AMERICA’S BOOK REVIEW
JOHN GRISHAM on his timely new legal thriller SCOTT KELLY’S CANDID LOOK AT AN ASTRONAUT’S LIFE JANET FITCH PENS A PASSIONATE TALE FROM RUSSIA’S PAST
OUR FAVORITE GIFTS FOR • Music Lovers • Nature Buffs • Humor Fans
140+ Great Holiday Gift Ideas Inside
Tell ever y child, everywhere . . .
YOU ARE LOVED u are
Bestselling author Nancy Tillman’s books are a must-have addition to every family’s library. NancyTillmanBooks.com •
Feiwel and Friends • An imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
columns 18 18 19 20 22 23 24 26
Lifestyles Cooking The Hold List Audio Whodunit Book Clubs Romance Well Read
Cover photo (c) Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times/Redux
book reviews 35 FICTION
t o p p i c k : Future Home of the
House of Shadows by Nicola Cornick Smile by Roddy Doyle Wonder Valley by Ivy Pochoda The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty The Floating World by C. Morgan Babst Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra Heather, the Totality by Matthew Weiner Hiddensee by Gregory Maguire Radio Free Vermont by Bill McKibben
Scott Kelly Avi
Quirky Music Nature
meet the author 26
by Jason Reynolds
Renegades by Marissa Meyer The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater Fragments of the Lost by Megan Miranda
t o p p i c k : The Secret of Nightin-
gale Wood by Lucy Strange Winter Dance by Marion Dane Bauer and Richard Jones Before She Was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome and James E. Ransome Silent Days, Silent Dreams by Allen Say Mr. Gedrick and Me by Patrick Carman The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid by Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis
t o p p i c k : Leonardo da Vinci
by Walter Isaacson
Spineless by Juli Berwald The River of Consciousness by Oliver Sacks Queen Victoria’s Matchmaking by Deborah Cadbury 100 Amazing Facts About the Negro by Henry Louis Gates Jr. The Inner Life of Animals by Peter Wohlleben An American Family by Khizr Khan Jewish Comedy by Jeremy Dauber
holiday gift guide 4-17 Ideas for every
A M E R I C A’ S B O O K R E V I E W ASSISTANT EDITOR
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A tangle of romance, deceit and destiny…
t o p p i c k : Long Way Down
Living God by Louise Erdrich
gift books 31 32 34
John Grisham spins a timely tale of renegade lawyers out for revenge in The Rooster Bar.
features 28 30 44
on the cover
EDITORIAL POLICY BookPage is a selection guide for new books. Our editors evaluate and select for review the best books published in a variety of categories. BookPage is editorially independent; only books we highly recommend are featured.
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New & NOTEWORTHY Mustaches for Maddie
Caleb and Kit
“Maddie is a wonderfully thoughtful, creative and funny protagonist … this poignant and uplifting novel is a good read-alike for fans of R.J. Palacio’s Wonder.” —School Library Journal
In this powerful story of self-discovery, a magical friendship blossoms between a boy coping with a disability and the vibrant, free-spirited girl who shakes up his life.
Just for KIDS Weird But True! Christmas
Running Press Kids
Light up their holidays with this smart and silly stocking stuffer! It’s chock-full of smart and silly Weird But True facts about Christmas and the winter season.
National Geographic Kids $8.99
Shaken: Young Reader's Edition
My Journey to the Stars Astronaut Scott Kelly was an ordinary boy who grew up to do extraordinary things. This holiday season, discover Kelly’s aweinspiring journey in this fascinating picture book memoir.
Football champion and bestselling author Tim Tebow provides a firsthand look into both his struggles and triumphs and inspires young people to use their unique gifts to change their world.
Crown Books for Young Readers
Little,Brown Books for Young Readers $18.99
Runny Babbit Returns
The Dreadful Tale of Prosper Redding
This is a heartstopping adventure that defies time and space—New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu calls it “an incredibly intricate, brilliantly paced, masterfully written journey.”
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Alexandra Bracken comes a tale of betrayal and revenge, of old hurts passed down from generation to generation. Can you ever fully right a wrong, ever truly escape your history?
Timeless Runny Babbit, star of Shel Silverstein’s bestselling book, is back! Runny Babbit Returns, a neverbefore-published collection, features Runny and other woodland characters who speak a topsyturvy language all their own.
Usborne Christmas Activities
Dress the dolls in beautiful outfits, and test your brainpower with entertaining puzzles in these festive activity books from Usborne. Fun activities will keep young hands and minds happily occupied this holiday season!
© & TM 2017 LUCASFILM LTD. Used Under Authorization.
Let's Find Pokemon! Special Complete Edition
The Most Dangerous Book: An Illustrated Introduction to Archery
Where is Pikachu? Find Pokémon in colorful pictures of Pallet Town, Celadon City and other scenic spots from the game! Three Let’s Find titles are collected in one book!
VIZ Media $16.99
This rich and lively illustrated history of archery turns into an actual bow that shoots paper arrows.
Remarkable Gifts Know your Wookiees from your Wampas, celebrate the world’s most cherished written works and teach kids everything they need to know from A-Z.
365 Classic Bedtime Bible Stories
The Boxcar Children: Fully Illustrated Edition
Kids age 3 and older will delight in this fully illustrated storybook that brings an entire year’s worth of read-aloud classic Bible stories to life for impressionable young hearts.
Commemorating the 75th anniversary of Gertrude Chandler Warner’s timeless novel, this beautiful, fully illustrated edition of The Boxcar Children will become a treasured gift for both first-time readers and longtime fans.
Albert Whitman & Company $34.99
NEW FROM your F Discover the magic of believing and friendship with the long-awaited sequel to the New York Times bestseller Uni the Unicorn from beloved author Amy Krouse Rosenthal.
Uni the Unicorn and the Dream Come True
Good Day, Good Night
From beloved author Margaret Wise Brown comes a never-before-published story, featuring her signature word pattern from the classic Goodnight Moon, brought to life by bestselling illustrator Loren Long.
Sandra Boynton illustrated songbook features 11 musical tracks, in a dizzying array of dance styles, performed by artists such as Kristen Bell and Samuel L. Jackson.
Random House Books for Young Readers
New from Erin Hunterâ€™s bestselling Warriors series
Gifts for smart and curious kids
Hey, Baby! Cuddle up with this sweet book, filled with pictures and poems, sayings and stories about adorable baby animals from all over the world. Itâ€™s cute overload for kids, moms and animal lovers of all ages.
National Geographic Kids
This collection of Animal Planet Adventures chapter books presents fun animal mysteries with information-packed nonfiction extras to bring the best of the animal world to young readers.
Liberty Street $5.95-$14.99
Dedicated fans can enjoy tons of adventure with audiobooks for Warriors #1-6, a new entry in A Vision of Shadows arc and a new Super Edition.
FAVORITE AUTHORS Serafina and the Splintered Heart
Coco: Miguel and the Grand Harmony
In the epic third installment of Robert Beatty’s #1 bestselling series, Serafina battles fiercely to defend all she loves and become everything that she is meant to be.
This picture book, based on the Pixar studios film Coco, pairs prose from Newbery-winning author Matt de la Peña with illustrations from artist Ana Ramírez.
The Book of Dust Bestselling author Philip Pullman returns with this first installment in his new series set in the world of the His Dark Materials trilogy.
Knopf Books for Young Readers $22.99
Give what counts from American Girl ® This holiday season, give a gift that’ll last a lifetime and be treasured forever with books that encourage exploration, growth and most of all—fun!
Rocco's Healthy & Delicious From #1 New York Times bestselling author Chef Rocco DiSpirito comes a beautiful cookbook featuring 250 craveable, mostly plant-based recipes for everyday life.
Jamie Oliver's Christmas Cookbook
What Can I Bring? Based on the popular feature in Southern Living magazine, Elizabeth Heiskell’s What Can I Bring? guides readers to greet any occasion life serves us with the perfect covered dish, sweet treat or gift from the kitchen.
Beloved chef and internationally bestselling author Jamie Oliver has collected 150 classic recipes in this allsinging, all-dancing holiday cookbook that guarantees you the best Christmas ever!
Homegrown Matt Jennings honors the iconic foods of his heritage and celebrates the fresh ingredients that have come to define his renowned, inventive approach to cooking.
Celebrate Every Season with Six Sisters' Stuff These bestselling cookbook authors have created the ultimate goto guide for celebrating every holiday in every month, plus ideas for creating new and memorable special occasions. Includes kidfriendly recipes.
Good Housekeeping Kids Cook! Good Housekeeping has created the perfect cookbook for kids of all ages, who are eager to step into the kitchen. It features more than 100 fail-safe recipes accompanied by tempting photographs and basic how-tos.
David Tanis Market Cooking
How to Instant Pot Take advantage of the Instant Pot’s many virtues with this guide that includes over 100 creative recipes.
Workman $16.95 9781618372406
Discover the joy of seeking out the best ingredients, learning the qualities of each, and using the methods and recipes that showcase what makes each ingredient special—from all the world’s great cuisines.
Life is Like a Musical
Veranda Inspired by Color
Tim Federle’s clever, inspirational self-help book, full of life lessons learned from his past career on Broadway, inspires readers to discover their own unique tune and become a “singular sensation.”
From subtle tints to saturated hues, this stunning volume from Veranda showcases sensational uses of color in some of the world’s grandest homes. Spectacular photographs showcase expert designer secrets to creating warm, inviting rooms.
Really Important Stuff My Cat Has Taught Me
Star Wars Stormtroopers
This full-color gift book is full of wise and unforgettable life lessons, each paired with the perfect photo of our feline friends. This book will delight every cat lover!
Just in time for the next blockbuster, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, this unique and beautifully designed compendium with removable features traces one of the franchise’s most iconic characters— the stormtrooper.
SOMETHING for EVERYONE on your LIST
© and TM 2017 LUCASFILM LTD.
You Are a Badass (Deluxe Edition)
A Book That Takes Its Time
With a new author introduction and twocolor interior design, this deluxe hardcover edition of the blunt, hilarious self-help classic will help you take the reins and create positive changes in your life.
This book literally inspires reflection and mindfulness. It’s like a meditation retreat between two covers!
Workman $27.50 9780761193777
Ivy and the Inky Butterfly
S Is for Southern From the editors of Garden & Gun, the award-winning magazine known as “The Soul of the South,” comes an illuminating and entertaining compendium of Southern history and contemporary culture. Harper Wave $45
The gifts they’ll open over and over!
From coloring book queen Johanna Basford comes this gorgeous hand-illustrated, storybook for readers to color and cherish. It’s both an enchanting tale and a one-of-akind keepsake. 9780062445148
From the New York Times bestselling series come three new titles that will inspire, entertain and enlighten. The perfect gifts for the holiday season! 9780143130925
Chicken Soup for the Soul $14.95 each
The Grumpy Gardener
Atlas Obscura Explorer's Journal
BOOKS to EXPLORE
The same team that wrote the #1 bestseller Atlas Obscura brings us a traveler’s journal for every backpack, carryon and messenger bag—or for keeping notes for the next journey.
In his first book, Southern Living Garden Editor Steve Bender delivers valuable gardening tips in his signature cantankerous style. It’s the perfect gift for seasoned Southern gardeners, dirt-digging wannabes and plant assassins alike.
Explore the world in thrilling ways with Lonely Planet Aerial Geology
Whether you want to hit the road or explore from your armchair, Lonely Planet offers you amazing adventures. Featuring beautiful photography, detailed itineraries and expert advice, these gift ideas are perfect for all travelers.
Lonely Planet $35 $35
Go on a fantastic tour of North America’s 100 most spectacular geological formations with this book, which shares aerial and satellite photography, explanations on how each site was formed, and details on what makes each landform noteworthy.
Timber Press $29.95
Extreme challenges to complete and color! 9781604697124
An illustrated exploration of the universe— Perfect for all ages!
The Living Forest The Living Forest is an ideal blend of art and scholarship that immerses you deep into the woods. Celebrate the small and the large, the living and the dead, the seen and the unseen.
Timber Press $40
Grab your colored pencils, fill in the numbered shapes and free incredible images concealed on each page! Hidden gems include iconic landmarks, stunning creatures, amazing animals and more.
The breathtakingly illustrated third book in Theodore Gray’s Elements series is Reactions. He focuses reader attention on how elements form molecules that, when combined, build the reactions that foment life.
Barron’s Educational Series
Black Dog & Leventhal
The Radium Girls
This New York Times bestseller is the incredible true story of the young women exposed to the “wonder” substance of radium and their brave struggle for justice.
What Unites Us
In a collection of wholly original essays, venerated television journalist Dan Rather celebrates our shared values and what matters most in our great country, showing us what patriotism looks like.
From the astronaut who spent a recordbreaking year in space comes a candid account of his remarkable voyage, his prior journeys off the planet and his colorful formative years.
The Revolutionary War as never told before
The Kinfolk Entrepreneur
The Man Who Invented Christmas
Pairing insightful interviews with striking images of the lives and companies of 40 creative business owners around the globe, this book makes business personal.
The story of how Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol rescued his career and revived our holiday spirits. Now a major motion picture.
My Southern Journey
From Rick Bragg, the celebrated bestselling author and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, comes a poignant and wryly funny collection of essays on life in the South.
Enjoy these funny and poignant personal stories and reflections from former first daughters Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush.
The breathtaking latest installment in Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard’s megabestselling Killing series transports readers to the most important era in our nation’s history, the Revolutionary War. Told through the eyes of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Great Britain’s King George III, Killing England chronicles the path to independence in gripping detail, taking the reader from the battlefields of America to the royal courts of Europe. A must read, Killing England reminds one and all how the course of history can be changed through the courage and determination of those intent on doing the impossible.
HO HO HO
The Rooster Bar
The Little French Bistro
Three friends go from debt-ridden law students to fugitives from the law at breakneck speed in John Grisham’s most clever, compelling thriller yet.
Nina George brings us another extraordinary novel about selfdiscovery and new beginnings. “A love story that reminds you what it is to be young again.” —San Francisco Book Review
The Last Ballad
The Little Paris Bookshop
The author of bestseller A Land More Kind Than Home returns with a new novel, set in 1929 North Carolina and inspired by actual events. A moving tale of courage in the face of oppression, The Last Ballad has the emotional power of Ron Rash’s Serena and Dennis Lehane’s The Given Day.
Monsieur Perdu can prescribe the perfect book for a broken heart. But can he fix his own? This heartwarming international bestseller is not to be missed.
Enjoy the holidays with audiobooks! $22.50
The Monster Hunter Files
Sci-fi lovers will devour these new stories set in the Monster Hunter universe from the genre’s top authors: Larry Correia, Jim Butcher, John Ringo, Jody Lynn Nye and many more!
Baen $25 9781481482752
Edenbrooke and Heir to Edenbrooke Collector's Edition $27.50
Audiobooks are the best way to keep up with your reading. Listen while prepping for festivities around the house or while traveling with the whole family!
This gift edition pairs the bestselling book with the never-beforepublished prequel novella, told from the point of view of the dashing suitor.
Shadow Mountain $19.99 9781629723310
FICTION Favorites Oathbringer
The Princess Bride
The long‑awaited third novel in the Stormlight Archive series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Brandon Sanderson is here!
For the 30th anniversary of the film, this beloved tale of romance and adventure is given a stunning full‑color illustrated treatment.
Celebrated poet Yrsa Daley‑Ward presents herself as the subject in a poignant collection of poems about the heart, life and inner self.
Children of the Fleet
The Indigo Girl
The Dark Lake
Return to the Ender universe! Read about the Fleet in space, a parallel story to the one on Earth told in the Ender’s Shadow series.
In colonial South Carolina, a 16‑old girl defies expectations to achieve her dreams and make history. This beautiful work of historical fiction is based on the true story of Eliza Lucas Pinckney.
In a suspense thriller to rival the work of Paula Hawkins and Tana French, a detective with secrets of her own hunts the killer of a woman who was the glamorous star of her high school.
The Worm and the Bird
The Orphan Keeper
In a violent world in which civilization has fallen and monsters roam, a young hero will rise. You’ll love this new standalone fantasy novel by science fiction master David Drake.
From award‑winning author‑illustrator Coralie Bickford‑Smith comes a beautifully illustrated tale about a worm, a bird and the importance of being present and appreciating what you have, wherever you are.
Based on a true story, this novel “taps into questions of coincidence and belief that have kept me in a state of wonder since I reluctantly closed its covers. Amazing.” —Huffington Post
Shadow Mountain $15.99
A furry Merry Christmas for dog lovers!
FA-LA-LA-LA FICTION $19.95
Christmas Jars Collector's Edition This collector’s edition couples the original bestselling book with 20 true stories of people who have experienced the Christmas Jars phenomenon by giving or receiving an anonymous holiday donation of a coinfilled jar.
Santa Paws is coming to town! Brighten up the dog days of your holiday season with these cuddly Christmas novels or an inspiring story of a triumphant furry friend. 9781629723297
Shadow Mountain $17.99
Have yourself a cowboy Christmas Give the gift of a cowboy’s caress this holiday season with irresistible Christmas novels from the biggest names in Westerns and Western romance. They’ll knock your jingle boots off! $8.99
Kensington $7.99 each
Uplifting tales to rekindle your holiday spirit Everyone on your list will love these heartwarming Christmas stories about the power of family and the strength and love of our pets.
Give Fern for the holidays Don’t miss this special holiday hardcover novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Fern Michaels, or her annual Yuletide anthologies. They’re must-have gifts to give and receive.
Inspirational READS ’Tis the season… for a great new read!
Join Adam Hamilton as he examines Christmas through the eyes of Joseph
Sensing the Rhythm
The America’s Got Talent star shares her amazing journey, from losing her hearing to finding the faith to pursue her dreams.
From his beginnings as a humble carpenter to his all-important role as the earthly father of Jesus Christ, Joseph’s place in the nativity story is sometimes overlooked but contains valuable lessons for all of us. Join Adam Hamilton as he examines Christmas through the eyes of Joseph. As you read this book, you will understand how Joseph’s story is much like our own. In life, we encounter circumstances we would never have chosen for ourselves. Joseph provides us with a great example of humbly obeying God even when we don’t understand, and faithfully moving forward in the strength that God provides. Exchange your doubt for courage this Advent and Christmas season.
The House on Foster Hill
Stuff your stockings with these heartwarming stories of second chances, hope and love.
Perfect for the suspense lover on your list, this gripping dual-narrative novel will keep you guessing as both the historical and contemporary heroines face danger, solve mysteries and find love.
Bethany House $14.99 9780764230288
Christmas hope and cheer
These brand new releases from Zondervan by authors Eric L. Motley, Candace Payne (AKA “Chewbacca Mom”) and New York Times bestselling author Melanie Shankle are inspiring, captivating and sure to brighten your holiday season.
Zondervan $24.99 $22.99
Give hope this Christmas
Books last a lifetime—they help pass the time during long commutes, travel in bags to summer vacations and rest on bedside tables for years. This Christmas, give a gift that lasts.
Add these inspiring and bestselling books, Bibles and storybook Bibles to your Christmas list today!
The Infographic Guide to the Bible
The Message Canvas Bible
Brush up on the Bible with this full-color guide to the Old Testament. Featuring infographics of key events such as the story of creation, the exodus from Egypt and more, The Infographic Guide to the Bible will entertain and educate!
Center your heart and mind on the story of God told in The Message’s vivid, contemporary language, as you color 300 handdrawn illustrations and Bible verses.
Be Inspired The CEB Wide-Margin Bibles for Journaling & Note-Taking have large, two-inch exterior margins and thicker-thanaverage paper. Two gorgeous covers and a ribbon complete the package—making them beautiful gifts!
Common English Bible $39.99 each
Explore the words and world of the Bible This Christmas, help kids better understand God’s Word with this fully illustrated Bible, dictionary and atlas. Each is designed to make Scripture come alive for kids age 8 to 12.
Harvest House $24.99
Creative Bibles make great Christmas gifts These unique single-column Bibles offer high quality paper and plenty of room for notes and journaling, perfect for the artistic or thoughtful person on your list.
B Y S U S A N N A H F E LT S
BY SYBIL PRATT
Embrace a mobile life
Go-to gourmet gifts
Maybe you’ve heard of the #vanlife trend? Along those lines, Living the Airstream Life (Harper Design, $35, 160 pages, ISBN 9780062440822) takes a fairly zany idea and makes it seem feasible—or, at the very least, a thing of beauty and pleasure. Karen Flett’s book is as much a history of the Airstream company and its cultur-
When Alex Guarnaschelli finds something irresistible, she adds it to her personal collection of go-to recipes. That collection has been her constant companion, and with her new cookbook, The Home Cook (Potter, $35, 368 pages, ISBN 9780307956583), we now get to fold Guarnaschelli’s treasures into our own repertoire. Over 300 recipes are included and range from starters to sweets, condiments to cocktails. Guarnaschelli, the executive chef at upscale New York restaurant Butter, knows her stuff and knows how to give home cooks clear and explicit instructions for everything from her easy, use-on-everything Sherry Vinaigrette to a swanky Roasted Striped Bass with Barley, Pecan and Scallion Stuffing.
al artifacts as it is an inspirational guide for modern adventurers. Flett introduces us to Wally Byam, the founder of Airstream, and provides a history of the company, detailing its designs and innovations over the decades, such as the Safari—a smaller, cheaper model introduced in the 1990s. Next, she profiles designers who specialize in custom Airstream interiors, with photos that give readers a glimpse of these rare beauties, then gets down to the nitty-gritty of how to achieve this singular lifestyle. I was happy to find resources in the final chapter (“Not Quite Ready to Commit?”) for folks who want to vacation in an Airstream trailer park.
IN STITCHES My very crafty mama recently embroidered a beautiful butterfly on the back of her jean jacket—it’s just the kind of thing she does. Little did she know she was totally on-trend: Hand embroidery is hot, and Embroider Your Life (DK, $16.95, 128 pages, ISBN 9781465464859) can help make clever stitchers out of anyone. You can “draw with thread” on almost any fabric with almost any fiber, as author Nathalie Mornu explains, using several basic stitches for different purposes. (Denim, as it happens, is an ideal canvas. Mother knows best!) Bountiful and clever ideas for things to stitch include Day of the Dead iconography,
woodland creatures, gem motifs and lots of border designs from ultra-simple to ornate. Mornu suggests ways to make these designs shine: metallic flosses, sequins and rich colors. Try a fox design and create a small plush toy, a chain-stitched flower motif on a skirt or lampshade, or a geometric pattern on a journal. This book will leave readers excited to take needle and thread to all sorts of blank surfaces.
TOP PICK IN LIFESTYLES I’m going to be honest: I have not applied the Marie Kondo method to my home. But the organizing urge sometimes hits me hard, and as my family embarks on a long-awaited addition to our bungalow, I’m salivating for some fresh ideas. Perfect timing: Remodelista (Artisan, $30, 224 pages, ISBN 9781579656935) now occupies a place of prominence in my world. Julie Carlson, Margot Guralnick and editors from Remodelista.com help readers achieve the clarity that comes “when we pare down, put away, and purchase thoughtfully.” Room by room, Carlson and her team tackle problems that nag us all— snarls of power cords, cluttered entryways, precarious piles of pot lids—with advice that stems from several core tactics introduced on early pages: Use trays, hang things, embrace shelving and hand-lettered labels, etc. I love how realistic much of the advice is (“If the Sofa Is Your Workspace”) and how mindful of aesthetics, too. Minimalist elegance is ever an objective. Best of all may be the editors’ picks for the most hardworking, well-crafted and eye-pleasing organization and storage objects and where to find them.
BOLD PLEASURES Since State Bird Provisions opened in San Francisco, its talented chef-proprietors Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski have won all kinds of awards, including a Michelin star. With the publication of State Bird Provisions (Ten Speed, $40, 368 pages, ISBN 9781607748441), their debut cookbook, at-home innovators can re-create as much of this bold, California-contemporary cuisine as they want—and I think most will want it all. Brioza’s signature dish—fried, marinated quail, the state bird of California, served over a mound of fragrant stewed onions—is a great place to start. Then try one of Krasinski’s famed “ice cream” sandwiches—sheets of flat macarons filled with frozen sabayon. Complicated? Yes. Worthwhile? Definitely!
ÉCLAIRS AND BEYOND Just the words “French pastry” conjure up a world of sweet
elegance, a world most often viewed through the windows of a fancy bakery. Determined to make these delicacies doable in any kitchen, Eric Kayser—a fourth-generation French baker, esteemed pastry chef and founder of Maison Kayser bakeries—shares more than 70 of his famous recipes, all expertly detailed with step-bystep instructions, in Maison Kayser’s French Pastry Workshop (Black Dog & Leventhal, $29.99, 256 pages, ISBN 9780316439275). Kayser is our inspiring guide to making madeleines, mille-feuille, the spiced cake pain d’épices or a show-stopping Paris-Brest.
TOP PICK IN COOKING Deb Perelman has done it again! Smitten Kitchen Every Day (Knopf, $35, 352 pages, ISBN 9781101874813) is Perelman’s second cookbook, and it’s a “celebration of breakfast, dinner, cake, and everything in between” with more than 100 approachable recipes guaranteed to banish drudgery from your kitchen. Perelman is a self-taught cook and has never trained as a chef or worked in a restaurant, so she’s the perfect guide for home cooks. She truly loves what she makes in her tiny kitchen, and it’s a treat to cook along with her. Whether you start with a breakfast of date-sweetened Sticky Toffee Waffles, amp up a Wild Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie with porcinis, make Korean-fusion Sizzling Beef Bulgogi Tacos or bake Caramelized Plum Tartlets, Perelman’s recipes are always a delight. Hopefully there’s more to come!
Each month, BookPage editors share special reading lists—our personal favorites, old and new.
Dry turkey, good books Honestly, we hope your Thanksgiving is wonderful. We hope that you’re humbled by the love around you and the food before you. But sometimes that’s not how it goes. For those who need an escape from family squabbles or weird, separated gravy, check out these novels you don’t want to miss—about holiday dinners you’d definitely want to skip. Here’s hoping your Thanksgiving is more functional.
MAY WE BE FORGIVEN by A.M. Homes If this darkly hilarious, often absurdist novel were a Thanksgiving dish, it’d be a turducken—it’s bizarre, but it sure smells good. Two Thanksgivings bookend this tale: The second one is harmonious and happy, but getting there involves a deadly car accident, an affair between a professor and his brother’s wife, murder, internet sexcapades and a lost short-story collection by Richard Nixon. It’s shocking, deadpan and never falters.
THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST by Anne Tyler Tyler’s witty warmth just might be the perfect counterpart to the Thanksgiving holiday. Life-affirming without being cloying, this Pulitzer finalist is one of the author’s most beloved novels. Come for Tyler’s take on the time-honored “ruining a turkey” trope, stay for a charming story of love and second chances that will make you smile no matter what happens at the dinner table.
Top book club picks!
THE HOLD LIST
LITTLE SECRETS Anna Snoekstra
To keep little secrets, they tell big lies. When mysterious porcelain dolls start appearing on doorsteps in Colmstock, Australia, paranoia brings out the town’s dark side. No one is safe from suspicion in this thrilling page-turner.
STRANGERS AT THE FEAST by Jennifer Vanderbes Talk about issues: Squabbles, misunderstandings and hurt feelings span three generations of the Olson family, whose Thanksgiving in 2007 builds to an out-and-out showdown after an oven mishap requires a change in location. Tragicomic moments help balance this serious, dread-laden tale of middle-class characters in crisis. Prepare to unpack some baggage.
For fans of strong female protagonists. HANNA WHO FELL FROM THE SKY Christopher Meades
THE GHOST AT THE TABLE by Suzanne Berne Who among us hasn’t fantasized about going on a full-blown rant at the Thanksgiving table? In this astutely characterized family drama, Cynthia Fiske does her very best to avoid doing just that while spending the holiday with her estranged sister and father. Berne’s tense novel takes place over just one weekend—but has a lifetime’s worth of family drama and dirty secrets.
THE LAY OF THE LAND by Richard Ford We’re always happy to find a reason to recommend a Frank Bascombe novel. During the week before Thanksgiving in 2000, Bascombe laments the presidential election, ruminates on his career and bears tremendous emotional burdens, including the loss of a friend to cancer and relationship drama with his wife and children. Readers will delight in Ford’s humor and pathos, and will cherish this return to a beloved character.
For fans of modern-day love stories and family secrets. PERFECTLY UNDONE Jamie Raintree
Do we have a story for you!
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Bountiful Audiobooks Macmillan Audio
The crucial sequel to the New York Times bestselling The Secret History of Twin Peaks
read by the author
“Equally adept with dialogue, rumination, and long narrative passages, [Michael Kramer & Kate Reading] make the hours fly by.” —AudioFile on Words of Radiance, winner of an Earphones Award
read by Kate Reading & Michael Kramer
New York Times bestselling author Heather Graham and celebrated actor Chad Michael Murray weave a tale of passion and danger. read by Chad Michael Murray
A charming, comic, and ultimately poignant story about the creation of the most famous Christmas tale ever written read by EUAN MORTON
BY SUKEY HOWARD
The lessons of Vietnam Geoffrey C. Ward wrote the script for “The Vietnam War,” Ken Burns’ extraordinary documentary that aired on PBS this fall. As he’s done so successfully with previous Burns documentaries, Ward also co-wrote its companion volume, The Vietnam War: An Intimate History (Random House Audio, 10 hours), read here by Burns himself. The aim is to make some sense of
read by Annie Wersching
Astute, open-hearted, often riotously funny, Tina Brown’s The Vanity Fair Diaries is a compulsively fascinating and intimate chronicle of a woman’s life in a glittering era.
this turbulent chapter of our past, overseen by five presidents, and to hear from all sides—Americans who supported the war, Americans who vehemently opposed it, North Vietnamese and South Vietnamese fighters and witnesses. We’ve been admonished by many that “those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” Perhaps having this clear explication of what happened will help us understand what led to the deaths of 58,000 Americans and more than 3 million Vietnamese, North and South, and to the most divisive period in our history since the Civil War, with scars still visible today. May we not be “doomed” to repetition.
KEEPING SECRETS “I need you,” is all the text says. But Isa doesn’t need further explanation. She knows Kate sent the message, knows what she has to do and knows that Fatima and Thea will react in exactly the same way. They’d gotten the same text 17 years earlier, when all four of them were students at Salten House, a girls boarding school. An inseparable clique, spending every weekend in the ramshackle mill where Kate lived with her “step-brother” and her loving, easygoing artist father, the foursome had been drawn into a dark lie by that call for help—one that changed their lives and sent them scattering. Isa, now a lawyer with a 6-month-old
baby girl, narrates The Lying Game (Simon & Schuster Audio, 13.5 hours), Ruth Ware’s third bestselling thriller, as it moves seamlessly in time from now to then, slowly letting the pieces fall into place, past and present converging in a terrifying denouement. Imogen Church’s fine performance gives each character in this riveting tale an authentic, nuanced voice.
TOP PICK IN AUDIO Glass Houses (Macmillan Audio, 13.5 hours) is Louise Penny’s 13th Inspector Gamache novel, and she—and he—are at their best. In the stifling summer heat of a Montréal courtroom, Gamache, now superintendent of the Sûreté du Quebec, is being grilled by the chief crown prosecutor. The two should be on the same side, but something is off. That something is revealed in flashbacks to the previous fall, when a murder is presaged by the appearance of a masked man cloaked in black on the village green in Three Pines. The sinister figure turns out to be a cobrador, a relic of medieval Spain who silently follows a person who owes a debt, monetary or moral, until he pays up. Why a cobrador would be in Gamache’s serene, out-of-the-way village takes us through the twists and turns of Penny’s deftly interlaced plots, involving opioid-trafficking cartels, the survival of the Sûreté and what Gamache will do to destroy one and save the other. Robert Bathurst narrates perfectly, as always, and then engages Penny in a fascinating discussion of her creative process and her deeply held belief in conscience, good and evil. Their conversation offers an intriguing bonus to this intriguingly told story.
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER/WIN. Sweepstakes begins at 12:01:00. A.M. Eastern Time (“ET”) on October 20th, 2017 and ends at 11:59 P.M. ET on December 20th, 2017. Open to legal residents of any 1 of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia who are at least 18 years old. Void where prohibited by law. Subject to full Official Rules.
IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL CRIME OF THE YEAR!
WHODUNIT BY BRUCE TIERNEY
A case for Sherlock Holmes’ protégé Let’s start off with a riff on legendary detective Sherlock Holmes: H.B. Lyle’s handsomely crafted The Irregular (Quercus, $26.99, 288 pages, ISBN 9781681440279). Wiggins is as close to Holmes’ polar
by Grace Makutsi and a staff of helpers more exuberant than talented, sets out to solve her latest case: the mystery of the seemingly unwarranted dismissal of a young woman from her job at an office
at any given time, and Kubu finds himself being pulled this way and that. But what he does best is tug at loose strings to see what happens, and in doing so, he finds some unsettling (but highly interesting) possible connections between his cases. I’ve read all the books in this series, and Dying to Live is handsdown the best of the bunch to date.
TOP PICK IN MYSTERY
CHRISTMAS MYSTERIES FROM YOUR FAVORITE SOHO CRIME AUTHORS Stephanie Barron James R. Benn Cara Black Henry Chang Gary Corby Colin Cotterill Teresa Dovalpage Tod Goldberg Timothy Hallinan Mette Ivie Harrison Mick Herron Lene Kaaberbøl & Agnete Friis Martin Limón Ed Lin Peter Lovesey Sujata Massey Stuart Neville Helene Tursten
10.24.2017 S O H O C R I M E .C O M
opposite as humanly possible—illdressed, ill-coiffed, uncultured, truculent and a rough-and-tumble street brawler—but he’s a magna cum laude graduate of the vaunted Baker Street Irregulars, a group of street urchins who have helped the razor-sharp Holmes solve some of his most baffling mysteries over the years. When Wiggins is recruited by Holmes’ longtime friend Vernon Kell, head of counterintelligence in Victorian England, to look into the murder of one of his agents, Wiggins initially spurns the offer of employment. But when his policeman friend is killed during a botched robbery, Wiggins relents and accepts the assignment, figuring that it will give him license to investigate his friend’s death on the down-low. The villains here are world class, with German munitions giants, Russian anarchists and a couple of rather unexpected conspirators as well. Lyle achieves a nice blend of history and mystery, with cameo appearances by such fictional and real-life luminaries as the aforementioned Holmes and Winston Churchill, to name but a couple.
SISTER, SISTER Another canny detective pursues her craft in Alexander McCall Smith’s latest No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency novel, The House of Unexpected Sisters (Pantheon, $25.95, 240 pages, ISBN 9781101871379). Botswana-based Precious Ramotswe, assisted
furniture store. She was reported to have been rude to a customer, but the truth quickly begins to seem more convoluted. Meanwhile, another more personal sort of mystery appears on the Ramotswe doorstep, offering the distinct possibility that Precious has an older sister, product of her late father’s illicit affair. Precious and her family quickly begin to feel like comfy old friends, and even if the mysteries are not all that mysterious, they do have the feel of real life about them, and that is a major plus.
BACK TO BOTSWANA It is unusual to see a mystery set in Botswana, but I believe it’s unprecedented to find two mysteries set in Botswana published in the same month! Michael Stanley’s Dying to Live (Minotaur, $27.99, 336 pages, ISBN 9781250070906) paints an entirely more lethal picture of the country, however, with Detective David “Kubu” Bengu appearing for his sixth time in this well-received series. This time, Kubu (whose name means “hippopotamus” in Setswana, his native tongue) is investigating the death of a Bushman and the subsequent theft of the corpse. And speaking of the corpse, it yielded some puzzling anomalies to the medical investigator—internal organs whose apparent age belied that of the external parts of the body by several decades. As in other police departments around the world, several cases are being investigated
Ken Bruen is no stranger to the Top Pick spot in this Whodunit column. The Irish crime novelist is back with number 13 in his Jack Taylor series, The Ghosts of Galway (Mysterious Press, $25, 336 pages, ISBN 9780802127334). Bruen’s hard-boiled protagonist is ex-cop (by virtue of disgrace) Jack Taylor, and he’s seen more than his share of hard knocks—although it has to be said that he brought a lot of it on himself. A hardcore blackout drunk? Check. Profane in word and spirit? Check. But to his credit, Jack is trying to chill out and lead a more peaceful existence these days. He has taken a dull job as a security guard working the night shift, and he even has a dog now. But it is not long before he finds himself with an unusual (perhaps dangerous) but highly lucrative assignment from his new boss: the retrieval of a heretical tome known as The Red Book. It’s thought to be in the hands of a renegade priest who fled the Vatican and is currently hiding out in Galway. As usual in Bruen’s novels, black humor abounds in this story, as does irreligious (some might even say sacrilegious) commentary, violence, bitterness, relationship angst and self-loathing characters. For all that, though, Jack Taylor is easily one of the most compelling protagonists in modern crime fiction, and you would be doing yourself a major favor by starting at the beginning of Bruen’s series and working your way through all 13 installments.
BOOK CLUBS BY JULIE HALE
Making their mark Roxane Gay’s collection Difficult Women (Grove, $16, 272 pages, ISBN 9780802127372) is a perceptive group of short stories that probes the female experience and the quest for fulfillment that shapes nearly every woman’s life. Over the course of the collection, Gay explores a range of narrative forms and devices. As the title suggests, the women in the stories are—in different ways—difficult. In “Florida,” Gay tracks the lives of affluent, directionless wives, while in “La Negra Blanca,” she tells the
story of a young stripper of mixed race who crosses paths with a dangerous white man. With “Bad Priest,” she presents a poignant chronicle of a priest who has an affair. In the inventive story “The Sacrifice for Darkness,” Gay writes about the love that develops between two young people in a world where the sun has vanished. Gay slips between voices and modes with incredible ease in these bold portrayals of the contemporary experience. This is an intense and rewarding collection that amply demonstrates the range of her talent.
A FAMILY TORN APART The tale Beth Macy tells in her much-praised book Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother’s Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South (Back Bay, $17.99, 448 pages, ISBN 9780316337526) sounds like the stuff of fiction. Macy offers a fascinating account of black albino brothers George and Willie Muse, who were kidnapped as children in 1899 while working on a Virginia tobacco farm and forced to work as sideshow freaks. Because of their unusual features—light skin, red dread-
locks— they were displayed to audiences under a variety of exotic and outlandish names. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus made them famous as Eko and Iko, the Ecuadorian Savages. Meanwhile, the boys were led to believe that their mother, Harriett Muse, was dead. In reality, Harriett was looking for her sons. She spent years searching for them, and after almost three decades, they were reunited as a family. As Macy chronicles this dark chapter in Southern history, she proves herself to be a skilled storyteller, bringing the right amount of drama and sensitivity to this unforgettable narrative.
TOP PICK FOR BOOK CLUBS An all-too-apt exploration of the nature of news and celebrity, The Boat Rocker (Vintage, $16, 240 pages, ISBN 9780804170376), the latest novel from National Book Award winner Ha Jin, is set in the early 2000s and narrated by a reporter named Feng Danlin. Feng lives in New York, where he’s employed by a Chinese news organization that serves an international audience. Feng is an uncompromising journalist whose stories have brought him to the attention of Communist leaders. When he’s asked to write about his ex-wife, Yan Haili, an ambitious author in search of fame who allows herself to be used by the Chinese government, Feng faces an unexpected challenge. Yan goes against everything he believes in, but if Feng reveals the truth about her, he may jeopardize his livelihood—and his personal wellbeing. Jin brings intelligence, wit and insight to this deftly crafted narrative. It’s a timely novel that’s sure to get book groups talking.
Fresh New Reads for Fall
The It Girls
by Karen Harper “The It Girls is a glorious romp through the lives and loves of the scintillating Sutherland sisters. Readers who enjoy historical fiction are in for a treat!” —Hazel Gaynor, New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Came Home
by Annie England Noblin A deliciously sweet story about a recently divorced woman, the aging pug she’s tasked with babysitting, and the power of a well-baked dog treat.
Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan
“Losing myself in Jenny Colgan’s beautiful pages is the most delicious, comforting, satisfying treat I have had in ages.” —New York Times Bestselling author Jane Green
The Missing by C.L. Taylor
“The Missing has a delicious sense of foreboding from the first page, luring us into the heart of a family with terrible secrets and making us wait, with pounding hearts for the final, agonizing twist.” —Fiona Barton, author of The Widow
Book Club Girl
New York Times bestselling author
Gena Showalter is back with a sizzling
tale about an icy war vet and the only woman capable of melting him…
Pick up your copies today!
“Gena Showalter is a romantic genius.” —San Francisco Book Review
GenaShowalter.com • Harlequin.com
24 17_357_BookPage_CantLetGo.indd 1
ROMANCE B Y C H R I S T I E R I D G WAY
Passion and peril A killer mystery makes hearts pound faster in Touch of Red (Pocket, $7.99, 368 pages, ISBN 9781501162374) by Laura Griffin. Crime scene investigator Brooke Porter teams up with Detective Sean Byrne from the San Marcos, Texas, PD to solve the homicide of a young woman. Thanks to Brooke’s tenacity and attention to
detail, she realizes there might be a missing witness to the crime—a child—adding a layer of urgency to an already difficult case. Also complicating matters is the attraction between Brooke and Sean. He makes casual overtures and is initially rebuffed, but his caring nature begins to overcome her resistance. Before he and Brooke began working together, a life-threatening shooting made Sean a new man, one who understands patience and won’t take anything, or anyone, for granted. Brooke can’t help but admire that in him, and begins to trust him with her heart. Yet as they get closer to revealing the murderer’s identity, Brooke’s dogged pursuit of the bad guy threatens their happy future. Touch of Red is a fast-paced thrill!
lost his family to a drunk driver and can’t lighten up enough to enjoy himself—which only makes Ryanne more determined. Jude doesn’t feel alive, even around the beautiful, too-flirtatiousfor-her-owngood Ryanne. But he can’t ignore his sense of duty when he notices she needs to increase security measures at her bar. Since that’s his line of work, Jude doesn’t hesitate to take matters into his own hands. Will continued proximity to Ryanne be his undoing—or can a broken man be remade? Showalter’s latest is sexy and fun, spiced with a hint of danger.
TOP PICK IN ROMANCE
Mary Balogh pens a tender and touching historical romance in Someone to Wed (Berkley, $7.99, 400 pages, ISBN 9780399586064). Wealthy heiress Wren Hayden has two goals in life—marriage and children. But her past and her reclusive nature have kept her out of society. So she decides to treat the search for a husband like a business transaction, and proposes marriage to the cash-strapped new Earl of Riverdale, Alexander Westcott. Alex is both reluctant and intrigued. He needs a rich wife DRUNK ON LOVE if he’s going to improve the lands A virgin heroine melts an he’s just inherited, a task he feels icy ex-soldier in Can’t Let Go duty-bound to do. But is marrying (HQN, $7.99, 416 pages, ISBN this quiet, veiled stranger, who 9780373803675) by Gena Showalter. clearly struggles with unresolved Ryanne Wade owns and operates emotional damage, worth it? As he the Scratching Post bar in Blue learns more about Wren and she berry Hill, Oklahoma. She loves the comes to know him and his family, place and all her clientele, except it looks like friendship is the better for the disapproving and dour Jude avenue for them. But Alex can’t Laurent, who often prowls the floor deny how he’s beginning to care for exuding displeasure from every Wren—and how he wants her for pore. Of course Ryanne wants to his own. This is a beautiful story coax a smile from the handsome that is hard to put down and even former Army Ranger, but the man harder to forget. 9/15/17 9:28 AM
The perfect gift for the book lovers on your list!
An unlikely attraction brings comfort, joy and unforgettable romance this holiday season.
A couple confronts the lies that separated them—and the startling truth that will bind them forever…
It’s a Christmas affair to remember as a Hollywood mogul discovers his inner cowboy—and the woman of his dreams.
Pick up your copies today! Available in print & ebook.
The girl he vowed to stay away from has become the only woman he needs, and this Christmas could be just the beginning of a lifetime together…
Will this big-city girl find her own Christmas miracle?
meet JULIE CANTRELL
the title of your new book? Q: What’s
Q: Describe the book in one sentence.
are family conflicts often the hardest to heal? Q: Why
your favorite thing about returning home? Q: What’s
Q: Is there a flower or plant that inspires fond memories for you?
do you like most about Southern fiction? Q: What
Q: Words to live by?
PERENNIALS A bestselling novelist who won the Christy Award Book of the Year for her debut, Into the Free, Julie Cantrell has also served as editor-in-chief of the Southern Literary Review. In Cantrell’s fourth novel, Perennials (Thomas Nelson, $15.99, 368 pages, ISBN 9780718037642), two estranged sisters must reckon with the painful legacy of their past when they return home to Oxford, Mississippi, for their parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. The author lives in Oxford with her family.
WELL READ BY ROBERT WEIBEZAHL
Words of the world If you love literature (and if you are reading this column you probably do), then you are likely to find Martin Puchner’s The Written World: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, Civilization (Random House, $32, 448 pages, ISBN 9780812998931) enthralling. A Harvard literature professor who also teaches thousands of students around the globe through his popular online course, Puchner here takes on nothing less than a millenniaspanning examination of how key written works have shaped world culture. What could have been a dry survey is anything but— Puchner is a generous, natural teacher who brings these works and their origins to vivid life. “Literature isn’t just for book lovers,” Puchner begins. “Ever since it emerged four thousand years ago, it has shaped the lives of most humans on planet Earth.” Storytelling, of course, is even older, but Puchner explains that it was only when storytelling intersected with writing that literature was born. Literature, he writes, proved to be a new force that spread ideas with unprecedented alacrity and ease. Puchner explores the evolution of writing technologies—from clay tablets to Twitter—and the preservation of the written word, particularly by early libraries. But what he primarily focuses on are what he calls foundational texts. He sees the story of literature unfolding in four stages. First, there was the writing down of stories that had long been shared orally: “The Epic of Gilgamesh,” “The Iliad,” the Hebrew Bible. Next came the recording of the wisdom of charismatic teachers such as Buddha, Socrates, Jesus and Confucius (done by their disciples, for none of these men left their own written records). The third stage was the emergence of individual authors with distinc-
tive voices, beginning with the first novel by Lady Murasaki in 11th-century Japan. Finally, there came the mass-communication age, ushered in by the printing press, which brought the broad dissemination of wide-ranging, disparate and sometimes culture-shattering ideas from the likes of Benjamin Franklin, Karl Marx, Goethe and even J.K. Rowling. Puchner’s entertaining saga of how literature shaped civilization begins with Alexander the Great (before flashing back even further in history), and like that legendary Macedonian, he lays claim to the known world. Eschewing any Western bias, Puchner’s study takes readers from Asia to the postcolonial Caribbean, from Mayan Mexico to a global literary festival in contemporary India. Puchner’s fascinating celebration of literature hesitates to stop in the present as he looks ahead at the transforPuchner has mative, second penned a great explosion of the written fascinating celebration of word during which we live. literature. He concludes, “What we can say for sure is that the world population has grown even as literacy rates have risen sharply, which means that infinitely more writing is being done by more people, published and read more widely, than ever before.” Erudition and enthusiasm combine seamlessly in Puchner’s sweeping narrative, which comprises history, biography, technology and ideas. And while it is a cliché to say that he brings literature to life, he does exactly that, connecting the dots of civilization in new and interesting ways. The Written World is perfect reading for a long, chilly night, and it will leave you thinking in new ways about the wondrous thing called literature that, perhaps, we sometimes take for granted.
Revenge of the law-school borrowers
I N T E R V I E W B Y J AY M AC D O N A L D
ohn Grisham’s fans await his annual legal thriller the way a starved jury anticipates free donuts in the break room. Through 30 novels, the master behind such big-screen bestsellers as The Firm and The Pelican Brief has kept us guessing about the fate of lawyers in love and peril. Still, even the seasoned author was surprised to find the plotlines of his latest thriller popping up in the news as he was bringing them to life in his arresting new tort-ture tale, The Rooster Bar. As the book opens, the suicide of third-year law school student Gordy shocks friends Mark, Todd and Zola into realizing that they’ve been suckered into acquiring six-figure student loan debt to attend the third-tier, for-profit Foggy Bottom Law School in Washington, D.C. Not only is the school so mediocre that its graduates stand only a 50-50 chance of passing the bar exam, but according to Gordy’s parting notes, it’s one of a chain owned by Hinds Rackley, a New York hedge-fund manager who also happens to own the very bank that will collect on their student loans. Disheartened and desperate, the trio forgo their last semester of law school, assume false identities and form the bogus law firm Upshaw, Parker & Lane (short for Unlicensed Practice of Law), a high-stakes
THE ROOSTER BAR
By John Grisham
Doubleday, $28.95, 368 pages ISBN 9780385541176, audio, eBook available
gamble designed to sustain them until they can win back their futures by exposing Rackley’s scam. To complicate matters, Zola’s immigrant family is simultaneously being deported to Senegal. Student debt? For-profit schools? Brazen billionaires? Immigration issues? Grisham had no inkling when he started the book that its themes would soon play out on MSNBC. “This story goes back two or three years when I read an article in the Atlantic called ‘The LawSchool Scam’ that I was fascinated by, because I was not aware that we had such institutions as for-profit law schools in this country,” Grisham says by phone from his office in Charlottesville, Virginia. “I was stunned and became captivated by the issue.” Intrigued, the former lawyer visited a few law schools. In one public law school, every third-year student carried debt, the average being $75,000. In another top-tier school, a third of students graduated without debt, but for the twothirds who had debt, the average was $260,000. “It’s astonishing, and the amounts were even greater when you combine grad school and undergrad,” he says. “Once they’re out, they can’t afford to start a family . . . to buy a house or a car. They’re mired into this unbelievable debt that’s choking them.” While rare, some debt-strapped students choose the risky track Grisham’s fictional trio takes and hustle clients without a license in hospital and court waiting rooms. “I always worry about the story as I’m writing it—how much of this can I make plausible and believable—and it’s probably a bit implausible that they would go to this extreme to actually set up a law firm with business cards and fake names,” Grisham admits. “But if
you’ve ever been through the suicide of a friend, it really can knock you off your stride; it’s not something that you can deal with easily. That’s why I introduced the tragedy of Gordy’s death, to kind of push these guys over the edge.” He had no such challenge bringing Hinds Rackley to life; news reports did that for him. “Trump loves these for-profit schools. He couldn’t make one go. . . . He tried . . . and it crashed,” Grisham says. “But with the Grisham Department of targets skyEducation now, high student you can’t walk debt in an in Congress for all the lobbyists intriguing hired by the thriller that for-profit colparallels real- lege industry. life events. They have tons of money, and they’re getting whatever they want because they have all the money. It’s a rotten system.” Likewise, Zola’s DACA-esque immigration battle parallels real-life events. “The more I wrote about Zola and her family, the more I really enjoyed that subplot,” he says. “And then I had the benefit of Trump taking office in January, and with all the anti-immigration stuff and the ramped-up ICE raids, that just fell into my lap.” Grisham was a practicing lawyer when he attained superstardom with the release of The Firm, which became the bestselling novel of 1991. He now has more than 300 million books in print worldwide,
including novels, short stories, nonfiction and a children’s series. Though he was taken with the cutting-edge storylines he rather presciently wove together in The Rooster Bar, Grisham says he felt compelled to make one adjustment. “I set the book in 2014 and not 2017, because the bubble is bursting with these for-profit law schools because they’re too expensive, they’re not any good, you can’t pass the bar, and you can’t find a job,” he says. “It’s not sustainable because of the job market. That’s why we’re watching it blow up.” Without revealing the book’s ingenious ending, suffice it to say that Mark, Todd and Zola ironically reveal themselves to be exactly the kind of creative, caring problem-solvers and risk-takers that the best lawyers are made of. “Well, that’s the beauty of fiction!” Grisham chuckles. “At some point, you suspend disbelief and you make them a whole lot smarter and a whole lot luckier than they really should be. That’s when storytelling kicks in. Of course, they’re your heroes and you want them to succeed. Even though they’re doing some bad things and breaking a bunch of laws, you’re on their side. Let’s just say they’re smart and they’re lucky.”
At the fiery heart of revolution
INTERVIEW BY TRISHA PING
ere’s something that may come as a surprise for fans of Paint It Black and the Oprah-approved White Oleander: Bestselling novelist Janet Fitch has a secret passion for Russia. It started back when the writer, 62, was attending junior high in Los Angeles and fell in love with Crime and Punishment, launching a deep dive into the waters of Russian literature.
“I’m a pretty intense person myself,” Fitch explains during a call to her home in Los Angeles, “and a lot of the literature we got as kids was pretty pallid—it didn’t suit me at all.” Opening Crime and Punishment, she says with a laugh, “was like, OK, here we are. This is my internal landscape.” After decades of reading Russian literature and history and a few trips to the country, Fitch—who studied history at Reed College— has distilled that fascination into her first work of historical fiction, The Revolution of Marina M., an epic page-turner and part one of a two-volume tale set during the Russian Revolution. Ten years in the making, the novel snuck up on Fitch, who had originally planned to write about a Russian émigré living in 1920s Los Angeles. But it was impossible to tell the character’s story without flashing back to the past in Russia—interludes that, according to Fitch’s critique group,
THE REVOLUTION OF MARINA M.
By Janet Fitch
Little, Brown, $30, 816 pages ISBN 9780316022064, audio, eBook available
were the most interesting parts. Soon, Fitch was making a fullon plunge into one of the most turbulent and confusing periods in Russian history, a place where few Western novelists have dared to tread, even after 100 years. “The Revolution is a moving target,” Fitch says. “People can be good guys and bad guys, or they’re bad guys to start out with, then good guys. . . . It’s a far more sophisticated problem.” Luckily for readers, Fitch has created a firecracker of a guide through the tangled years of revolution: the titular Marina. Born with the new century, Marina is just 16 when the first tremors of rebellion begin to penetrate her comfortable upper-class St. Petersburg home. As a passionate young poet, Marina finds her soul stirred by the calls for freedom and action. “To be Marina, it was a joy,” Fitch says. “This is the first time I’ve written a character who wasn’t under the foot of events, but more equal to the events. She’s a far more fiery person than I’ve ever written before. A much braver person than I’ve ever written before. She’s much more of a real heroine than I’ve ever tried before.” Like any real heroine, Marina must deal with some complicated relationships. She and her two best friends aren’t always on the same page when it comes to the idea of revolution: Mina, the daughter of Jewish academics, is more cautious, while Varvara, who lives in near poverty, is ready to burn it all down. Marina’s father is a government official, invested in keeping things as close to the status quo as possible; her mother is an aristocrat who refuses to even think about politics; and her sensitive younger brother is facing pressure
to enlist. In the midst of all this, Marina is also dealing with a normal coming-ofage dilemma: her burgeoning sexuality. Should she wait for her childhood crush to come back from the front or throw in her lot with a passionate proletarian poet? Needless to say, this headstrong teenager doesn’t always handle these complexities well. “I’ve known fiery people,” Fitch says. “They’re glorious, they believe, they’re willing to stick their “She’s much necks out, more of a real they’re willing heroine than to fall a long way, they make I’ve ever tried a mess—for before.” themselves and others— but they live in a large way.” That spark makes Marina’s picaresque journey through this turbulent era a compelling one to follow, even if, at times, you might wish you could warn her about what’s to come. “It’s the first book that I’ve written that has been very propulsive, as far as the events of the story,” Fitch says. “When you’re in the midst of a revolution, your life will be changed week by week by what happens in the external world. So it’s much more of an event-driven book.” Fitch’s earlier novels, which she describes as “more interior,” were both bestsellers. Both have been adapted to film—White Oleander as a major feature and Paint It Black as an indie film, released in October via streaming services. But no matter how different The Revolution of Marina M. is to Fitch’s
previous works, it has many of the hallmarks her readers have come to look for, including complex and dynamic female characters. Readers will come away with more understanding of the Revolution, but this is no history book. “People living through history don’t know what’s going on at the top. We only see the effects on our lives. That’s what fiction does best. It’s showing us how it felt to be in those times, rather than what Lenin thought. The average person had no idea; they’re just trying to get some food, find work, decide between your two boyfriends,” she says with a laugh. The events that sowed the seeds of the Russian Revolution— vast income inequality, a rise in populism, an unpopular leader, a lengthy and pointless war—might seem uncomfortably familiar to modern readers, and Fitch does see some parallels between world events in 1917 and 2017. “We are living in a revolutionary period right now . . . not the cataclysm that the Russian Revolution was, but we’re living through a time of extreme change,” says Fitch. “Revolutions don’t stop, that’s the most important thing you can take away from The Revolution of Marina M. Once the wheel gets turning, it keeps turning. In Russia, it’s still turning.”
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These Healing Hills 978-0-8007-2363-7
Lady Jayne Disappears 978-0-8007-2875-5
Dangerous Illusions 978-0-8007-2767-3
The Day the Angels Fell 978-0-8007-2849-6
Dream journals, space pee: life in zero-G
ndurance proves a fitting title for the eye-opening autobiography of astronaut Scott Kelly, who in 2014-15 spent a record-breaking year in space aboard the International Space Station as a prelude to one day placing space boots on Mars.
While conducting scientific experiments in orbit, Kelly’s body became one of the key NASA test cases for the effects of prolonged space flight on humans. He was subjected to 30 times the radiation of those of us below, or the equivalent of about 10 chest X-rays each day. But if Kelly’s prologue (in which his excruciating return to gravity after a year in space prompts him to plead, “Stick a fork in me, I’m done.”) could serve as the ultimate NASA buzzkill, Kelly’s colorful look back on how a New Jersey underachiever wound up putting the “rock” in rocket man is anything but. Honest, funny and frequently hair-raising, Kelly’s flight notes and family struggles, including his painful isolation in space during the assassination attempt on his astronaut twin brother’s wife, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, really bring this space tale down to earth. We spoke with Kelly as he drove with his wife, Amiko, through the hills outside Houston, where they live.
By Scott Kelly
Knopf, $29.95, 400 pages ISBN 9781524731595, audio, eBook available
Endurance is an unusually candid behind-the-scenes look at the life of an astronaut. That was my intent, to be honest about it. Hopefully by doing that, it would let people feel like they were part of the experience. As a wayward teen, you were inspired by reading Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff to reach for the stars. How crazy did that seem then? I was headed to apply to NASA, but I would never say that I felt like I even had a chance [laughs]. That was what I wanted to do, but also, if that didn’t work out, my plan was to stay in the Navy and hopefully be the commander of an aircraft carrier someday.
I think everyone has similar reactions to the CO2 issue, but when you’re discussing stuff like your physical reaction to things, NASA kind of keeps that . . . There are privacy issues involved. I thought that since I was spending the longest time up there at one time of any other American, I had an obligation, not only to NASA but to the public, to let them know the physical and psychological effects of that.
You open several chapters with excerpts from your dream journal. How did that come about, and do you dream differently in space? What were the best and worst sur- When I flew my previous long flight of 159 days, I knew I had prises your first time in space? I would say the good surprise is the dreams in space, and when I got back, the psychologists would ask, view. The bad surprise is how zero “Were they Earth dreams or space gravity makes almost everything dreams?” And I really couldn’t harder to do, with the exception remember. So this time, I made an of moving stuff that is heavy or getting into odd positions or orien- effort to write them down, and it tations—like floating upside down was interesting. In the beginning, to hook up the cable to the back of they were more like Earth dreams, but as I was up there longer, they your entertainment center. became more like space dreams, Were you aware going in that your like I was in space. And as I got body would become an ongoing closer to coming home, they were NASA scientific experiment for the more like Earth-centered dreams, rest of your life? which I think was kind of just lookNot when I became an astronaut. I ing forward to being back on Earth. knew that the science experiments were a part of the shuttle program, Did the ISS come to feel like home? but I joined NASA to be a space Oh, absolutely. At some point, it felt shuttle pilot and commander; the like I lived my whole life up there. science was more a secondary reYou kind of forget what Earth is like. sponsibility. I never thought going For most earthlings, the one in that, on the back end of my cacringe-worthy fact of space flight reer, I would be such a large part of is the urine-to-drinking water a human research study like that. system. How did you adapt? You describe the headache- It’s actually pretty funny because I causing, underperforming carbon was involved in it when they were dioxide removal assembly (CDRA) designing and making the system in the ISS as the bane of your in Huntsville, Alabama, in the late existence. How did you muster the 1990s and early 2000s. I went out nerve to confront NASA about it? there to look at the system, and
NASA - BILL INGALLS
I N T E R V I E W B Y J AY MacD O N A L D
they were making water out of the urine of the workers in the lab, and I drank some and it tasted fine. So I took a bottle of it home and had my ex-wife, Leslie, and daughter Samantha drink it, and they were like, ‘Oh, this tastes perfectly fine.’ But then I told them it was water made out of urine and they got really mad at me, even though technically it was cleaner than what came out of the tap. You describe being in orbit when Gabby Giffords was shot as a heartbreaking experience. Yeah, you have no control over the situation, really. I was mad at the guy who shot her. He killed a bunch of people, injured others and ruined his own life. As someone who obviously has it, what is “the right stuff”? The way I describe this is, I’m a below-average person doing a slightly above-average job. I think if you are persistent and prepared and don’t give up and prioritize things to where you focus on the stuff that’s really important and don’t let the stuff that’s not important get under your skin, you can go a long way. With four space flights under your belt, any interest in going to Mars? Yeah, I’d go to Mars. I wouldn’t go on that one-way trip there’s talk of. It would take about six months to get there. They’ll do it someday. It’s not the rocket science; it’s the political science.
QUIRKY B Y L I LY M c L E M O R E
Thinking outside the (gift) box
here’s always at least one puzzler on everyone’s gift list: your friend’s niece, your new in-law, your co-worker’s husband who’s coming to Christmas dinner. These four books err on the side of delightfully weird, and they’re bound to fit some oddball on your list! For a certain sect of young women, Julie Houts speaks—or rather, draws—the sometimes painful, always hilarious truth, and she’s gathered her truths in Literally Me (Touchstone, $25, 176 pages, ISBN 9781471166662). It may not be for you, but it’s definitely, literally
perfect for someone you know. Houts, a designer at J. Crew and a skilled illustrator, initially found her audience on Instagram, and her clever, detailed drawings and satirical captions hit on everything a modern woman faces: nail polish decisions (Illiterate Sex Kitten or Skinny Ditz?), wine selections (hint: the pink one is the fun one), the arrival of the four horsewomen of the apocalypse at Coachella, conversations with a large, imaginary rat about your desires and fears—you know, the usual stuff. If you’ve got a smart, funny, slightly strange lady in your life, chances are she’ll find plenty to relate to in Houts’ charmingly off-kilter collection of drawings and essays.
JOLLY BROLLY Consider the umbrella. It’s an odd little contraption, and I’ve thoughtlessly lost more than I can count. But the umbrella has been around, in some fashion, for millennia and has shaded the domes of pharaohs and queens. The symbolic promise of an umbrella is rich for authors—just think of the metaphor possibilities!—and it makes cameo appearances in the writings
at the last moment to hit the of Dickens, Nietzsche and many punchline. more. Marion Rankine’s delightful Brolliology: The History of the UmDO NO HARM brella in Life and Literature (MelWhat’s a great way to deal with ville House, $16.99, 192 pages, ISBN blood loss? Why, bloodletting, of 9781612196701) unfurls the world of umbrellas, instilling an unexpect- course! This is just one of the many “cures” described in the entertained appreciation for these handy ing catalog of terrible treatments Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything (Workman, $22.95, 352 pages, ISBN 9780761189817). In amusing yet informative, well-researched style, Lydia Kang and Nate Pedersen cover the many supposed healing qualaccessories in its readers. The book ities of toxic mercury; gladiators’ blood as an epilepsy cure; the vomis also filled with illustrations and it-inducing toxin antimony, which plenty of fascinating facts to pull out when conversation lulls—say, at would really clear out your system a holiday dinner when you’re seated and was allegedly enjoyed by Captain James Cook; and the use of next to your wife’s boss. the melted fat of corpses as a salve LIFE’S A BEACH in the 1700s. After perusing this book, you’ll be thankful you live in John Hodgman’s Vacationland this century—and wondering what (Viking, $25, 272 pages, ISBN 9780735224803) was recently listed modern miracle will be considered as the #1 New Release in Maine utter quackery come the next. Travel Guides on Amazon. Do not be fooled—with essays that touch on topics like proper etiquette at a rural Massachusetts trash dump, grotesque giant clams and the pain-inducing powers of Maine beaches, Vacationland is anything but a travel guide. Multitalented actor, bestselling author and former “Daily Show” correspondent Hodgman takes us along as he struggles with deep-rooted anxieties and fears about aging, fatherhood and more in various dismal New England settings. The deadpan Hodgman is an excellent writer, reminding readers of David Sedaris with his self-deprecating style of comedy as he reflects on life with a sincerity that comes Illustration from Literally Me by Julie Houts. close to heartbreaking, but swerves
Melody Carlson pens a story of love, hardship, and reconciliation that will leave readers
filled with Christmas joy.
During World War II, a young mother in trouble determines to give her baby a better life. Could a Christmas miracle make it possible? Or is the celebration of the arrival of another unexpected baby nearly two thousand years ago the answer to her dilemma? Visit MelodyCarlson.com for more information.
N Available wherever books and ebooks are sold.
MUSIC BY HILLI LEVIN
Paging through the lives of musical icons
iterature and music have always made a perfect pair. For those on your holiday shopping list who are equal parts bookworm and audiophile, look no further than our picks for the five biggest music books of the season.
Stevie Nicks has enjoyed quite the renaissance in recent years as a wave of millennials has embraced her witchy aesthetic in a big way. So it’s the perfect time for Stephen Davis to publish Gold Dust Woman: The Biography of Stevie Nicks (St. Martin’s, $27.99, 352 pages, ISBN 9781250032898), his detailed, albeit unauthorized, account of the songstress and her very public highs and lows. Beginning with her earliest performance with Fleetwood Mac in 1975—a wild, haunting rendition of “Rhiannon” that’s definitely worth a watch on YouTube—Davis paints a vivid and easily accessible portrait of Nicks’ life that’s bolstered by quotes from previously published interviews. From singing in Southwestern saloons with her grandfather at the age of 5 to her meteoric rise after joining Fleetwood Mac and, later, her quest to claim her artistic independence, Davis fills in some lesser-known details in the life of a staggeringly talented musician. Long live the age of Nicks!
A LEGEND REVEALED “Remarkably, the story of our dad’s life has never been told. Not the real story, that is.” And so three of legendary songwriter Roy Orbison’s sons—Wesley, Roy Jr. and Alex Orbison—set out to write The Authorized Roy Orbison (Center Street, $30, 264 pages, ISBN 9781478976547). Beginning with the rockabilly crooner’s unexpected comeback, which resulted in the star-studded concert film Roy
Orbison and Friends: A Black and White Night, the authors then shift back to his humble beginnings in West Texas and follow him through a career that resulted in 22 chart-topping hits. A more authoritative look at Roy Orbison’s life isn’t likely to be found, as this volume contains a trove of hundreds of photos, personal documents and charming behind-the-scenes stories from those closest to him. This is a vital look at a unique trailblazer whose ripple effect is yet to be fully understood.
MAKING A CASE FOR JONI Bob Dylan may have won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2016, but a compelling argument could have been made for folk icon Joni Mitchell to take the prize. Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell (Sarah Crichton, $28, 448 pages, ISBN 9780374248130) is journalist David Yaffe’s exuberant biography of the talented Canadian singer-songwriter and painter. Yaffe’s straightforward chronicle of Mitchell’s prolific career is a superfan’s account of a woman he greatly admires, but it also illustrates how Mitchell became “the hero of her own life.” Although Yaffe was only able to interview Mitchell a few times, they clocked 12 hours of conversation each time, and plenty of Mitchell’s own asides and commentary are interspersed throughout. Although Reckless Daughter can sometimes feel a bit hurried and sticks to the surface level more than a dedicated fan might like (I
could have read far more than two short chapters on her 1971 album and enduring masterpiece “Blue”), Yaffe illustrates just how influential and essential to the fabric of modern songwriting her work truly is. Mitchell’s lovers and male contemporaries—especially the aforementioned Dylan—are all too often at the forefront of musical histories. Mitchell explains that, before she came along, “songs for women were always doormat songs.” But thankfully, the Mitchell in Yaffe’s work is an imposing, resilient yet good-natured genius, treated with the reverence she deserves.
off his catalog with August 11, 1973, when DJ Kool Herc played the first hip-hop set in the Bronx. And from there, all of the biggest milestones in hip-hop are rolled out—from De La Soul’s debut release all the way to A Tribe Called Quest’s incredible comeback in 2016. Eclectic artwork from 10 visual artists makes this a perfect book to keep on display.
WALK WITH LOU Lou Reed will be remembered as one of the most enigmatic figures in rock history. After joining Andy Warhol’s Velvet Underground in 1964, he captivated and challenged audiences with his genre-defying
(W)RAP IT UP When it comes to hip-hop pioneers, Chuck D—a founding member Roy Orbison in his Ford Thunderbird, May 1961, by Joe Horton. of the politicalReprinted with permission from Hachette. ly charged group sound. Rolling Stone contributor Public Enemy—should be one and Grammy award-winning writer of the first names mentioned. Anthony DeCurtis made the comPublic Enemy exploded onto plicated decision to pen Lou Reed: the scene in the mid-1980s and A Life (Little, Brown, $32, 528 pages, completely changed the cultural ISBN 9780316376556) after Reed’s perception of the genre. In Chuck death in 2013, citing their unique D Presents This Day in Rap and working relationship as the catalyst Hip-Hop History (Black Dog & Leventhal, $29.99, 352 pages, ISBN behind this compelling look at 9780316430975), he’s serious about Reed’s struggles and triumphs. This is quite a tome, and DeCurtis providing a comprehensive acdives deep, providing details about count of the genre’s most importevery recording session and project ant moments. He salutes the early “DJs who Reed took on. DeCurtis admits that personal aspects Reed “would have carried, loved to erase, are discussed here in transdetail,” and even though DeCurtis ported, counted Reed as a friend, “this book and does not present him the way he played wanted to see himself . . . it presents thick him as he was. And, I believe, as he record crates full knew himself to be.” This will surely come to be the definitive biography of wax,” of this larger-than-life artist. kicking
NATURE BY ALICE CARY
Hold the universe in your hands
xplore the far corners of the natural world in five new books, where you’ll find fascinations ranging from the remnants of a supernova to killer whales kicking up white spray in the Atlantic.
How do we see our universe? The answer to this question continually changes as science marches forward, which the gorgeous, thought-provoking Universe: Exploring the Astronomical World (Phaidon, $59.95, 352 pages, ISBN 9780714874616) thoroughly illustrates. Universe pairs 300 images from art and science, selected by a panel of astronomers, curators, astrophysicists and art historians. A photograph of Buzz Aldrin’s footprint on the moon occupies a spread alongside Andy Warhol’s stylized screen print of Aldrin in his space suit next to the American flag. Vincent Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” is coupled with a luminous 2015 print that re-creates a picture of the cosmos in pigment and gold. The images are bold, beautiful and intriguing, drawn from a tremendous range of sources, including an image painted around 15,000 B.C. in France’s Lascaux Cave, thought to be one of the earliest celestial maps; an Infinity Mirrored Room by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama; and the “First Moon Flights” Club Card issued by Pan Am Airways in 1968. Universe is an imaginative, informative and unexpected cosmic journey.
STORIES OF THE STARS Discover the wonders of the night in What We See in the Stars: An Illustrated Tour of the Night Sky (Ten Speed, $16.99, 160 pages, ISBN 9780399579530). Naturalist illustrator Kelsey Oseid has created a delightful compendium Photo (top) from The Living Forest by Robert Llewellyn.
of constellations, celestial bodies, asteroids, deep space and more. What We See is a handy reference guide for all ages with its brief, clear explanations that combine mythology with modern science. There are sections devoted to Ptolemy’s constellations as well as “modern” constellations such as Microscopium (the microscope), Fornax (the furnace) and Tucana (the toucan). Did you know that shadows cast on the moon are much darker than those cast on earth? Or that Mercury has craters named after Duke Ellington and Van Gogh, while Mars has a crater named after “Star Trek” creator Gene Roddenberry? Oseid’s luminous illustrations act as eye-catching anchors on each page, in hues of black, slate blue and white that remind readers of the mysteries of the night sky.
ALL THOSE WHO WANDER We’ve come a long way from the days when John James Audubon tied threads to the legs of birds to prove that certain ones returned to his farm year after year. As geographer James Cheshire and designer Oliver Uberti explain in their fascinating collaboration, Where the Animals Go: Tracking Wildlife with Technology in 50 Maps and Graphics (Norton, $39.95, 192 pag-
es, ISBN 9780393634020), today’s scientists can rely on any number of innovations, including radio, satellite and GPS to track animals. Not only does Cheshire and Uberti’s book contain gorgeous graphics (maps of sea turtles swimming through the seas, Burmese pythons slithering through the Everglades, geese migrating over the Himalayas), it also presents an amazing series of stories to accompany their maps. Who can resist tales like “The Elephant Who Texted for Help,” “The Jaguars Taking Selfies” or “The Wolf Who Traversed the Alps”? Whether you’re a lover of data, animals or informatics, you’ll soon find yourself caught up in this wonderful book.
LOVELY, DARK AND DEEP If you’re in the mood for some armchair forest viewing, cozy up with The Living Forest: A Visual Journey into the Heart of the Woods (Timber, $40, 266 pages, ISBN 9781604697124), written by Joan Maloof and exquisitely photographed by Robert Llewellyn. Leaf through this book and you’ll be transported to a world of soaring branches, misty mountains and a treasury of living things that includes acorns, fungi, eagles, coyotes, snakes and millipedes.
Moving from the canopy to the ground, Maloof, who founded the Old-Growth Forest Network, writes eloquent essays that read like personal tours, concentrating on both the scientific and the spiritual. As she concludes, “The forest offers beauty and poetry to those who are open to it, perhaps waiting in silence for it to appear. It feels like a shift of the heart, like falling in love.”
OFF THE MAP Islands have long fascinated travel writer Malachy Tallack, who grew up on Scotland’s Shetland Islands and edits The Island Review. He takes readers on a journey to isles real and imagined in The Un-Discovered Islands: An Archipelago of Myths and Mysteries, Phantoms and Fakes (Picador, $20, 144 pages, ISBN 9781250148445). This unusual travelogue, full of history and stories, is illustrated with fanciful creations by noted botanical illustrator Katie Scott. There’s a section on Atlantis, of course, and many other mythical kingdoms that you’ve likely never heard of, such as the “fraudulent” island of Javasu, which a strange woman who called herself Caraboo claimed to have come from when she appeared on the doorstep of an English village home in 1817, wearing a turban and speaking unrecognizable words. (Turns out she was an imposter named Mary Willcocks.) Even in our modern age of satellites and GPS, mysteries like Sandy Island, noted in 2012 on maps and Google Earth as being near New Caledonia, still crop up. In fact, the island doesn’t exist, and was simply an error that had persisted since a supposed sighting in 1876. Sit back and prepare to pleasantly lose yourself.
T PI OP CK
SMILE By Roddy Doyle
FUTURE HOME OF THE LIVING GOD
Erdrich channels Atwood
Viking $25, 224 pages ISBN 9780735224445 Audio, eBook available SUSPENSE
REVIEW BY MICHAEL MAGRAS
Add Louise Erdrich (LaRose, The Round House) to the growing list of literary authors to dabble in dystopian fiction. Her latest work, Future Home of the Living God, imagines a frightening, not-too-distant time, made all the more terrifying by its plausibility. The U.S. Congress has expanded a set of policies that began as the Patriot Act so that pregnant women can be “sequestered in hospitals in order to give birth under controlled circumstances.” The reason for this expansion is not made immediately clear, but it becomes apparent through the story of 26-year-old Cedar Hawk Songmaker, “the adopted child of Minneapolis liberals.” Born on an Ojibwe reservation, Cedar has never known her biological parents. As the novel By Louise Erdrich opens, it’s been a year since Cedar’s birth mother sent her a letter askHarper, $28.99, 288 pages ing if they could meet. Cedar ignored the request. But now that Cedar is ISBN 9780062694058, eBook available four months pregnant, her perspective has changed, and she decides to meet her birth parents. But that’s not all that has changed. A biological SPECULATIVE FICTION disaster has occurred, “evolution has reversed,” and pregnant women are sent to detention centers so they can be monitored. Cedar is of particular interest to authorities, as they believe she is carrying one of the few “normal” babies not suffering from abnormalities. Written as a diary to her unborn child, Future Home of the Living God chronicles Cedar’s experiences and the mysterious personages she encounters, most notably an omnipresent figure named Mother who appears on turned-off computer monitors and coos, “How are you feeling? I care. I’d like to know.” If parts of this novel are pulpier than Erdrich’s previous work, the result is still a chilling work of speculative fiction and a bracing cautionary tale about environmental deterioration and the importance of women’s control of their own bodies.
HOUSE OF SHADOWS By Nicola Cornick Graydon House $15.99, 464 pages ISBN 9781525811388 Audio, eBook available HISTORICAL FICTION
Nicola Cornick’s House of Shadows blends a supernaturally tinged historical drama à la Outlander with a cozy village mystery to addictive, mesmerizing effect. After the disappearance of her brother, Ben, present-day artist Holly Ansell discovers that Ben had become obsessed with Elizabeth Stuart, a 17th-century Bohemian queen whose reign was so short she became known as the Winter Queen. Elizabeth eventually returned to her homeland of England
amid rumors that she had secretly married her devoted protector William Craven and was in possession of a treasure with occult powers. Holly also discovers a Regency courtesan’s diary in her brother’s possessions. Lavinia Flyte’s journal, which Cornick cleverly models on real 19th-century sex worker tell-alls, leads Holly to believe that Elizabeth’s treasure is located somewhere in the ruins of Ashdown House. In a dreamy, elegiac tone that blurs the lines between past and present, the natural and the supernatural, Cornick stitches together connections between the three women. Even given their enormous differences in class, Elizabeth and Lavinia are both dependent on the good will of men for any semblance of power and must present themselves as objects of desire—even the (initially) happily
married Elizabeth. And when both Holly’s and Lavinia’s hunts for the treasure are waylaid by unexpected romance, Cornick explores how powerful yet fragile the bonds of love can be, especially in the first rush of attraction. Their plots seem stuck in time, existing within the season of a relationship when minutes last for hours, the swirl of emotions slowing time to a crawl. Conversely, Elizabeth’s storyline spans decades, enough time for the instant spark between her and William to accumulate years of regrets and resentments. Theirs is a tragic romance in slow motion, with both parties moving inexorably apart due to sins committed against each other, but with memories of their shared happiness still painfully vivid. Atmospheric and elegant, House of Shadows casts a hypnotic spell. —SAVANNA WALKER
Some novelists run the risk of overstaying their welcome, perhaps overwriting due to indulgence in a particular character or scenario. Roddy Doyle (Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha) never feels like one of those writers. His stories, from short fiction to novels, are tightly wound coils of energy, humor and insight, waiting to spring on us. Smile is another stellar example of Doyle’s brand of dense, kinetic storytelling. In just over 200 pages, Doyle manages to tell us something startling, funny and strange about the nature of human tragedy and pain. Smile follows Victor, a recently separated writer living on his own for the first time in years. Victor spends his evenings having a pint at the local pub, until this quiet ritual is interrupted by Fitzpatrick, an obnoxious and seemingly inescapable man who claims they were schoolmates. Victor can’t remember Fitzpatrick, but he can remember his Catholic school days, and suddenly the trauma of what happened there begins trickling back into his mind. As Doyle jumps between past and present, Victor’s life spools out before us, building to a startling realization that shakes him to his core. Doyle has a particular talent for humor and dialogue, but he also has the rare quality of being able to balance an economy of language with a dense sense of perception. Not a word is wasted here, and there aren’t many to waste. This is a gift, and it’s one Doyle harnesses with particular power in Smile. This drives the book at an almost fever pitch, practically daring you to turn each page and see what kind of incisive character wisdom he’s about to impart next. By the end, even if you think you know what’s coming, you will be dumbstruck by the storytelling prowess
reviews at work. Smile is a brief, brilliant, frenzied reading experience that only Roddy Doyle could deliver. —MATTHEW JACKSON
WONDER VALLEY By Ivy Pochoda
Ecco $26.99, 336 pages ISBN 9780062656353 Audio, eBook available LITERARY FICTION
One sunny morning in 2010, a man streaks—quite literally— against morning drive-time traffic on Los Angeles’ 110 Freeway, the gray scar etched into the left side of the city’s face. Talk about a Kodak moment, and it’s witnessed by multiple characters in the latest novel by Ivy Pochoda (The Art of Disappearing, Visitation Street), who then backtracks from this freeze frame to uncover the forces that have impelled these human molecules to coagulate in this space. Toggling back and forth between 2006 and 2010, Pochoda tugs on each character’s strand, disentangling it from the knot of LA traffic and the knot of interconnection to reveal a tapestry that is more gritty than pretty. It spans a landscape that stretches from the upper-middle class to the destitute, from Skid Row tents and Beverlywood McMansions to desiccated cabins in the high desert’s dystopian Wonder Valley. We encounter good people who have done bad things, bad people who have done bad things (but occasionally can’t help doing good, if perhaps accidentally) and a whole bunch of folks looking for, if not necessarily redemption, at least a moment of grace. Pochoda is a master at homing in on the details of both exterior and interior landscapes and crafting characters so palpable that you can feel blood throbbing in their temples and rivulets of sweat evaporating off their necks. It’s not a far stretch to consider Pochoda to be in the company of James Ellroy, Michael Connelly and T. Jefferson Parker, but the two
FICTION novelists that most often leap to mind as peers are Walter Mosley and National Book Award finalist Kem Nunn. It wouldn’t be a big surprise to find Wonder Valley on the short list for several awards itself. —T H A N E T I E R N E Y
Visit BookPage.com to read a Q&A with Ivy Pochoda.
THE CITY OF BRASS
that were divided and set at odds by a long-ago ruler. Chakraborty ends the novel without a simple resolution, which will no doubt lead deftly into the next book in this planned trilogy about a marvelous civilization built on strategy and tenuous allegiances, at the helm of which stand courageous and cunning heroines such as Nahri and brilliant, fierce heroes like Dara and Ali. —MARI CARLSON
By S.A Chakraborty Harper Voyager $25.99, 544 pages ISBN 9780062678102 Audio, eBook available FANTASY
Can two young adults maintain their own ideals amid a swirl of politics and age-old family feuds? In 18th-century Cairo, Nahri is on the verge of saving enough to study real medicine, but for now she ekes out an existence as a con artist, healing with powers she doesn’t quite understand nor can she control. When an exorcism goes awry, she accidentally summons a djinn warrior. The djinn, Dara, introduces Nahri to a world she never thought existed, and the two begin an adventure that will lead them to the mythical city of Daevabad, where Nahri will be well-received—but Dara may not be. While Nahri and Dara fight ifrit (ghouls) and other enemies on their way, Daevabad is on the verge of crisis. Within the city, Prince Ali funds a fundamentalist djinn faction without his father’s approval. These two strands converge when Nahri enters the city and Ali’s royal family and their enemies attempt to use Nahri’s miraculous arrival to their advantage. With this rich and layered novel, S.A. Chakraborty builds a fantasy world as intricate and intriguing as its Middle Eastern setting. Following the various subplots is like pondering vibrant Arabic design; readers will lose themselves in the wonder and complexity. A helpful glossary in the back of the book defines djinn terms and helps readers keep track of six djinn kingdoms
THE FLOATING WORLD By C. Morgan Babst Algonquin $26.95, 384 pages ISBN 9781616205287 Audio, eBook available DEBUT FICTION
the hurricane dragged this to new depths. Babst evokes Katrina’s symbology, like the Xs marking houses containing the deceased. She also revisits discussions about whether NOLA has a future in light of rising seas, to what extent the city’s devilmay-care ethos contributed to its destruction, and how the media fed off the Big Easy’s pain. The author resists the temptation to turn her novel into a tract or advocacy—not that it lacks passion. To the contrary, the novel is very much of our irritable, harried times. Like Harvey, Katrina was not just a storm but also a reconfiguration of a community. Babst’s novel is an invaluable record of that social devastation—and a warning of the devastations like Harvey to come. —KENNETH CHAMPEON
LITTLE SECRETS A new novel about Hurricane Katrina could seem like retreading ancient history. That was before Hurricane Harvey made an ocean of southeast Texas and harassed Louisiana. Before Irma smashed into the Caribbean and Florida, and Maria into Puerto Rico. All made landfall close to the 12th anniversary of Katrina, which left wounds that are still raw. C. Morgan Babst’s debut novel draws its title from a Japanese phrase signifying ephemerality, but it doubles as a description of New Orleans after Katrina. As a fictional retelling thereof, the book has few superiors. In Babst’s phrase, Katrina was a “hate crime of municipal proportion,” referring to the racial disparity in the storm’s victims. Reminiscent of Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, The Floating World is also a meditation on kinship and family history. Like Franzen’s chaotic family, the one here is ambivalent toward their hometown. Before Katrina, the protagonist, Del, escaped to New York. After Katrina, the family patriarch sinks into assisted living. Their relations with each other and the world are stormy. One of them might have committed a murder. The Deep South can seem fatalistic at the best of times, but
By Anna Snoekstra Mira $15.99, 336 pages ISBN 9780778331094 Audio, eBook available THRILLER
At a time when it seems like there’s a new psychological thriller released every other week—either in book or video format—it is increasingly difficult to find one that stands out in a refreshing way. Anna Snoekstra accomplishes that in her sophomore novel, Little Secrets. This is a must-read for fans of Lisa Gardner and Gilly Macmillan, and is sure to be enjoyed by most mystery lovers. Best friends Rose and Mia know they are destined for bigger things than what the small Australian town of Colmstock has to offer. Once Rose’s journalism career takes off, they can say goodbye to their humdrum shifts serving beer at Eamon’s, the local police hangout, and move into the city. Until then, the two young women have front-row seats to the town’s most compelling happenings, as rehashed by Colmstock’s finest. When a series of fires ends in the death of a 13-year-old boy and suspicious dolls turn up on too many
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The holidays can test everyone’s limits, but imagine spending a week with your family– in quarantine. “This holiday read is perfect for fans of cozy Christmas films like Love Actually.” —Kirkus Reviews
To solve this crime, all you need is a little magic. New in the New York Times bestselling Magical Cat mystery series—Librarian Kathleen Paulsen must rely on the magical intuition of her cats, Hercules and Owen, when a twenty-year-old scandal leads to murder.
The new novel from Catherine Anderson, the beloved New York Times bestselling author of the Mystic Creek series.
Discover a feminist twist on the classic detective in the latest Lady Sherlock novel from Sherry Thomas.
“She gifts readers with a romantic tale that celebrates the hope and resilience of the human spirit.”
“You’ll savor the unraveling of the mystery and the brilliance of its heroine.”
reviews little girls’ doorsteps, the community is thrown into a tailspin. Rose seizes the opportunity to launch her journalism career by publishing an article about the supposed menace threatening the children of Colmstock. As suspicions grow and tempers rise, it becomes apparent that an ugly truth about the people of Colmstock will be revealed. Like Snoekstra’s debut, Only Daughter, Little Secrets explores the desperation that can live inside of us—and what happens when individuals have opposing but equally desperate desires. Readers will grow to care about the fates of ambitious Rose and nurturing Mia, as well as the policemen working the case. In addition, readers will thirst to uncover who’s responsible for stirring up the community and heinously stealing the life of a child. Despair makes for shocking choices, and no one makes it to the other side of this mystery unchanged. —AMANDA TRIVETT
HEATHER, THE TOTALITY By Matthew Weiner Little, Brown $25, 144 pages ISBN 9780316435314 Audio, eBook available DEBUT FICTION
Mark and Karen Breakstone could be any other mid-40s couple. They met through a setup by mutual friends, fell in love easily and quickly, and are slowly checking the boxes toward domestic bliss: marriage, financial security and then, finally, a baby. But this is a story from “Mad Men” creator and writer Matthew Weiner, and fans of his iconic TV show know it can’t be that simple. Spoiler alert: It isn’t. Mark’s career takes off in ways they couldn’t have imagined, and the Breakstones find themselves quite wealthy, establishing a posh lifestyle on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. After leaving her career to care for the baby, Karen finds herself resenting her husband, his success and little things about their marriage. Thankfully, Heather is an
FICTION angelic, easy baby, and she grows into a caring, intuitive and beautiful young woman. She is both the glue that keeps her family together and the thing that might tear them apart, each parent vying for her attention and affection, even at the peril of their own relationship. And when Heather catches the eye of Bobby Klasky, a construction worker renovating their apartment building, things take a dark turn. Bobby is a career criminal with a tragic past and a misanthropic present. Weiner tells Bobby’s story in parallel to the Breakstones’, switching back and forth between both narratives at an almost breathless pace. The novel seems to be building toward an inevitable, brutal end, and it is—just not in the way you might think. Heather, the Totality is a sharp, slim page-turner, though much simmers underneath the surface of Weiner’s deft prose. In his portrait of an American family in crisis, Weiner makes us question ourselves, our motivations and just how far we would go for the people we love.
Maguire drops readers behind the scenes of common childhood stories in such novels as Wicked, Mirror Mirror and After Alice, and in Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker, Maguire sweeps his readers deep into the forests of 19th-century Germany while linking his story to mythology and folklore. Paying homage to Hoffmann’s original tale, Maguire keeps us enchanted with the life of Drosselmeier, called Dirk, a boy of desperate beginnings who will later become a toymaker and Gregory the godfather Maguire to Klara (the unlocks the girl who will receive the secrets of the Nutcracker in Nutcracker) and whose inan enchanting teractions with origin story. the natural world make us long for the innocence and imagination of our own childhoods. Dirk, raised in the forest as a foundling, leaves his miserable upbringing after a harrowing lifeafter-death experience, the catalyst — A B B Y P L E S S E R for his connection to another dimension. His wide-eyed innocence serves him well as he traverses the HIDDENSEE bridge to manhood and the real By Gregory Maguire world, yet in his heart he knows there is more in the trees and Morrow streams and animals than what $26.99, 304 pages he encounters. He just has so few ISBN 9780062684387 Audio, eBook available people with whom he can share his secrets. FANTASY For those who are willing to hear and believe, Maguire unlocks the toymaker’s secrets—without Tchaikovsky’s famous N utcracker sugar plum fairies but with plenty ballet, heart of the holidays for of mesmerizing mysteries and the audiences worldwide, has its magic of childhood. roots in “The Nutcracker and the —LONNA UPTON Mouse King” by E.T.A. Hoffmann, a German writer in the early 1800s RADIO FREE VERMONT whose characters often move between real and fantasy worlds. By Bill McKibben Hoffmann’s tale of a nutcracker Blue Rider presented to a young girl on Christ$22, 240 pages mas Eve has been sweetened in ISBN 9780735219861 eBook available retellings through the years (most notably by Alexandre Dumas), yet DEBUT FICTION not one of the renditions of sugar plum fairies and battling mice has explained the origin of the titular Nutcracker . . . until now. Bill McKibben is well-known for Bestselling author Gregory his environmental activism, espe-
cially his passionate advocacy on the issue of climate change. With 16 books to his credit (including his 1989 work, The End of Nature, often considered to be the first book on climate change for a general audience), he has never before tried his hand at fiction. McKibben’s good-natured debut novel, Radio Free Vermont: A Fable of Resistance, is the story of a quartet of Vermonters who resort to unconventional tactics to persuade their fellow citizens to entertain the seemingly preposterous idea of seceding from the United States. The conspirators’ ringleader is Vern Barclay, a septuagenarian former talk show host. He holes up with Perry Alterson—a 19-year-old with mild Asperger’s syndrome and a passion for Motown music—in the home of Vern’s friend, Sylvia Granger, who runs a “School for New Vermonters” that teaches skills like driving in the mud. They’re joined by Trance Harper, a former Olympic biathlete. With Perry as his engineer, Vern launches a series of podcasts inspired by his concern that “our communities were starting to fail,” and urges the inhabitants of the Green Mountain State to consider following in the footsteps of the movement’s stubbornly independent patron saint: Revolutionary War soldier and politician Ethan Allen. The actions of Vern and his cohorts, including a few pranks that are more irritating than dangerous, provoke a gross overreaction by the authorities, played out in some scenes of mostly slapstick violence. McKibben wisely leaves unresolved the ultimate question of whether Vermonters will vote at their annual town meetings to support turning their state into a fledgling republic, while effectively portraying even Vern’s mounting ambivalence as his movement rapidly gathers momentum. Radio Free Vermont is less a brief for secession than it is a gentle argument for the virtues of responsible civic engagement. In a time when many Americans feel alienated from the machinery of government, that’s a message worth taking seriously. —HARVEY FREEDENBERG
Great Books The Lady with the Purple Hat
A Novel Otilia Greco
Bring Back Summertime Jeanne Starr Gater
www.iuniverse.com 978-1-5320-1321-8 Hardback | $26.99 978-1-5320-1319-5 Paperback | $13.99 978-1-5320-1320-1 E-book | $2.99
www.authorhouse.com 978-1-4567-4855-5 Hardback | $33.98 978-1-4567-4857-9 Paperback | $24.95 978-1-4567-4856-2 E-book | $10.99
Follow Daisy, hiding under the purple hat through hospital corridors to her husband’s room, hell-bent to speed his death by poisoning him, toward her uplifting change.
A true story of divine intervention. One woman's courage and faith against bitter odds, and one man's miraculous recovery! www.bringbacksummertime.com
Our Fated Century Grant Rodkey www.xlibris.com 978-1-5245-5817-8 Hardback | $29.99 978-1-5245-5816-1 Paperback | $19.99 978-1-5245-5815-4 E-book | $3.99 A kaleidoscopic scan of events and attitudes that have affected us and our fellow earthly travelers reveals insights during tumultuous period from 1917 to 2017.
A Conﬂict of Love and Duty Sheila Munds - Belbin www.authorhouse.co.uk 978-1-4817-8351-4 Paperback | $19.76 978-1-4817-9267-7 E-book | $8.99 Beloved Enemy follows Allison, a woman in the British Women’s Army, on her riveting spy mission to seduce a German colonel, who works in intelligence.
2D Surgical Hospital
An Khe to Chu Lai South Vietnam Lorna Griess www.xlibris.com 978-1-5245-6305-9 Hardback | $29.99 978-1-5245-6304-2 Paperback | $19.99 978-1-5245-6303-5 E-book | $3.99 2D Surgical Hospital shares the story and experience of Lorna Griess living and working in a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) in South Vietnam.
How Grandpa Tata Caught a Ginormous Fish without a Hook Dhan Reddy www.iuniverse.com 978-1-5320-0752-1 Paperback | $14.99 978-1-5320-0753-8 E-book | $3.99 One night, Grandpa and Dinesh go in search of a big ﬁsh. They don’t take a ﬁshing pole and bait. No, Grandpa takes a piglet!
Knight Tales eLBe www.xlibris.com 978-1-5245-4671-7 E-book | $9.99 Fibonacci Tales are ﬁction written in the format of the Fibonacci sequence. It is for electronic book reading, with music callouts essential to the stories.
Resurrection Andrew Iddon www.iuniverse.com 978-1-4759-2987-4 Hardback | $23.95 978-1-4759-2985-0 Paperback | $13.95 978-1-4759-2986-7 E-book | $3.99 An ancient enemy intent on the destruction of humanity reappears. Can a young soldier stop the Nazis from ﬁnishing the job they started millennia ago?
The Body on the Lido Deck
A Toni Day Mystery Jane Bennett Munro www.iuniverse.com 978-1-4917-9550-7 Paperback | $20.99 978-1-4917-9551-4 E-book | $3.99
Twin Falls pathologist Toni Day is vacationing on a Caribbean cruise. But when a body falls into the pool next to her, Toni investigates the murder.
Ni a Cubetadas Angélica González www.authorhouse.com 978-1-5049-5892-9 Hardback | $26.99 978-1-5049-5890-5 Paperback | $19.99 978-1-5049-5891-2 E-book | $3.99 Ni a Cubetadas guides readers through several extreme and funny situations to deal with the tedious bath-time. This story promotes environment preservation and animal welfare.
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THE RIVER OF CONSCIOUSNESS By Oliver Sacks
LEONARDO DA VINCI
The original Renaissance man
Knopf $27, 256 pages ISBN 9780385352567 Audio, eBook available PHILOSOPHY
R E V I E W B Y K E L LY B L E W E T T
Walter Isaacson, who recently authored the door-stopping, New York Times bestselling biography of Steve Jobs, turns his attention to Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci in his latest book. Careful scouring of Leonardo’s notebooks, located variously in the United States, France, England and Italy, enabled Isaacson to write a work of breathtaking scope and intimacy. Leonardo, the bastard son of a notary, had what Isaacson calls “an instinct for keeping records.” He filled notebooks with observations, sketches, lists and questions about the world. The many pleasures within Isaacson’s thick tome include gorgeous illustrations, beautiful and precise writing, surprising glimpses into Leonardo’s thinking and, perhaps most satisfyingly, a stunning survey of the artist’s best-known works. Isaacson closely observes the paintings, guiding readers to consider their complexity, implied movement By Walter Isaacson and brilliant interplay of shadow and light. Isaacson also elaborates Simon & Schuster, $35, 624 pages on Leonardo’s innovative approaches to painting, such as sfumato, the ISBN 9781501139154, audio, eBook available shading of edges through shadow rather than lines. BIOGRAPHY Leonardo’s life led him to the courts of Milan, Florence, various Italian cities and finally to France. Isaacson explores not only the artistic masterpieces that Leonardo left behind, but also the many remarkable treatises on anatomy, engineering and geography, and the projects that were left unfinished, including a gigantic bronze sculpture of a horse (his rival Michelangelo never let him forget that). Leonardo was a singular man, interested in a range of topics from flying machines and fetal development to the properties of water and the deadliest weapons on the battlefield. Rather than viewing Leonardo’s broad interests as distractions from his artistry, Isaacson helps readers see how the vigorous curiosity Visit BookPage.com to read that animated these investigations enriched both Leonardo’s life and his art. a Q&A with Walter Isaacson.
SPINELESS By Juli Berwald
Riverhead $27, 352 pages ISBN 9780735211261 Audio, eBook available SCIENCE
Juli Berwald fell in love with the ocean during her junior year abroad in Israel, when, on a whim, she signed up for a weeklong marine biology course, snorkeling amid the coral reefs of the Red Sea. “It was as if I were Dorothy stepping into Oz,” she writes, remembering how her “world erupted in a kaleidoscope of colors, shapes, and textures.” She went on to receive a Ph.D. in ocean science, eventu-
ally becoming a science textbook writer. Later, as a mother of two living in landlocked Austin, Texas, she “stumbled” upon jellyfish while working on a project with a National Geographic photographer. She became obsessed with the creatures, realizing that “to research jellyfish is not just to look at the creature unfamiliar and bizarre to most, but to study the planet and our place in it.” Berwald shares her “crazy jellyfish adventure” in the fascinating Spineless. Reminiscent of Hope Jahren’s Lab Girl, Spineless reveals not only an around-the-world exploration of emerging science but also Berwald’s evolution as a science writer, learning to “write a book that matters,” as one jellyfish expert challenged her. Are a series of jellyfish blooms simply a natural cycle, or are they
a dire indication of global warming and increased ocean acidification? The answer, it turns out, is complicated. What’s more, jellyfish are both friend and foe—useful as food and possibly in medicine and engineering, but also the source of stings and a cause of major power plant-disrupting clogs. As Berwald snorkels amid a jellyfish bloom in the Bay of Haifa, she watches a research photographer cavort with jellyfish like a dolphin. Readers can’t help but be swept away with enthusiasm as the researcher surfaces to say, “I love them so much. They’re like dancers.” Full of humor and intrigue, Spineless is a seaworthy saga brimming with information about not only jellyfish but also about the health and future of the oceans and our planet. —ALICE CARY
When Oliver Sacks died in 2015, the world lost a writer whose insatiable curiosity about the connections between every facet of life permeated his elegant, joyous and illuminating essays and books. His memoirs, such as Uncle Tungsten, reveal a man peering into the corners of life and discovering sparkling rays connecting family life, human nature and the life of the mind. His books, from The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat to Musicophilia, lead us gently and warmly into the labyrinths of psychology and the quirkiness of science without losing us along the way. Two weeks before he died, Sacks outlined the contents of The River of Consciousness and directed the book’s three editors to arrange its publication. Although a number of the essays in this collection appeared previously in The New York Review of Books (the book is dedicated to the late Robert Silvers, its longtime editor), they read as if they’ve been written just for us. In the essays, Sacks moves over and through topics ranging from speed and time, creativity, memory and its failings, disorder, consciousness, evolution and botany. In a fascinating essay on Charles Darwin, Sacks reminds us that Darwin was deeply interested in botany and spent much of his time following the publication of The Origin of Species exploring the evolution of plants. Sacks points out that Darwin illuminated for the first time the coevolution of plants and insects. Creativity, according to Sacks, is “physiologically distinctive. . . . If we had the ability to make fine enough brain images, these would show an unusual and widespread activity with innumerable connections and
NONFICTION synchronizations occurring.” Sacks’ golden voice and his brilliant insights live on in the essays collected in The River of Consciousness, and for that we’re fortunate. —HENRY L. CARRIGAN JR.
QUEEN VICTORIA’S MATCHMAKING By Deborah Cadbury
PublicAffairs $27, 416 pages ISBN 9781610398466 eBook available HISTORY
In her latest book, celebrated writer and BBC producer Deborah Cadbury (of the chocolate family) turns her attention to the final years of the Victorian era. Although Queen Victoria remained in mourning for her beloved husband, Prince Albert, from his untimely death in 1861 until her own death in 1901, her 42 grandchildren kept her extremely busy in the last few decades of her long reign. Finding appropriate spouses for them all was more than a mere family matter: The fate of European stability hung in the balance. The plan, inspired by Prince Albert, was to export Britain’s constitutional monarchy throughout Europe by marrying British royalty into the various royal lines of Europe: Denmark, Prussia and Russia. If only the royals were so obedient! While some of Queen Victoria’s children and grandchildren were pliable (especially Vicky, her oldest daughter), others (like naughty Bertie and his children) were less so. Readers will need a scorecard to keep up with them all, but rest assured, there will be mistresses, euphemisms for sexually transmitted infections (poor Eddie’s “gout”) and general disobedience. Queen Victoria’s Matchmaking is targeted at royal-watchers and viewers of BBC’s great biopic television series “Victoria.” It may also interest readers of the “what-if” school of history. What if Princess Vicky’s husband, Frederick, had lived to become the Emperor of
Prussia? Would his liberal values have united Britain and Germany and forestalled the wars of the 20th century? Ultimately, however, this is a rich history of Queen Victoria’s canny use of political power. “Grandmama’s” interest in the marriages of her children and grandchildren goes far beyond a doting mother’s dedication to her family: Matchmaking had the power to make and break empires—if only those being matched would do as they were told.
A MESSAGE of HOPE FOR
A FFECTED BY ALZHEIMER’S
100 AMAZING FACTS ABOUT THE NEGRO By Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Pantheon $40, 496 pages ISBN 9780307908711 eBook available HISTORY
If you only know Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr. as the engaging host of the PBS series “Finding Your Roots,” you might at first be perplexed by what he calls “the retro title” of his new work. It was, in fact, chosen in homage to a 1957 book by Joel Augustus Rogers entitled 100 Amazing Facts About the Negro with Complete Proof, which was billed at the time as a sort of Ripley’s Believe It or Not! about black history. If Rogers was a black history teacher for the 20th century, Gates is certainly one for ours. Like Rogers, Gates aspires “to be ever curious, open, and alive,” and his writing here showcases those qualities. Rogers based his book on his newspaper columns. Likewise, Gates’ selections first appeared as essays in his online magazine The Root. A series of 100 questions with short answers, the book is a freewheeling exploration of black history. Gates takes on questions such as “Who was the first black saint?” as well as “Who was the first black person to see the baby Jesus?” and “What happened to
“Since fear is itself lethal, The Spectrum of Hope is good medicine.” —GLORIA STEINEM
“Devi is a wonderful, truthful storyteller . . . full of natural understanding and empathy. Will be helpful to millions of readers who fear this Thing in their lives.” —DAVID SMALL, author of Stitches: A Memoir
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reviews Argentina’s black population?” An essay about the first black fighter pilot is followed by a question about slave ownership. Topics range from sports to civil rights and the slave trade, the Civil War, piracy and even the Salem witch trials. Gates is a historian, but he is also a consummate teacher. And one of the charms of the volume is that the essays appear in no particular order, making it ideal for dipping into at will or keeping on a bedside table to pick up before bed. But be forewarned: In the hands of a skilled storyteller like Gates, this fascinating history will definitely not put you to sleep. —DEBORAH HOPKINSON
THE INNER LIFE OF ANIMALS By Peter Wohlleben
Translated by Jane Billinghurst Greystone Books $24.95, 272 pages ISBN 9781771643016 eBook available NATURE
Who doesn’t like to imagine that animals have humanlike qualities? In his new book, The Inner Life of Animals, author Peter Wohlleben (The Hidden Life of Trees) postulates that animals of all shapes and sizes do indeed share many of the same characteristics as humans, such as love, grief, empathy, courage and gratitude. The book is laid out as a series of short chapters, each focusing on a different emotional state and how it relates to animals. Using research studies and his own experiences as the manager of a woodland area in Germany, Wohlleben carefully lays out his opinions and reasoning of his belief that animals are similar to people in the way they interact with their surroundings. For animal lovers, his fascinating, enjoyable prose serves as affirmation that their furry friends are complex beings. However, those who are scientifically minded might be a little more skeptical, since it is commonly thought that animal behavior is
NONFICTION instinctive. Wohlleben anticipates this, raising the argument that it is difficult to prove that all humans experience things in the exact same way. Since we share comparable genetic code with animals, he theorizes that they also have varying degrees of sensations, but it is difficult for them to communicate how they are feeling. Wohlleben raises other interesting connections, resulting in a narrative that is both entertaining and provocative. For example, he points out that emotions are linked to the unconscious part of the brain. Since “every species of animal experiences unconscious brain activity, and because this activity directs how the animal interacts with the world, every animal must also have emotions.” Wohlleben’s insightful observations will hopefully help build a better understanding of animals and their emotional world. —BECKY LIBOUREL DIAMOND
AN AMERICAN FAMILY By Khizr Khan
Random House $27, 288 pages ISBN 9780399592492 Audio, eBook available MEMOIR
Few would disagree that the climax of the 2016 Democratic National Convention was when Khizr Khan, a Gold Star Father, held up his copy of the U.S. Constitution and challenged Donald Trump to read it. It was an audacious gesture that was grounded in firmly held conviction. Regardless of one’s politics, there was something profoundly admirable about this man. In his eloquent memoir, An American Family, Khan retraces the steps that brought him from his grandfather’s house in Pakistan to the stage of the Democratic National Convention. His grandfather instilled in Khan a compassionate morality that is firmly rooted in Islam. Throughout his life, his grandfather’s wisdom guided Khan. It sustained him through his
struggle for an education; his lyrical romance with his wife, Ghazala; his single-minded determination to succeed in America; and, ultimately, his grief at the death of his beloved son, Captain Humayun Khan, who sacrificed his life while protecting others from a suicide bomber. Khan opens his book by describing his first encounter with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution while he was a law student in Lahore, Pakistan. The documents’ assertion of inalienable rights and equality resonated with Khan, who lived in a society that promised neither. He never doubted the promise of the words he read in Lahore. Khan’s story is both unique and archetypal. Like generations of immigrants before them, the Khans sacrificed in order to achieve the American Dream. They became citizens and raised their three sons to be good men. When Humayun joined the Army, the Khans, although fearful, respected his commitment to his country. Sometimes it takes a newcomer to point out the beauty that old-timers take for granted. America, more than any other country, was founded upon ideals: individual freedoms, equal protection and due process of law. Khan reminds us that these ideals are worth fighting—and even dying—for. The Khans truly are the most American of families. —DEBORAH MASON
JEWISH COMEDY By Jeremy Dauber Norton $28.95, 384 pages ISBN 9780393247879 Audio, eBook available HISTORY
For a people who have experienced centuries of persecution, Jews have managed to find the humor in even their darkest moments. Spanning the breadth of that history, from the Bible to “Seinfeld” and beyond, Columbia
University professor Jeremy Dauber’s Jewish Comedy: A Serious History is an erudite and entertaining exploration of the multidimensional Jewish comic sensibility, one that plows familiar ground while also unearthing humor in some surprising places. Forgoing a chronological approach that would relegate consideration of contemporary Jewish comedy to the concluding chapters, Dauber instead organizes his book around seven themes. They encompass everything from the “bookish, witty, intellectual allusive play” of Jewish humor (think Woody Allen’s films) to its sometimes “vulgar, raunchy and body-obsessed” qualDauber ity, as in Mel delivers Brooks’ Blazan erudite ing Saddles or the raw humor exploration of stand-up of the Jewish comedian comic Sarah Silversensibility. man. Jewish comedy has, at times, provided a sort of armor against oppression, while at others it’s served as a means of entry into the wider world. Readers who identify Jewish comedy solely with the army of brilliant stand-up comedians familiar to American audiences will be impressed by Dauber’s ability to find humor in sources that include the Hebrew Bible’s prophets. For all their passion for social justice, he argues, “satire was among their main weapons.” He’s especially fond of the biblical Book of Esther—what he calls “the great source of Jewish comedy”—so much so that he’s able to connect it to each of his seven themes. It’s the foundation text for the exuberant holiday of Purim, and a source for the joke that wryly (if inaccurately) sums up all the Jewish holidays: “They tried to kill us; we survived; let’s eat.” Jewish Comedy offers a comprehensive, accessible treatment of a complex subject. As the famous 1960s ad campaign for Levy’s rye bread told us, you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy it. — HARVEY FREEDENBERG
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LONG WAY DOWN
The journey to the ground floor REVIEW BY DEAN SCHNEIDER
Fifteen-year-old Will Holloman is, indeed, a hollow man (as suggested by his last name). His older brother, Shawn, has been shot and killed, and Will’s sadness over Shawn’s absence is like a tooth that has been ripped out, and his tongue keeps slipping “into the new empty space, / where you know / a tooth supposed to be / but ain’t no more.” Now Will intends to follow the three rules of the street: no crying, no snitching, get revenge. He’s going to play by the rules, which “weren’t meant to be broken. / They were meant for the broken / to follow.” With his brother’s gun in the waistband of his jeans, he heads to his building’s elevator. And here, acclaimed author Jason Reynolds’ brilliant new novel-in-verse (recently nominated for a National Book Award) becomes a ghost story—a gritty, streetwise A Christmas Carol. As the elevator descends, different ghosts of shootings past—each By Jason Reynolds connected to Will in sometimes surprising ways—enter the carriage. Caitlyn Dlouhy, $17.99, 320 pages They share experiences, question him and challenge his motives. It’s ISBN 9781481438254, audio, eBook available a long way down from the eighth floor to the lobby, but it only takes Ages 12 and up seven floors, 60 seconds and six ghosts to make him question his quest for revenge. Reynolds’ elegant verse begs to be read aloud, and teachers NOVEL-IN-VERSE will want to discuss what Will might have taken away from each ghostly visit. An ambiguous ending prompts further questions: What, if anything, has Will learned? Is he destined to be just another “block boy” looking to off somebody?
RENEGADES By Marissa Meyer Feiwel & Friends $19.99, 576 pages ISBN 9781250044662 Audio, eBook available Ages 12 and up SCIENCE FICTION
Years ago, when society was overrun by bands of anarchists and supervillains, the Renegades—a group of prodigies with superhuman abilities—emerged to reclaim peace and justice. But by then, their broken promises had cost Nova her family, and she’s spent her entire life training to exact revenge. But when Nova gets to know her enemies (in particular, Adrian, a Renegade boy her own age), she begins to suspect that justice isn’t as black and white as it once seemed. Marissa Meyer, bestselling
author of the fairy tale-inspired Lunar Chronicles series, is sure to please both her die-hard fans and newcomers alike with Renegades. Borrowing heavily from established superhero lore, Meyer has created a society that is utterly reliant on the Renegades to keep them safe from harm—of the everyday and prodigious varieties. Though some of her supporting characters feel a bit derivative, Meyer has done a remarkable job flipping the hero-versus-villain trope on its head and blurring the lines between good and evil. Nova and Adrian should be mortal enemies, but through their seamlessly alternating points of view, Meyer lets readers watch as they form an unlikely friendship and begin to question everything they’ve grown up believing. The twists and turns in this supercharged story will keep readers on their toes as they try to untangle the complex lines between hero and villain, friend and foe, right and wrong. —SARAH WEBER
THE 57 BUS By Dashka Slater FSG $17.99, 320 pages ISBN 9780374303235 eBook available Ages 12 and up TRUE CRIME
In this true story of two teenagers from different sides of Oakland, California, and the bus ride that leaves one of them severely burned and the other facing criminal charges, award-winning journalist and author Dashka Slater chips away at the binaries that frame our understanding of the world. Sasha, a white genderqueer high school student, was wearing a skirt on the bus when Richard, a black student from a struggling neighborhood, set Sasha’s skirt on fire. The genre-bending story that follows is no simple morality tale, as
it reveals the tangled complexities of gender, race, crime, justice and hope in America. Bird’s-eye views of Oakland and official statistics are spliced together with instant messages, social media posts and other primary sources. Emphasizing the interconnected nature of humanity, Slater reveals her characters and their web of relationships with deftness and fluidity. The 57 Bus does what all great books do—reveals our world to us anew. —J O N L I T T L E
Visit BookPage.com to read a Q&A with Dashka Slater.
FRAGMENTS OF THE LOST By Megan Miranda Crown $18.99, 384 pages ISBN 9780399556722 eBook available Ages 14 and up MYSTERY
“His mother asked me to do this, because she said it wasn’t something a mother should ever have to do.” And so 17-year-old Jessa Whitworth finds herself packing up the belongings of her dead ex-boyfriend, Caleb. She was the last person he spoke to before his car was swept away in a flash flood. Each token she finds, be it a photograph or a dog-eared copy of The Grapes of Wrath, conjures haunting memories of their relationship. But as Jessa digs further into Caleb’s life, she unearths facts about a person she may not have truly known at all. Told in three parts, Megan Miranda’s new novel transitions from Jessa’s grief to her frantic search for answers. Interspersed throughout are snippets of her relationship with Caleb, allowing readers to piece together the clues that lead to an edge-ofyour-seat denouement. Skillfully crafted, Fragments of the Lost is a suspenseful, heart-in-your-throat read. — K I M B E R LY G I A R R A T A N O
A strange history worth believing
ome sample career advice: “Fake it till you make it.” “Dress for the job you want.” “Pride goes before a fall.” Now imagine all that advice smashed together when you’re 13 years old (or maybe 9, you’re not sure) and all alone in the world, and the new job you’re prepping for is king of England.
With The Player King, inspired by a case of truth being way stranger than fiction, Avi (the author of 75-plus books, including Nothing but the Truth and Newbery Medal-winning Crispin: The Cross of Lead) shares with readers the amazing story of Lambert Simnel, a young boy in 1486 who briefly played at being an actual monarch despite having no royal blood, education or anything else that might qualify or prepare him to rule a country. In a call to his home in Colorado, where he lives with his wife, Avi explains that it was an exciting day some 15 years ago when he came across the scant facts that inspired him to write The Player King. “I read a lot of British history,” Avi says, “and Lambert was literally a footnote. Considering who I write for, what I write and that he’s still a mystery, what could be better than
THE PLAYER KING
Atheneum, $16.99, 208 pages ISBN 9781481437684, eBook available Ages 8 to 12
that? . . . I couldn’t dream this up.” In Avi’s hands, that footnote blossoms into a fascinating, entertaining, historically accurate story set in the late 15th century, at the beginning of the Tudor period. Henry VII has taken the “My own English throne, personal even though mantra is that he wasn’t next in line writers don’t write writing, to reign, and angry, ousted they write politicians reading.” and clerics are casting about for ways to regain the power they believe is rightfully theirs. Meanwhile, Lambert toils away as a scullion at Tackley’s Tavern in Oxford. His existence is an unendingly dreary one. He has no idea where his parents are, and he’s always dirty, hungry and getting yelled at, although he does maintain a wry sense of humor: “In short,” our narrator says, “my life was worth no more than a spot of dry spit.” His only joy comes from bakery runs, when he can pause for a moment to watch street performers poke fun at the royal family, and imagine what it would be like to be a player touring the country and having people laughingly bow to him. Then, in a confusing, bizarre series of events, a friar named Brother Simonds swoops in and tells Lambert he’s not a lowly orphaned scullion—he’s the rightful king of England. At the behest of the Earl of Lincoln, the friar spirits Lambert away (after buying him from the tavern keeper) so he can train the boy to become—or at least pass for—royalty. Avi’s singular ability to convey
multitudes via carefully crafted, often spare phrases is evident throughout The Player King—but especially so at this point in the story, as Lambert marvels at and is overwhelmed by sights, smells and sensations most modern-day readers likely take for granted. “My own personal mantra is that writers don’t write writing, they write reading,” Avi says. “I think that if you write well, and I sometimes can, you can get an emotional response just to the structure of the words. You create an image, a sense of place and being that goes beyond plot, that goes to the heart of the experience.” Lambert’s new experiences are unceasing: When he looks out the window of his new home, “A bird flew by . . . below! I, who had spent my whole remembered life in a cellar, as if in a tomb—it made me dizzy to see such things from such a height.” As he begins to acclimate to his new life, Lambert slowly gains confidence. There’s a different purpose to his days—and a journey ahead that will shock him—but there’s also a strange yet comforting familiarity in still being constantly reminded to obey. “A key part of the book for me is his rumination on being told what to do,” Avi says. “He can clear a table, and also be a king. What happens when you start to believe
INTERVIEW BY LINDA M. CASTELLITTO
[that] yourself? . . . It’s a little like Pygmalion or My Fair Lady, the idea that you can create this image of class and position by manipulating the surface.” Speaking of manipulation, Avi says, “Most of the writing [of this era’s history] was done at the behest of the Tudors, who wanted to make sure nobody believed this story. And yet, [someone] did write about it, it was real. . . . It’s all about learning about the propaganda, and understanding why they were so fearful of this kid when they were the ones that created him.” Curious readers will be glad to know that Avi provides further details of Lambert’s history in an author’s note at the book’s end. They’re tantalizing details, to be sure, but Lambert still remains largely a mystery—a story to be believed, but also to be imagined. “ ‘The writer’s job is to imagine the truth,’ ” Avi says, quoting writer Paula Fox. “I love the idea that one imagines the truth and tries to create that in readers’ heads.” He adds, “It’s an interesting concept, I think, that one sees more of the world when you read than you do with your eyes. That’s just extraordinary.”
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THE SECRET OF NIGHTINGALE WOOD
Hope found in a secret forest REVIEW BY DEBORAH HOPKINSON
The year is 1919. In Great Britain, World War I has ended, but the scars of that terrible conflict remain, both for veterans and bereaved families. Twelve-year-old Henry (short for Henrietta) and her family have come from London to spend the summer in the countryside. They’re seeking to heal from a different tragedy: Henry’s older brother has died in a fire, devastating them all, especially Henry’s mother. “Coming to live here at Hope House was supposed to make Mama better,” Henry says, “but she wasn’t getting better, she was getting worse. It was as if she was becoming a ghost.” Ghosts are an underlying theme in Lucy Strange’s poignant debut, published earlier in the U.K. to critical acclaim. At times, Henry imagines conversations with her brother. But one ghost in Nightingale Wood By Lucy Strange turns out to be real: a ghostly pale, witch-like woman named Moth. Chicken House, $16.99, 304 pages When Henry’s father departs for several months of work abroad, he ISBN 9781338157475, audio, eBook available leaves the nanny in charge and his wife in the care of the disreputable Ages 8 to 12 Dr. Hardy. Increasingly, Henry feels like she’s losing control of her famMIDDLE GRADE ily. The situation escalates when the doctor insists Henry’s baby sister would be better cared for by his wife, and he commits Henry’s mother to a mental institution. Can Henry find adult allies to help her? As with Kimberly Brubaker Bradley’s The War I Finally Won, set during World War II, this evocative novel explores a time period little known to American children. And while a note on the historical period would be a welcome addition, young readers will nevertheless identify with Henry’s desire to find a way to hold her family together—and find hope again.
WINTER DANCE By Marion Dane Bauer
Illustrated by Richard Jones HMH $16.99, 40 pages ISBN 9780544313347 eBook available Ages 4 to 7
Winter Dance, from Newbery Honor winner Marion Dane Bauer and British illustrator Richard Jones, is a gentle tale of the coming of winter in the forest. The lilting language, soothing colors and finely textured artwork engage young readers in a fox’s wonder as snow covers the ground, softening the world around him. When the fine red fox feels the tingle of the first snowflake settling on his nose, he ponders how to pass the cold winter days ahead. Plenty of creatures are happy to
advise him. A caterpillar suggests a cozy chrysalis, but the fox knows a cocoon is not for him. A turtle suggests a dive beneath the cool, snug mud as he disappears into the pond, but the fox isn’t big on ooze. The bats whirring above his head tell him to dip into a cave and hang upside down by his toes, but that won’t work either. The fox decides he should stay put, even as the geese overhead leave for warmer climes. A snowshoe hare suggests he try the magic trick of turning white to match the “whitening world,” but the fox likes his red fur. Even the great black bear curls up for a long nap, leaving the fox quite alone. Awake in a sleeping world, the fox feels energized, but the wind soon calms him with a hush. When a low whistle calls, he’s delighted to meet another fine red fox who finally shares what foxes do in winter. They dance! —BILLIE B. LITTLE
BEFORE SHE WAS HARRIET By Lesa ClineRansome
Illustrated by James E. Ransome Holiday House $17.95, 32 pages ISBN 9780823420476 Ages 4 to 8
Children may be familiar with the name Harriet Tubman, and they may even know some of the story of the Underground Railroad. But they probably don’t know Harriet the person—from her days before she led slaves to freedom. In a clever and poetic take on the life of this famed figure, the dynamic team of Lesa Cline-Ransome and her husband, James E. Ransome, goes backward in time. The book opens with a powerful portrait of a wizened Tubman, tired and worn from her decades of fighting for freedom. With every
page turn, short verse takes readers further back, to when Tubman was a suffragist, a nurse, a Union spy, an aunt, a slave known as Minty . . . and a little girl known as Araminta. It’s important to remember Tubman’s contributions, but it’s even more important to realize that she once was a young girl, full of strength, courage and the will to do something. This is a powerful and poetic biographical sketch ideal for elementary school readers. —SHARON VERBETEN
SILENT DAYS, SILENT DREAMS By Allen Say
Arthur A. Levine $21.99, 64 pages ISBN 9780545927611 eBook available Ages 7 to 12 PICTURE BOOK
In what he describes as “an imagined biography,” Allen Say humanizes the troubled and determined American artist James Castle. Born premature in 1899 in Idaho, Castle was deaf, autistic and probably dyslexic. Undiagnosed for years, he and a sibling were eventually sent to a school for the deaf and blind, to which Castle never acclimated. Sent back home, where he lived in an empty shed or even, at times, a chicken house, Castle was isolated and spent his life creating drawings and handmade books with found materials and soot, using spit as a fixative. He also made cutout dolls, the only friends he had. “He drew from memory and in secrecy,” Say writes. His work is now revered as that of an original artist, one whose art was his vocabulary. Say tells this fictionalized biography from the point of view of Castle’s nephew, using much creative license. He also varies his style and artistic mediums throughout the book, often drawing with his nondominant hand when recreating Castle’s “unschooled” works. And there’s nary a reproduction to be found; Say faithfully reimagines many of Castle’s pieces using the same materials Castle did—sharp sticks, soot, spit and shoe polish. This is a haunting story, filled
CHILDREN’S with the stark, striking images of Castle’s memory: faceless teachers with whom he was unable to communicate; children who taunted him; the view from the open door of the attic, where he was often forced to stay as a child; and much more. There was an orderliness to Castle’s art, and Say’s beguiling compositions, which include small vignettes, reflect this. This is an utterly fascinating work. —J U L I E D A N I E L S O N
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MR. GEDRICK AND ME By Patrick Carman Katherine Tegen $16.99, 224 pages ISBN 9780062421609 eBook available Ages 8 to 12
weighty subjects like grief and loss with such grace, love and wonder, but Mr. Gedrick and Me by bestselling author Patrick Carman does all this and more while overflowing with marvelous fun. —ALICE CARY
meet BRYAN COLLIER
the title of your Q: What’s new book?
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THE WHIZ MOB AND THE GRENADINE KID By Colin Meloy
Illustrated by Carson Ellis Balzer + Bray $17.99, 432 pages ISBN 9780062342454 Audio, eBook available Ages 8 to 12 MIDDLE GRADE
From the duo behind the bestselling Wildwood Chronicles comes a new adventure that illuminates a thrilling, underground world of pickpockets. MIDDLE GRADE As the son of a consul general, Charlie Fisher lives a sheltered, Everyone needs a Mr. Gedrick in sometimes lonely life in the marvelous city of Marseille. His their lives, but especially 9-yeardays often consist of nothing old Stanley Darrow and his family, more exciting than lessons with who are reeling from the death his tutor and social events with of Stanley’s father. Stanley’s older his father. But all of that changes brother and sister ignore him, one seemingly ordinary Tuesday while his architect mother flounmorning, when Charlie happens to ders as she attempts to work from witness something extraordinary: a home. Meanwhile, the house is a gang of young pickpockets pulling mess, as no one has the energy or off a robbery in the middle of a heart to take over the duties of the crowded, public square. Charlie is Darrows’ stay-at-home dad. mesmerized, and from that fateful Healing begins when the day he becomes entrenched in the Darrows’ self-appointed nanny, a world of masterful thieves known strange man named Mr. Gedrick, as the whiz mob. But when this suddenly appears on their doorseemingly harmless new pastime step—a Mary Poppins-like figure leads Charlie into danger, he must with a fuzzy green jacket and an odd little car he calls Fred. Initially decide if this life is really worth the risks that come with it. wary, Stanley and his family can’t Colin Meloy writes in a voice help but be amazed by the newcomer. Cleanup happens magically sharp with wit and precision, creating a rich and vibrant world in minutes, with everyone workcomplemented by Carson Ellis’ art ing together with “a splish and a at every turn. Each member of the splash” or “a flick and a sniff.” Mr. Gedrick has secret projects in store whiz mob is given a distinct voice and personality, making readers for everyone in the family, giving feel as if they are part of the crew them the courage to tackle huge themselves, learning the lingo and hurdles that have become roadpickpocketing culture right alongblocks since Mr. Darrow’s death, side Charlie. This is a unique and and helping them find the faith uproarious reading experience, they need in themselves and each and one not to be missed. other in this new, dadless world. —HANNAH LAMB Rare is the book that takes on
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HEY BLACK CHILD Bryan Collier is a six-time Coretta Scott King Award winner and four-time Caldecott Honor recipient. His new picture book, Hey Black Child (Little, Brown, $17.99, 40 pages, ISBN 9780316360302, ages 4 to 8), brings to life the powerful poem by Useni Eugene Perkins, celebrating the strength and talents of black children. Collier lives in Marlboro, New York, with his wife and children.