that equated corpses with results. Turse’s book, a graphic collection of rapes, shootings and wanton disregard for human life, is a difficult, frequently depressing affair. By the end, it reads as a parody of machismo taken to fatal, troubling extremes. But this actually happened. Who’s to say it won’t happen again? Relying on interviews, government documents and other research, Turse breaks down how these atrocities came to pass. Recruits in basic training became killing machines; indeed, they were rewarded for a high number of kills. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara’s game plan for the war boiled down to “killing more enemies than their Vietnamese opponents could replace.” The U.S. military did little to protect Vietnamese civilians, essentially shooting anyone running away or wearing black. A bit of clerical fudging turned farmers, children and the elderly into kill-crazy Vietcong. It went on like this for years, with the infamous massacre at My Lai serving as just the most publicized example. The incidents become a blur of awfulness, a rush of power run amok. Kill Anything That Moves is a staggering reminder that war has its gruesome subplots hidden underneath the headlines—but they’re even sadder when our heroes create them.

—Henry L. Carrigan Jr.

—Pete Croatto

By Nick Turse

Metropolitan $30, 384 pages ISBN 9780805086911 eBook available


clare VANDERPOOL interview by linda m. castellitto



—Dorothea Benton Frank

n both of Clare Vanderpool’s artfully written novels, the young protagonists’ fathers yank them out of the lives they’ve known and deposit them in unfamiliar surroundings, where they must make sense of the past and find their way in a strange new present. But while Abilene (the main character in the 2011 Newbery Medal winner Moon Over Manifest) and 13-year-old Jack Baker of Navigating Early both narrate richly layered tales that explore memory, loss, discovery and redemption, their stories are in fact quite different. Vanderpool says in an interview from her home in Wichita, Kansas, “Abilene has never lived in one place or been grounded in a community, and that’s what she’s sent to.” By contrast, “Jack was comfortable and grounded, and now he’s at the edge of the country without any bearings.” Indeed, when Kansas-boy Jack sees the ocean for the first time, he throws up. A bumpy cargo-plane ride to the Maine coast contributed to his stomach upset, but his disorientation also stems from emotional upheaval: World War II has just ended, Jack’s mother has recently died, and his father has brought him east to attend a boys’ boarding school near his military post in Portsmouth. Although Jack can appreciate the salty air, the ocean waves are forbidding and the multi-hued sand reminds him of his beloved mother, who was like “sand that clings to your body, leaving its impression on your skin to remind you of where you’ve been and where

navigating early

By Clare Vanderpool

Delacorte, $16.99, 320 pages ISBN 9780385742092, audio, eBook available Ages 10 and up

you come from.” Even as he grieves the loss of his mother and his home, Jack begins to explore his new surroundings, goes out for the crew team and becomes friends with a boy named Early Auden. Early is an intelligent, eccentric sort: He’s obsessed with the Appalachian brown bear and timber rattlesnake, plays Billie Holliday only when it rains, and he has excellent water-sports skills, too. That bundle of attributes make Early irresistibly intriguing to Jack, and as the boys grow closer, Early reveals something even more fascinating: The numbers of pi have colors, and he can read in the numbers a dramatic and exciting story that’s going to help him find that brown bear—and his brother, a soldier who was lost in the war. Jack listens to each installment of the adventures of Pi (the hero of Early’s tale), but is skeptical about the story, let alone the possibility of finding bear or brother. Even so, he joins Early on his quest: The two explore on land and sea along the Appalachian Trail, and encounter a range of unusual people with their own stories—some scary, some poignant, all of them mysteriously similar to the people and places in the tale of Pi’s journey. Navigating Early is a complex story, to be sure, and it’s all the more satisfying for its poetic language and intimation that not everything has a logical explanation. Vanderpool herself is quite comfortable with the latter notion. “Jack’s mom introduces that idea to him . . . the way our paths cross, our lives intersect and collide,” she says. “They’re all things I’ve experienced in my own life. I know this story pushes magical realism just a tad, but I’m okay with that because, in my own life, there are amazing things that happen, coincidences and connections you would never expect.” The novel’s exploration of the ways in which physical places can shape our emotions is also a theme that’s been central to Vanderpool’s

New York Times best-selling author

experience. “That absolutely comes from me,” she says. “I’ve traveled a lot, and have lived in the same neighborhood my whole life, which I love. It’s very much part of my makeup.” She adds with a laugh, “When I was dating my husband, I joked with him and said, ‘Where you go, I go! Pick any house on these four streets.’ ” And so he did: They and their four children live in a house two blocks from Vanderpool’s childhood home. Having her mother nearby is something Vanderpool enjoys, not least because the idea for Navigating Early was touched off by her mother’s description of a vivid dream about a young man who was an exceptionally talented pianist. “That got me thinking,” she says. “I thought it would be interesting to write about a younger character with some type of savant ability.” She began to do research about savants, and about pi, which, she says, “is the be-all, end-all for people that are into [math]. . . . It has a magical, mystical quality.” A trip to Maine helped solidify the landscape in her mind. And then, Vanderpool says, Early made himself known: “At a certain point,” she explains, “you let go of the inspiration and research and the characters take over. . . . It might sound strange because they’re characters you’re making up, but it’s the only way I can describe it. You give them a chance to tell you who they are.” Fortunately, Vanderpool was listening. In doing so, she has created a memorable story that is by turns poignant, funny and exciting—and reminds us not to rule out the possibility that there might be a bit of magic in our everyday lives.

RIPPED, a Jack the Ripper Time-Travel Thriller by Shelly Dickson Carr

YA Fiction |  pages | Softcover ---- | . ebook available

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children’s books JUST ONE DAY


In search of that joie de vivre Review by Jill ratzan

Is one day enough to change your life? Allyson Healey’s existence has always been predictable and mundane. She’s never questioned her mother’s color-coded schedules or her own intention to go to medical school like her father. But on the last day of an unexciting pre-college European summer tour, everything changes. Allyson decides at the spur of the moment to spend a day in Paris with Willem, a 20-year-old traveling Shakespearean actor whom she’s just met. A dizzying day of Parisian adventure follows, but the next morning Allyson finds herself stranded and alone. Haunted not only by the loss of Willem but also by the loss of the person Willem inspired her to be, Allyson’s first semester of college is marred by depression and failure. When a guidance counselor suggests she drop her science labs for a Shakespeare class, a new door opens for Allyson. She begins to build an By Gayle Forman independent identity around her own interests and goals. Forgoing the Dutton, $17.99, 320 pages summer internship her mother has arranged for her, Allyson finds her ISBN 9780525425915, eBook available own job and makes plans to return to Paris to look for Willem. She soon Ages 14 and up discovers that her trip is as much about finding herself as finding Willem. Gayle Forman, best-selling author of If I Stay and an experienced traveler herself, infuses this tale of selfdiscovery with details of international travel, Shakespeare’s plays, and the sights, smells, tastes and textures of Paris. Against this backdrop, and in the setting of Allyson’s small Boston-area college, Forman develops a cast of well-drawn characters in realistic relationships—from Allyson’s strained post-high school relationship with her longtime best friend Melanie, to her growing friendship with Dee, a classmate who’s not afraid to challenge others’ preconceptions of his unusual fashion choices. In the end, though, what captures readers’ hearts is Allyson’s own emerging individuality as she struggles with defining—and then becoming—the person she wants to be. Readers curious about Willem’s side of the story can look forward to Just One Year, coming this fall.

hokey pokey By Jerry Spinelli

Knopf $15.99, 304 pages ISBN 9780375831980 Audio, eBook available Ages 10 and up

middle grade


Hokey Pokey is the perfect kids’ world. There are many places to play, continuous cartoons on a big screen, wild herds of bicycles, even places for tantrums and snuggling. Only kids live here, from the time they first shed their diapers until they become Big Kids. But what happens then? Newbery Award-winning author Jerry Spinelli explores this question with his usual grace and creativity in Hokey Pokey. His main character Jack wakes up one morning to find that his great stallion bike Scramjet has been stolen and nothing is as

he expects. When he discovers that his tattoo, the one every newbie gets upon entering Hokey Pokey, is starting to fade, he knows for sure that his life is about to change forever. It’s hard to talk about how wonderful this book is without giving away its secrets. Adults will know early on what Jack is experiencing, and tweens might guess but not fully understand. Pre-teens will identify with Jack—and his friends the Amigos and his nemesis Jubilee—in a way that will startle them. The ending is a satisfying “click” of the last puzzle piece. If readers are put off by the childish-seeming premise at the beginning, encourage them to keep going. Hokey Pokey is not just a place, but also a journey they will recognize. This is the kind of remarkable, unique and perfect coming-of-age story that makes the reader think, “Of course! Why didn’t I think of that?” And all of a sudden, there is no better way to describe childhood—or its end. — JENNIFER B RUER KITCHEL

gingersnap By Patricia Reilly Giff

Wendy Lamb/ Random House $15.99, 160 pages ISBN 9780375838910 Audio, eBook available Ages 9 to 12

middle grade

In Gingersnap, Newbery Honor winner Patricia Reilly Giff returns to the Brooklyn of her childhood to tell the heartwarming story of a young girl during World War II. Since her parents’ death in a car accident, Jayna has been under the care of her brother, Rob. But Rob is called up for duty, leaving Jayna with Celine, their landlady. When a telegram arrives, the news is terrifying: Rob is missing in action. Unable to face a loveless future as a burden to Celine, Jayna decides to take matters into her own hands.

With her pet turtle in a cat carrier, Jayna boards a bus from upstate New York to Brooklyn. She is following clues in her mother’s old recipe book, which tell of a bakery called Gingersnap. Could a grandmother she has never known live there? Evoking the sights, sounds and tastes of neighborhoods from a time gone by, Gingersnap was a labor of love for Giff, whose inspirations included memories of her grandfather. Readers are often introduced to WWII through stories of combat. Gingersnap offers an evocative picture of life on the home front. — DE B ORAH HO P KINSON

splintered By A.G. Howard

Amulet $17.95, 384 pages ISBN 9781419704284 eBook available Ages 14 and up


Alyssa Gardner can hear the voices of insects and plants. You’d hear and see strange things, too, if your great-great-great-grandmother were none other than Alice from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and your family had been cursed ever since Alice’s return. To save her mother and herself from the curse, Alyssa discovers a way into Wonderland and accidentally pulls her sexy next-door neighbor, Jeb, down the hole with her. Together they encounter outlandish creatures—from zombie flowers to an octo-walrus—and realize dark discrepancies from Carroll’s playful tome. But before they can look for a way home, Alyssa must fix Alice’s mistakes and break the curse—not an easy task when seductive Morpheus, a caterpillar/moth creature that used to haunt her in the human world, keeps changing the stakes. While readers will delight in such recognizable scenes as Alyssa drinking from a bottle to shrink, the richly detailed scenes that stray from the original will entice the imagination. In the process of finding her sanity and saving herself and Jeb, Alyssa may discover love as well. These adventures are indeed wonderful. —Angela Leeper


LET IT SNOW by robin smith


Stories to warm winter’s chill


anuary is the month for snow and cold and ice. Whether you live with snowy weather, or wish you did, pour a mug of cocoa and share these three picture books with your favorite little snowman.

WORKING FOR A LIVING Husband and wife team Caralyn and Mark Buehner have come up with an intriguing idea in Snowmen at Work (Dial, $16.99, 32 pages, ISBN 9780803735798), the fourth book in their popular Snowmen series. What if snowmen had actual jobs as dentists, mechanics, grocers and the like? Sparkling oil-and-acrylic paintings pop with energy and allow the Buehners to create warm and humorous scenes on every page. Each spread includes four hidden characters— cat, mouse, T. rex and rabbit—adding to the fun. Readers will have to slow down to find these little critters, but the search will allow them time to appreciate the charms of each detailed illustration.

Worth the wait Bunnies on Ice (Roaring Brook, $16.99, 32 pages, ISBN 9781596434042) is Johanna Wright’s tribute to ice skaters of all levels. Reminding us that, as in many life events, “you have to wait for the conditions to be just right,” Wright takes us through spring planting, summer swimming and harvest. This trip through the seasons allows the reader and lap-listener to slow down and enjoy the journey. Wright’s gentle acrylic-and-ink illustrations, in her signature naïve style, are filled with details that amuse both the eye and the heart. The members of the bunny family enjoy one another as they celebrate life together—gardening, swimming, raking, cooking, building a scarecrow, making music and, at last, skating. I always want to join

the families that Wright constructs, especially if it means I could bundle up and skate on a frozen lake.

Brrrrr The town of Toby Mills is cold. Very cold. After a few days of subfreezing weather, the local paper declares what the townspeople already know: It’s a cold snap! Veterans Eileen Spinelli and Marjorie Priceman team up in Cold Snap (Knopf, $17.99, 40 pages, ISBN 9780375857003), a brisk tale of one town as it handles a long period of cold weather. A statue of the town founder is at the center of the story. Actually, his nose is at the center of the story. The icicle that slowly grows from it is an unusual calendar of cold, but a humorous one that serves as a wonderful anchor for the story. Illustrations, in vivid, mostly primary-colored gouache, highlight a week of bone-chilling cold, but also show how warm a community can be. Millie and Chip throw snowballs, kids race down T-Bone Hill on their toboggans and skis, townspeople warm themselves in the diner, knitters create warm hats, and ice skaters race around the pond. As the week unfolds, the townspeople get colder and colder, shivering in their church pews, getting stuck inside frozen train doors, and suffering with broken furnaces. Priceman’s breezy style, all movement and energy, is a perfect fit with Spinelli’s staccato, happening text. Readers will want to stay in Toby Mills longer than the week—maybe long enough to enjoy some sugar-on-snow.

PUG & DOUG Steve Breen is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist and author of the syndicated comic strip Grand Avenue. He also writes and illustrates books for children, including his latest, the hilarious story of best friends PUG & DOUG (Dial, $16.99, 32 pages, ISBN 9780803735217). Breen and his family live in San Diego County, California.



By the editors of Merriam-Webster

BEHIND THE CURTAIN Dear Editor, I’ve heard actors talking about waiting in the greenroom before appearing onstage. What exactly is a greenroom, and how did this term get its name? Is it actually green? D. R. Indianapolis, Indiana The term greenroom refers to a room in a theater or concert hall where actors or musicians relax before going onstage, and where they meet friends during intermissions or after performances. The word first appeared in print as a theater term back in 1701. Many believe that greenroom derives from the green-colored decor of the room which was set apart by English actor David Garrick behind the scenes of Drury Lane Theatre, but that cannot be so, as Garrick was not born until 1717. Others maintain that London’s Covent Garden Theatre contained the first greenroom, but Covent Garden had no theater before 1732. In any case, green was apparently chosen to relax the actors’ eyes after

the glare of the lights. Nowadays, we may hear the term in connection with network television and motion picture studios as well as theaters.

A ROYAL RIBBING Dear Editor, Several people in my office have taken to calling our new boss her nibs. What exactly does this expression mean, and where does it come from? Judging from how people are using it, I get the distinct impression that it’s not a compliment. F. M. Enfield, Connecticut The expression her nibs (or his nibs, your nibs, etc.) is usually used satirically to convey mock respect for a person in authority. The phrase, which plays upon formal titles of nobility and royalty like His Lordship and Her Highness, derives from the use of the noun nibs to mean an important or self-important person. The origin of nibs itself is extremely obscure. We believe that it is an altered form of the earlier nabs, which is used in much the

same way; however, nabs cannot be easily accounted for either. Although his nibs in its modern jocular sense appeared in print as early as 1821, the phrase her nibs was not recorded until around 1906, a fact which may reflect the changing status of women after the turn of the century. Today, we rarely encounter this expression, but it does pop up occasionally in casual use.

KNOCK-KNOCK Dear Editor, Can you explain the origins of the phrase knock on wood? Why do people say this? What is knocking on wood supposed to accomplish? N. C. New Orleans, Louisiana People say knock on wood (or sometimes touch wood), and often actually knock on something wooden, usually after they have just said that some particular bad thing has never happened to them. (“I’ve never been in a car accident. Knock on wood.”) Saying the phrase, not always quite seriously, is sup-

posed to ensure that fate will not be tempted to make us eat our words. No one knows the origin of this very old superstition, but there are a number of theories. One theory holds that the phrase comes from an old game similar to tag, in which a player must touch wood in order to be safe from capture. Another theory suggests that this game and knocking on wood both developed out of ancient tree worship by people who believed that trees harbored protective spirits. A third theory is that the noise caused by knocking on wood was originally thought to drive away evil spirits, while yet another theory associates the phrase with the wooden cross of Jesus. Most people who use the phrase, of course, have none of these theories in mind and are probably not particularly superstitious. Using the phrase is simply a matter of habit.

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BookPage January 2013  

author interviews, book reviews

BookPage January 2013  

author interviews, book reviews

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