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We talk to bestselling author Ransom Riggs about the movie adaptation of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
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Ali Smith cares about libraries, which is hardly a shocking revelation to hear about an award-winning fiction writer. More specifically, though, Smith is concerned about the fate of public libraries in her native Britain, where, as in parts of the U.S., funding cuts have made the future of these venerable and necessary institutions tenuous. So, in an act of literary activism, Smith has turned her magical new collection of short fiction, Public Library and Other Stories (Anchor, $16, 240 pages, ISBN 9781101973042), into a celebration of what she calls the “Democracy of reading, democracy of space: our public library tradition.” Interspersed with her 12 innovative stories are reflections from other writers and readers about the importance of public libraries in their lives, past and present. These create an informal manifesto that supplements Smith’s fictional exploration of the power of literature in our lives. To call these stories magical is not an empty word choice, because Smith is a narrative magician here, often employing an artful sleight of hand that can suddenly move a story from one idea to the next with the seamlessness of a casual conversation. All are in first person, giving them the immediacy of memoir, even as they may take a strange turn into a less-than-realistic world. One of the best, “The exwife,” features a frustrated woman whose marriage disintegrated because of her husband’s obsession with the writer Katherine Mansfield. The specter of Mansfield then becomes her unlikely confidante. In another, “Say I won’t be there,” a dream about the pop singer Dusty Springfield becomes not only a connection to childhood, but a humorous study of the distracted impatience and underlying affection
of a committed relationship. The true nature of the literary games that Smith is playing here may be embodied in the fact that there is no story called “Public Library” in this book, despite the collection’s title. Yet, all the stories are, in one way or another, pointed celebrations of the power of literature in our lives. Writers like Mansfield, Woolf, Kipling and Keats insert themselves into the characters’ daily lives with the ease and familiarity of reality television stars. A story’s narrator might take a tangential detour into a word’s etymology and it all seems perfectly normal, as if each of us carries out our lives immersed in the power of literature, in writing, in words. Smith would suggest that we do. So, in her brilliant, off-kilter world, it seems perfectly normal that a story that starts with an act of credit card fraud would turn into a rumination on the fate of D.H. Lawrence’s cremated remains. It is how our minds work, Smith seems to say. Or, at least the way our minds Ali Smith’s should work if magical we are readers, collection of living under short fiction literature’s spell even celebrates when we are the power of engaged in the libraries and mundane. literature in Smith salts her wisdom our lives. with humor, conveying the kind of fierce, subtle wit that makes one pine to have dinner with her, to learn what else resides in her singular brain. Not so different from a library, perhaps— where surprises await on unexplored shelves and in unexpected corners. As Helen Oyeyemi tells Smith, “The public library network definitely strikes me as some sort of live and benevolent organism.” Those same adjectives can be quite easily applied to Smith’s storytelling talents.
LIFESTYLES B Y S U S A N N A H F E LT S
Wardrobe function Raise your hand if you’ve got overflowing drawers but nothing to wear. Or if magazine fodder about style drives you crazy. Bohemian? Preppy? Romantic? I never see myself reflected in any of these looks, and I know I’m not alone. That’s why The Curated Closet (Ten Speed, $24.99, 272 pages, ISBN 9781607749486) is
genius: Anuschka Rees, of the style blog Into Mind, takes a different approach to helping women discover their personal style. Though hers is minimalist (not in aesthetics, but in terms of being selective), her goal is “not to build a wardrobe that is small as possible but one that is functional and personalized as possible.” Not a huge clothes hound myself, I’ve never felt so enthused to tackle a closet overhaul as I am after perusing Rees’ sections on how to discover personal style, build a dream wardrobe and learn the art of shopping. A fascinating “Closet Diagnostics” flowchart starts things off, and a latter section teaches garment assessment, led by Rees’ argument that “you don’t need a fat wallet to put together a high-quality wardrobe.” Sold.
HACK JOB Here’s a clever and trendy term, unknown to me until just now: “Flatpack hacks,” or the art of modifying contemporary, assemble-it-yourself furniture with creative or functional features. I Modify IKEA (Ulysses Press, $24.95, 144 pages, ISBN 9781612436104) is here to bring out the hacker in all of us, with projects ranging from scissor-andglue jobs to advanced projects enlisting power tools. Sometimes it’s simply about adding visual sizzle, like a wash of metallic paint,
geometric patterns cut from contact paper or a charming stripe of washi tape. Often, a winning hack repurposes a piece in a genius way: a napkin holder turned wall-mounted Mail Organizer; a box of straws turned kids’ room bunting. I particularly love the wooden Decking Bathmat fashioned from “Runnen” floor tile and a Reading Bench formed from a “Kallax” shelving unit. Pick out a few favorite hacks, then get thee to Ikea!
Sometimes you can be totally broke and still feel rich… Two women confront their pasts in a powerful new novel of friendship and forgiveness.
TOP PICK IN LIFESTYLES I was going to begin by suggesting Grace Bonney’s In the Company of Women (Artisan, $35, 360 pages, ISBN 9781579655976) as a perfect read or gift for women entrepreneurs, artists and other makers, but this book should be owned and devoured by every woman. Bonney, founder of the site Design*Sponge, explains how her professional goals have changed and how she observed homogeneity in the typical success stories of women business owners—and knew she could do better. The result is indeed inspiring and beautiful: a collection of portraits of and interviews with more than 100 women across the country—artists, designers, media professionals, chefs, musicians, writers—who grabbed the reins and blazed a creative path. Featured women include Roxane Gay, Neko Case, Carson Ellis and Eileen Fisher, just to name a few. Bonney keeps the Q&As taut and the photos vibrant, and there are whole pages devoted to powerful pull quotes. In the Company of Women is Design*Sponge meets Interview meets Studs Terkel’s Working, and it feels essential.
Read it now!
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2016-08-02 3:55 PM
WHODUNIT BY BRUCE TIERNEY
A ghostly tale on a Swedish island In the wake of the Stieg Larsson phenomenon, publishers scrambled to dust off all manner of earlier works by suspense writers hitherto unknown outside their Northern Lights homelands, in hopes of cashing in on the latest craze in suspense fiction, Scandinavian noir. This would have been
• A fast-paced and funny deep dive into simple ways you can create a happy, confident and positive life. • Amy Newmark distills advice and wisdom from her life and more than 20,000 Chicken Soup for the Soul stories into this crash course in how to be happy. • You’ll be entertained, enlightened, and energized by dozens of practical, simple tips that work instantly to improve your everyday life and your future.
Take the #SimplyHappyChallenge in October www.chickensoup.com
Proudly made 100% in the USA 6
Rebecca Winter disappeared more than a decade ago, with precious little in the way of clues for the police to follow. Now, 11 years later, an impostor has appeared, claiming (with some rather convincing, if totally bogus, evidence) to be the missing girl. “Reunited” with her family and friends from her
quickly becomes apparent that there is an altogether more compelling mystery afoot, a mystery in which Rippy seems to be a key figure. Fans of this well-regarded series have been patiently waiting for the eighth installment for the better part of three years, during which time Slaughter published two standalone novels. The Kept Woman is well worth the wait.
TOP PICK IN MYSTERY kinda cheesy and more than slightly venal on their parts, were it not for a single critical fact: The books have been unrelentingly excellent, and Camilla Läckberg’s The Lost Boy (Pegasus, $25.95, 496 pages, ISBN 9781681772042) doesn’t let the team down. In the manner of Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache books, Läckberg’s tale weaves a particular event (in this case, the murder of a recently returned native son) with the evolving narrative of a community, the singularly unpronounceable Fjällbacka, Sweden. To further beat the Penny comparison into the ground, Läckberg’s prose is similarly well crafted (and sensitively translated by Tiina Nunnally). There is also an overlay of a ghost story here, which will appeal to fans of T. Jefferson Parker’s Charlie Hood series or John Connolly’s well-loved Charlie Parker series. The only downside for the reader, albeit one that will make the author happy and wealthy, is that it would be helpful, although not strictly necessary, to read the series in order. (The Lost Boy is number seven.) This will be a pleasure, not a hardship.
STOLEN LIFE Two story arcs, set 11 years apart yet inextricably woven together, form the narrative for Anna Snoekstra’s clever debut novel, Only Daughter (MIRA, $15.99, 288 pages, ISBN 9780778319443).
younger life, she tries to blend in as seamlessly as possible. And so both story arcs move forward, one resolving at the time of “real” Rebecca’s disappearance, the other—um, you’ll have to find out for yourself. You’re probably thinking that the premise is a bit far-fetched, and it is. But Snoekstra handles the details well, and she is quite good at distributing red herrings and plot twists. The dual narratives, one in first person, the other in third, do a fine job of heightening the suspense by offering up obscure clues for the savvy reader to chew on.
WILL TRENT RETURNS Basketball star Marcus Rippy is having a busy couple of weeks. He has just managed to skate on a rape charge, and now a dead body has been found in his derelict nightclub. Author Karin Slaughter wastes little time in setup or backstory; instead, she jumps right into the here and now in her gripping new suspense novel, The Kept Woman (Morrow, $27.99, 480 pages, ISBN 9780062430212). Rippy has been in the crosshairs of Georgia Bureau investigator Will Trent for quite some time, but the basketballer has proved to be a slippery customer. And when Will’s new sweetie Sara Linton, the forensic investigator assigned to the case, discovers that the bulk of the blood found at the crime scene does not belong to the victim, it
Marry the intuition and problem-solving skills of Lincoln Rhyme with the action-figure street smarts and stunts of Jack Reacher, and you’ll come up with someone very close to NYPD Detective Kathy Mallory. Carol O’Connell’s 12th novel in the popular series, Blind Sight (Putnam, $27, 400 pages, ISBN 9780399184239), finds Mallory looking into the possible kidnapping of two rather unlikely abductees: an ex-hooker turned nun and a 12-year-old boy who has been blind since birth. Things go from bad to worse early on, when the nun’s body is found sans heart and in the company of three other dead bodies in varying states of decay. They are discovered on the front lawn of Gracie Mansion, home to the sitting mayor of New York City. Still no sighting (pun unintended) of the blind boy, however. Shortly afterward, the missing hearts turn up at City Hall, an unprecedented event from at least a couple of standpoints. Despite the fact that the hearts of the victims have been surgically removed, Mallory doesn’t buy the conventional police wisdom that the killer is collecting trophies. A bit of a sociopath herself, she thinks something rather darker is at play (and hey, you have to go some distance to find something darker than a killer who surgically removes the hearts of his prey). As long as O’Connell keeps pumping out crime fiction like this, she will have a faithful reader in me.
The J en B ricker Inspirational Prize Pack
Enter for your chance to win! one grand prize winner will receive an autographed copy of Everything Is Possible by Jen Bricker, as well as the following: • Glee Gum Pops • Glee Gum Sweet Stack (9 packs of gum) • 3 Coloring Books by Margaret Feinberg: Live Loved, Live Free, Live Fearless • 1 Set of Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils • 1 Bombay Black Leather Wrap Journal
• 1 $25 Starbucks Gift Card • 1 copy of Made Well by Jenny Simmons • 1 copy of Think & Eat Yourself Smart by Caroline Leaf • 1 copy of You’re Already Amazing by Holley Gerth • 1 copy of Catch a Star by Tamika Catchings • 1 copy of Be You. Do Good. by Jonathan Golden • 1 copy of Distinctly You by Cheryl Martin
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BY SYBIL PRATT
B Y C H R I S T I E R I D G WAY
Coming home again
“Eat thoughtfully, live joyously.” That’s the mantra of Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, the founders of the very popular Food52 website. Their latest cookbook, Food52 A New Way to Dinner: A Playbook of Recipes and Strategies for the Week Ahead (Ten Speed, $35, 288 pages, ISBN 9780399578007), is a perfect guide to maintaining their happy, heartfelt cooking philosophy. It’s hard to eat thoughtfully if
Pot Roast, Kentucky Kimchi, Real Cornbread, Speckled Butter Bean Cassoulet with Rabbit Confit, Hominy & Wilted Greens, Spiced Pickled Peaches, Sorghum & Apple Sticky Pudding. And Lundy seasons it all with her evocative essays that make the mountains sing and gently undo the stereotypes that have clouded their vitality.
you’re racing home from work and don’t have time to shop, let alone cook. Hesser and Stubbs have been there; they run a business and have kids. They’ve found that they need to shop and cook on weekends, and they need to be organized. Therefore, this book is arranged by season and menu, and every dinner includes recipes that can be stretched and varied. Each recipe comes with a game plan, a time-saving grocery list and tactical tips galore. With Hesser and Stubbs at your side, weeknight dinners are not only doable, they’re delectable.
TOP PICK IN COOKBOOKS
Naomi Duguid’s cookbooks belong to their own genre—they are unique travel journals studded with history, geography and ethnography, along with fabulous photos of the people she meets and the places she goes. Then, of course, there are the intriguing, detailed recipes she collects. It’s more than armchair travel—you become immersed in the culinary culture of a faraway part of the world. Taste of Persia: A Cook’s Travels Through Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, and Kurdistan (Artisan, $35, 400 pages, ISBN VITAL VITTLES 9781579655488), Duguid’s latest, Victuals: An Appalachian Jouris a glorious trip through these ney, with Recipes (Potter, $32.50, five countries that once were part 320 pages, ISBN 9780804186742) is of the Persian empire. They share Ronni Lundy’s ode to the people, borders and culinary traditions, places and food of the southern even though they speak many Appalachian Mountains. To find different languages and practice the culinary soul of Appalachia, many different religions. These are Lundy drove 4,000 miles, zigzagcuisines that use walnuts, pomeging through the mountains, meet- granates and other tart fruits, lots ing home cooks, growers, curers, of eggplant, chickpeas, saffron preservers of food and tradition and fresh herbs. In this part of the and innovative chefs cooking in a world, kebabs are grilled, rice is way that has long been both seacelebrated and flatbreads are foldsonal and sustainable. With Victed over myriad fillings. Most of us uals, you can hear their stories and won’t get to these fabled lands, but cook their regional recipes redolent now their dishes can become part of past and present—Spring Ramp of our own culinary culture.
Lexi Eddings brings a small town to charming life in The Coldwater Warm Hearts Club (Kensington, $9.95, 320 pages, ISBN 9781496704030). After a business failure, Lacy Evans returns to her hometown of Coldwater Cove, Oklahoma. She needs a cheap place to live while she licks her wounds. Back home, she quickly encounters the former football hero turned café owner Jake Tyler,
who lost a leg in Afghanistan, as well as her first love, sheriff Daniel Scott. The officer wears a ring on his finger, but there are rumors that his marriage is troubled. Not that either man should matter to Lacy—her stay is only temporary. Still, she finds herself caught up in small-town life and quite interested in one of the handsome local men. Eddings draws Lacy and the other characters with loving detail, and as each townsperson finds resolution to their troubles, readers will hope that Lacy finds her happy ending as well in this story of second chances and softened hearts.
FIGHTING HEARTS Passion steams and action heats up in Viking Warrior Rebel (Sourcebooks Casablanca, $7.99, 352 pages, ISBN 9781492618874) by Asa Maria Bradley. Immortal Viking warrior Astrid Irisdotter is on earth to save humans from “wolverines”—the evil god Loki’s monsters. Astrid is determined to prove herself, but trouble finds her in the guise of the wolverines and a handsome man she’s met before, Luke Holden. Luke can’t believe he’s run into Astrid again. They once shared a sizzling one-night stand, but as a member of the FBI, his time is
not his own, and his true identity is a secret. But now duty and desire meet as he aids Astrid in her fight against the lethal monsters. Astrid begins to believe Luke might be the soulmate she never expected to find—least of all in a mortal. Luke isn’t exactly the human he appears to be, however, and perhaps they can find love as they do battle to protect humankind. An uncommon paranormal world, a fearless heroine and a hero who embraces his partner’s fighting spirit make this story a page-turner.
TOP PICK IN ROMANCE A cowboy finally goes for the one who got away in Jennifer Ryan’s Her Renegade Rancher (Avon, $7.99, 400 pages, ISBN 9780062435354), part of Ryan’s Montana Men series. Colt Kendrick doesn’t think he’s ready to settle down, but he does know he can’t get Luna Hill out of his mind. They shared a kiss when he still believed she was his good friend’s girl, and guilt has kept him away from the special-ed teacher/waitress ever since. But they make peace just in time for Colt to help Luna when she inherits a ranch—and a lot of problems. Are the family members who were left out of the will the perpetrators of the petty vandalism and escalating threats? Colt’s protective instincts kick in, and it’s not long before he recognizes that his heart has gone all-in for the beautiful brunette. Luna, however, wonders if it’s safe to love anyone with danger lurking around every corner. This story of two good people fighting against menace and finding a new life together makes for a sexy and satisfying romantic read.
BOOK CLUBS BY JULIE HALE
Prize-winning stories Winner of the 2015 National Book Award, Adam Johnson’s Fortune Smiles (Random House, $16, 336 pages, ISBN 9780812987232) is a first-rate collection of short stories that explores timeless topics such as relationships, politics, sacrifice and love, treating them in ways that feel specific and fresh. In “Nirvana,” a techie finds a unique way to cope with his sick wife—by developing an app that allows users to talk to
the president of the United States. The main character of “Hurricanes Anonymous” tries to locate the mother of his son in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. “George Orwell Was a Friend of Mine” tells the story of a former Stasi prison official who is trying—unsuccessfully—to escape the past. The six narratives in this wide-ranging collection are enlivened by the author’s sense of black humor and evident compassion for the human condition. Johnson, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his 2012 novel The Orphan Master’s Son, delivers a smart batch of stories that’s sure to get book groups talking.
HIGH AND DRY In her debut novel, Gold Fame Citrus (Riverhead, $16, 352 pages, ISBN 9781594634246), Claire Vaye Watkins offers a chilling dystopian look at a drought-ravaged future. In barren Los Angeles, erstwhile model Luz Dunn keeps company with surfer Ray Hollis, a former soldier. They camp out in the deserted home of a movie star, ignoring orders for mandatory evacuation and surviving on plundered rations. Despite their grim prospects, the two fall in love, and when they take an abandoned child into their fold, they’re determined to create
a more promising future. Taking to the road, they search for a desert commune founded by water finder and survivalist Levi Zabriskie. But the going is filled with difficulties, including looters, evacuation enforcers and the hardships imposed by the landscape itself. Watkins presents an unforgettable portrait of California as an oasisturned-waste land, and her prose style is marked by a haunting poeticism. A timely narrative that’s certain to resonate with readers, this is a remarkably accomplished first novel from a visionary writer.
TOP PICK FOR BOOK CLUBS Geraldine Brooks delivers another expertly wrought historical novel with The Secret Chord (Penguin, $16, 352 pages, ISBN 9780143109761), a compelling retelling of the life and times of King David of the Bible. Chronicling David’s rise, from his early days as a shepherd to his ascension to the throne of Israel, the novel brings to vivid life many Old Testament characters, including David’s wife Batsheva and son Solomon. The tale is narrated by Natan, a shepherd and prophet who predicts a dark future for the king. Brooks presents David as a man of contrasts—at once wise and impulsive, gentle and savage, humble and arrogant. She demonstrates an expert command of her historical material, presenting a full-bodied account of the legendary leader. Brooks’ many fans will find the novel a worthy companion to her previous historical narratives, which include People of the Book and the Pulitzer-Prize winning March.
Fantastic Book Club Reads for Fall
The Girl in the Castle
by Santa Montefiore “No one does epic romance like Santa Montefiore. Everything she writes, she writes from the heart.” —JoJo Moyes
The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan
“Losing myself in Jenny Colgan’s beautiful pages is the most delicious, comforting, satisfying treat I have had in ages.” —Jane Green, New York Times bestselling author
Just Fine with Caroline
by Annie England Noblin “Just Fine With Caroline is all heart. Annie England Noblin knows how to make characters come to life.” —Stephanie Evanovich
The Ramblers by Aidan Donnelley Rowley
“Chock full of the crackling wit, irreverent humor and raw honesty [...] A whirlwind foray into the New York City that Aidan Donnelley Rowley knows and loves—and writes—so well.” —Allison Pataki, New York Times bestselling author of The Accidental Empress
Book Club Girl
New from the New York Times bestselling author of Enemy Women and The Color of Lightning
PA U L E T T E J I L E S
N E W S O F T H E W ORLD The highly anticipated masterwork destined to be an American classic
“A powerful, richly-realized journey . . . Captain Kidd belongs in the pantheon of great Western characters along with True Grit’s Rooster Cogburn and Lonesome Dove’s Gus and Call.” — Charles Frazier , National Book Award-winning author of Cold Mountain
“A stunning story
that tore at my heart and my gut. The relationship at its core between a grizzled old man and a lost young girl digs deep into what it means to care about someone and to find your place in the world.” — Tracy Chevalier , bestselling author of Girl with a Pearl Earring “My respect for Paulette Jiles grows with every novel she writes, and News of the World is
her best work yet . . .
She writes with great clarity, understanding, and a forgiving heart.” — Nancy Pearl , librarian, bestselling author of Book Lust, literary critic Visit NewsoftheWorldbook.com for book event listings, to watch a video of Paulette on her Texas ranch, read an excerpt, and more.
Also available in audio and eBook editions
Discover great authors, exclusive offers, and more at hc.com.
AUDIO BY SUKEY HOWARD
Ruined reputations Nick Heller, private spy, defender of righteousness and a man who is never far from feats of derring-do, returns in Joseph Finder’s Guilty Minds (Penguin Audio, 9.5 hours), read by Holter Graham, who has become Nick’s voice. Because of his unique set of talents, honed in the Special Forces, and his innate ability to spot lies, Nick is asked to take on an extremely sensitive, high-stakes job by Gideon Parnell, a hotshot Washington lawyer and famed black civil rights hero.
The job is to stop the sordid but oh-so-influential website Slander Sheet from releasing the explosive story that Parnell’s good friend, the chief justice of the Supreme Court, spent three nights with a gorgeous young call girl. Nick has only 48 hours. But nothing is quite as it seems—the exposé is too easy to expose, the call girl is murdered after she tells Nick the truth, and the mysterious backer of Slander Sheet doesn’t have a judge grudge. Nick’s real job is to get through the convoluted layers obstructing the secret that’s driving it all—and to stay alive while doing it. This is Finder at his race-paced best.
THE PERFECT COUPLE Corrine and Russell Calloway, the perfect couple who first appeared in Jay McInerney’s novel Brightness Falls and later in The Good Life, return for the third time in Bright, Precious Days (Random House Audio, 13.5 hours), read by Edoardo Ballerini. They’re middle-aged now, their golden aura dimmed a bit with time. I feel as though I’ve followed them in real time, from their first euphoric days when making it in New York seemed so gloriously possible, when ambition to be part of the city’s rarefied literary world fueled Russell’s life. It may seem clichéd
to say that McInerney has painted a portrait of a marriage, but this clear-eyed, intimate, sympathetic triptych is just that. He sets the inevitable disappointments, disasters and dysfunctions inherent in most long marriages against his evolving evocation of the “bright” New York literati-glitterati scene with which he’s been closely associated. Though the novel ends in 2008, as the bubble bursts and the economy plummets, Corinne and Russell, subdued and somewhat chastened, can still turn to each other.
From the co-creator of the landmark series READ BY A FULL CAST—
Including actors from the original show and new series
“Soler’s instinctive delivery of Meyer’s humor makes the story an addictive listen.” —AudioFile on Cress, an Earphones Award-winner READ BY REBECCA SOLER
TOP PICK IN AUDIO If you don’t know who Cynthia Ozick is, don’t worry, you’re not alone. I’ve been a fan of her novels and short stories for years, but had never read many of her essays. Ozick is a writer’s writer and a critic’s critic (not a reviewer—she makes the difference clear). She writes about brilliant sentences in brilliant sentences of her own, and is as dedicated to prose and poetry and its analysis as is possible. She is, as Franz Kafka said of himself, “made of literature.” Critics, Monsters, Fanatics, and Other Literary Essays (HighBridge Audio, 7 hours), Ozick’s latest collection, is insightful and challenging, judgmental in the best sense of the word. She writes about W.H. Auden and Kafka, Edmund Wilson and George Orwell, William Gass and Martin Amis. And she makes you consider why authors and critics need each other and why we need them both. Most of us don’t often have the time, or inclination, to read such serious writing, but here, with the ease of access a well-read audio offers, we can listen and be better for it.
“A heartfelt, sincere, mini-self-portrait by a man who epitomizes class.” —Kirkus Reviews READ BY RICH LERNER INTRODUCTION READ BY ARNOLD PALMER
The captivating final installment of the Clifton Chronicles READ BY ALEX JENNINGS
”A profound and provocative page-turner about love and loss, revenge and redemption.” —Emily Giffin
LISTEN TO EXCERPTS AT UNABRIDGEDACCESS.COM
Further dispatches from a world that celebrates the strange
© TAHEREH MAFI
INTERVIEW BY BECKY OHLSEN
guess I had a lot of peculiar people in my life growing up,” says Ransom Riggs, author of the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series of novels. “Probably the most influential, and peculiar in her own way, was my grandmother.” A farmer’s daughter who became a farmer’s wife, she also went to university and was a teacher of Latin and French. “She infected me with a love of books.”
Riggs, 37, spoke from his home in Los Angeles about the upcoming Tim Burton film adaptation of his dark YA fantasy debut, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (Quirk, $10.99, 368 pages, ISBN 9781594746031), a surprise 2011 hit that spent more than two years on the bestseller list. We also talked about his new collection of short stories set in the same world, Tales of the Peculiar (Dutton, $24.99, 192 pages, ISBN 9780399538537). Readers of the series, which includes two other bestselling novels, Hollow City and Library of Souls, will recognize that title: It’s the name of a book that the peculiar children consult for advice and comfort. Riggs says he wanted the new book to seem like an artifact from the peculiar world, an imaginary object that readers somehow discover in
their real-world bookstores. The design of Tales of the Peculiar helps achieve this effect. Where you’d normally find the copyright details, instead there are instructions on things not to do while reading the book (whatever you do, don’t dog-ear the pages) and some unlikely production notes (“Printed in a nomad’s tent in the desert of Lop”). The foreword maintains this conceit: It’s written by Millard Nullings, the invisible boy at Miss Peregrine’s home. In it, Nullings explains why he decided to edit and annotate this edition of the Tales. The stories are not just folklore, he writes: “They are also the bearers of secret knowledge. Encoded within their pages are the locations of hidden loops, the secret identities of certain important peculiars, and other information that could aid a
Jacob Portman (left) takes a stand with the peculiar children in Tim Burton’s film adaptation. PHOTO: JAY MAIDMENT—TM AND © 2016 TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX FILM CORPORATION
peculiar’s survival in this hostile world.” On the surface, the stories are moral tales, bedtime stories designed to be read aloud. In most of them, someone behaves cruelly toward a peculiar child because of his or her peculiarity, and that bad behavior is eventually, inventively, punished. In a few, the peculiar child himself is the one acting foolishly and must slowly learn his lesson. In one story, a girl discovers she can take away people’s nightmares; in another, a beautiful princess with scales and a forked tongue spits venom at her enemies. A big-hearted boy turns into a locust. A man may, in fact, be an island. Riggs wrote Tales of the Peculiar “for fans of the series who want to know more about the world,” he says. “It casts a much wider net narratively.” “There are some Easter eggs for peculiars hidden throughout,” he adds. “They’re waiting for me in case I need them.” (This is as much as he will say about the possibility of future Miss Peregrine novels.) The fairy-tale format suits Riggs’ style—each character in these simple tales is richly drawn and
memorable. We sympathize with them; even their bad decisions are understandable. It doesn’t hurt that each tale is illustrated with a gorgeous woodcut by the artist Andrew Davidson. “I knew I wanted a classic, wood-engraving style,” Riggs says. He had admired the covers on the adult hardcover editions of Harry Potter in the U.K.; maybe something like that, he told his publisher. A few weeks later came the reply: How about the guy who did those? “Great!” Riggs said. Davidson was “amazing to work with,” Riggs says. “His ideas were out of this world—so dynamic and detailed.” The engravings add to the sense of Tales of the Peculiar as a weighty, otherworldly artifact, something that was important to the author. Even as a kid, Riggs says, “I liked how big, musty old books felt and smelled.” And ever since Quirk Books published his
Sherlock Holmes Handbook in 2009—he has considered himself lucky when it comes to his books’ aesthetic: “I’ve been able to make books that look like they belong on my grandmother’s bookshelves!” Working with an illustrator also affected Riggs’ writing process. The three Miss Peregrine novThe magical els are built world created around old by Riggs has photographs the author just been had collected adapted for over the years. film by director Writing them, Tim Burton. he says, “I had a fixed num“Everything ber of pictures they did and had to services the find stories heart of the that would fit them.” story,” Riggs In the new says. book, though, “I could tell whatever story I wanted.” From an early age, Riggs sought out books that opened doors in the imagination, whether that meant fantasy or otherworldly realism. “C.S. Lewis, big-time,” he recalls when asked about his early influences, and “Tolkien of course,” not to mention Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. King’s work, Riggs says, “was never just horror—it was always also about discovering another world.” He read Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, a decades-spanning saga about forced-labor prison camps in the Soviet Union, at age 13. (“Intense!” is how he understatedly describes that experience.) At the opposite extreme, Riggs also loved reading James Thurber, a favorite of his grandmother’s. Was it strange for him to entrust the world he’d created to filmmaker Tim Burton, who has an equally strong aesthetic? Not really, says Riggs: “I knew it was in good hands.” Unusually for Hollywood, the movie has
only one screenwriter (Jane Goldman), and Riggs says he’s pleased with how it turned out. “I didn’t feel like they needed my help,” he says. As always with an adaptation, certain changes were made along the way, but they’re all superficial, Riggs says. “Everything they did services the heart of the story.” He explains that the film adaptation has allowed for some “wonderful visual irony.” For example, the character of Bronwyn, a girl with super-strength, is no longer the bruiser shown in the novel’s antique photograph, but instead a comically tiny girl. The main challenge in taking the story from book to film, Riggs says, was getting the tone right. The books have a “veneer of gothic horror,” but also bits of Monty Python and other lighter elements. “It’s a very strange balance of tone,” he says. With his penchant for the gothic as well as romantic wistfulness and visual comedy, Burton proved to be the perfect fit. The film, which stars Asa Butterfield (Hugo) as main protagonist Jacob Portman and “Penny Dreadful” actor Eva Green as Miss Peregrine, arrives in theaters on September 30. As for Tales of the Peculiar, it was published on “Loop Day”— September 3, the same date of the 24-hour time loop in which Miss Peregrine’s home for peculiar children safely hides. Riggs visited several bookstores on Loop Day, and is currently on tour with his wife, the YA novelist Tahereh Mafi, whose latest book, Furthermore, was published in August. “It’s an exciting time at our house,” he says. “It’s going to be really peculiar.”
I N 2 0 0 3 , S I X T E E N -Y E A R OLD REBECCA WINTER
E L E V E N Y E A R S L AT E R S H E I S
One woman’s dark past becomes another’s deadly future in this chilling psychological thriller debut.
“Twisty, slippery, and full of surprises, this web of lies will ensnare you.”
New York Times bestselling author of Ink and Bone www.MIRABooks.com • www.AnnaSnoekstra.com
13 16_323_BookPage_OnlyDaughter.indd 1
2016-08-18 9:31 AM
BILLY COLLINS INTERVIEW BY ALDEN MUDGE
s there anything Billy Collins misses about being the U.S. poet laureate, a post he held from 2001 to 2003?
“Not really,” Collins says genially during a call to his home in Winter Park, Florida, where he lives with his fiancée, the poet Suzannah Gilman. Collins, 75, retired recently from a long teaching career at the City University of New York. “You’re never completely disconnected from it,” Collins says of being poet laureate. “I compare it to being Miss America. Even though you might have been Miss America in 1973, it’s always part of your identity.” Collins, who was an unusually popular American poet even before he became poet laureate, calls himself one of the “gateway poets.” These, he explains, are poets who write very readable, nonacademic poetry that can connect with people who leave the form behind after miserable experiences in the meaning-hunt of high school and college. “The key reason for the smallness of the audience for poetry is that people associate poetry with school. . . . I wrote an essay some time ago where I mention six or seven pleasures of poetry—
THE RAIN IN PORTUGAL
By Billy Collins
Random House, $26, 128 pages ISBN 9780679644064, eBook available
© BILL HAYES
Taking a playful approach to the pleasures of poetry
things like the pleasure of rhythm, the pleasure of sound, the pleasure of metaphor. The last pleasure was the pleasure of meaning. The search for meaning has dominated the classroom experience of poetry to the exclusion of all these other pleasures.” As his many fans know, Collins is a poet of what we’ll call deep playfulness. “I like to play with the reader,” he concedes. “I tell my poetry students that earnestness and sincerity are not the only tones you can take with a reader. In fact, wanting always to be emotionally sincere eliminates a lot of the possibilities for play.” And so we get the slyly funny “On Rhyme,” whose 13th line provides the title for Collins’ delightful 11th collection of poems, The Rain in Portugal. “It’s supposed to be a kind of blunder,” he explains, laughing. “Because no word comes easily to mind that rhymes with Portugal. Portugal is contiguous to Spain, but it just doesn’t present the same rhyming opportunities as in ‘the rain in Spain.’ Some readers might think the poem is about a rainy day in Portugal, but it’s really an ironic admission to the reader—a kind of trigger warning—that if you’re looking for rhymed poetry you won’t find it here. The real admission is, I’m just not very good at rhyming.” This sort of self-deprecation in conversation, as well as in his poems, is one of Collins’ most appealing characteristics. But that’s not the only tone he takes in his wide-ranging new collection. In a poem called “The Present,” for example, he good-humoredly challenges the popular idea of how great it is to live in the present. “It’s questioning how you can live in the millisecond that is always vanish-
ing before your very eyes,” he says. “And it talks about the pleasure of regretting and the pleasure of the mind’s ability to envision a future. I guess that’s what distinguishes us from cows, for example. Probably cows tend to be in the moment. They’re not thinking about what happened yesterday or when they’re going to be milked “I think tomorrow. One good poetry of our human gives you the abilities is to imagine impression that it’s being a future and recreate the written just past or fall into for you.” nostalgia.” And then there is the darkly beautiful line in the poem “Greece”: “Is not poetry a megaphone held up to the whispering lips of death?” A number of poems in this collection seem to be meditations, often wry meditations, on death. Is mortality a particular concern these days? “Well, no one’s getting any younger,” Collins responds. “But mortality is so engrained in lyric poetry that the inclusion of death in my poems doesn’t so much reflect my own trepidation or concerns about my own personal mortality as it is a recognition of a convention. I don’t mean to be too professorial about this, but I’ve said this before: If you major in
English, you’re majoring in death. The shadow of mortality commonly falls across the page. Thumb through The Norton Anthology of Poetry and you’ll find a lot of death in there. That’s the lens through which we see things.” Collins remains an energetic and engaging presenter of his poetry, which he reads aloud at public appearances across the country. But performing a poem and writing or reading a poem, Collins says, are very different things. “Poetry intensifies one’s aloneness. . . . I don’t show my poems around to other poets [before publication]. Ever since I was an adolescent, the appeal of poetry for me is that you did it by yourself.” Expanding on the subject of aloneness, Collins says, “If you’ve read my poems, you’ve probably noticed that there are very few other people in them. No aunts or uncles or family members; no Uncle Charlie, no ex-girlfriend. I want to be alone with the reader. I don’t want the reader to be distracted by others. That intimacy clearly gives poetry, well, if not superiority then a least a large difference from public or political language. I think good poetry gives you the impression that it’s being written just for you.” Add a profound sense of intimacy to the lengthening list of pleasures in reading Collins’ new collection of poems.
BY JULIE HALE
Not for the faint of heart
rom real haunted spaces to magic spells you can cast at home, these three new books offer plenty of spine-tingling spookiness.
It’s a given in many a fairy tale and myth: There’s more to a mirror than meets the eye. Mickie Mueller explores the legends and the lore the glass has inspired over the centuries in The Witch’s Mirror (Llewellyn, $15.99, 288 pages, ISBN 9780738747910). An expert on natural and fairy magic, Mueller delivers a crash course in wizardry via this little volume, providing background on what makes a magic mirror tick while urging readers to tap into the power that lies behind its silvered facade. Would-be witches will find instructions on how to prepare their own magic mirrors, along with a wide range of incantations involving the glass (who can pass up the “You Are Beautiful Spell”?). Mueller also provides advice on using mirrors for meditation and astral travel. Filled with insights from practicing witches, this handbook of enchantment is an October treat.
SERIOUSLY SCARY It’s hard to imagine a better-qualified chronicler of America’s paranormal past than historian Colin Dickey, who came of age not far from our nation’s most haunted abode, the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California. A longtime connoisseur of the macabre—he was once director of Brooklyn’s Morbid Anatomy Museum—Dickey takes readers on a spine-tingling tour of supernatural sites in Ghostland (Viking, $27, 336 pages, ISBN 9781101980194). From Portland, Oregon’s Cathedral Park,
where a young woman was brutally murdered in 1949, to Shiloh, Tennessee’s infamous Civil War battleground, Dickey explores the hotels and homes, bars and brothels, asylums and—yes—cemeteries that have hosted all manner of eerie activity over the centuries. Along the way, he addresses larger questions about how the living deal with the possible presence of the dead. Pursuing ghosts from coast to coast, Dickey delivers a truly creepy travelogue that’s a must-have for Halloween.
HEAD TRIP Marc Hartzman resurrects a disquieting bit of British history in The Embalmed Head of Oliver Cromwell (Curious Publications, $27.95, 346 pages, ISBN 9780986239304). A political heavyweight who helped orchestrate the downfall of King Charles I, Cromwell was interred in Westminster Abbey in 1658. King Charles II, seeking revenge for his father, dug the statesman up, cut off his head and placed it on a post at Westminster Hall, where it remained for two decades, until—liberated by the forces of nature—it began a protracted postmortem journey, passing through the hands of curio collectors and museum owners. In his deliciously twisted book, Hartzman tracks the unhappy fate of Cromwell’s pate over the course of 300 years, and in a ghoulish turn of ventriloquism, he lets the head do the talking. From beginning to end, this startling yarn is recounted by Cromwell’s long-suffering skull, and it has quite a story to share. Unsettling, yes, but also irresistible.
meet WINSTON GROOM
the title of your new book? Q: What’s
© BEOWULF © SQUIRE SHEEHAN FOX
Q: Describe the book in one sentence.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about this book?
your proudest accomplishment? Q: What’s
Q: Your greatest fear? Q: What three things would you want with you on a desert island?
Q: If you had a yacht, what would you name it? Q: Words to live by?
EL PASO The legendary Mexican outlaw Pancho Villa clashes with a wealthy American rancher in El Paso (Liveright, $27.95, 496 pages, ISBN 9781631492242), the spirited new novel by Winston Groom. Best known as the author of Forrest Gump, he has written 20 other books, including many acclaimed works of military history. Groom, who served as an Army officer in Vietnam, lives in Point Clear, Alabama.
THE IT LIST: New & Notable FALL FICTION News of the World
Today Will Be Different
By Paulette Jiles
By Maria Semple
In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel.
This brilliant novel from the author of Where’d You Go, Bernadette, follows a day in the life of Eleanor Flood, who is forced to abandon her small ambitions and awake to a strange new future.
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Two by Two
By Christina Lauren
By Nicholas Sparks
A new couple finds love, and the casts of the previous books in the bestselling Beautiful series join in to celebrate this series finale.
Sparks returns with an emotionally powerful story of unconditional love, its challenges, its risks and most of all, its rewards.
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Paris for One and Other Stories
Small Great Things
By Jojo Moyes
By Jodi Picoult
Quintessential Moyes, these stories comprise an irresistibly romantic collection filled with humor and heart.
This is Picoult at her finest—complete with unflinching insights, richly layered characters, and a page-turning plot with a gripping moral dilemma at its heart.
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Woman of God
By Ron Rash
By James Patterson & Maxine Paetro
Rash demonstrates his superb narrative skills in this suspenseful and evocative tale of two brothers whose lives are altered irrevocably by the events of one long-ago summer—and one bewitching young woman.
The world is watching as massive crowds gather in Rome, waiting for news of a new pope who promises to be unlike any other in history. It’s a turning point that may change the Church forever.
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Valley of the Moon
By Melanie Gideon
By Laurell K. Hamilton
Gideon’s captivating novel about a love that transcends time is perfect for readers of The Time Traveler’s Wife, Time and Again, and the novels of Alice Hoffman.
In her 25th adventure, vampire hunter and necromancer Anita Blake learns that evil is in the eye of the beholder.
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THE IT LIST: New & Notable FALL FICTION The Tresspasser
By Tana French
By Randy Wayne White
Detective Antoinette Conway already endures a lot as the only female member of Dublin’s Murder Squad. But will a lockedroom mystery drive a wedge between her and the only colleague she trusts?
Hannah Smith returns in the stunning new adventure in the bestselling series by the author of the Doc Ford novels. Retail Price: $27 | With Discount Card: $24.30
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A Game of Thrones: The Illustrated Edition
By George R.R. Martin
By W.E.B. Griffin & William E. Butterworth IV
Published in celebration of the 20th anniversary, this lavishly illustrated special edition features gorgeous full-page artwork as well as black-and-white illustrations that revitalize the fantasy masterpiece.
Having investigated his share of gruesome murders, Philadelphia Homicide Sergeant Matt Payne is beginning to think nothing can shock him—until the case of a young socialite’s death lands on his desk.
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The Secret History of Twin Peaks
By Mark Frost
In Coben’s gripping thriller, ten years after the high-profile kidnapping of two young boys, only one returns home.
From the co-creator of the landmark TV series comes the story millions of fans have been waiting to get their hands on for 25 years.
By Harlan Coben
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Little Boy Blue
By Wilbur Smith
By M.J. Arlidge
Smith returns to Ancient Egypt in a captivating new novel that will transport you to extraordinary times.
Detective Helen Grace faces her own dark compulsions in the twisty new thriller from the author of Pop Goes the Weasel and Eeny Meeny.
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The Blood Mirror
By Dan Brown
By Brent Weeks
Brown has raised the bar yet again, combining classical Italian art, history and literature with cutting-edge science in this captivating thriller—now a major motion picture.
In this continuation of the Lightbringer series, three people will fight to prevent a tainted empire from becoming something even worse.
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THE IT LIST: New & Notable BESTSELLERS
The Obsidian Chamber
Being a Dog
By Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
By Alexandra Horowitz
After a harrowing, otherworldly confrontation on the shores of Exmouth, Massachusetts, Special Agent A.X.L. Pendergast is missing, presumed dead. Retail Price: $28 | With Discount Card: $25.20
Sex, Lies & Serious Money
The author of the bestselling blockbuster Inside of a Dog explains how dogs perceive the world through their most spectacular organ—the nose—and how we humans can put our sense of smell to work in surprising ways. Retail Price: $27 | With Discount Card: $24.30
The Road to Character
By Stuart Woods
By David Brooks
Stone Barrington takes on a client who gives him a run for his money in the newest heart-stopping thriller from the bestselling author.
Responding to a culture that emphasizes external success, Brooks challenges us, and himself, to rebalance the scales between our “résumé virtues”—wealth, fame and status—and our “eulogy virtues”— kindness, bravery and honesty.
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The Whistler By John Grisham Grisham returns with the most electrifying novel of the year, a high-stakes thrill ride through the darkest corners of the Sunshine State. Retail Price: $28.95 | With Discount Card: $26.05
How The Secret Changed My Life By Rhonda Byrne This is an awe-inspiring compilation of the most uplifting and powerful real-life stories from readers of the worldwide bestseller The Secret. Retail Price: $22.95 | With Discount Card: $20.65
Order to Kill By Kyle Mills Terrorism operative Mitch Rapp heads to Pakistan to confront a mortal threat he may not be prepared for. Retail Price: $28.99 | With Discount Card: $26.09
100 Deadly Skills: Survival Edition By Clint Emerson From a national bestselling author and retired Navy SEAL comes the essential guide for surviving today’s emergencies— from navigating in the wild to staying alive in any disaster. Retail Price: $19.99 | With Discount Card: $17.99
By John Sandford
By Sophia Amoruso
Two missing tigers and a visit from his girlfriend’s sister bring trouble for Virgil Flowers.
This is Amoruso’s newest life bible, approaching style, music, philosophy and advice in the same way #GIRLBOSS approached business—unconventionally.
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THE IT LIST: New & Notable HISTORY Indestructible By John R. Bruning This little-known World War II story introduces a renegade pilot whose personal mission to rescue his family from a POW camp changed modern air warfare forever. Retail Price: $28 | With Discount Card: $25.20
Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates By Brian Kilmeade & Don Yaeger This is the unsung story of how a newly independent nation was challenged by four Muslim powers and what happened when America’s third president decided to stand up to intimidation. Retail Price: $17 | With Discount Card: $15.30
By Beth Macy
By T.J. Stiles
A reporter tells the true story of two African-American brothers who were kidnapped and displayed as circus freaks, and whose mother endured a 28-year struggle to get them back.
From the winner of two Pulitzer Prizes and a National Book Award, comes a brilliant biography of Gen. George Armstrong Custer that radically changes our view of the man and his turbulent times.
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The General vs. the President
The Hamilton Collection
By H.W. Brands
By Dan Tucker, editor
From master storyteller Brands, twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, comes the riveting story of how President Harry Truman and Gen. Douglas MacArthur squared off to decide America’s future after World War II.
This carefully curated collection of Hamilton’s writings gives the reader an intimate glimpse into the mind of our most misunderstood founding father. Retail Price: $19.99 | With Discount Card: $17.99
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By Bob Drury & Tom Clavin
By Anne Sebba
This is the dramatic, untold story of a daredevil bomber pilot and his misfit crew who fly their B-17 into the longest dogfight in history and change the momentum of the War in the Pacific—but not without making the ultimate sacrifice.
Sebba explores a devastating period in Parisian history and tells the stories of how women survived—or didn’t—during the Nazi occupation. Retail Price: $27.99 | With Discount Card: $25.19
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The Fleet at Flood Tide
By James D. Hornfischer
By Ben Macintyre
This is an unprecedented account of the monumental Pacific War campaign that established the foundation for America to become a dominant global superpower.
This is the incredible untold story of World War II’s greatest secret fighting force, Britain’s Special Air Service, as told by a modern master of wartime intrigue.
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THE IT LIST: New & Notable MEMOIR A Life in Parts
By Bryan Cranston
By Leah Remini
A poignant, intimate, funny, inspiring memoir—both a coming-of-age story and a meditation on creativity, devotion and craft—from the beloved and acclaimed star of TV’s “Breaking Bad.”
The outspoken actress, talk show host and reality TV star offers up a no-holdsbarred memoir, including an eye-opening account of her 30-year-plus association with the Church of Scientology.
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By Jennifer Weiner
By Hannah Hart
This collection of essays is about yearning and fulfillment, loss and love—told by a woman who searched for her place in the world and found it as a storyteller.
The wildly popular YouTube personality and author of the bestseller My Drunk Kitchen is back! This time, she’s stirring up memories and tales from her past.
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The Nine of Us
You Gotta Want It
By Jean Kennedy Smith
By Jake Paul
In this evocative and affectionate memoir, the last surviving child of Joe and Rose Kennedy offers an intimate and illuminating look at a time long ago when she and her siblings laughed and learned a great deal under one roof.
What is life like when you have millions of followers on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram? One of the biggest social media stars shares his story. Retail Price: $24.99 | With Discount Card: $22.49
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A Life Well Played
Around the Way Girl
By Arnold Palmer
By Taraji P. Henson
One of the most important golfers in history takes stock of the many experiences of his life, bringing new details and insights to some familiar stories and sharing new ones.
Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner Henson has written an inspiring, funny book about the hustle required to make it to Hollywood and the joy of living in your own truth.
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99: Stories of the Game
When Nobody Was Watching
By Wayne Gretzky
By Carli Lloyd
One of the greatest sports figures of all time salutes his heroes and takes us inside the game as few others can.
From the celebrated star of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, an inspiring, uplifting and candid memoir of how she got there.
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THE IT LIST: New & Notable LIFESTYLES Junk Gypsy
Thug Kitchen 101
By Amie Sikes & Jolie Sikes
By Thug Kitchen
In their first book, the Junk Gypsies— sisters and stars of the popular HGTV show—combine big dreams, stories of roadside treasures found and down-home design projects.
This new cookbook includes more than 100 easy and accessible recipes to give you a solid start toward a better diet, vegan or not. Retail Price: $26.99 | With Discount Card: $24.29
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How to Talk to Your Cat About Gun Safety
Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime
By Zachary Auburn
By Ree Drummond
Long gone are the good old days when a cat’s biggest worries were mean dogs or a bath. Modern cats must confront Satanists, online predators and countless other threats to their nine lives.
Drummond makes it easy for families to make simple, scrumptious, homemade meals with minimum fuss and maximum enjoyment in this dinnertime cookbook. Retail Price: $27.95 | With Discount Card: $25.15
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Life Works Itself Out By Keiya Mizuno & Naoki Naganuma A runaway bestseller in Japan, now available in English for the first time, this is an unforgettable collection of adorable cat photos and sage life advice.
Strong Is the New Beautiful By Lindsey Vonn Don’t miss these lessons in strength, fitness, food and attitude from world champion skier and beauty icon—and Olympic gold medalist—Vonn. Retail Price: $27.99 | With Discount Card: $25.19
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Millennials of New York
Skinnytaste Fast and Slow
By Connor Toole & Alec MacDonald
By Gina Homolka
This is a hilarious satire of the millennial generation, from the creators of the viral Facebook sensation and senior writers at Elite Daily.
Get a nutritious, flavor-packed, figurefriendly meal—complete with a flourless chocolate brownie made in a slow cooker—on the table any night of the week with this cookbook.
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The Tao of Bill Murray
Food Freedom Forever
By Gavin Edwards
By Melissa Hartwig
This collection of the most epic, hilarious and strange Bill Murray stories, many of which have never been reported, spotlights the star’s extraordinary ability to infuse the everyday with absurdity and wonder.
Hartwig defines true “food freedom” as being in control of the food you eat. Resets like the Whole30 can jump-start the process, but what’s next? This book is your guide.
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THE IT LIST: New & Notable FOR KIDS & TEENS Tales of a New World: Moon Chosen
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Hammer of Thor
By P.C. Cast
By Rick Riordan
Cast brings us a new epic fantasy set in a world where humans, their animal allies and the earth itself has been drastically changed.
The thunder god has a disturbing habit of misplacing his weapon, the mightiest force in the Nine Worlds. But this time the hammer isn’t just lost. It has fallen into enemy hands.
Retail Price: $18.99 | With Discount Card: $17.09
Retail Price: $19.99 | With Discount Card: $17.99
Replica By Lauren Oliver The bestselling author of the Delirium trilogy returns with an epic, masterful novel that explores issues of individuality, identity and humanity. Retail Price: $19.99 | With Discount Card: $17.99
Dork Diaries #11: Tales from a Not-So-Friendly Frenemy By Rachel Renée Russell Nikki and her friends Brandon, Chloe and Zoey are up for another adventure in the 11th book in the bestselling Dork Diaries series. Retail Price: $13.99 | With Discount Card: $12.59
The Emotionary By Eden Sher A dictionary of words that don’t exist for feelings that do written by “The Middle” actress Sher and illustrated by acclaimed graphic novelist Julia Wertz. Retail Price: $19.95 | With Discount Card: $17.95
The Land of Stories: A Treasury of Classic Fairy Tales By Chris Colfer Enter the world of fairy tales in this stunning illustrated gift book that includes more than 35 beloved stories and rhymes retold by bestselling author Colfer. Retail Price: $25.99 | With Discount Card: $23.39
Young Elites: The Midnight Star By Marie Lu Lu concludes Adelina’s story with this haunting and hypnotizing final installment to the Young Elites series. Retail Price: $18.99 | With Discount Card: $17.09
Middle School #8: Dog’s Best Friend By James Patterson & Chris Tebbetts Releasing the same month as the Middle School movie, this next installment of Patterson’s hit series has nonstop laughs starring everyone’s favorite underdog. Retail Price: $13.99 | With Discount Card: $12.59
Holding Up the Universe
If You Give a Mouse a Brownie
By Jennifer Niven
By Laura Numeroff
From a bestselling author comes a heartwrenching story about what it means to see someone—and love someone—for who they truly are.
The ninth picture book in the blockbuster If You Give . . . series uses rhythmic text and a circular storyline to enchant young readers.
Retail Price: $17.99 | With Discount Card: $16.19
Retail Price: $17.99 | With Discount Card: $16.19
Visit www.booksamillion.com/bookclubs for up-to-date reading guides.
THIS MONTH’S PICKS
original The Sound of Glass By Karen White Two years after her husband’s death, Merritt Heyward inherits his family home in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. Retail Price: $15 | With Discount Card: $13.50
literary Circling the Sun By Paula McLain Beryl Markham, a fierce young woman and record-breaking aviator, seeks adventure, freedom and love in colonial Kenya. Retail Price: $16 | With Discount Card: $14.40
faithpoint The Long Journey to Jake Palmer By James L. Rubart Jake Palmer is drawn to the legend of Willow Lake, a lost corridor whose path leads to a place where one’s deepest longings are fulfilled. Retail Price: $15.99 | With Discount Card: $14.39
nonfiction Inside of a Dog By Alexandra Horowitz Horowitz, a cognitive scientist, explains how dogs think and perceive their daily worlds, each other and the humans around them.
NEXT MONTH Kitchens of the Great Midwest By J. Ryan Stradal Stradal’s startlingly original and tender debut captures the zeitgeist of the Midwest and the rise of foodie culture. Retail Price: $16 | With Discount Card: $14.40
Twain’s End By Lynn Cullen From the acclaimed author of the page-turning tale Mrs. Poe comes a fictional portrait of the personal life of American writer Mark Twain. Retail Price: $16 | With Discount Card: $14.40
Priceless By Joel Smallbone & Luke Smallbone After his wife dies tragically and he loses custody of his little girl, James is at the darkest crossroad of his life. Can a mistake lead to redemption? Retail Price: $15.99 | With Discount Card: $14.39
Born Survivors By Wendy Holden The Nazis murdered their husbands, but concentration camp prisoners Priska, Rachel and Anka would not let evil take their unborn children. Retail Price: $15.99 | With Discount Card: $14.39
Retail Price: $17 | With Discount Card: $15.30
teen Cinder By Marissa Meyer In New Beijing, where humans and androids crowd the streets, Cinder, a cyborg and gifted mechanic, must fight for her world’s future.
Saint Anything By Sarah Dessen Once again, the hugely popular Dessen tells an engrossing story of a girl discovering friendship, love, family and herself. Retail Price: $10.99 | With Discount Card: $9.89
Retail Price: $9.99 | With Discount Card: $8.99
kids The Fourteenth Goldfish By Jennifer L. Holm Eleven-year-old Ellie is struggling with the loss of her Grandpa Melvin, until a gawky teenager who seems eerily familiar shows up. Retail Price: $7.99 | With Discount Card: $7.19
Sisters By Raina Telgemeier Raina can’t wait to be a big sister. But once Amara is born, things aren’t quite how she expected them to be. Retail Price: $10.99 | With Discount Card: $9.89
SCARY STORIES BY MICHAEL ALEC ROSE
Haunted heroines take on the supernatural
t the scary, broken heart of each of these three novels stands a woman of tremendous courage. It’s a quality she—each of these three very different “shes”—will need in order to face the horrors bent on destroying her. Also marking each heroine is a possibly fatal flaw that draws the monstrous entities in her direction with implacable magnetism. Cherie Priest is an author who loves the feel of things—tangible objects, especially ones that hold in their heft a heap of history. Her new novel, The Family Plot (Tor, $25.99, 368 pages, ISBN 9780765378248), has the perfect concept to indulge this enthusiasm: A salvage company from Nashville, Tennessee, is hired by an elderly woman to dismantle and sell off every beautiful thing in her family’s old homestead before the grand house is demolished. And where is this gorgeous edifice, packed to the rafters with so many treasures? Right at the base of
Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, site of one of the fiercest battles of the Civil War. Dahlia Dutton leads her salvage crew with an appropriately iron hand, but she is dangerously susceptible to the allure of the haunted house she is commissioned to tear apart. The spirits who haunt the place feel her softness toward them, and they respond with diabolical vengeance. It’s an old story. The Family Plot delivers a double helping of fun: A prospectus of auction items worthy of Southern Living is served up alongside a tale of gothic suspense woven from the
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familiar fabric of lost war ballads, flavored with the bitter twang of ingrown family evils and hypocritical Confederate piety. For Priest, as for her vulnerable protagonist, the more traditional the object, the more valuable it’s got to be.
THEY’RE IN THE BASEMENT Chattanooga and Tokyo are a world apart in every way. Mariko Koike is one of the biggest names in mystery and horror in her native Japan, and now U.S. readers can share the thrills. Her 1986 classic The Graveyard Apartment (Thomas Dunne, $25.99, 336 pages, ISBN 9781250060549), now translated into English for the first time by Deborah Boliver Boehm, is one of the strangest and most terrifying horror novels I’ve ever read, and that’s saying a lot. One reason for the book’s uncanny impact is a cultural one. Japan possesses a vast folklore of supernatural beings, the taxonomy for which is fabulously complex. With acute economy, Koike has distilled this puzzling array of horrible creatures into one great and collective force. That force is concentrating on one hapless family living in a crazy apartment building in a neglected precinct of the capital city, surrounded by a huge graveyard. Two factors conspire to make the experience of reading The Graveyard Apartment especially harrowing. The first is a focus on the building’s basement, in which the worst things happen. There is no distancing ourselves from the horror; it could happen to us. The second factor concerns the psychological foundation for the
family’s persecution—a painful scenario, all too common, in which a guilty mother heroically and desperately attempts to protect her innocent child. Did the terrible error she and the little girl’s father committed—bringing about both the child’s life and the first wife’s death—somehow lead to these fatal consequences? It is a superbly distressing question, another instance of absolute evil tormenting simple human frailty.
DON’T LOOK BACK I have saved the best of the three new books for last, and I’ll say the least about it, mainly to insist to my fellow fans of horror that you must get your hands on this one. The Motion of Puppets (Picador, $26, 272 pages, ISBN 9781250057181) is the only novel I know to have fulfilled Robert Aickman’s famous statement about great supernatural tales, that they are the fiction most closely approaching poetry. Keith Donohue (The Stolen Child) has crafted a perfect fable based on the mysterious attraction of the puppet
theater. Building upon the archaic superstition (exploited in Toy Story) that puppets have their own emotional lives, the author takes one more magnificent step and ties in the devastating myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. Instead of descending to the Underworld, Kay Harper has been magically transformed into a puppet. Her husband, Theo, must try to find her and win her back. Every page of this novel hums with mythic power, pulling on every heartstring. There’s a delightful variety of heroism, susceptibility and supernatural threat in these three novels. We recommend that you treat yourself to all of them—if it’s a trick you can manage.
T PI OP CK
THE WONDER By Emma Donoghue
The meaning of motherlessness
REVIEW BY STEPHENIE HARRISON
It may be no coincidence that the female protagonists of Brit Bennett’s remarkable debut are 17 at the start of the story: This was Bennett’s age when she first began writing The Mothers. Now, after nearly a decade of work, Bennett has completed a mature and moving masterpiece about the indelible bond between mothers and daughters and what it means for motherless girls to grow into women. We meet Nadia Turner during her senior year of high school. It should be a time of excitement and anticipation, but Nadia is reeling from her mother’s recent suicide. She attempts to dull her pain through various acts of rebellion, including a romance with the pastor’s son, Luke. Their fling turns serious, however, when Nadia discovers she is pregnant, and By Brit Bennett their decision about how to handle her condition will shape the lives of Riverhead, $26, 288 pages Luke, Nadia and her religious best friend, Aubrey, in ways none of them ISBN 9780399184512, audio, eBook available can imagine. As the years pass, despite their collective efforts to move on, Nadia’s secret forms an inescapable anchor to the past. The afterDEBUT FICTION shocks of her choice—and the nagging question of what might have been—continue to haunt the trio, threatening to unravel their friendship and shake the foundations of their tight-knit black community in Southern California. Sharply observed and written in soul-searing prose, The Mothers is a powerful first novel that isn’t afraid to tackle tough issues, taking a hard look at family, friendship, grief and growing up. In a de facto Greek chorus, the united voice of the elderly church mothers in the community who have seen it all narrate the proceedings, punctuating events with their wise and wistful insights. Bennett’s writing is ripe with emotion and empathy, but she exhibits impressive restraint, never veering into melodrama. Moreover, her inspired juxtaposition of Nadia and Audrey—how their mothers have each wounded them in different but equally damaging ways, how they attempt to make themselves whole and compensate for their losses, how they each choose to emulate or reject their mothers in turn—is fascinating, and perfect fodder for lively book club discussions. Filled with compassionate storytelling and unforgettaVisit BookPage.com to read ble characters, The Mothers is a provocative introduction to a talented a Q&A with Brit Bennett. new author. Really, I’m hanging by a thread.” But, as she declares on the very By Maria Semple first page, today will be different. Little, Brown She will play with her sweet son, $27, 272 pages Timby. She will radiate calm and go ISBN 9780316403436 to yoga class. She will initiate sex Audio, eBook available with her husband, Joe. Reader, the day does not exactly COMEDIC FICTION go as planned. Timby fakes an illness to get picked up early from his tony private school (in a fun nod to Semple fans, he attends Galer Eleanor Flood is tired of being tired. She wakes up in her trendy Street School). Eleanor runs into Seattle neighborhood already an old colleague who brings some long-suppressed family secrets to counting down to bedtime. A former artist for a “Simpsons”-esque the surface. And when she goes TV show, she is stumped profesto surprise Joe at his office, his sionally and stuck personally. “I’m receptionist informs her that he is looking worse by the day,” she on vacation. Eleanor spends her day unravlaments. “I’m all jowly. My back is dry. My core strength is nonexistent. eling the mystery of where Joe is
TODAY WILL BE DIFFERENT
Little, Brown $27, 304 pages ISBN 9780316393874 Audio, eBook available
spending his days, while also facing her hurtful childhood and estrangement from her beloved sister. She may not make it to yoga, but the day is a major turning point in Eleanor’s life, one in which she realizes she has to deal with her past to carve out a better future. Semple—the author, of course, of the incomparable Where’d You Go, Bernadette—is second to none in humorous fiction. Her heroines are deeply flawed but totally relatable, and Eleanor is no exception. Today Will Be Different is filled with transcendent moments of humanity, reminders that while we all can aspire to improve, sometimes it’s OK to just appreciate what is already in front of us.
Is Emma Donoghue cultivating a new genre? Call it “emergency motherhood.” Like her 2010 bestseller, Room, Donoghue’s ninth novel features a woman whose existence is bent around the life, health and happiness of a child whose circumstances are desperate. The Wonder is set in Catholic Ireland, just after the ravages of the potato famine. Little Anna O’Donnell has survived months without food, leading the townspeople to believe she is a miracle. Due to her fame, the diocese where she and her family live assigns a nurse and a nun to watch her around the clock. The nurse is Lib Wright, a British veteran of the Crimean War who was personally trained by Florence Nightingale. The nun is a shadow of a creature called Sister Michael. Anxiously watching and waiting are Anna’s parents. Lib, a no-nonsense type, assumes something dodgy is going on. After months of nothing but spoonfuls of water, Anna should be dead. Then, under the eyes of Lib and the nun, Anna does begin to die in earnest. This prompts a battle between Lib and Anna’s mother: In Donoghue’s world, those who haven’t given birth—Lib had a baby who died in infancy—just don’t get it. Virginal Sister Michael and the servant girl are compassionate but befuddled. The men are useless. The conflict can only end in catastrophe. Or maybe, to use Tolkien’s word, a eucatastrophe. Donoghue’s strength is the fierceness with which she approaches her subject matter, and The Wonder sometimes reaches Exorcist-level intensity as Lib and Mrs. O’Donnell contend over Anna’s body and soul. Suspenseful and compelling, the story will keep readers turning pages.
reviews THE RED CAR By Marcy Dermansky
Liveright $24.95, 208 pages ISBN 9781631492334 Audio, eBook available LITERARY FICTION
When Queens resident Leah Kaplan gets a phone call from someone she worked with in San Francisco a decade earlier, she can’t possibly foresee the strange events that are about to happen. The unexpected journey that takes her back to California and away from Hans, her husband of five years, is the driving force behind The Red Car, Marcy Dermansky’s odd and entertaining new novel. Leah had yet to earn her MFA when she worked at the University of California’s Facilities Management Department, writing job descriptions for custodians and engineers. Shortly before Leah left, her boss, Judy, took her to lunch in her “dream come true”: a “blindingly red” sports car she had wanted all her life. Flash forward 10 years, when a former coworker calls to say that Judy died in an accident involving the red car and has left the car to Leah. The novel then takes a surreal turn. Leah hears Judy’s voice in her head. She travels West for the funeral, where everyone from former colleagues to total strangers wants to sleep with her. Judy’s car may be possessed: First, it fixes itself; then people who drive it have trouble keeping to a safe speed. Then Leah begins to suspect that Judy’s death may not have been an accident. Well before Dermansky mentions him, it’s clear we’re in the realm of Haruki Murakami: the staccato rhythm and short sentences; the presence of cats, if only in cartoon form on T-shirts; dialogue that’s not quite real speech. There’s even a Japanese motel clerk who, like many Murakami characters, is obsessed with American culture. If The Red Car doesn’t quite equal the bizarre beauty of the master’s finest work, it’s still a fun and addictive read. “Follow the
FICTION signs,” deceased Judy advises Leah. Readers who do the same will enter a dreamlike world that is as familiar as it is skewed. —MICHAEL MAGRAS
NEWS OF THE WORLD By Paulette Jiles
Morrow $22.99, 224 pages ISBN 9780062409201 Audio, eBook available HISTORICAL FICTION
Poet and novelist Paulette Jiles’ latest book is once again set in the post-Civil War era, a time that she memorably evoked in previous works like The Color of Lightning. News of the World is a beautifully written story based on a real-life former soldier, Capt. Jefferson Kidd, who traveled the north Texas landscape in the 1870s reading the news—from politics to polar expeditions—to the inhabitants of small towns and frontier outposts who had no access to information outside their own limited environs. In Wichita Falls, Capt. Kidd is approached by an old friend, Britt Johnson, for a favor. Johanna Leonberger was taken captive by the Kiowa after they killed her parents and sister. After four years with the tribe, she has been recovered. Britt asks the Captain to deliver the 10-year-old to her aunt and uncle outside San Antonio—a 400-mile journey fraught with danger from highwaymen, raiding Kiowa and the unforgiving landscape itself. Jiles writes with great sensitivity about the bond that develops between the 70-year-old widower who has served in three wars and the girl who has completely forgotten her birth language, her parents, her people, her religion—even how to use a knife and fork. As their journey nears its end, Jiles conveys in sparse language the emotions of each of these perfectly drawn characters, building to a remarkable conclusion that will not soon be forgotten. News of the World is highly recommended historical fiction that brings to life an overlooked period of Texas history. —DEBORAH DONOVAN
HAG-SEED By Margaret Atwood
Hogarth $25, 320 pages ISBN 9780804141291 Audio, eBook available LITERARY FICTION
Hag-Seed, Margaret Atwood’s retelling of The Tempest, is part of the Hogarth Shakespeare Project, in which contemporary authors reimagine some of the Bard’s most famous plays. The Tempest tells the story of Prospero, a former duke exiled with his daughter, Miranda, to a deserted island, where he studies sorcery and plots revenge. Hag-Seed sticks close to the play’s themes of magic, retribution and illusion, yet Atwood finds a way to root the story in contemporary Canada with satisfying results. Felix is about to stage a brand new production of The Tempest, starring himself as Prospero, when he is unceremoniously ousted from his position as artistic director at the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival. Widowed and still mourning the death of his young daughter, Miranda, he moves to an isolated farmhouse in the country, changes his name to Mr. Duke and indulges in dreams of vengeance and painful memories of his lost family. Over a decade later, Felix is running a drama program in a local prison. When rumors reach him that funding for the program is going to be cut and that the politicians who hold the purse strings have ties to his former workplace, the opportunity to retaliate is too promising to pass up. Felix decides that the time is right for the inmates to perform The Tempest. Used to more swashbuckling fare, like Macbeth and Henry IV, the prisoners are reluctant to take on a play with fairies, monsters and songs. But Felix finds ways to engage his cast. Soon, the inmates are fighting over playing the spirit Ariel and writing additional tunes for Caliban. Incarceration allows them to identify with the characters who are most confined by
circumstances, and as much as Felix exploits their empathy, he is also transformed by it. Atwood has tremendous fun with Hag-Seed. Those who know the play will especially enjoy her artful treatment of its more poignant storylines. But even someone unfamiliar with Shakespeare will by entertained by this compelling tale of enchantment and second chances, and the rough magic it so delightfully embodies. —LAUREN BUFFERD
CROSSTALK By Connie Willis
Del Rey $28, 512 pages ISBN 9780345540676 eBook available SPECULATIVE FICTION
Briddey has it all: a loving family, a great job and a boyfriend, Trent, who wants to get serious. She and Trent plan to take advantage of a scientific breakthrough, the EED: a medical procedure that connects the brains of two romantic partners so they sense each other’s feelings. No more dating guesswork, no more games, no more drama. Of course, there are naysayers who think rigging the game of love is a bad idea. Briddey’s family is opposed to the procedure and overwhelms her with constant busybody texts trying to change her mind. Briddey’s weird, genius coworker warns of mysterious EED hazards that he won’t fully describe. And there’s the pesky fact that the EED only works if a couple is truly in love, so if the connection doesn’t form, you’re not soul mates. Despite the risks, Briddey is eager to take the leap. In the whirlwind of surprises that follow, she battles not only her own demons, but also those of a few others. She becomes the target of a corporate giant, learns more about genetics than ever before, takes refuge in zombie fortresses and secret libraries, reconnects with her heritage and is surprised by her family’s love in a way she never thought possible. Crosstalk is a fun technological
FICTION fairy tale. It’s also a fable that asks us to question the nature of love and the ethics of technology. How much connectivity is too much? Are we too tangled together by social media and constant texting? Connie Willis, an award-winning science fiction writer (To Say Nothing of the Dog), addresses these questions and more with humor and wit. Crosstalk not only asks whether it’s possible to know and connect with another person completely, but also makes us reexamine whether it’s even healthy to try. —C A R R I E R O L LWA G E N
THE MORTIFICATIONS By Derek Palacio
Tim Duggan $27, 320 pages ISBN 9781101905692 Audio, eBook available
The Mortifications is a devastating portrait of the realities we construct for ourselves, the parts of our history we choose to embrace and those we yearn to escape. In deceptively simple prose, Palacio writes movingly of dreams and family legacies and reminds us that, no matter how far away you travel, some aspects of one’s ancestry are forever a part of you. —MICHAEL MAGRAS
MERCURY By Margot Livesey Harper $26.99, 336 pages ISBN 9780062437501 Audio, eBook available LITERARY FICTION
Mercury, Margot Livesey’s eighth and perhaps most psychologically penetrating novel, describes a family destroyed by obsession, passion and secrecy. The fact that The Mortifications, Derek Palacio’s beautifully written debut nov- the object of desire is a horse does el, begins in 1980, during the Mariel not take away from the novel’s intensity, or the depths to which it boatlift that took refugees from fearlessly dives. Cuba to the United States. Soledad Don Stevenson is an optomEncarnación packs her 12-yearetrist; his wife, Viv, worked as a old son, Ulises, and his twin sister, Isabel, onto an overcrowded lobster hedge fund manager until the opportunity to manage a riding stable boat that carries them away from with a childhood friend revived her their village of Buey Arriba. Her former dreams of being a chamhusband, Uxbal, chooses to stay behind, but not without first trying pion rider. The Stevensons live in to prevent his family’s departure by suburban Boston, close to Don’s parents. Their two young children holding Isabel ransom. are well adjusted and happy. But In Connecticut, Soledad bewhen Hilary, a newcomer to town, comes a court stenographer and brings the thoroughbred Mercury attracts the attention of lawyers to board at Windy Hill, everything who find her exotic. She falls in changes. Viv becomes infatuated love with Henri Willems, a Dutch with the animal. Don is slow to horticulturalist who grows Cuba’s Habano tobacco in the Connecticut notice how the changes in Viv’s behavior threaten both their lives River Valley. and their livelihood. Even after he At 17, Ulises, a budding Latin realizes she is spending some of scholar, gets a job working in Hentheir savings on Mercury’s care and ri’s fields. The more devout Isabel volunteers with the terminally ill at feeding, passivity keeps him from acting until it is too late. Jude the Apostle. Soon, she takes Mercury is a novel about seeing a vow of chastity and silence and and not seeing, about the conleaves for Guatemala to establish nection between secrecy and a school funded by the church. separateness. It is about the toll And all of this is before Soledad’s taken when we don’t pay attention diagnosis of breast cancer and a letter from Uxbal, who demands his and how easily lack of trust can creep into the best of marriages. family’s return to Cuba. DEBUT FICTION
CHRISTIAN FICTION BY BETH BULOW
You can go home again
n these three inspirational novels, characters return home to face their past, seek forgiveness and renew hope for the future. Sometimes going back is the only way to move forward.
In bestselling author Rachel Hauck’s latest novel, The Wedding Shop (Zondervan, $15.99, 384 pages, ISBN 9780310341543), veteran Haley Morgan returns home to Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, to heal after her deployment and the end of a destructive relationship. There, she rediscovers a local wedding shop, a place she and her best friend, Tammy, dreamed of restoring to its former glory. Haley decides to fulfill that childhood dream. Her story alternates with one set in the early 1930s, when Cora Scott, the original owner of The Wedding Shop, finds purpose as a working woman. Though Cora longs for a happy ending, she may be overlooking a love that’s right in front of her. Haley’s trust in God is encouraging and uplifting, and Hauck gives Heart’s Bend an authentic history, providing a charming setting. Hauck switches easily between past and present, bringing two heartfelt journeys to a poignant culmination.
NEVER TOO FAR GONE In his 12th novel, Long Way Gone (Thomas Nelson, $25.99, 320 pages, ISBN 9780718084714), Charles Martin deftly retells the story of the prodigal son. From the remote Colorado mountains to the music-obsessed streets of Nashville, Cooper O’Connor carries his father’s words in his heart and a beloved six-string guitar in his hands. After reaching Nashville, Cooper realizes that stardom is not
readily achieved. Once he hits rock bottom, Cooper looks back to his father’s words and up to God, both cast aside in his bid for stardom. Whether portraying a soul- shattering betrayal or a bittersweet reunion between lovers, Martin sustains a realistic yet hopeful atmosphere. Best of all is the heart- wrenching relationship between Cooper and his father.
A PROMISE OF HOME What at first appears to be a story of childhood love is actually a tale of secrecy, sacrifice and family. Chris Fabry’s The Promise of Jesse Woods (Tyndale, $14.99, 432 pages, ISBN 9781414387772) details a life-changing summer. In 1972, new to the town of Dogwood, West Virginia, pastor’s son Matt finds common ground with two other outcasts: Jesse Woods, a girl from a poor family, and Dickie Darrel Lee Hancock, a mixed-race boy. Matt forms a particularly quick bond with Jesse, whom he is determined to protect, no matter the personal cost. A serious trauma severs Matt and Jesse’s friendship, and after years of silence, he must return to understand what else was lost that summer. Matt’s strong voice is rivaled only by Jesse’s resolve, and readers will cheer her fortitude. This poignant story is worth the heartache: Complex and layered, The Promise of Jesse Woods goes beyond a youthful promise to center on a bond renewed by a desire for truth.
reviews It is about literal blindness and abstract recklessness. Livesey has tremendous command over her material and unites a love of horses from her Scottish childhood and interest in the mechanics of vision to her almost uncanny perception of human behaviors. Mercury is a brilliant, unsettling novel that may make you wonder how well you know your partner. —LAUREN BUFFERD
Visit BookPage.com to read a Q&A with Margot Livesey.
NICOTINE By Nell Zink
Ecco $26.99, 304 pages ISBN 9780062441706 Audio, eBook available
FICTION a self-avowed asexual bicycle activist is smart and never predictable. Though she was born a generation earlier than most of her characters, Zink is keenly attuned to the emotional weather that swirls around them. Based on the trials of Penny and her friends, she gives us reason to be optimistic about the millenials’ maturation, even as they seem destined to encounter a unique brand of stumbles along the way. —HARVEY FREEDENBERG
—T O M D E I G N A N
THE WANGS VS. THE WORLD By Jade Chang
HMH $26, 368 pages ISBN 9780544734098 Audio, eBook available DEBUT FICTION
THE GUINEVERES By Sarah Domet
Flatiron $25.99, 352 pages ISBN 9781250086617 Audio, eBook available DEBUT FICTION
One would be hard-pressed to come up with a title less likely to attract readers than the one attached to Nell Zink’s third novel. But anyone put off by it will miss out on a quirky and consistently engaging story about the millennial generation’s circuitous journey to find its way in the world. The “Nicotine” of the novel’s title is a decrepit house in a “heroin-type neighborhood” of Jersey City that was the childhood home of Norman Baker, an “animist drug freak” whose medical clinic in Brazil attracted a group of passionate followers. When Norman’s devoted daughter, Penny, is evicted from his Upper West Side apartment after his death, she decides to explore the possibility of taking up residence at Nicotine, and arrives to find the house has been occupied by a group of activists united only by their passion for tobacco products. Soon the romantic lives of these characters entangle with those of Penny and her much older stepbrother, Matt, in ways that would make the term “it’s complicated” an understatement. Zink’s fast-paced chronicle of the couplings and uncouplings that ensue amid a group that includes women named Sorry and Jazz and
At times sacred, occasionally profane, The Guineveres is a heavenly read from an author worth watching.
Readers have long been fascinated by stories of women apart from the world, from 19th-century tales of girls imprisoned in convents to more contemporary gems like Ann Patchett’s The Patron Saint of Liars (1992). Sarah Domet’s debut novel, The Guineveres, is a wonderful entry into this rich tradition. Four girls, all improbably named Guinevere, are left by their parents with the Sisters of the Supreme Adoration. The convent, at first, seems similar to an all-girls high school, complete with cutely named factions. The titular girls (known as Vere, Gwen, Ginny and Win) initially bond over their shared name as well as their desire to escape. It turns out, however, that the convent is not unlike the real world. The girls experience friendship and romance, tragedy and betrayal. The Guineveres is mainly narrated by the more reserved Vere, who tells the story as an older woman looking back, and Domet deftly handles this retrospective voice. Brief chapters on the lives of various female saints imbue The Guineveres with a broader sense of the adversity women have faced over the centuries. All the while, Domet sustains a sense of humor. “Who’s the patron saints of patron saints?” Win quips at one point.
Charles Wang pops another aspirin and thinks of all the ways America has failed him. The country may have made the no-name immigrant into a cosmetics billionaire and given him a designer Bel-Air mansion that even Martha Stewart covets, but when the markets crashed, so did his empire. Now that he thinks about it, Charles is also angry at the Japanese for invading China and at the Communists for taking his family’s ancestral lands. Clearly, the world has screwed with the Wangs long enough! With this exaggerated tirade, Jade Chang begins her hysterical debut novel, The Wangs vs. the World, which is set soon after the financial crisis of the last decade. Too vain to believe that it’s all over, Charles has one last scheme to return glory to the family. The first step is a cross-country drive from Los Angeles to New York to gather up the Wang clan, before returning to China to somehow reclaim their lost land. Embarking on this epic road trip in a borrowed station wagon are Charles; his second wife, Barbra; and two of his children, Andrew, a wannabe comedian, and Grace, a teen fashion blogger, each gathered up from an expensive school Charles can no longer afford. Their collective hope lies in upstate New York with Saina, Charles’ oldest daughter, who escaped the financial catastrophe but has plenty of personal struggles. Though the Wangs are poor and desperate, they never lose humor or hope. The zany scheme to reclaim the family riches takes
a backseat to the family relationships, including loving, supportive and playful moments between the siblings. Charles, too, evolves from a failed businessman to a loving father who is willing to do anything to make sure his children are taken care of. Readers will be cheering for these underdogs. — C H I K A G U J A R A T H I
THE UNDOING OF SAINT SILVANUS By Beth Moore
Tyndale $24.99, 480 pages ISBN 9781496416476 Audio, eBook available DEBUT FICTION
In her anticipated fiction debut, The Undoing of Saint Silvanus, Beth Moore weaves an introspective, genre-bending narrative. Moore, a popular author of Christian nonfiction and founder of Living Proof Ministries, tells the story of Jillian Slater, who travels to New Orleans after receiving news of her alcoholic father’s death. Upon arriving at Saint Silvanus, the church-turned-apartmentbuilding that her grandmother runs, Jillian learns that things are worse than she’d anticipated. Her father isn’t just dead but murdered, her cold and aloof grandmother isn’t happy to see her, and someone is leaving threatening, strange tokens on the doorstep of Saint Silvanus. Aided by her grandmother and a colorful cast of Saint Silvanus residents, Jillian seeks to learn more about her father’s death and her family’s secrets. Though it’s a fast-paced story, The Undoing of Saint Silvanus also contains moments of introspection—both for Jillian and for the reader—that are among its strongest scenes. Moore’s vivid and often delightful descriptions of New Orleans, Saint Silvanus and the multiple supporting characters add a lively sense of place. The gripping mystery will keep readers engaged till the end, where Jillian finds both answers and a new relationship with God. —HOPE RACINE
NONFICTION T PI OP CK
DESIGNING YOUR LIFE By Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
HERO OF THE EMPIRE
Knopf $24.95, 272 pages ISBN 9781101875322 Audio, eBook available
Young Winston at war REVIEW BY PRISCILLA KIPP
Winston Churchill looms large over the last century, a vivid player— for better or worse—in conflicts and crises almost everywhere in the British Empire. Controversial and complex, he became, as prime minister of the United Kingdom during World War II’s darkest days, beloved. In Hero of the Empire, bestselling author Candice Millard (River of Doubt, Destiny of the Republic) offers a revealing portrait of the much younger man, smarting from his first political defeat and hungry for the fame he had yet to achieve. She explores the roots of Churchill’s grit and obstinacy, and the sheer luck that frequently saved his life. Churchill’s contemporaries also come vividly to life in Millard’s narrative: his American mother, Jennie, and her lovers; his father, Lord Randolph, disgraced by mental decline; fellow correspondents and fearless co-conspirators; and his first love, the opportunistic Pamela. By Candice Millard The whiskey and cigars are here, too, right alongside rats that eat his Doubleday, $30, 400 pages ISBN 9780385535731, audio, eBook available pillow, constant hunger and many close brushes with death. While it is now hard to imagine world history without Churchill, Millard’s abBIOGRAPHY sorbing tale of his role in the Boer War manages to be a cliffhanger—his story came very close to ending when it had barely begun. Seeking fame in the form of a medal, Churchill was an entitled aristocrat in search of any war that could provide one. When being a soldier for the far-flung British Empire at the close of the 19th century wasn’t producing results, he became a war correspondent in South Africa for London’s Morning Post—and then heroically saved soldiers’ lives when their train was attacked by fierce Boer forces. Taken prisoner, he would eventually escape, leaving behind the two men who planned to go with him and a thank-you note for the sympathetic warden. News of Churchill’s heroics and harrowing escape inspired jubilation back home and vaulted him into his first seat in Parliament. The rest, as they say, is history.
UPSTREAM By Mary Oliver
Penguin Press $26, 192 pages ISBN 9781594206702 eBook available ESSAYS
Most of the 18 brief, beautiful essays in Upstream have appeared individually in other collections by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver. Gathered together here, these prose works provide an interior roadmap to her development as one of America’s most accomplished—and most popular—poets of nature and transcendence. The title essay, for example, is an impressionistic remembrance of straying away from her family as a
young child, wandering upstream and becoming lost. Within a few short pages, it becomes an exhilarating celebration of being lost in nature. The essay concludes: “Attention is the beginning of devotion.” Attention and devotion are what readers have come to expect from Oliver’s poems. The same traits are evident in her prose. In the astonishing “Swoon,” she watches with great curiosity and sympathy as a female spider produces eggs, nurtures her newborns and painstakingly traps a cricket—“with a humped, shrimplike body and whiplike antennae and jumper’s legs”—in her web. Questions arise in her mind about what she is witnessing, and she writes: “I know I can find [answers] in some book of knowledge, of which there are many. But the palace of knowledge is different from the palace
of discovery, in which I am, truly, a Copernicus. The world is not what I thought, but different, and more! I have seen it with my own eyes!” Other essays contemplate her poetic and intellectual forebears— the transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson and poets Walt Whitman, Edgar Allan Poe and William Wordsworth. Still others relate her soulful encounters with nature during her walks in the woods and along the shore near her home in Provincetown, Massachusetts. These places have often been sources of inspiration for her poems and will be familiar to many of her readers. So the final essay about leaving Provincetown, nuanced as it is, comes as a shock. Oliver, now in her 80s, has moved to Florida. And she remains a joyful advocate for the palace of discovery.
It’s interesting that Designing Your Life: How to Build a WellLived, Joyful Life is coming out in the fall instead of May or June. While this book would make a great gift for a recent graduate, it would also be a good read at the beginning of senior year, or any other time of transition. Anyone who practices the lessons put forth here has a lot to look forward to. Enlarging on a popular class they teach at Stanford, professors and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Bill Burnett and Dave Evans use principles of design, from brainstorming to prototyping, and adapt them into a way of reconsidering and then reshaping your life. The authors make job-hunting their primary focus but emphasize that this process can be applied to any issue. Sometimes it’s a matter of reframing a problem to open up more potential solutions, while in other situations, a closer look may reveal that you’re tackling a problem that’s not actionable. If that’s the case, fear not: The authors have a simple hack, which is to accept it and move on to the parts you can act on. A series of self-evaluation exercises includes looking closely at four life categories (health, work, play and love) before designing life prototypes and field-testing them. Some of this may be familiar to fans of What Color Is Your Parachute? or even The Secret, but Burnett and Evans bring a fresh and practical design perspective to their career advice. As the authors note, “[I]t’s impossible to predict the future. And the corollary to that thought is: once you design something, it changes the future that is possible.” This hands-on guide will get you started, but what happens next is entirely up to you.
reviews SING FOR YOUR LIFE By Daniel Bergner Lee Boudreaux $28, 320 pages ISBN 9780316300674 eBook available BIOGRAPHY
NONFICTION ple while taking care not to make white people uncomfortable.” Yet finally, recalling Paul Robeson, who “insisted on adding dignity” by changing some of the words, he sings “with almost enough beauty to crack the wall in front of him and make it disintegrate.” You can almost hear it happen. —PRISCILLA KIPP
You don’t have to be an opera fan to enjoy Sing for Your Life, but if you are, prepare for a feast. Daniel Bergner seats you in the front row of the Metropolitan Opera, and his larger-than life subject, African-American singer Ryan Speedo Green, keeps you there. A study in discipline and artistry, musical agility, opera itself and the role that race has played in all of it, this would be an enlightening read even without Green. His story makes it unforgettable. Bergner tracks Green’s rise from an impoverished, shattered family to a career as a globally acclaimed bass-baritone, alternating past and present dramas with scenes of the daunting work going on backstage at one of the world’s iconic opera houses. Green’s mother is a constant, mostly malevolent force. His father leaves, his brother goes to prison and 12-year-old Green falls apart at a juvenile detention facility. How Green grows from there is as captivating as any opera. There’s the teacher who saves his sanity and the facility staffer who gives him a radio; the football coach who makes his players take a music class; the principal who gives Green a chance at his school for the arts, even if he can’t sing; and YouTube, where Green mimics opera stars singing in Italian and German, though he doesn’t understand a word. Always backlit by racial prejudice—its hazy history in opera and the shadow it continues to cast—the story has moments that bristle, as when Green is expected to sing “Ol’ Man River” at a party hosted by Met benefactors. He feels “reduced, confined, simplified, compressed, concealed” by the expectation the he will “sing woefully about the oppression of black peo-
HUNGRY HEART By Jennifer Weiner Atria $27, 416 pages ISBN 9781476723402 Audio, eBook available MEMOIR
comes on,” she writes. “Then you cram whatever’s handy down your trough, and you don’t even taste it, and you eat more of it than you’d intended, and you hate yourself even more. Rinse, repeat.” Ultimately, though, Weiner has found peace with her body—and her life. Her honesty, charm and buoyant spirit come through on every page of this hilarious, wise, putting-it-all-out-there book. —AMY SCRIBNER
MOSCOW NIGHTS By Nigel Cliff
Harper $28.99, 464 pages ISBN 9780062333162 eBook available BIOGRAPHY
I consider myself a bit of a Jennifer Weiner connoisseur. I’ve read all her books and short stories, watched her short-lived TV series “State of Georgia” and laughed at her live-tweeting during “The Bachelor.” Yet even I—a borderline creepy Jen Weiner fan—was surprised by many of the personal details she divulges in her beautifully heartfelt new memoir. Hungry Heart is about all the phases of Weiner’s life: an awkward Jewish teenager in suburban New Jersey, a Princeton student, a bestselling writer, a twice-married mom of two girls. “You fall down. You get hurt. You get up again” is the book’s refrain. And while she seemingly lives a charmed life, Weiner has had her share of falls. She writes poignantly about her father, a successful doctor, who was doting when she was young but then left the family and died a drug addict. It was only after his death that Weiner and her siblings learned that he had fathered another child. She shares the searing details of a miscarriage after an unplanned pregnancy in her 40s. In another chapter called “Carry That Weight,” Weiner writes about her nearly lifelong struggle with body acceptance. “You deprive yourself until you’re weak, faint with hunger, embarrassing yourself by drooling every time an Applebee’s commercial
Such a musical high note was difficult to sustain, and Cliff pulls no punches in chronicling the professional and personal highs and lows that accompanied Cliburn for the rest of his career, inextricably tied to Cold War diplomacy. That’s good news for the reader, as Cliff deftly weaves in such iconic moments as the pre-competition Sputnik launch, Khrushchev’s shoe-banging visit to the United Nations and the U-2 spy plane incident. Through it all, Cliburn maintains his place in popular culture even as his playing skills stagnate and eventually decline. Part musical biography, part nostalgic look at the hula-hoop era and part Cold War history, Moscow Nights strikes the right chord in all respects. —KEITH HERRELL
THE FORTRESS Looking for some appropriate piano accompaniment to that multipart documentary on the Cold War you’re planning? It’s an easy call—just check out the musical archives of Van Cliburn, who became synonymous with the saber-rattling U.S.-Soviet Union standoff when he won the first International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1958. Historian and journalist Nigel Cliff takes us back to the ’50s to recount that triumph, then follows Cliburn’s remarkable career through the ensuing decades against the backdrop of tension, relative calm and eventual empire breakup. (Coincidentally, when Cliburn died in 2013, tensions were entering another chilly period that persists today.) Cliff devotes half of Moscow Nights to the piano competition itself, and rightfully so. Many baby boomers got their first exposure to classical music (not counting Warner Bros. cartoons) from the breathless media coverage of Cliburn’s triumph in Moscow, where the fix was presumably in for a Soviet pianist to win. With ordinary Muscovites and contest judges alike smitten with the 23-year-old Texan, Premier Nikita Khrushchev himself signed off on the winner.
By Danielle Trussoni
Dey Street $27.99, 336 pages ISBN 9780062459008 Audio, eBook available MEMOIR
Written with the taut urgency of a thriller, Danielle Trussoni’s memoir of the disintegration of her marriage is flat-out terrifying. Author of the bestselling novels Angelology and Angelopolis, as well as an award-winning memoir about her Vietnam-vet father, Trussoni turns her unique gaze in The Fortress to the dark heart of romance. Only she could write a memoir about a failed marriage that also includes black magic, Communist Bulgaria, the Knights Templar, ghosts and Provence. When Trussoni meets Nikolai at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, the passion is intense, immediate and transformative. Soon the smoldering Bulgarian on a limited student visa is living in her apartment, eating her food and telling her that they have spent lifetimes looking for each other. He must be with her—which is why she ends up moving to Bulgaria with
him when his visa expires. That, and the fact that she’s pregnant. Ignoring the persistent red flags in Nikolai’s behavior, she finds herself living in Eastern Europe for two years and giving birth in a stark Communist-era hospital. The relationship is good until it isn’t, but a major contributing factor is Nikolai’s volatile mental state. After selling her first novel, Trussoni moves the family to the South of France into a 13th-century fortress used by the Knights Templar. Her depiction of the psychological terrors of Nikolai’s unraveling mind set against the occult history of their remote castle is reminiscent of The Shining, down to the ghostly apparitions and nightmares they each suffer. By the time Trussoni discovers the Tibetan death threats Nikolai has carved into a doorframe, her fear is palpable and the suspense unrelenting. While The Fortress reads like a horror novel, its raw power comes from the hard-won emotional clarity Trussoni brings to her own role in the creation and dissolution of this marriage from hell. —CATHERINE HOLLIS
A TRUCK FULL OF MONEY By Tracy Kidder
Random House $28, 288 pages ISBN 9780812995244 Audio, eBook available BUSINESS
Tracy Kidder has guided a legion of readers along many a wondrous journey, and they’ll be eager to join his latest trip in A Truck Full of Money, a portrait of entrepreneur Paul English, who in 2012 sold Kayak—the online travel company he cofounded—to Priceline for $1.8 billion. It’s a timely, fascinating successor to Kidder’s 1982 Pulitzer Prize winner, The Soul of a New Machine, about an engineering team at Data General racing to create a 32-bit supercomputer. The digitial world has changed dramatically in the three decades since, and Kidder has chosen a
compelling, enigmatic subject to examine this new era. A Truck Full of Money is not only an intriguing account of one computer whiz’s rise (and occasional falls), but an in-depth look at the inner workings of the tech startup world. Born in 1963, English was the sixth of seven children in a Boston-area working-class family. After becoming fascinated with computers at Boston Latin School, English successfully wrote a program to steal his teacher’s password and used it to access more programming commands. After graduating near the bottom of his class, his high SAT scores entitled him to free tuition at University of Massachusetts Boston, where he enrolled with thoughts of becoming a jazz musician. Programming provided his pathway to success, however, and along the way he discovered an innate talent for recruiting and managing the cream of the coding crop, ultimately creating a fiercely loyal inner circle that has followed him from venture to venture. Just like the dot-com world, English’s life has included precipitous peaks and valleys, sometimes ignited by bipolar disorder. At one point in the mid-1990s, after leaving a company, he spent months in his attic creating a website for Xiangqi (Chinese Chess), programming “his way out of depression.” Never one to sit on his laurels, English is his own constantly churning idea factory, whether he’s creating a company, seeking ways to help the homeless in Boston or to further education in Haiti. (Kidder first met English when he was writing Mountains Beyond Mountains, an account of Dr. Paul Farmer’s charitable work in Haiti and elsewhere.) Kidder’s highly readable account is as mesmerizing as the generous genius he depicts. English is both beguiling and passionately creative—planning an office space that transforms into a cutting-edge night club or showing up in his Tesla as an Uber driver while conducting research for his new travel company, Lola. A Truck Full of Money is a wild, ultimately fulfilling ride from a master storyteller. —ALICE CARY
q&a In the spotlight
PAUL ENGLISH BY ALICE CARY
© BERING PHOTOGRAPHY
hat’s it like to be the focus of a book by Tracy Kidder, master of narrative nonfiction and Pulitzer Prize winner? We tracked down computer genius and entrepreneur Paul English, who’s portrayed in A Truck Full of Money, to find out.
Did you have any reservations about allowing Kidder to write about you? How much access did he have and what were the ground rules? When Tracy first approached me with the book idea, I declined. Although my work often puts me in the public, I’m uncomfortable being the center of attention. However, I soon decided to accept his offer, hoping that the book might raise awareness for my nonprofit teams. Plus, Tracy is an insanely fun person to hang out with! He is the most voracious reader friend I have, so we had a lot of fun talking about books. Tracy and I spent a lot of time together over the three years this book was in process. He lived with me for a while—we would eat breakfast together, he would come to all of my meetings, and we’d often shop at Whole Foods after work to cook dinner for friends and family. Tracy gets really personal with his subjects—one day he accompanied me in a workout with my personal trainer, and another day he sat in the chair next to me when I got my hair cut! Have you read the book? Did any of its observations surprise you? Although Tracy trailed me for three years and took notes constantly, I had no idea what he was actually going to write about until I got my first read of the book in June. I admit that I only skimmed it, because it is a little uncomfortable reading a book about yourself. I provided no input to the manuscript. Although I’m open about my bipolar illness, I was surprised to see how much he decided to write about that. Some of it was embarrassing to read, although I hope it can in some ways be helpful to others, in the same way that Touched with Fire was useful to me so many years ago. Can you imagine what you might have done had you been born before the age of computers? The most obvious role for me would be to become a social worker or psychotherapist, following in the footsteps of my mother and of two of my siblings. I’m fascinated about learning from other people. My own struggles with depression and anxiety allow me to feel the pain of others, and I enjoy trying to alleviate that pain whenever I can. A Truck Full of Money is a compelling read, especially for people starting out in business. Any advice for young entrepreneurs? The most important decision you will make—by far—is who you decide to work with. Please pick people who are fun, confident, humble, curious, open-minded, ethical and driven. Kidder writes that you “felt like going into hiding” when the news broke about Priceline buying Kayak for $1.8 billion. Any worries that this book will make you feel that way again? I’ve had to learn how to cope with this over the last few years. I think my friend Tracy is going to cause my inbox to get flooded a bit more than the few hundred emails I get each day now, but I’m trying to get prepared. Check out my one-page site, paulenglish.com, to see how I list my top few projects these Visit BookPage.com to read more days. of our Q&A with Paul English.
reviews DARLING DAYS By iO Tillett Wright Ecco $26.99, 400 pages ISBN 9780062368201 Audio, eBook available MEMOIR
NONFICTION WHO KILLED THESE GIRLS? By Beverly Lowry
Knopf $27.95, 400 pages ISBN 9780307594112 Audio, eBook available TRUE CRIME
The Austin police still insist that the four men were guilty. But Lowry makes an impressive case that thanks to the department’s missteps, we really have no idea who killed those innocent girls. —ANNE BARTLETT
BLOOD AT THE ROOT By Patrick Phillips
Darling Days opens with a brief letter from iO Tillett Wright to his mother, offering forgiveness and love. It’s well-placed in the story, because reading about Wright’s childhood, and the abuse and neglect he suffered at the hands of both parents, can leave a reader feeling angry and vengeful. Wright’s story is often grim, but it points toward reconciliation and a measure of peace beyond the turmoil. A genderqueer photographer, writer, MTV host and activist, Wright had an unorthodox upbringing. His mother, Rhonna, was a “glamazon,” who exercised obsessively and was always in motion, often with the aid of pharmaceuticals. Moving between apartments in the projects, she and Wright’s father split up not long after his birth, and neither was well-equipped to raise a child. Frequently going hungry and struggling in school, Wright couldn’t even catch a break on the playground. When some kids refused to let Wright join a football game as a girl, he resolved on the spot to live as a boy named Ricky and did so for the next decade. When his mother’s inexplicable rages became unbearable, Wright summoned the courage to ask for help. Moving from the streets of New York’s roughest neighborhoods to Europe with his dad and finding stability in an English boarding school, he learned that his father, too, was fighting demons that prevented him from being a suitable guardian. Darling Days is a story of unfortunate self-reliance, but Wright tells it vividly. The thrills and temptations of the art world, and the people that busy whirl leaves behind, are also convincingly captured here.
As he looked back on the Yogurt Shop Murders, one former Austin, Texas, detective wanted to emphasize a hard fact: “Confession is a beginning,” he said. “We had 50.” You read that right—maybe not exactly 50, but there were certainly dozens of confessions to the horrific 1991 killing of four teen girls, who were found naked, bound and shot to death in the yogurt shop where two of them worked. Police know that any big case attracts false confessions from the mentally unstable. They also know that overzealous officers sometimes convince suspects—often very young, ill-educated, suggestible ones—to make false confessions. Was this such a case? Beverly Lowry’s gripping re-examination, Who Killed These Girls?, can’t be definitive, but her descriptions of the 1999 “confessions” of two hapless young men raise serious doubts about their statements. Nevertheless, they and two supposed accomplices were arrested. Two were convicted; the other two set free. There was no physical evidence against any of them. After 10 years, the two convicts were freed on appeal, and the D.A. reluctantly admitted that new DNA evidence didn’t implicate any of the four. Lowry begins the book with moving depictions of the victims, and their still-suffering families are strong presences throughout. But the heart of her narrative is the perhaps-coerced confessions of Mike Scott and Rob Springsteen. Their defenders say they knew nothing about the crime until the police fed them information—and tricked and browbeat them into “admissions.” Lowry’s book is as much about the tactics and culture of American law enforcement as it is about this specific crime.
Norton $26.95, 320 pages ISBN 9780393293012 Audio, eBook available HISTORY
syth County, barring blacks altogether was the answer to any “race troubles.” This injustice would persist well beyond the reach of civil rights for decades, an ugly history kept silent—until now. —PRISCILLA KIPP
THE FRENCH CHEF IN AMERICA By Alex Prud’homme
Knopf $27.95, 336 pages ISBN 9780385351751 Audio, eBook available BIOGRAPHY
Even given the many racially tainted chapters in U.S. history, the story of Georgia’s Forsyth County still shocks. Patrick Phillips grew up “living inside the bubble of Georgia’s notorious ‘white county’ ” where there were few blacks—and, once, there had been none. Something happened in 1912, and after that, Forsyth County was all-white and proud of it. Its citizens would go to horrific lengths for another 75 years to keep it that way. Phillips, grown and living far away, found himself “ashamed to recall how I defended my silence.” Blood at the Root is the result, an account as riveting in its historical detail as it is troubling in its foreshadowing of racial tensions today. In 1912, after the rape and murder of young, white Mae Crow and the so-called confession by black teenager Ernest Knox, white “night riders” took matters into their own hands. After one of the three suspects was beaten, lynched and shot by a vengeful mob, blacks fled as their homes and families became targets for shooters and arsonists. Their property, crops and livestock soon fell into eager white hands. In the days and years that followed, long after the teenagers had been convicted and hanged, any black person entering the county was promptly terrorized into leaving. Attempts at racial cleansing began long before the Jim Crow era, from the federal Indian Removal Act of 1830 through the systemic failures of Reconstruction. In For-
In The French Chef in America, Julia Child’s great-nephew, journalist Alex Prud’homme, treats Child’s “second act” like a carefully crafted menu. He pays exquisite attention to the details without ever losing sight of the overall experience. The effervescent Child is alive and well in these pages, which include scenes from her hit TV show, “The French Chef,” as well as an intimate look at her boundless relationship with her husband, Paul, and the often prickly partnership with her co-writer, Simone “Simca” Beck. The depth of Prud’homme’s research is evident in the particulars: He never tells us about one of Child’s escapades without taking us right to the scene. Learning about how frog legs are cooked, for instance, takes us into a tiny kitchen where Child relentlessly questions the chef even as the cameraman worries about melting his equipment in the intense heat. Prud’homme follows Child from her roots in Escoffier’s grand cuisine through the trying transition to Gault’s nouvelle cuisine. The shift wasn’t easy on Child, but she navigated the changing culinary scene with a combination of stubbornness and grace. We see the gleam in Child’s eye, but also her need to stick her head into every pot to see exactly what was going on in there. Her nephew applies the same good humor and insistent analysis to his topic, serving us a nuanced dish we feel compelled to linger over. —SHEILA M. TRASK
reviews T PI OP CK
RANI PATEL IN FULL EFFECT
Rap like a girl REVIEW BY ANNIE METCALF
Sixteen-year-old Rani Patel is part of the only Indian family— Gujarati, to be precise—on the Hawaiian island of Moloka'i. And that family is falling apart. When Rani discovers her father’s affair, he is unrepentant. After years of unquestioning obedience, Rani’s mother finally finds the strength to kick him out. Feeling abandoned by her father and invisible to her mother, Rani deals with it all through the music that has always saved her: rap. Rani’s deep love of hip-hop culture empowers her to write lyrics and slam poems full of swagger, female empowerment and social awareness. But while her alter ego, MC Sutra, exudes confidence, Rani has yet to confront the horrific truth of her relationship with her father. As she hones her skills as an MC and a flirtatious relationship with an older man becomes something more, Rani’s past continues to intrude on her present. Rani’s environment leaps off the page in vivid and satisfying detail, By Sonia Patel Cinco Puntos, $16.95, 224 pages from the winding roads and small shops of Moloka'i to the intricaISBN 9781941026496, eBook available cies of ’90s hip-hop fashion. The lyrics she writes are particularly Ages 14 and up convincing—good enough to show that her talent is serious, but just unpolished enough to be written by a teenager. Author Sonia Patel is a FICTION psychiatrist, and her determination to portray Rani’s response to trauma truthfully is unrelenting. Rani’s past affects her choices again and again, despite her undeniable intelligence and drive. As young readers root for Rani, they will gain a deeper understanding of abuse and addiction through this powerful and gripping novel.
Lyra and another replica escape, and they soon connect with Gemma and her new friend Jake. As the four teens learn more about Haven and its terrible purpose, they find themselves chased across Florida by secret agents determined to silence them—and revisiting what they thought they knew about their own identities. The ethics of biotechnology would be enough to make Replica a compelling read, but what truly makes it stand out is its narrative format: The book is arranged so that readers read one girl’s story and then must physically flip the book over to read the other’s. (In an author’s note, Lauren Oliver writes that each story can be read independently, or both can be read together in alternating chapters.) The two stories intersect, with mysteries in one solved by information in the other. Part adventure story, part narrative experiment and part reflection on what it means to be human, Replica forms a cohesive and satisfying whole. —J I L L R A T Z A N
WE KNOW IT WAS YOU By Maggie Thrash
SHAME THE STARS By Guadalupe García McCall
Tu Books $19.95, 320 pages ISBN 9781620142783 Ages 12 and up HISTORICAL FICTION
Set along the Texas-Mexico border in the early 1900s, Shame the Stars follows the trials and heartaches of two families trying to survive the war-torn years of the Mexican Revolution while staying true to themselves and what’s right by the people and lands they’ve loved for generations. Eighteen-year-old Joaquín del Toro lives on the expansive Las Moras ranch, where his father is responsible for much of the local economy. Joaquín’s longtime love, Dulceña Villa, helps her father
run the local newspaper responsible for relaying the truth of the Mexican Revolution to the people. When the paper prints a poem anonymously written by Joaquín, it tears apart these two once-friendly families that hold contrasting opinions of how they should react to the rebellion. But when two Texas Rangers assault Joaquín and Dulceña one night, the fire of rebellion they were all trying to keep contained comes flaring out in devastating ways—making enemy and ally of the most unexpected. Firmly grounded in real Mexican and American history, the latest novel from Pura Belpré Award- winning author Guadalupe García McCall takes this vital period and makes it relevant to a new audience—one that still feels the burn of these flames a century later. —J U S T I N B A R I S I C H
Visit BookPage.com for a Q&A with Guadalupe García McCall.
REPLICA By Lauren Oliver
HarperCollins $19.99, 544 pages ISBN 9780062394163 Audio, eBook available Ages 14 and up SCIENCE FICTION
Lyra is a replica, one of thousands of clones bred as research subjects at Haven, a top-secret medical research facility on an island off the coast of Florida. Gemma, once a sickly child but now a curious teen, longs to know about Haven and the secrets that her wealthy father might be hiding there. Both Lyra and Gemma are sure that these are the only lives they’ve ever known. And yet both have snippets of memories—a decorated cup, an unusual statue—that don’t quite fit. When an explosion destroys Haven,
Simon Pulse $17.99, 352 pages ISBN 9781481462006 eBook available Ages 14 and up MYSTERY
Fifteen-year-old Benny Flax and Virginia Leeds are the only two members of Mystery Club, an extracurricular group that is sorely lacking in both participants and crimes to solve—until the Friday night football game when cheerleader Brittany, dressed as the school’s mascot, inexplicably runs off the field and jumps off a bridge. The police are quick to rule Brittany’s death a suicide, but Benny and Virginia think differently after they discover camera footage of both the cheerleaders’ locker room and the apparent suicide. With Benny’s keen level of observation and Virginia’s ability to go unnoticed, the two decide to investigate
reviews the mystery themselves, even if it means lying to police and breaking the law. Because for Benny and Virginia, Mystery Club is all they have. Maggie Thrash, author of the graphic memoir Honor Girl, has penned a kooky mystery that should be read through the lens of an Amy Schumer skit. The characters and the school itself are clever caricatures, and readers shouldn’t expect a lot of depth. Benny is analytical and clever, but he struggles to connect socially, while Virginia makes meek attempts to transform her reputation as a gossip and busybody (what better way to do that than to investigate your fellow classmates for murder?). There’s a healthy dose of humor with the crime, although the satire may not resonate with all readers. — K I M B E R LY G I A R R A T A N O
HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE By Jennifer Niven
Knopf $17.99, 400 pages ISBN 9780385755924 Audio, eBook available Ages 14 and up FICTION
Libby Strout is no longer “America’s fattest teen,” but her biggest fear in returning to school for the first time since fifth grade is that her classmates won’t look past her weight. Nonetheless, she’s ready to leave the house where she’s been grieving her mother’s death, and embrace everything high school has to offer. Meanwhile, Jack Masselin’s devil-may-care attitude may seem effortless, but nobody knows how hard he has to work, because nobody knows about his face blindness—how, even among his closest friends, he feels as though he’s surrounded by strangers. That is, until a vicious prank lands Jack and Libby in the same counseling group, and they’re forced to see beyond each other’s masks. Jennifer Niven’s Holding Up the Universe is another bright place for fans of her bestselling YA debut, All the Bright Places. Niven once again introduces two protagonists
TEEN who, at first glance, have little reason to cross paths, but who are uniquely positioned to help each other repair their broken pieces. These characters may be facing extreme circumstances, but their conflicting emotions will be utterly relatable to teen readers. Niven treats her protagonists with admirable respect, tackling the issues that seem so big in high school with prose that dances on the line between seriousness and whimsy. Holding Up the Universe is a perfect fall read to inspire readers to embrace the new school year. —SARAH WEBER
EVERY HIDDEN THING By Kenneth Oppel Simon & Schuster $17.99, 368 pages ISBN 9781481464161 Audio, eBook available Ages 14 and up
by a host of government edicts. Additionally, a Sioux burial platform is brutally desecrated, an act that will have grave consequences. As both professors race to find the giant bones belonging to the super-size black-toothed dinosaur, pressure increases between the camps. Rachel and Sam are also experiencing tensions from stolen kisses and sexual awakenings. The resolution of these issues confounds any speculation by the reader. —LORI K. JOYCE
STILL LIFE WITH TORNADO By A.S. King
Dutton $17.99, 304 pages ISBN 9781101994887 Audio, eBook available Ages 14 and up FICTION
SOMETHING IN BETWEEN By Melissa de la Cruz
Harlequin Teen $18.99, 448 pages ISBN 9780373212385 Audio, eBook available Ages 14 and up FICTION
Fossil feuding is alive and well in Printz Honor-winning author Kenneth Oppel’s young adult historical novel Every Hidden Thing. Two esteemed dinosaur hunters, Professor Cartland of Yale University and non-affiliated “Professor” Bolt from Philadelphia are archrivals, mimicking the real-life competition between paleontologists O.C. Marsh of the Peabody Museum at Yale and E.D. Cope of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. In Oppel’s story, however, the real champions are the starcrossed young adults, who just happen to be the children of the eminent bone collectors. In a world where the adults are immoral enough to use their children to get information about their competitor’s dinosaur prospecting plans, every interaction is suspect. Is Samuel really attracted to Rachel, or is he just trying to flatter her to get information? Can Rachel overcome her loyalty to her father to let her feelings for Sam surface? With the American West of the post-Civil War period as the backdrop, the book delves into the displacement of Native Americans
unjust and politically driven system. Provocative, eye-opening and poignant, Something in Between is a timely read in a troubled era.
Loosely based on the author’s own struggles prior to gaining U.S. citizenship, Melissa de la Cruz’s latest teen read is a tender yet unlikely romance between an illegal immigrant and a congressman’s son. Jasmine de los Santos has been offered a National Scholarship, the most prestigious award in the nation—quite a feat for an immigrant who has been in the United States since the age of 9. For her parents, leaving the Philippines for “the land of hope” proved to be more difficult than expected, as they had no choice but to take less than stellar jobs with meager wages. But Jasmine knows she has finally made her parents proud. Prior to sharing the exciting news with her folks, Jasmine meets Royce Blakely and is quickly enamored. Thoughts of Royce momentarily disperse when Jasmine learns that she and her family have been living in the U.S. illegally. Against all odds, Jasmine resolves not only to find a way to fulfill her educational dreams, but also to hold fast to the love of her life. Through engaging dialogue and a flurry of unanticipated scenes, de la Cruz shines a light on the pressure immigrants face within an
Sixteen-year-old Sarah has always defined herself as an artist, an avid and talented drawer who prides herself on making keen and detailed observations of the world around her. She may be one of the only people who really sees the homeless man creating his own bizarre form of art near her Philadelphia neighborhood. She sees injustice and unoriginality, things that have made it impossible for her to continue making her own art or even attending school, which she now considers meaningless. Lately she’s been seeing past and future versions of herself. So why does she find it impossible to see her own troubled family clearly? When she is visited by her 10-year-old self, Sarah is finally forced to confront something that happened on a family trip to Mexico when she was 10, something that prompted her beloved older brother to leave the family and never return. Perhaps, at long last, she can see her family with clear, open eyes— and thereby find her way back to making the art that sustains her. A.S. King is known for crafting deeply sympathetic portraits of teenagers in crisis, and Still Life with Tornado is no exception. Readers who travel with Sarah through her past, present and future are likely to become—like Sarah herself—disoriented and absorbed by visions that border on the surreal and by questions about the reliability of memory that may prompt readers to see their own worlds just a little differently. —NORAH PIEHL
MELISSA SWEET INTERVIEW BY JULIE DANIELSON
© MARTI STONE
A brightly collaged life of E.B. White
aldecott Honor winner Melissa Sweet’s joy for her work is evident when you crack open any of her books, but she’s feeling especially grateful about the journey to her newest one, Some Writer! “I feel incredibly lucky,” she tells me via phone, “and I felt that the whole way through. It was a gift as an artist and writer to be able to spend this much time with that material. What an amazing opportunity!” It’s an E.B. White biography like no other, with original artwork, letters and family photos, as well as warm and detailed collages in Sweet’s signature style woven throughout the book. Sweet wrote it with the approval of White’s granddaughter Martha, whom she also consulted during her research, and whom she knew even before embarking on the project. “Martha lives in the same town [in Maine],” Sweet says. “We see each other at our tiny Memorial Day parade. We exchanged ideas, and I had a lot of questions for her that only she could answer. She was so
that held great meaning in White’s life. “I felt it was such a visual life that there was no other way to do it,” she explains. “This could have been an unillustrated biography, I suppose, but I saw it more as a merging of a picture book and a nonfiction biography.” Sweet’s research for the book spanned roughly three years. “At first, to be honest,” she says, “you don’t even know exactly what you’re looking for. You just want every word, every article, anything he wrote or was written about him.” About a year into her research, Sweet went to Cornell University Library to see the E.B. White Collection, which she found thrilling. In Maine, she enjoyed tracking down small details: At the Keeping Society of Brooklin, she met a woman whose grandmother Illustration copyright © 2016 by Melissa Sweet, with permission from HMH. cooked for incredibly gracious and generous the White family. “You just never that, without her, I’m not even know what you’re going to find,” sure I would have done the book, Sweet says, “and how it makes you because I had a vision and she feel—and whether or not you can supported that vision.” use it—but it does make you feel Sweet’s writing is reverent and that you’re getting to know the engaging, telling White’s story family more intimately when you from birth (1899) to death (1985) go to places like that.” and focusing primarily on his While pondering the book’s adult writing life: his work for The overall design and crafting it for New Yorker; The Elements of Style, the better part of a year, Sweet written with William Strunk Jr.; and knew she had a “grand opportunity his three popular children’s novels, to show small details or a sense of Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web and place. I was able to go to the barn The Trumpet of the Swan. Sweet’s [that inspired Charlotte’s Web], and textured watercolor collages incor- it was just so filled with stuff, maporate photos, letters and items terials that seemed exactly right.
All those little bits of wires and screws and bolts, those things you find in a barn, made sense to me, artistically. That’s all I really had, that gut feeling that these are the right materials.” In the chapter on The Trumpet of the Swan, Sweet includes a collage of a trumpeter swan by John James Audubon and a map of Montana, where part of White’s novel takes place. Sweet points out, “Keen readers will remember at the beginning of Some Writer! that White took a road trip and went through Montana. I didn’t have to go back and say, ‘He had been in Montana in his early 20s,’ but I can reference it and readers can find out more if they want to. That’s an example of bringing in those visual elements that tell the story better than I can with the words.” Sweet is eager to share the book with young readers. You don’t have to go too far into The Elements of Style, she tells me, to realize that what he and Strunk are saying is that anybody can write. “White made me feel like I could be a writer, even though I had no evidence of that. And children could read this biography and say, ‘The things I’m interested in and the things I love about my life are writerly. They’re newsworthy.’ ” In the immediate future and before the whirlwind of bookstore signings, Sweet will work with Island Readers & Writers, a Mainebased organization that brings writers to islands where children don’t typically receive visiting authors. She’ll participate in community reads, plays and more, at four to five islands in the state. “I’ll be going to islands where some of
[the schools] are just a one-room schoolhouse with a dozen kids,” she says. “I’m so excited. I think E.B. White would like this.” But for now, she’s relaxing in what she’s named Wilbur, a replica of the first boat White ever built. Sweet’s husband made it for her in the midst of her research. “That is the only boat we have that doesn’t leak,” she says with a laugh. “That was an amazing gift. What a good husband, right?” Julie Danielson features authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children’s literature blog.
By Melissa Sweet
HMH, $18.99, 176 pages ISBN 9780544319592, ages 7 to 10
reviews T PI OP CK
THE BEST MAN
Growing up when love is love REVIEW BY DEAN SCHNEIDER
“A Tale of Two Weddings” would be an apt, more Dickensian title for Archer Magill’s story. At the first wedding, when Archer was 6, his performance as the ring bearer didn’t go so well. He split his too-tight dress pants (with no underwear underneath) and walked down the aisle, bare bottom exposed for the world (and YouTube) to see. In fifth grade, Warrant Officer Ed McLeod arrives during a school lockdown complete with helicopters to be the new student teacher in Archer’s class. The 26-year-old’s dramatic arrival and movie-star looks soon make him “the most famous student teacher in the Twitterverse and the photosphere.” He becomes a heartthrob to the girls and gets marriage proposals from as far away as North Korea. Turns out, though, that Mr. McLeod is gay and attracted to Archer’s beloved Uncle Paul, By Richard Peck and Archer is to be the best man at their wedding. He does a splendid Dial, $16.99, 240 pages job this time—pants intact, no butts about it. ISBN 9780803738393, audio, eBook available Author Richard Peck relates the years between the weddings with his Ages 9 to 12 signature humor, using the intimacy of the first-person point of view to provide Archer’s take on his world—sometimes clueless, always MIDDLE GRADE earnest—as he grows up and seeks role models. Peck began this book in 2014, when same-sex marriage became legal in Illinois (where the novel takes place), and by the time he finished, same-sex marriage was the law of the land. “But have the youngest readers among us heard?” he wondered. So he wrote this endearing, full-of-life story “to spark discussion and to open a door to a world suddenly living in a whole different era.” By the end of the story, count Uncle Paul and Ed McLeod, now happily married, as two of Archer’s role models.
but Garvey’s dad wants a son who excels in sports, not a “Star Trek”-watching dreamer. When Garvey tries out for chorus, he finds his true talent, but what will his family think? Author Nikki Grimes (Words with Wings) wrote this story in tanka, Japanese short verse that is like pumped-up haiku—five lines with a 5-7-5-7-7 syllable count. While this makes for short chapters of one to three verses, they’re also tightly compacted and hard-hitting. Garvey’s joy when he’s with his friends, or beginning to train his singing voice, sparkles as brightly as his hurt feelings burn when he’s being teased. Readers don’t have to be fans of Luther Vandross to choke up when father and son connect through his music. It can be hard for parents to learn that letting kids be themselves is beneficial to the whole family. This story empowers kids to do just that while slipping them a dose of poetry in the bargain. It’s a winner. —HEATHER SEGGEL
WHEN THE SEA TURNED TO SILVER By Grace Lin
WE FOUND A HAT By Jon Klassen
Candlewick $17.99, 56 pages ISBN 9780763656003 Ages 4 to 8 PICTURE BOOK
Jon Klassen fans will rejoice at this final book in the Hat trilogy about two turtles and—you guessed it—a hat. In three parts, the book chronicles the turtles as they find the hat, watch the sunset (and think about the hat) and go to sleep (and dream of the hat). In “Part One: Finding the Hat,” it’s clear that eventually a difficult choice must be made. “We found a hat,” the turtles say together, establishing their united front—but the tall white hat sits on the ground between them, foreshadowing a
potential future rift. They agree the hat looks good on both of them, so the only fair decision is to leave the hat behind and forget it. The unifying “we” vanishes in “Part Two: Watching the Sunset” as the turtles address each other. “What are you thinking about?” they ask each other. One turtle sneaks a glance at the hat. In the turtle dream world of “Part Three: Going to Sleep,” the growing tension reaches its peak. But these aren’t the competitive strangers of Klassen’s first two Hat books. These turtles are buddies, and they have a chance for a different outcome. With We Found a Hat, Klassen takes readers to the West, with brown, gray, orange and inky green desert tones tracking the time of day. As in I Want My Hat Back and the Caldecott-winning This Is Not My Hat, the wording is bold and limited on each page, making it easy to follow when read aloud. Klassen makes great use of the tur-
tles’ eye expressions, conveying the complicated emotions of friendship as well as subtle humor. This is a heartwarming, wonderful conclusion. — E R I N A . H O LT
GARVEY’S CHOICE By Nikki Grimes
WordSong $16.95, 120 pages ISBN 9781629797403 eBook available Ages 8 to 12 MIDDLE GRADE
“Over breakfast, Dad / eyes me like an alien / never seen before. / Sometimes, I could swear that he’s / hoping to make first contact.” In verse form, Garvey’s Choice tells the story of one boy’s journey to discover his own voice. Being overweight is one thing,
Little, Brown $18.99, 384 pages ISBN 9780316125925 Audio, eBook available Ages 8 to 12 MIDDLE GRADE
Newbery Honor author Grace Lin returns to an imagined ancient China in her new fantasy novel. Like her previous books, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Starry River of the Sky, When the Sea Turned to Silver celebrates the power of storytelling while taking readers on an exciting, danger-filled adventure. Quiet Pinmei lives with her grandmother, Amah, in a mountain hut. Although Amah ekes out a living with her embroidery, visitors are most attracted to her stories. But with the ascension of the Tiger Emperor, fear fills every heart, and one day the emperor’s men come for Amah. Pinmei manages
Little books about big ideas.
reviews to escape capture, and she and her friend Yishan set out on a quest to release Amah by bringing the Emperor the Luminous Stone That Lights the Night. Along the way, the two young travelers encounter adventures and magical creatures (including an amazing dragon horse), and shy Pinmei is often called upon to be brave and to tell the stories she knows—tales that help unlock the mystery of their epic quest. Lin (whose own artwork graces the book) was inspired by ancient Chinese folklore to create her stories. Readers familiar with her other books will rejoice, and newcomers have not one, but three wonderful books to discover. —DEBORAH HOPKINSON
ASHES By Laurie Halse Anderson
978-1-58089-541-5 • BD $8.95
Atheneum/ Caitlyn Dlouhy $16.99, 304 pages ISBN 9781416961468 Audio, eBook available Ages 10 to 14 MIDDLE GRADE
978-1-58089-540-8 • BD $8.95
By Ruth Spiro Illustrated by Irene Chan
War, death, slavery; patience, freedom, dreams. Isabel’s life is filled with contradictions. As one hopeful event occurs, painful ones follow. Ashes, the thrilling and long-awaited conclusion to Laurie Halse Anderson’s award-winning Seeds of America trilogy, continues the story of Isabel and Curzon, who have been thrust into the middle of the American Revolution. Isabel is heading back south with Curzon to find Ruth, her sister who was taken from her as an infant and sold. Finding Ruth, however, may not give Isabel the family she imagines. Ruth is scared and angry, plagued by seizures and distrustful of Isabel. Ruth, Isabel, Curzon and Aberdeen (a friend and companion of Ruth’s) begin the trip back north toward freedom, but this journey, in the middle of the Revolution and veering directly into the center of the Battle of Yorktown, is not simple for anyone. Though it’s the final book in a trilogy, Ashes is accessible for readers who have not yet heard Isabel
CHILDREN’S and Curzon’s story. For those who have, it is a satisfying finale. Filled with the horrors of slavery, the heartbreak of war, the compassion of forgiveness and even a touch of love, Ashes draws the reader deep into the lives of those who watched their owners and masters fight for freedom, even as they themselves were not free. —KEVIN DELECKI
THE SECRET KEEPERS By Trenton Lee Stewart
setting and, most importantly, lots and lots of heart. —HANNAH LAMB
IN THE SHADOW OF LIBERTY By Kenneth C. Davis
Holt $17.99, 304 pages ISBN 9781627793117 Audio, eBook available Ages 10 to 14 MIDDLE GRADE
How exactly does slavery fit into our nation’s history? Middle and high school students will have a much better understanding after reading In the Shadow of Liberty by Kenneth C. Davis, bestselling MIDDLE GRADE author of the Don’t Know Much About series. After introductory chapters deThe long-awaited new novel from scribe how slavery became part of the country’s economy, Davis proTrenton Lee Stewart, author of the award-winning, bestselling Mysteri- vides detailed stories of the slaves ous Benedict Society series, is full of of four presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James intrigue, bravery and friendship. Madison and Andrew Jackson. And Reuben is a loner. He spends what fascinating, ultimately tragic his days keeping to the shadows, tales they are. Billy Lee was the always on the lookout for hiding valet who accompanied Washingplaces, while his mom works two ton across the Delaware and at jobs to keep them in their runValley Forge, and he can be seen in down apartment. But when one the background of several famous of Reuben’s daring exploits results paintings. Ona Judge was Martha in him coming into possession of Washington’s personal servant who a coveted pocket watch with an extraordinary function, our young ran away to New Hampshire. Isaac Granger was captured by the Brithero suddenly finds himself swept ish as a young boy to become one up in a centuries-old fight for of “Master Jefferson’s people” and power. If he is to prevail, he must learn to trust his new companions: was a witness to Cornwallis’ defeat steadfast Penny, cunning Jack and at Yorktown. Paul Jennings was wise Mrs. Genevieve. James Madison’s personal servant With writing that is smart and and later wrote what is considered fresh, this middle grade novel to be the first White House memshowcases Stewart’s trademark oir. Alfred Jackson, who died a free blend of edge-of-your-seat advenman, told tales to museum visitors ture and emotional resonance. The of his life as Andrew Jackson’s slave. almost dystopian world of New Davis addresses head-on the Umbra is detailed and thoroughirony that these presidential dely explained, forming the ideal fenders of liberty and equality kept backdrop as one twist gives way to slaves. He backs up his discussion another. The real heart of this story with a variety of photos, illustrais its beautifully portrayed relation- tions and helpful timelines. In the ships, from Reuben’s close bond Shadow of Liberty provides an with his mother to his friendship informative read about a subject with Penny. This novel has everythat’s not always fully addressed in thing: sharp writing, dynamic char- the classroom. —ALICE CARY acters, a well-paced plot, a detailed Little, Brown $18.99, 512 pages ISBN 9780316389556 Audio, eBook available Ages 8 to 12
BY JULIE HALE
Participation is mandatory
hese picture books require audience involvement, whether it’s peeking beneath panels and flaps on a page or simply reading between the lines of a multilevel story. The interaction lends extra magic to these entertaining books. Set in the days of the dinosaurs, Patrick McDonnell’s Tek: The Modern Cave Boy (Little, Brown, $15.99, 40 pages, ISBN 9780316338059, ages 4 to 7) is a winning sendup of digital addiction. Tek—a hairy little tyke—spends all his time inside. Neither his parents nor his dino pal, Larry, can coax him from his cave. That’s because he’s lost online, connected to not one, but three individual devices! When Big Poppa, the local volcano, blows, something wonderful happens: Tek loses internet access and rediscovers the pleasures of the outside world. McDonnell presents the first section of Tek’s story in gadget format: Each page is like a tablet screen, complete with a border featuring WiFi and battery icons. But when Tek gets disconnected, the electronic elements disappear, and McDonnell’s exuberant cartoons fill the pages. Tek is a smart story that sets a great example in an era of digital distraction.
TURN FEAR INTO FUN In Little Mouse’s Big Book of Beasts (Simon & Schuster, $17.99, 32 pages, ISBN 9781481439299, ages 4 to 8), Emily Gravett’s tiny hero introduces readers to the creepy creatures he fears the most, including “sharp-tempered” sharks and “un-bearable” bears. Can Little Mouse stand up to the beastly bunch? But of course. Using a paintbrush and his own smarts, he’s able to disarm his adversaries
and demonstrate his own strength. Gravett’s rhymed lines turn this tale of triumph over fear into playful poetry, and her signature interactive storytelling style rewards re-readings. There are fun flaps and folds, and tell-tale signs of Little Mouse throughout (many of the pages have a chewed-through appearance, and paw prints in paint are everywhere). Gravett’s ingenious collage-like visuals will inspire scrutiny in readers of all ages (check out the origami instructions). This is a story to be savored.
NO FROWNS ALLOWED Bob Shea’s whimsical, wonderful The Happiest Book Ever (Disney-Hyperion, $16.99, 40 pages, ISBN 9781484730454, ages 5 to 8) is a story that speaks to the reader—in more ways than one. Personified on the page by a grinning face, the book itself—irrepressibly upbeat—addresses the audience directly: “Whaddya say we make this the happiest book ever?” The book then introduces a surreal assortment of friends, starting with a sullen-looking frog and a dancing cake. Grinning clouds, napping cats and parading candy pieces follow, but their jollity is lost on the frog, who remains impassive. Exasperated, the book banishes the frog from the story, but soon backtracks: “Being mean is not happy . . . I was wrong to chase Frog away.” Lesson learned! The frog returns, and the gaiety resumes, Shea-style. With his neato illustrations and a snazzy color palette, this is a tale that lives up to its title.
meet LANE SMITH
the title of your Q: What’s new book?
© BOB SHEA
IN ON THE JOKE
would you describe Q: How the book?
has been the biggest influence on your work? Q: Who
was your favorite subject in school? Why? Q: What
Q: Who was your childhood hero?
books did you enjoy as a child? Q: What
one thing would you like to learn to do? Q: What
message would you like to send to young readers? Q: What
PENGUIN PROBLEMS Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator Lane Smith was a 2014 recipient of a Society of Illustrators Lifetime Achievement Award and was named an Honor Artist by the Eric Carle Museum. Penguin Problems (Random House, $17.99, 32 pages, ISBN 9780553513370, ages 3 to 7), Smith’s hilarious new collaboration with author Jory John, explores the miscellaneous trials of a penguin’s daily life. Smith lives in rural Connecticut with his wife.
Author interviews, Book reviews