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DECEMBER

2012

REVIEWS

CHILDREN’S & TEEN

My Brother's Book

by Maurice Sendak An emotionally rich and artistically complex anticipation of the artist’s reunion with his beloved brother p. 2725

NONFICTION

Fear Itself

by Ira Katznelson A wholly new approach to the New Deal takes history we thought we knew and makes it even richer and more complex. p. 2685

FICTION

News from Heaven: The Bakerton Stories by Jennifer Haigh Beautifully realized stories of heartbreak, of qualified love and of economic as well as personal depression p. 2650

Also In This Issue

Kadir Nelson

author of Nelson Mandela, p. 2731

Black History Month Picture Books, p. 2730 Jon Ronson gets Lost at Sea, p. 2688


Orwell at the Beeb B Y G RE G O RY MC NA M EE

Chairman H E R B E RT S I M O N # President & Publisher M A RC W I N K E L M A N Chief Operating Officer M E G L A B O R D E KU E H N mkuehn@kirkus.com

“ Th e au t h o r i t i e s i n C a n a d a h av e n o w c h a i n e d u p a number of German prisoners equal to the number of British prisoners chained up in Germany. What the devil are we coming to?” So wrote George Orwell 70 years ago, long before the excesses of Guantanamo Bay had become commonplace, when men and women of goodwill still worried about such things. The event in question was a passing moment of World War II: The Germans had chained up 2,500 Allied prisoners in retaliation, they said, for the Allies having done the same thing to German prisoners. The reports were incorrect, but that didn’t keep both sides from descending into the medieval. It was just the sort of thing that Orwell, then working as a producer and commentator for the BBC, would worry about. He was, in the words of a campaign on the part of Penguin Books to revive interest in his work in the 1970s, a “revolutionary patriot,” a socialist who believed that World War II was a conflict between ruling classes fought by the working class—but also that the working class to which he belonged was right in laboring to destroy totalitarianism, his grand theme. Conservatives who have tried to claim Orwell ever since have had to deal with that uncomfortable truth, usually by ignoring it, but even in 1942, Orwell was still having to clear his throat loudly and constantly as a consequence of a wound received while fighting against the fascists in the Spanish Civil War, a cause he was willing to continue fighting well into the next conflict. At the end of 1942, Orwell was poised for his moment. He would soon leave the BBC, eventually settling on a rough-and-tumble farm in the islands of western Scotland. Before that, though, he would serve as a war correspondent for the Observer and the Manchester Evening News, writing exemplary essays on aspects of life on the homefront. In his off hours, he would also produce the novel that would eventually be published as Animal Farm, repudiated by the communists for its sour vision of a thinly disguised Josef Stalin, rejected by the rightist editor T.S. Eliot precisely because he feared that it would give offense to Britain’s Soviet allies. It would, and so would Orwell’s grand follow-up, the anti-totalitarian masterpiece Nineteen Eighty-Four. Fast-forward 70 years, and the outgoing director of the BBC, Mark Thompson, is now embroiled in a sex scandal involving a recently deceased TV host. It’s an ugly affair, so much so that he may wish that he were back in the comforts of a previous scandal: namely, when a certain liberal baroness began a campaign to put a statue of Orwell in front of BBC headquarters in London; he rejected it as being “far too left-wing an idea.” He got the left-wing part right. We’ll hope the British government, right-wing though it now is, will see fit to observe the patriot part of the revolutionary patriot equation, though Orwell doubtless would simply smile wryly over the whole affair, make a jotting in his ever-present notebook and move on to the next barbarity.

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This Issue’s Contributors

Maude Adjarian • Mark Athitakis • Joseph Barbato • Joan Blackwell • Amy Boaz • Lee E. Cart • Stephanie Cerra • Marnie Colton • Dave DeChristopher • Gregory F. DeLaurier • David Delman • Kathleen Devereaux • Bobbi Dumas • Daniel Dyer • Lisa Elliott • Julie Foster • Peter Franck • Amy Goldschlager • Robert M. Knight • Christina M. Kratzner • Paul Lamey • Louise Leetch • Judith Leitch • Peter Lewis • Elsbeth Lindner • Raina Lipsitz • Don McLeese • Gregory McNamee • Carole Moore • Clayton Moore • Liza Nelson • Mike Newirth • John Noffsinger • Sarah Norris • Mike Oppenheim • Jim Piechota • William E. Pike • Gary Presley • Lloyd Sachs • Sandra Sanchez • Michael Sandlin • Rosanne Simeone • Clea Simon • Elaine Sioufi • Wendy Smith • Margot E. Spangenberg • Andria Spencer • Sarah Suksiri • Bill Thompson • Claire Trazenfeld • Steve Weinberg • Carol White • Chris White


you can now purchase books online at kirkus.com

contents fiction Index to Starred Reviews..................................................p. 2639 REVIEWS.......................................................................................p. 2639 Q&A WITH emma donoghue................................................ p. 2648

The Kirkus Star is awarded to books of remarkable merit, as determined by the impartial editors of Kirkus.

Mystery......................................................................................p. 2662 Science Fiction & Fantasy.................................................. p. 2671

nonfiction Index to Starred Reviews.................................................. p. 2673 REVIEWS....................................................................................... p. 2673 Q&A WITH jon ronson..........................................................p. 2688

children’s & teen Index to Starred Reviews..................................................p. 2701 REVIEWS.......................................................................................p. 2701 Q&A WITH ashley bryan....................................................... p. 2718 black history month picture books.............................p. 2730 interactive e-books.............................................................p. 2732

indie Index to Starred Reviews................................................... p. 2735 REVIEWS........................................................................................ p. 2735 Q&A with johnny townsend............................................ p. 2742

Jerry Spinelli creates a magical, latter-day Neverland. Read our starred review on p. 2726.

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In 1961, 20-year-old Democratic activist George Bristol began the journey of his lifetime. The young man took a long train journey from his home in Austin, Texas, to work for two summers in the wilds of Glacier National Park. “Can you imagine awakening in the middle of paradise, going to breakfast with beautiful women and new friends, hiking through forests and around glacial lakes, climbing mountain trails into the clearest blue sky to work?” he asks in his new memoir, On Politics and Parks. Kirkus’ Clayton Moore chats with the lifelong advocate for our nation’s National Park Service, and Bristol recalls his influential career in politics and his heartfelt advocacy for America’s natural wonders. Maybe you’ve heard of E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey? Perhaps you’ve lent your dog-eared copy to your neighbor or idled at the water cooler discussing the more heated “plot points” with your co-workers. Find out what today’s leading romance and erotica writers, feminists and BDSM experts have to say about the book and the mania it inspired in Fifty Writers on Fifty Shades of Grey, edited by Lori Perkins. Our own Jim Piechota caught up with the outspoken editor and found out what’s really going on behind those closed bedroom doors.

Immerse yourself fully in the season with Amy Hest and Lauren Castillo’s winning picture book, The Reader. Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast blogger Julie Danielson weighs in on the title, a gentle charmer that results from a superb author-illustrator pairing. “Hest not only notes the details of a world that children take in, but she provides commentary on it....Castillo’s soft ink and watercolor illustrations are cozy and inviting, breathing out to the very edges of the paper.” Don’t miss this seasonal treat. And, finally, don’t forget to check out our Indie publishing series featuring some of today’s top authors, including Francesca Lia Block and Amanda Hocking. Each week, we feature authors’ exclusive personal essays on how they achieved their success in publishing. It’s a must-read resource for any aspiring author interested in getting their books out there. For the latest news releases every day, please go online to Kirkus.com. It’s where our editors and contributing blog partners bring you the best in science fiction, mysteries and thrillers, literary fiction and nonfiction, teen books and children’s books, Indie publishing and more.

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fiction SIDNEY SHELDON’S ANGEL OF THE DARK

These titles earned the Kirkus Star:

Bagshawe, Tilly Morrow/HarperCollins (304 pp.) $26.99 | Apr. 3, 2012 978-0-06-207341-9

VILLA TRISTE by Lucretia Grindle........................................... p. 2649 NEWS FROM HEAVEN by Jennifer Haigh................................ p. 2650 DECEMBER’S THORN by Phillip DePoy.................................. p. 2664

A mysterious beauty and an unsolved crime are catnip a tough international detective can’t resist. When LAPD detective Danny Maguire arrives at a crime scene, his life is forever changed. The brutal murder of art dealer Andrew Jakes is unconventional—some of the obvious loot is left, while a number of rare miniatures are stolen. But it’s Jakes’ widow, the gorgeous Angela Jakes, who gets to Maguire. Despite having been brutally raped and beaten, she is a knockout—the most beautiful woman Maguire has ever seen—and he vows to avenge her. But before he can really get to work, Angela disappears, and none of the lies she told him provide a clue. Not until years later, when Maguire has rebuilt his life in France, does the case seem to come alive again. Jakes’ unacknowledged son has a lead, and soon, several seemingly copycat crimes are leading Maguire to Rome, Hong Kong and Dubai. In each case, a wealthy, elderly man is murdered, and his younger stunning wife is assaulted. Despite the geographic distribution of the attacks, there are strange similarities, and before long, Maguire is convinced he’s on the trail of one demonic killer. Working from a rough outline simply called “Novel 19,” Bagshawe (Sidney Sheldon’s After the Darkness, 2010)—a thriller author in her own right—has fashioned a fast-paced go-get-’em that successfully melds Sheldon’s signature sex and glamour with a globe-trotting thriller. Bagshawe does the franchise proud with a silly but amusing read.

A STUDY IN REVENGE by Kieran Shields................................. p. 2669 BURROWS by Reavis Z. Wortham............................................. p. 2671

burrows

Wortham, Reavis Z. Poisoned Pen (322 pp.) $24.95 Jul. 3, 2012 978-1-4642-0005-2

INSANE CITY

Barry, Dave Putnam (352 pp.) $26.95 | Jan. 29, 2013 978-0-399-15868-1 Hangovers, bridesmaids, Haitian refugees and rogue primates run amok in Miami. Big, goofy comedy in the vein of Carl Hiaasen and Tim Dorsey doesn’t come by as often as most readers would like and neither do straight-up novels by the likes of Barry (Lunatics, 2012, etc.). So, to have two entries by the Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist in a single year is momentous. For this |

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“An intriguing idea for a mashup.” from jane eyre laid bare

(nominally) adult-oriented novel, Barry returns to the broad strokes and over-the-top characters that marked early novels Big Trouble and Tricky Business. Seth Weinstein is a good-hearted, unambitious professional tweeter on the verge of marrying up to Tina Clark, a wealthy debutante whose affection for Seth is largely based on his sense of humor. Seth’s “Groom Posse” has loaded up for his bachelor party with the traditional elements of booze, strippers and a complete lack of common sense, starting by stocking his baggage with sex toys. Back at the hotel, Tina and her sister Meghan work with wedding planners and try to reel in the Posse’s antics while her father, a member of a secret cabal called The Group of Eleven, conspires to join the even more exclusive Group of Six. “So you’re not bleeding from the head and hanging out with a Beyoncé look-alike and a Jerry Springer bouncer carrying a large snake?” Tina asks—it’s one of those weekends. Despite the adult content, Barry keeps the humor good-naturedly bawdy while simultaneously throwing in everything but the kitchen sink. While the Groom Posse are standard fare from every bachelor-party film you’ve ever seen, the supporting cast is inspired insanity. Among the subjects of Barry’s whacked-out character studies are Hot Bod competitor Cyndi, who takes a shine to Seth; wedding planner Blaze Gear, with assistants Traci and Tracee in tow; an angry, expensive stripper and her gargantuan pimp; a Haitian family on the run; and a rogue orangutan named Trevor. Yes, really. Utterly familiar but funny.

is less than innovative, but she makes it appealing, action-packed and sexy. The B romance between the two men earns progressive social points and is both natural and charming. Satisfying on several levels.

JANE EYRE LAID BARE

Brontë, Charlotte; Sinclair, Eve St. Martin’s Griffin (336 pp.) $14.99 paperback | Oct. 30, 2012 978-1-250-03270-6

A lit-erotic mashup of Jane Eyre. The trend of literary mashups extends to Jane Eyre, the classical romance known for its themes of conscience vs. passion, early feminist traits, gothic elements and even sexual tension before the term was coined. The original text is contracted and then expanded with erotic passages that have Jane and Rochester experiencing sexual encounters. Much of the plot of the original story is cut, with the action taking place from Jane’s arrival at Thornfield Hall to her flight once she finds out about Rochester’s wife. While the newly added erotic scenes are well-written and adequately integrated into the storyline, it is hard to read the contemporary passages without questioning their validity. Character motivation and history are always important elements to the success of any story, and even without the iconic status of Jane Eyre, the character herself is driven to question her moral choices relative to her relationship with Rochester, a concept which doesn’t sit comfortably next to her carnal instincts and adventures in this rendition. Add to that the many pieces of the story that are alluded to in the book—her life with the Reeds, her time at Lowood—but not told, and we are left feeling that something huge is missing in the story that informs Jane’s character and which ultimately undercuts her authenticity. Some erotica readers may find this book titillating, and fans of the mashup genre may be intrigued by the attempt to create a sexually adventurous Jane Eyre. But some fans of the original may be offended by the endeavor, and others may feel that a sexually graphic derivative of the authentic version undermines the very elements of the beloved masterpiece that make it great. An intriguing idea for a mashup, but ultimately not a good match.

BORN TO DARKNESS

Brockmann, Suzanne Ballantine (528 pp.) $26.00 | Mar. 20, 2012 978-0-345-52127-9

This work of paranormal romantic suspense launches a new series, set in an economically devastated, politically corrupt America of the near future. Destiny extends life and youth and, as a bonus, grants psychic powers—but it also grants its users violent insanity. Worse still, Destiny is derived from the blood of kidnapped, pubescent, naturally psychic girls, who are kept in a constant state of fear to encourage them to generate the necessary hormones. The “Greater-Thans,” powerful psychics employed by the Obermeyer Institute, desperately seek to shut down the cabal synthesizing Destiny, even as romance starts to serve as a potent distraction to their team. Michelle “Mac” Mackenzie believes that her psychic power of seduction has ensnared one of the Institute’s new recruits, blacklisted former Navy SEAL Shane Laughlin, despite his efforts to convince her his feelings are genuine. Mac’s partner, Stephen Diaz, finally rejects the celibacy that he believed would hone his abilities and decides to act on his long-held feelings for Elliot Zerkowski, the Institute’s research director; and the team leader, Joseph Bach, still tormented by his wife’s death, is surprised to find himself attracted to Anna, the sister of the most recent Destiny kidnap victim. Which of these couples will allow themselves to accept the love they so richly deserve? Brockman tries a bit too hard to emphasize the other characters’ lack of military training so that Shane will earn his place at the Institute. (No doubt he’ll come in handy in future volumes.) The story 2640

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SNEAKY PIE FOR PRESIDENT

Brown, Rita Mae Bantam (256 pp.) $26.00 | Aug. 7, 2012 978-0-345-53046-2

Fortified with the public-service experience he’s garnered from solving 21 mysteries among his human companions (The Big Cat Nap, 2012, etc.), Sneaky Pie Brown throws his hat into the presidential ring in a tale with no mystery and very few people. |


When you think about it, it’s not so crazy after all. Cats don’t lie or take campaign donations that might warp their judgment; they’re not irresponsible or illogical; they don’t waste time on computers and cellphones; and they think about sex only when they’re in heat. Plus, Sneaky Pie lives in Virginia, that cradle of presidents. So it makes a certain amount of sense when he informs his housemates—fat gray cat Pewter, corgi Tee Tucker and Jack Russell terrier Tally—that he intends to run for president. “I want to represent us, the other citizens of America,” he tells the birds, whose support he solicits before moving on to canvass the mice at Monticello, the horses kept by his human— whom he calls C.O., for Can Opener—and the bats in her basement. Although Sneaky Pie’s odyssey ends before the election, even before he has to choose a running mate, his platform is straightforward: full salaries, medical benefits and pensions for animals in the military service; a close review of the government’s policy of reintroducing predators to landscapes that can no longer sustain both them and their prey; an end to the overpopulation and industrial pollution that threaten food and water supplies; and new initiatives aimed at promoting greater harmony among the Earth’s creatures. Not especially funny as whimsy, no match for Animal Farm as political satire, and a mite overlong, like most speeches. You’ll have to go to Sneaky Pie’s real-life website, www.catprez.com, for the campaign slogan that makes the perfect punch line: “I can’t do any worse.”

love would be a risky move, given his determination to leave and his wariness toward getting involved with a Thalberg. Cane’s second Valentine Valley book is sweet, passionate and engaging. A compelling romance between primary characters with connected-though-not-shared childhoods, the story offers an intriguing arc of overcoming past misconceptions and assumptions, while Adam and Brooke each face major crossroads that are complicated by their relationship. Secondary characters add amusing and grounding details, fortifying the worldbuilding and enhancing the backdrop of the small town that helps the book succeed. A textured, satisfying romance with a cast of characters you care about and a community that draws you in.

TRUE LOVE AT SILVER CREEK RANCH

Cane, Emma Avon/HarperCollins (384 pp.) $5.99 paperback | Dec. 26, 2012 978-0-06-210229-4

Hometown hero and wanderer Adam Desantis is back in Valentine Valley, concerned about his grandma; he doesn’t intend to stay in the town that he never fit into, and he definitely knows better than to get involved with Brooke Thalberg, daughter of the richest rancher in the valley—no matter what his heart says. Brooke remembers troublemaker Adam Desantis from their high school days, but maybe it’s his haunted eyes or his respectful manners that convince her he’s not the same boy who left. He’s all man, and from the second he appears from nowhere to help her save her beloved horses from a burning barn, she’s aware of him in a way she’s never been before—with anyone. Sexual attraction sizzles between them, but when her father hires Adam to work on the ranch, she knows she’ll have to keep her hands to herself; she’ll be his boss, after all. Easier said than done, though, and Adam and Brooke enter into a hot, secret affair. Working with him all day gives her insight into the smart, honorable man he’s become, and there’s no question he sets her senses on fire. But Adam’s only in town to check on his grandmother, and Mrs. Palmer’s as healthy as a horse. Falling in |

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THE ANTAGONIST

Coady, Lynn Knopf (304 pp.) $25.95 | Jan. 25, 2013 978-0-307-96135-8

An embittered man blasts an old buddy for fictionalizing his life. But, wonders Coady (Saints of Big Harbour, 2002, etc.), who can know what the facts are? This novel in emails is told by Gordon “Rank” Rankin Jr., who has just discovered that his life has been turned into fodder for a novel by Adam, with whom he shared a lot of drinks and a few intimacies in college. Now firmly middle-aged, Rank is angry at the perceived betrayal, and his early missives have a threatening tone. But while he doesn’t exactly soften—he exemplifies the book’s title throughout— he does grow expansive, venting about his dead mother, hottempered father, squandered hockey scholarship, drinking and more. If Rank isn’t an unreliable narrator, Coady at least makes him a profoundly benighted one, incapable of recognizing that his anger is mainly with himself. That’s revealed in the condescension he expresses about nearly every person he recalls interacting with (besides his sainted mother), and that’s most clearly in evidence with his much-mocked father, nicknamed Gord, who’s shallow but by no means a failure as a single father. The novel’s plot turns on a handful of violent incidents that implicate Rank, and Coady expertly renders a man who’s compelled to address his past but not entirely ready to look in the mirror. Like many narrators of questionable stability, Rank gets over on raw intelligence; Coady gives him a wit that makes his anger and smugness tolerable. And bubbling under this story is an interesting tussle with the question of what novelists owe to the experiences that inspire their fiction. Has Adam sold out Rank? We never hear Adam’s side of the story, but Rank’s response (and by extension, the novel) is a caution to tread carefully. Smartly tuned and as unsettling as it intends to be.

arrives with his interior designer wife, Ashley, who has forgiven but not forgotten Taye’s infidelity. Cliff Baxter, commitment-phobic movie star, brings his girlfriend, Lori. Sinister Senator Hammond Patterson escorts his unhappy wife, Sierra, who hides his clandestine affairs behind her perfect politician’s-wife facade. Luca Perez, Latin pop star, escorts his insufferably self-centered British boyfriend, Jeromy. And Flynn, jaded journalist, invites his enigmatic friend, Xuan, who once smuggled herself out of communist China and now chronicles injustices. But everyone has secrets, and one of Aleksandr’s secrets has snagged in the mind of Russian mobster Sergei Zukov. Fairly obsessed with their own sexual hijinks and power bids, the couples are taken quite by surprise when pirates, aided by a mole onboard, invade the yacht. Yet, even the pirates have troubles, including a wayward girlfriend, conflicting plans and a tropical storm. Intrigue, scandal, rape and tragic (or not-sotragic) deaths ensue. After the dust settles, a series of epilogues too neatly ties off the loose ends. The queen of chronicling the lives of the jet set, Collins toggles rapidly between plotlines, keeping the action moving and the sex abundant. Glitzy and exciting. (Author events in New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas)

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Cornwell, Bernard Harper/HarperCollins (432 pp.) $28.99 | Jan. 8, 2013 978-0-06-196967-6 The most notable English victory of the Hundred Years’ War turns on the possession of the sword Jesus bade Peter sheathe in the garden of Gethsemane. At least that’s how it looks in Cornwell’s fictionalization of the events leading up to the Battle of Poitiers, beginning at the moment that a Black Friar breaks into a 150-year-old coffin and steals off with la Malice, the sword he finds inside. Scant hours behind Fra Ferdinand is an enforcer of the Avignon pope calling himself Father Calade and armed with a hooded hawk who serves as his own enforcer. The large-scale opposition between the English and French forces as they skirmish over ransom for hostages and salaries for mercenaries is complicated by the number of key characters who change sides. Sir Thomas Hookton, who begins by serving the Count of Labrouillade, soon breaks with him over (what else?) the money due him for restoring the faithless countess to his hearth and home. Brother Michael, a Cistercian who’s come to Montpellier to study medicine, takes up with Thomas. So does Sir Robert Douglas, who’s already fought against the English under his Scottish uncle. Few of these characters have any inkling that a pivotal battle in the endless war for France looms ahead. Neither, for that matter, will unwary readers. For, although every intrigue springs to life under the close-up focus veteran Cornwell (Death of Kings, 2012, etc.) has long since mastered, the strands aren’t always closely knitted together: Heroes and subplots blossom and fade with no consistent sense of their connections, and readers approaching the tale without the

THE POWER TRIP

Collins, Jackie St. Martin’s (544 pp.) $27.99 | Feb. 5, 2013 978-0-312-56747-7

A birthday cruise on the Sea of Cortez with some of the most beautiful people in the world is threatened first by personal intrigues and then by pirates. Life in the fast lane has hit the open seas. Collins (Goddess of Vengeance, 2011, etc.) returns with an impossibly glamorous cast vacationing on the Bianca, a yacht named for billionaire Russian businessman Aleksandr Kasianenko’s mistress. Accompanying Aleksandr and supermodel Bianca are five other couples, all thinly disguised variations on real celebrities. Taye Sherwin, a U.K. soccer phenom, 2642

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appropriate historical background will have to survive a long probationary period before they realize where this is all heading. Best for fans of historical fiction who have both a taste for the Hundred Years’ War and some base-line knowledge that will allow them to enjoy this swashbuckling recreation.

IMMORTAL

Crawford, Dean Touchstone/Simon & Schuster (416 pp.) $24.99 | Jan. 8, 2013 978-1-4516-5948-1 A pair of rough-and-tumble private investigators try to track down the secret of a pharmaceutical company’s puzzling breakthrough. Rugged ex-Marine Ethan Warner and his partner, Nicola Lopez, return in this Western-set sequel to Crawford’s 2011 supernatural debut,

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Convenant. Like its predecessor, the latest entry in the series is a mix of CSI-style forensic scrutiny dappled with Michael Crichton-like scientific tomfoolery. The new book finds Warner and Lopez reluctantly working as bail bondsmen when they’re tasked by Defense Intelligence Agency chief Doug Jarvis to look into a mysterious body that has turned up at the morgue in Santa Fe, N.M. County coroner Lillian Cruz has a fellow named Hiram Conley on her slab with a musket ball in his thigh and a serious case of old age. Their investigation leads to a pharmaceutical mogul named Jeb Oppenheimer, who also has an activist daughter, Saffron, who is acting out as an anti-vivisection activist. Oppenheimer, who is chasing down a complicated scientific solution to immortality, is also affiliated with a shadowy cabal of power brokers who are interested in applying Oppenheimer’s discovery to the problem of overpopulation. Meanwhile, Warner and Lopez must ferret out the secret behind a band of eight Union soldiers who seem to have endured since a strange battle in 1862. The action is frenetic, in the vein of Matthew Reilly’s Scarecrow series, but the science, while heavily researched and plausible, feels gimmicky. Dire

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“A fascinating view of a post-apocalyptic America.” from the office of mercy

pronunciations like this one—“It is not the science that is at fault, it is the fact that there are simply too many human beings populating our planet acting as petrie dishes for and carriers of exotic infectious diseases. If we do not act now, their carrying of the next great pandemic could spill over into our own countries and threaten humanity’s very existence”—have a bit of a Bondvillain tang to them. A formulaic and generally predictable entry in the wide world of thrillers.

BARED TO YOU

Day, Sylvia Berkley (334 pp.) $15.00 paperback | Jun. 12, 2012 978-0-425-26390-7 Another beautiful couple is struck and confounded by magnetic attraction and scorching sex and may even heal their tormented pasts through their journey from lust to love. On the first day of her new job in Manhattan, Eva meets the uber-rich and ultra-sexy Gideon Cross and, despite her initial misgivings about his upfront approach to getting her into his bed, winds up falling for him. (Of course.) The plot winds through a few upscale events and business meetings, and Eva becomes the employee her new boss, Mark, can’t live without (of course). Meanwhile, in her surprisingly generous free time, for an up-and-coming advertising assistant in New York City, Eva hooks up with Gideon an astonishing amount, in very erotic and apparently satisfying ways—described in hotand-heavy detail. Eva and Gideon inch their way closer to Love and Trust and Commitment, while in the background, old lovers resurface, family members seem suspiciously nefarious and Eva’s bisexual roommate has couple issues of his own, leading to Trouble in Paradise on a number of different fronts. Day has produced an eerily similar novel (and the first of a planned series of three) to Fifty Shades of Grey, with comparable characters, storyline and sexual exploits. Day is a talented, prolific erotic romance writer and puts together a highly charged story that flows and hits the mark but somehow misses some of the heart and surprising charm of the original, despite more competent writing and technically skilled storytelling. Erotic romance fans will likely enjoy this story, though they may find themselves bemused by how perfect the couple is and how very closely the book follows the blueprint of the wildly popular Fifty Shades trilogy.

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THE OFFICE OF MERCY

Djanikian, Ariel Viking (320 pp.) $26.95 | Feb. 25, 2013 978-0-670-02586-2

A fascinating view of a post-apocalyptic America, penned by a first-time novelist. Natasha lives in America-Five, one of the domed, indoor settlements created by survivors of what is referred to as “the Storm,” which left the world decimated. Those housed inside the Dome live in a world without want or even death. Food, shelter and health care are provided to the carefully cultivated generations that dwell inside, while those who live on the “Outside” struggle with the elements, as well as hunger, danger and disease. But the elders of the America settlements have seen fit to provide their laboratory-generated succeeding generations with a guidebook that explains the colony’s ethics. They believe in killing what they refer to as “Tribes” in order to prevent their suffering. Natasha works in the Office of Mercy, the division in charge of staging and carrying out “sweeps,” which is what America-Five calls the mass killings. When a group of tribesmen destroy some of the sensors used to launch sweeps, Natasha’s immediate supervisor, Jeffrey, taps her for the mission to reset the sensors. That means Natasha must venture outside the Dome, risking contamination from an uncontrolled atmosphere but also seeing firsthand the people she’s been tracking all of her adult life. Something takes place on that mission that causes Natasha to reassess her beliefs, and it affects both her view of the tribes as well as the philosophical position of the Dome’s leaders. Djanikian’s fictitious world combines both the horrifying consequences of ethnic cleansing with the bright new hope of how much one person can do to change history. Both believable and chilling, this tale transports readers to a futuristic utopian life where good and evil mingle with equal opportunity and are often indistinguishable to the characters. This intriguing slice of future drama ends much too soon and will leave readers begging for a sequel, if not a series.

THE BURN PALACE

Dobyns, Stephen Blue Rider Press (480 pp.) $26.95 | Feb. 7, 2013 978-0-399-16087-5 Atmospheric New England supernaturalism from not-Stephen King, but a latter-day disciple who deservedly earns the master’s praise. Nurse Spandex is a size-10 woman in size-two garb, but that doesn’t keep her from making a career of seducing the docs on the floor of the Rhode Island hospital at which she works. Bad idea, since one fervent night, a newborn goes missing from the incubator, |


with a big scary snake wriggling around in the baby’s place. Cue screaming and jiggling, for as Dobyns (Eating Naked, 2000, etc.) rightly and elegantly notes, “Surely fear is the oldest emotion. Not love, not pride, not greed. The emotion urging you to run is older than the one telling you to embrace.” True that. Woody Potter, world-weary local cop and damaged Iraq veteran, has not just the case of the substitute snake to worry about, but also that of a dead insurance agent. MacGuffins abound, but then so do red herrings: Does the key to the mystery lie with a local funeral-home denizen who has suddenly taken to communing with the coyotes and is a rather surly chap (“What the fuck would I hang a cat for?”), with the neighborhood Wiccan coven, with Ouroboros worshippers or with James Earl Jones in his Conan the Barbarian role? Well, the last doesn’t figure, but with Dobyns’ catholic approach to possibilities, he might just as well. Finally, Woody pulls together enough evidence to lead him in a different and altogether more sinister direction that, suffice it to say, may make a reader think twice about spending a night in the hospital. An utterly believable tale, and Dobyns isn’t above scaring the reader silly with surprise twists and turns. Nicely done—and you may never look at doctors the same way again. (Author events in Asheville)

Has its limitations, but in re-sparking interest in classic spy fiction, it attains maximum impact. (Author tour to Baltimore, Houston, New York, Phoenix and Washington, D.C.)

SHADOW CREEK

Fielding, Joy Emily Bestler/Atria (384 pp.) $25.99 | Dec. 4, 2012 978-1-4516-8815-3 Sociopathic slashers terrorize the Adirondacks, but can they foil a motley crew of campers from Manhattan? A teenage girl who calls herself Nikki charms her way into an isolated woodland cabin near Shadow Creek, occupied by an elderly couple, the Laufers. She’s followed shortly by her older boyfriend, who, with Nikki’s enthusiastic participation, makes short work of the hapless Laufers with a machete.

THE DOUBLE GAME

Fesperman, Dan Knopf (368 pp.) $26.95 | Aug. 23, 2012 978-0-307-70013-1

In 1984, young Washington Post writer Bill Cage ignited a miniscandal by reporting that spy novelist Edwin Lemaster—“the American John le Carré”—had considered working as a Soviet double agent when he was with the CIA. More than 25 years later, Cage follows up his story for Vanity Fair—duly warned by his father, a former diplomat who knew Lemaster, to watch his back. The distinguishing feature of Fesperman’s nostalgia-soaked novel is that its clues and secret instructions take the form of quoted passages from classic spy novels by le Carré, Eric Ambler, Len Deighton, Charles McCarry, etc. Like his father, Warfield, Cage is a spy buff who can quote from those books (and Lemaster’s) verbatim. He secures the magazine assignment mainly as an excuse to leave his dreary PR job and return to his childhood haunts in Vienna, Prague, Berlin and Budapest. But, stoked by anonymous tips, odd coincidences and revelations about his secretive old man, he soon becomes obsessed over solving the mysteries of Lemaster’s past. The romantic stakes are raised when Bill’s boyhood girlfriend, Litzi, turns up in Vienna; feelings of nostalgia are disrupted when a player in this espionage drama gets shot in the face, KGB-style. Fans of spy novels will enjoy Fesperman’s affectionate homage. As literate and well-executed as this book is, however, it lacks the deeper dimensions that would make it more than a clever generic exercise. The father-son business, also involving Cage’s child, David, is affecting, but held against the high standards of le Carré’s A Perfect Spy, it is lightweight. |

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Meanwhile, thanks to snafus too numerous to detail, Val and her sophisticated friends, vintage costume-jewelry maven Melissa and former Broadway hoofer James, cancel her 40th birthday club crawl to accompany her 16-year-old daughter, Brianne, and Brianne’s future stepmother (you heard that right), Jennifer, to a lodge in Shadow Creek. Evan, whom Val is divorcing after finding him in flagrante with Jennifer, can’t—again, it’s complicated—join them. Brianne keeps trying to elude the adults to tryst with boyfriend Tyler. Even after her mother confiscates her Blackberry, Brianne and Tyler manage to hook up, but after a park ranger catches them, the scandalized lodge banishes the once and future Mrs. Rowes and entourage from the premises. They reluctantly repair to a nearby campground. Brianne is still scheming to meet Tyler, while sparks fly between Val and Gary, a high school classmate she’s encountered by chance (although she would, if asked, take Evan back). In the background, rumors roil about a series of grisly slayings in the Berkshires. The Adirondack murders remain unreported, since Nikki and her beau are still skulking in the Laufers’ cabin, eliminating all potential witnesses who happen by. It is only a matter of time before their widening net snares Val et al. In fact, alternating third-person voices and ambiguous clues planted here and there suggest that Brianne and Nikki may actually be the same person. For those who don’t relish extensive carnage, Fielding includes just enough humor and social satire to leaven the proceedings, while never leaving us in doubt that justice will ultimately be meted out. A sassy, scary read.

BAY OF FIRES

Gee, Poppy Reagan Arthur/Little, Brown (384 pp.) $24.99 | Mar. 12, 2013 978-0-316-20168-1 A close-knit beachfront community in Tasmania is threatened by a killer who might be one of the neighbors. Sarah, 35, a devoted fisherwoman and natural athlete, is staying with her parents at their “shack,” or beach cottage, on the shores of the titular bay. Formerly a foreman at an inland fish farm, the hard-drinking Sarah left her employment after beating up her co-worker and lover, Jake. People assume she was the abused party, and she lets them. The action begins on Boxing Day at the height of Tasmanian midsummer. The badly decomposed body of Anja, a Swiss tourist, has been found near a tidal rock pool that is one of Sarah’s favorite haunts. In fact, Sarah was the last to see Anja alive and now feels guilty she didn’t tell her to avoid the rock pool, knowing someone had fouled it recently with fish remains. Hall, a grizzled reporter for a tabloid, is sent to Bay of Fires to investigate Anja’s murder and its possible links to the earlier disappearance of another young woman. Sarah and Hall form a tentative attachment, but each is too damaged by previous relationships (his wife left him for his best friend) to make a definitive move, even after a drunken 2646

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one-night stand. Sarah’s ill-advised tryst with Sam, 17-yearold son of a rich American neighbor, further complicates her chances for a normal love life. Number one on the beach-dwellers’ short list of suspects is Roger, an eccentric recluse. However, transient summer campers, a crayfish poacher, the ex-husband of a local lodge owner and even Sarah’s university professor father are all possible culprits. But Gee’s preoccupations are less with the mystery than with the psychological profiles of the members of this ingrown society, such that the whodunit is forgotten for long stretches. Despite graceful writing and wellinformed descriptions of fish lore and seascapes, the plot lacks both momentum and menace. Tasmania’s culture, flora and fauna are paramount here—the thriller aspect feels extraneous.

KINSEY AND ME

Grafton, Sue Marian Wood/Putnam (304 pp.) $27.95 | Jan. 8, 2013 978-0-399-16383-8 The collected short cases of Kinsey Millhone, plus a substantial bonus that wasn’t included when the stories were originally published in a limited edition in 1991. The two qualities that distinguish Grafton (V is for Vengeance, 2011, etc.) from her competitors are amply on display here. Her Santa Teresa shamus is beyond question the most likable of all private eyes, and she never writes the same story twice—except when she recycles an ancient trick for telling the difference between an inveterate liar and his truth-telling brother in “The Lying Game.” “Full Circle” is a routine account of how Kinsey tracked down the man who shot the driver who was cutting Kinsey off on the freeway. But “Non Sung Smoke” works surprising variations on its fatal drug scam, and “Long Gone” and “A Little Missionary Work” cap their tales of embezzlement and kidnapping with nifty final twists. “Falling Off the Roof ” and “A Poison That Leaves No Trace” work impressively different changes on the clients who suspect their loved ones were murdered. The seriocomic “Between the Sheets” is a fast-paced search for the corpse that vanished from the bed of his lover’s daughter. And the best of these tales, “The Parker Shotgun,” combines the ingenuity of Agatha Christie and the compassion of Ross MacDonald. The bonus is a cycle of 13 slight but piercingly sensitive vignettes about Kit Blue, an autobiographical figure Grafton used to explore her conflicted feelings about her alcoholic parents in the years before Kinsey came on the scene to tilt her world toward felony and set it reassuringly in order. Though the collection is less revealing about Kinsey than her novels are, it offers a rare sustained glimpse inside “Me”—and a fine way to pass the time until W is for Whatever.

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EMPIRE AND HONOR

Griffin, W.E.B.; Butterworth IV, William E. Putnam (528 pp.) $27.95 | Dec. 31, 2012 978-0-399-16066-0 The seventh in Griffin’s (Victory and Honor, 2011, etc.) Honor Bound series offers more of USMC Maj. Cletus Frade’s escapades. Here, Griffin’s all-stuff-military-and– intrigue battleground is Argentina. The time is immediately post–World War II, with Juan Perón and Evita double-dealing and Nazis on the side. The good-guy movers and shakers believe the USSR is the next enemy, and remnants of the disbanded OSS (soon to be CIA) want to hide the high command of Abwehr Ost, the Wehrmacht’s anti-communist intelligence group, in Argentina far away from the Soviets. The U.S. rocket program needed von Braun; the spooks needed Abwehr Ost. Argentina is the chosen hideaway, which is complicated by

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the fact that Argentina is also the lair of Operation Phoenix, a plan by Nazi SS-types dead set on reincarnating fascism. Frade’s late biological father was a rich Argentine colonel, and so Frade’s unofficially charged with rooting out bad Germans and securing good Germans. This book maintains Griffin’s standard narrative trick of employing heroes with stupendous wealth, airplanes and secure hideaways readily available. Frade also happens to be Perón’s godson, but Frade dislikes Tio Juan, which muddies dealings with the Argentine government, mainly Gen. Bernardo Martín, chief of the Bureau of Internal Security. Some Argentines want to assassinate Perón, but many don’t, in spite of Perón being corrupt and overly ambitious, since Perón’s death might spark a civil war. The primary narrative thread involves locating U-234, a submarine that ferried scheming SS-types intent on persevering with fascism’s failures. U-234 also hauled a half-ton of uranium oxide the SS bad guys want to sell to the USSR to finance Operation Phoenix. Although heavily reliant on exposition, the book provides sufficient back story and works as a stand-alone read. Nothing beats a cinder-block–sized adventure novel on a winter weekend.

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k i r ku s q & a w i t h e m m a d on o g h u e

ASTRAY

Donoghue, Emma Little, Brown (288 pp.) $25.99 Oct. 30, 2012 978-0-316-20629-7

Following on the heels of 2010’s gripping international best-seller Room, Emma Donoghue straddles genres once again to produce Astray, a seamless collection of 14 tales populated by far-flung wanderers in search of true meaning. Donoghue, an Irish emigrant now residing in Canada and known for her brilliant historical fiction, discusses the allure of the aimless, the short story process, how history molds her themes and how Room still gets mistakenly compared to several gruesome kidnapping cases of the past. With delightful amity and a cheery brogue, Donoghue chatted with Kirkus about what fuels the continued mastery of her craft.

Q: Did you do much research for the historical pieces in the book?

Q: What fascinates you about roaming and circumstances where one finds themselves astray like so many of the characters in your new story collection?

Q: What’s the biggest misconception about you that the literary community makes?

A: I think travel, and the ease of travel, is one of the things that has changed with 20th-century technology. For Irish emigrants like me, the relatively cheap jet travel allows people not to irrevocably lose our homeland status. It intrigues me as something that prompts enormous life changes. Q: Short story writing is such an exacting literary form. Do your stories ever turn out differently than you initially intended when you began writing them? A: Yes, they do! I wrote many more than the 14 stories in the collection, and I planned more as well. It’s easy enough to spot an interesting historical element to expand upon. I like my stories to be like mininovels. I didn’t start writing my stories until I knew they would turn out to be something interesting. Some stories fizzle out in the writing, and I had to discard those. You never quite know what’s going to happen. For instance, one of the stories is narrated from the voice of a slave, and I thought there was no way, as a white Irish emigrant, that I could take on such a task in a longer form, but in a single short story, I was able to. Q: Do you see aspects of yourself in any of your characters?

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A: Well, there’s one very specific one: Sometimes Room gets compared to the Austrian Fritzl case, where a father locked his daughter in the basement for years and had many, many children by her. Or it gets compared to the Jaycee Dugard case. But Room is really a fable. Occasionally, readers think they know what your book is about before they read it. Q: Has Room set the bar higher for you as a novelist? A: Probably not in terms of sales. It’s like with your kids: You don’t measure them by how much money they make; you want them to find success with whatever they are doing. Q: What’s next for Emma Donoghue? A: I’m at work on a novel about a murder that takes place in San Francisco in 1876; it’s my first thriller. I’ve been fascinated by it for decades. There have been suspenseful elements in some of my books, but this is my first thriller, and I’m actually quite far along with it. —By Jim Piechota

p h oto BY N IN A S U B I N

A: Yes, historical fiction does have autobiographical tendencies. With “Slammerkin,” I used my mother as the dressmaker character who gets her throat slashed! There are many moments where I put friends in for the characters. With more contemporary material, [readers] assume the narrator is actually you, so several readers would tell me, “You must be the most loving, compassionate mother,” assuming the mother in Room was me. But it’s just a character and not how I would actually behave.

A: I did lots. It was like researching 14 little novels; you still have to get the details right. You can’t scale down your research because you never know what details you are going to find. I wrote the stories slowly, over many years. I love conjuring up a time and a place that I never knew about before I began writing the stories. I like doing research where you’re just snapping short details. It’s amazing—you can find tiny little incidents that can suggest the period and mood of the entire story. As a writer, you have to keep thinking: would my narrator care about this or think about that?


“A good modern-day mystery.” from villa triste

VILLA TRISTE

Grindle, Lucretia Grand Central Publishing (640 pp.) $14.99 paperback | Jan. 22, 2013 978-1-4555-0537-1 Grindle (The Lost Daughter, 2012, etc.) combines a contemporary mystery with historical fiction in her captivating narrative about Italian partisans in World War II and a modern-day police inspector determined to uncover certain truths. With the Nazi occupation of Italy, life for young Caterina Cammaccio and her family quickly shifts focus. Instead of spending time preparing for her wedding with her mother and Isabella, her younger sister, she is reluctantly drawn into using her skills as a nurse to assist wounded Allies and endangered Jews and to help spirit them out of the country. Keenly aware that any captured resistance members risk torture, imprisonment and possible death, Caterina tries to shield her parents from involvement. But they, like her brother and sister, are determined to do their part, and the family furtively harbors a radio and transmits sensitive information to the Allies. In haunting words and gripping detail, Caterina documents her family’s experiences in a journal, a gift from Isabella, where she examines her life, explores her fears and reflects upon the savagery of the war. Years later, three partisan members associated with the Cammaccio family are found murdered, and Inspector Alessandro Pallioti steps in to investigate the politically sensitive deaths. Among the belongings in the safe of one of the victims, he finds Caterina’s journal, and her words fuel his empathy and spur his determination to not only solve the murders, but also to discover what became of the sisters. Assisted by an American woman in search of a long-lost relative and the wealthy director of Remember the Fallen, Pallioti’s methodical investigation into the deaths proves to be just as fascinating as the tale of the sisters. The author creates believable and sympathetic characters that engage the reader as she expertly overlaps, merges and resolves the two stories. Grindle’s book is a good modern-day mystery, a very good historical narrative and an excellent combination of the two.

for Glory remains an iconic autobiography) is set on the Texas plains in the howling, unsettled Dust Bowl era. The new civilization of banks, deeds and lawyers is represented by wood, which is scarce out in that wind-blasted, dry country; adobe, sun-dried mud brick is the virtuous stuff of the people, themselves wind-blasted and creaky with aridity but stiff-necked and disinclined to bow down. The metaphor figures, in countless permutations, throughout Guthrie’s novel, as it evidently did in letters of various confidants, including one from Woody to actor Eddie Albert (yes, of Green Acres fame) in which he writes excitedly, “Local lumber yards dont advertize mud and straw because you cant find a spot on earth without it, but you see old adobe brick houses almost everywhere that are as old as Hitlers tricks, and still standing, like the Jews.” That nicely enigmatic statement stands up alongside other motifs, including Guthrie’s apparent approval of large women who could give birth to a whole new human race. Written in the shadow of Steinbeck, Guthrie’s novel layers on social realism without propagandizing overmuch; his straightforward depiction of his raw rural characters are reminiscent not of any of his fellow Americans so

HOUSE OF EARTH

Guthrie, Woody Harper/HarperCollins (288 pp.) $25.99 | Feb. 5, 2013 978-0-06-224839-8 Radical American folk singer Guthrie, gone 45 years now, turns in an accomplished if somewhat symbol-dense piece of fiction. Edited, at least to an extent, by prolific historian Douglas Brinkley and movie star and boho-lit fixture Johnny Depp, Guthrie’s foray into prose (not his first: his 1943 Bound |

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much as they are of Mikhail Sholokhov. The folksy, incantatory exuberance is all Guthrie, however: “I’m glad to see you! I’m just about th’ gladdest that any man ever was to ever see any womern! Whew! Come in! Blow in! Watch out there! Your clothes are blowin’ plumb off!” An entertainment—and an achievement even more than a curiosity, yet another facet of Guthrie’s multiplex talents.

When a teenage girl is abducted by vampires, it’s up to U.S. Marshal Anita Blake to save her. But she and her team find something disconcerting in the rescue—a group of recently turned vampires who are either very young or very old, who are violently against any sort of master and who are willing to die for their cause. Everyone knows that a martyr is a problematic enemy, but martyr vampires are even worse, since they can cause a significant amount of damage when they have little left to lose. As Anita Blake tracks down angry, violent adversaries with her own preternatural abilities, she must also fight long-lived insecurities as a cop, vampire hunter and human, while dealing with the relationship stresses in her household that are due to her myriad lovers and their complicated emotional and supernatural bonds. Fans will find much of the same from Hamilton in this, the 21st installment of the popular Anita Blake series, the erotic paranormal books that put vampires on the map before Twilight had them going viral. But while there’s not much new, there’s also plenty of action, excitement, hot sex and emotional turmoil that will keep most fans of the series satisfied until the next book. A dizzying cast of characters may keep newbies at bay, but Hamilton does a good job explaining relationships and past and present frictions without it being too burdensome on the current story. Nonetheless, it’s likely that this book will be more enjoyable to the legions of existing fans than for new ones, who will probably want to start a little earlier. People who’ve been turned off by Blake’s growing stable of sexual partners and increasing preternatural powers will want to avoid it, but then, they’ve probably already done so a few books back. Typical recent Anita Blake fare—exciting, erotic paranormal romantic adventure—that gets the job done for its intended audience.

NEWS FROM HEAVEN

Haigh, Jennifer Harper/HarperCollins (256 pp.) $25.99 | Jan. 29, 2013 978-0-06-088964-7 Despite its treacly title, this collection of short stories shows depth, understanding and compassion rather than sentimentality. Most of the stories take place in or near Bakerton, Pa., populated largely by Polish and Italian Catholic immigrants. “Beast and Bird,” the initial story in the collection, takes us back to World War II and focuses on the life of Annie Lubicki, a serving girl for the Nudelmans in New York City’s Upper West Side. Annie’s life is one of domestic dreariness and loneliness. She meets a potential boyfriend, Jim, on a double date, but his anti-Semitism troubles her. Instead, she feels drawn to Daniel Nudelman, the son in the family, but she’s displaced when the Nudelmans’ nephew permanently “visits” from Poland to escape the ravages of the war. In “Broken Star,” Regina’s Aunt Melanie comes to visit Regina along with her daughter, Tilly. Regina hasn’t seen her aunt in over 12 years and questions the lengthy stay by relatives she feels are intrusive. Only years later does she discover that Melanie, who has died, was actually her sister and that Melanie had needed a kidney and was desperately looking for a donor who matched. “A Place in the Sun” introduces us to Sandy, who’s trying to fight a gambling compulsion but counter-intuitively takes his girlfriend, Marnie, to Vegas to celebrate his birthday. We find that for years he’s been trying to escape the life he left behind in Bakerton—a father who died in the mines and a “bleak small-town life worse than jail, a prison from which no one escaped.” Haigh’s narratives are beautifully realized stories of heartbreak, of qualified love and of economic as well as personal depression.

THE RIVER SWIMMER

Harrison, Jim Grove (240 pp.) $25.00 | Jan. 8, 2013 978-0-8021-2073-1

Though these two novellas feel slight in comparison with the best of the prolific author’s novels, the ways in which they complement and contrast with each other attest to his range. Both The Land of Unlikeness and the title novella return Harrison (The Great Leader, 2011, etc.) to familiar territory, his native Michigan, with protagonists at very different stages of their lives. The autumnal opening novella finds a once-successful painter turned academic returning home to care for his mother, allowing his sister to experience some of the cosmopolitan life beyond Michigan that he has. Neither the author nor his protagonist takes himself overly seriously, though a sense of mortality pervades the story along with the possibility of renewal. “You’re not going to live forever, Mister Bigshot,” warns the mother, urging her son to reconcile with his daughter, who took sides after his divorce. He reunites with a boyhood love, rediscovers his passion for painting and

KISS THE DEAD

Hamilton, Laurell K. Berkley (368 pp.) $27.95 | Jun. 5, 2012 978-0-425-24754-9

The status quo of paranormal society is destabilized, and Anita Blake must vanquish the enemies while managing her complicated love life and overcoming her own growing internal demons. 2650

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reaffirms his engagement with a life that he has been watching from the sidelines: “It occurred to him that only purity of intent would save his own sorry soul. If he were to continue to paint he had to do so without the trace of the slumming intellectual toting around his heavy knapsack of ironies. He was well into his third act and further delay would be infamous.” By contrast, the title story shows the first act of its protagonist’s life reaching climax, as a 17-year-old boy who lives to swim (in rivers) experiences his sexual initiation, and the complications that follow, as he swims his way through a magical, rite-of-passage quest. “[H]umans are ill-prepared for the miraculous,” he discovers. “It’s too much of a jolt and the human soul is not spacious enough to deal with it.” Ultimately, he realizes that “there was a world out there to swim through.” Everyday epiphanies from a major author. (Agent: Steve Shepard)

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CLAY

Harrison, Melissa Bloomsbury (224 pp.) $24.00 | Feb. 19, 2013 978-1-60819-978-5 In a small, inner-city park in England, cycles of life are marked by the turning seasons and the interactions of a handful of characters—a neglected boy, a lonely immigrant, an elderly widow. “We are the clay that grew tall,” says one of the wise elders in this British writer’s debut, which sets the loosening of our bonds with the natural world alongside fascinated observation of its continuity in the gaps and forgotten corners of urban life. Connections to animals and plants inspire all the principal characters, including Jozef, a Polish immigrant whose love of the rural existence he lost is transferred to the dog he rescues and the 9-year-old boy, TC, he befriends. Underfed and underloved, TC avoids school, finding comfort tracking

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“A high-class meal provides an unlikely window into privilege, violence and madness.” from the dinner

THE DINNER

wildlife in a blissful lost garden. Meanwhile, Sophia, in her apartment by the park, relishes the trees and plants, a passion she tries to share with her granddaughter. Harrison is at her best noting the minute details of weather, growth and decay, evocative of ancient rhythms. Less compelling are her formulaic characters and the limited plot which moves little and late. Juxtaposing often-overlooked everyday natural beauty and man-made ugliness makes for some lovely, laudable prose, but there’s not enough meat here for a full-length novel. (Agent: Jenny Hewson)

Koch, Herman Hogarth/Crown (304 pp.) $24.00 | Feb. 12, 2013 978-0-7704-3785-5 A high-class meal provides an unlikely window into privilege, violence and madness. Paul, the narrator of this caustic tale, initially appears to be an accomplished man who’s just slightly eccentric and prone to condescension: As he and his wife prepare for a pricey dinner with his brother and sister-in-law, he rhetorically rolls his eyes at wait staff, pop culture and especially his brother, a rising star in the Dutch political world. The mood is mysteriously tense in the opening chapters, as the foursome talk around each other, and Paul’s contempt expands. The source of the anxiety soon becomes evident: Paul’s teenage son, along with Paul’s brother’s children, was involved in a violent incident, and though the videos circulating on TV and YouTube are grainy, there’s a high risk they’ll be identified. The formality of the meal is undone by the parents’ desperate effort to keep a lid on the potential scandal: Sections are primly titled “Aperitif,” “Appetizer” and so on, but Koch deliberately sends the narrative off-menu as it becomes clear that Paul’s anxiety is more than just a modest personality tic, and the foursome’s high-toned concerns about justice and egalitarianism collapse into unseemly self-interest. The novel can be ineffectually on the nose when it comes to discussions of white guilt and class, the brothers’ wives are thin characters, and scenes meant to underscore Paul’s madness have an unrealistic vibe that show Koch isn’t averse to a gratuitous, melodramatic shock or two. Even so, Koch’s slow revelation of the central crisis is expertly paced, and he’s opened up a serious question of what parents owe their children, and how much of their character is passed on to them. At its best, a chilling vision of the ugliness of keeping up appearances.

SEE NOW THEN

Kincaid, Jamaica Farrar, Straus and Giroux (192 pp.) $23.00 | Feb. 5, 2013 978-0-374-18056-0 A recursive and beguiling tale of a collapsing marriage by the veteran Kincaid (The Autobiography of My Mother, 1996, etc.). Early in this slim, challenging novel, Kincaid drops a reference to Gertrude Stein, whose repetitive rhythmic prose is a clear inspiration (“it was her presence in his life that kept him from being who he really was, who he really was, who he really was”). The plot centers on Mr. and Mrs. Sweet, a couple whose marriage is shot through with passivity and resentment, though the source of the tension is never quite explicit. To be sure, Mr. Sweet is a New York-bred pianist and composer who hates living in Vermont. (His opus-in-progress is called This Marriage Is Dead.) But Kincaid represents the struggle as something more than a typical case of domestic dysfunction. The family lives in the home of novelist and short story writer Shirley Jackson, who famously produced her modern gothic tales while raising four children, and Mrs. Sweet similarly labors to balance creativity and domesticity. Their two children are named Persephone and Heracles, and the story sometimes shifts into a broad allegorical mode that, like those names, echoes Greek mythology. (In one scene, Heracles pulls off his father’s testicles and throws them all the way to the Atlantic.) In some ways, this book is a tribute to modernism, in its surrealism, in its Stein-ian prose and in the way Kincaid cannily merges past and present events to evoke mood; what cubist painters did with point of view, she does with past and present tense to suggest a persistent melancholy in the Sweet home. It’s not a total success: Without the tether of a firm plot, all the time-folding makes the narrative feel static, an artful set of complaints. Yet Kincaid’s audaciousness is winning. She’s taken some much-needed whacks at the conventional domestic novel.

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THE FIFTH ASSASSIN

Meltzer, Brad Grand Central Publishing (448 pp.) $27.99 | Lg. Prt. $28.99 | Jan. 15, 2013 978-0-446-55397-1 978-0-446-55399-5 Lg. Prt. Beecher White returns as hero in Meltzer’s (The Inner Circle, 2011, etc.) second installment of his conspiracy thriller surrounding the Culper Ring and a corrupt president. Beecher is an archivist at the National Archives. He’s also the newest member of that obscure brotherhood, the Culper Ring. It’s linked through history to George Washington— “the [Secret] Service’s mission is to protect the President. In the Culper Ring, we protect the Presidency.” One secret |


endangering the current presidency, which Beecher and the Ring uncovered, is that the man holding the highest office, Orson Wallace, once took part in a brutal murder. Readers meet characters old and new, including Beecher’s fellow archivist Aristotle “Tot” Westman and an undercover computer nerd nicknamed Mac. Then there’s Clementine, Beecher’s childhood acquaintance and daughter of Nico Hadrian, institutionalized, unsuccessful presidential assassin. Through a military human-guinea-pig experiment, Nico is linked to Beecher and to one of Beecher’s childhood friends, Marshall Lusk, a boy with a troubled background. Lusk now works with a secret Government Accountability Office group using stealth tactics to uncover possible security breaches. As the story begins, Lusk is appearing too often at the wrong place at the right time. This includes the site where a murderer replicates the techniques and circumstances of the assassination of Lincoln. The killer’s script next shifts to the murders of Garfield, then McKinley, with each assassination targeting a pastor instead of the president. Decoding the mystery through symbols on playing cards, Beecher and Tot confront another clandestine group, The Knights of the Golden Circle, linked to Etienne de Vignoles, a 14th-century knight charged with protecting the Name of God by killing kings—presidents?—who stand in the way. Adding the mysterious and troubled Lusk to the cast ratchets up the drama and human interest, and Meltzer’s fans will enjoy the usual sprinkling of history factoids, fast-paced writing and the double-whiplash bombshell conclusion. Although equipped with adequate back story to allow The Fifth Assassin to be enjoyed alone, smart readers will first dip into the series opener, The Inner Circle.

gardener. Alice, who works for the government on land-use policy, soon realizes Isaac is an educated man. A complex and interestingly imperfect character, Alice is uncomfortable with her role as a privileged, mildly neurotic white woman surrounded by need and poverty. After several miscarriages, Alice and Lawrence’s marriage unravels. At emotional loose ends, Alice goes on a working vacation where she falls into a deep but doomed love affair with an older, married Englishman. While housesitting for Alice, Isaac is deported back to South Africa, exactly what he hoped to avoid. When Alice discovers he has disappeared, she reaches out to his family with unexpected results. Morse brings the natural world of Botswana to vivid life, but her idealization of Isaac and all the black Africans as noble victims does them a disservice by making them twodimensional in contrast to the three-dimensional whites.

WHITE DOG FELL FROM THE SKY

Morse, Eleanor Viking (368 pp.) $26.95 | Jan. 7, 2013 978-0-670-02640-1

Morse’s third novel (An Unexpected Forest, 2007, etc.) details the overlapping lives of a young black man escaping South African apartheid in 1976, around the time of Stephen Biko’s murder, and the white American woman who employs him in Botswana. As an educated black man, promising medical student Isaac’s life is in increasing danger in South Africa, so he leaves his family, his schooling and his fiancee to flee across the border to neighboring Botswana, where blacks and whites live in relative harmony. He is immediately and irrevocably adopted by the stray, overtly metaphoric dog of the title. Isaac moves in with Amen, a former schoolmate now active in the African National Congress, and Amen’s wife and child in their one-room house. He soon takes a job as a gardener for a white American, Alice, whose husband, Lawrence, is an economist for the Botswana government. Isaac knows nothing about gardening but learns about plants and piping techniques from an elderly African |

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TAKING THE REINS

(second) home on Cape Cod. The live-in caretaker is a black man, Lem Dawson. Arthur, grandson of a Polish Jew but a racist bully, makes his life hell. When Hilly meets Lem’s niece Savannah, he’s smitten. She lives in a shack with her father, Charles, a no-good gambler and baseball player. Hilly tries to give them stuff his folks don’t need; here Nadler does a fine job painting his well-intentioned naïveté. Hilly barely reaches first base with his beloved when their world collapses. The boy discovers Lem poking through his father’s papers and, under intense crossquestioning, betrays him. Arthur goes ballistic and presses charges. After the novel’s most successful and emotionally charged section, we fast-forward to 1972. Hilly is a reporter for a Boston newspaper, covering the race beat. He has a girlfriend, Jenny, but is still obsessed with the memory of Savannah. Jenny tells him, correctly, that he has a “rescue complex.” In the final overstuffed section, it’s 2008. This is a novel of character, persuasive in the telling, less so in retrospect but still impressive; Nadler is a born storyteller. (Agent: PJ Mark)

Murray, Kat Brava/Kensington (288 pp.) $9.95 paperback | Dec. 24, 2012 978-0-7582-8104-3 Horse whisperer Redford Callahan has been trying to ignore his attraction to ranch owner Peyton Muldoon since he first laid eyes on her, and some instinct tells him he needs to keep his distance, or she might actually wind up taming him—a good intention, until she asks him to come on board as her full-time trainer. Peyton Muldoon will fight to her last dying breath to rebuild her father’s ranch and horse-breeding business, and as much as she’d like to deny it, she knows that Red Callahan is the best man to help her do it. She also knows that with his stellar reputation and her ranch’s decline under her mother’s watch, the fact that he’d even consider working for her is a godsend. When he actually accepts the offer, Peyton’s elated, and she’s determined to keep her sizzling attraction to the distracting man under wraps. So she’s flummoxed when it becomes clear that the sensual temptation is mutual. Ranching is a man’s world, though, and since her mother barely kept the business afloat while gaining a reputation as a floozy, Peyton is a little sensitive to the thought of sleeping with her employee, especially with the added deterrent that Red isn’t known for staying in one place for long. As desire smolders and the business stakes get higher, they are confronted with the added pressure of family complications. Peyton’s sister, brother and nephew will all come to nest in the homestead, while their mother’s shiftless ex-lover and Red’s malicious father will threaten everyone’s well-being and happiness. With good pace and an appealing plot that explores family dysfunction as well as a hot, conflicted romance, this book succeeds in keeping romance fans engaged and invested. (Agent: Emmanuelle Morgen)

LAST DAYS

Nevill, Adam St. Martin’s Griffin (544 pp.) $15.99 paperback | Feb. 26, 2013 978-1-250-01818-2 Something wicked this way comes in Nevill’s (The Ritual, 2012, etc.) modern horror tale. Kyle Freeman is a respected but deep-in-debt London-based documentary filmmaker. Contacted by Max Solomon, a prosperous New-Age publisher, Freeman’s asked to make a film about The Temple of the Last Days, a 1960-1970s hippie-era cult that is an autocratic semireligious lifestyle stew of everything from Scientology to Buddhism, at least until it culminated in mass murder in Arizona. Solomon has prearranged travel and script, and he pressures Freeman to agree immediately. The fact the fee is £100,000 makes quick acquiescence easy. The fact that Solomon himself originated the cult’s predecessor group, The Last Gathering, is kept secret. Solomon meant well, only wanting to “create one small pocket of cooperation and decency.” That lasted until Sister Katherine assumed leadership. Katherine, sociopathic daughter of a down-and-out aristocrat, had spent time in prison for running a brothel. Freeman, along with cameraman Dan, travels to sites of the cult’s activity, from Clarendon Road to Normandy to Arizona and back to London, meeting warped witnesses to the paranormal. At each site, Freeman himself experiences apparitions and manifestations, enough to provoke hallucinogenic nightmares. Only after Freeman visits Antwerp and examines an ancient triptych painted by Niclaes Verhulst does he comprehend that the skeletal demons who have manifested through walls intent on mayhem—demons that he has experienced at each site and at his apartment—can be traced to the Blood Friends, ghosts of followers of an Anabaptist heretic, Konrad Lorche, leader

WISE MEN

Nadler, Stuart Reagan Arthur/Little, Brown (352 pp.) $25.99 | Feb. 19, 2013 978-0-316-12648-9 Money and race poison a father–son relationship in this frequently tense first novel that follows a story collection (The Book of Life, 2011). Arthur Wise goes from being an impoverished ambulance-chasing lawyer to a very rich man when, in 1952, he wins a class-action suit against an airline after a deadly crash. There is bad blood, though, between Arthur and his 17-year-old son, Hilly, the narrator. The teenager is already furious over being uprooted from his New Haven high school. Things only get worse at their new 2654

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“A competent entertainment.” from political suicide

of a 16th-century religious commune. After Lorche declared himself God’s one king and fed a French bishop to a pig, he and his followers were besieged, captured, and burned alive or beheaded—only to linger in some hellish purgatory to await remanifestation. Neville’s writing is deft and believable. Tension abounds, right up to a long, bloody denouement at Sister Katherine’s luxurious California mansion, where the Blood Friends await rejuvenation. Obsession and megalomania, sex and power make for a sophisticated, literate and well-crafted paranormal horror. (Agent: John Jarrold)

POLITICAL SUICIDE

Palmer, Michael St. Martin’s (384 pp.) $27.99 | Jan. 8, 2013 978-0-312-58755-0

Political, legal, military and medical mayhem all rolled up into a bite-size package—well, for those who take big bites, anyway. The too-perfectly named Louis Francis Welcome, M.D., who figured in the prolific Palmer’s last novel, Oath of Office (2012), has his work cut out for him. Formerly an emergency room doctor, his practice now involves leading addicted docs through the cure. “What I have is a handful of doctors who are in terrific, solid recovery,” he proudly notes. But he hadn’t reckoned with Gary McHugh, an M.D. determined to drink the Potomac dry and seemingly unconcerned with the whole business of healing himself before setting to work on the society dames of Washington. Alas, there’s the rub: A congressman turns up dead, and McHugh has, well, been treating said congressman’s wife with a little too much bedside manner. But there’s more to it than that: There are Black Ops dudes crawling around everywhere, their tans freshly sprayed on to blend into the wilds of Afghanistan but not be out of place inside the well-groomed confines of the Beltway, either. Why would they want anyone but the Taliban dead? Well, that’s just one question that resonates through this book, which is surely less formulaic than it could be while still honoring all the hard-boiled conventions of the politicalthriller genre. Palmer is no Trevanian, but he handles his story with confidence, and he can write a sentence. Best of all, he has the good grace to let Welcome bow out here and there to let other players on the good-guy team shine, chief among them a legal beagle who won’t take no for an answer, not even when Navy SEALs are on the issuing end. A competent entertainment; nothing to think about overmuch, but with plenty of chills and spills.

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PERFECT FIT

Phillips, Carly Berkley (304 pp.) $7.99 paperback | Dec. 31, 2012 978-0-425-25971-9 When Michael Marsden and Cara Hartley shared one passionate night together, they both knew the score—no commitments. But will Michael’s love’em-and-leave-’em M.O. survive when he has to move back to his small hometown, connect with his sick adopted father, comfort his close-knit family and work day in and day out with the only woman who’s ever touched his heart? Michael Marsden left Serendipity years ago to work undercover in Manhattan and Atlantic City. He never expected to spend any length of time in the small town again. But when his adopted father, the town’s chief of police, falls ill and recommends Michael for the interim position, Michael feels honorbound to accept. The one night stand he had with Officer Cara Hartley during his last visit home makes things awkward, since she’s also best friends and on-the-job partners with his brother. And when Sam is involved in a car accident while investigating a cold case that could implicate their father in a long-ago crime, Michael and Cara must look into the incident together. The red-hot attraction between them is still there, and the two agree to a no-holds-barred, but no-hearts-engaged affair— which always sounds better in theory than it ever plays out in real life. As Cara helps a woman extricate herself from domestic abuse and Michael’s biological father crawls out of the woodwork, each of them must face emotional and physical dangers that will forge deep, unexpected bonds between them but may ultimately drive them apart if they can’t get to the heart of their own fears and overcome complicated pasts. Phillips’ fans will enjoy favorite characters from past series titles and may have fun speculating on future Marsden family pairings. Phillips delivers another satisfying romance with emotional depth and intriguing plot elements in her popular small-town series, extending the brand with the new “Serendipity’s Finest” police theme.

THE BEGGAR KING

Pötzsch, Oliver Translated by Chadeayne, Lee Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (512 pp.) $18.00 paperback | Jan. 8, 2013 978-0-547-99219-8 Latest installment in the Hangman’s Daughter series by best-selling Bavarian phenom Pötzsch. For those unfamiliar with the series, the setup is this: A Bavarian village is missing its executioner, since he’s departed the Alps to go wandering around kirkus.com

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the Europe of the Thirty Years War–era to serve the cause of justice. Said executioner, Jakob Kuisl—based on a historical figure, an ancestor of Pötzsch’s—works in a fraught landscape. As the story opens, a piratical bunch of mercenaries, some of them nastily French, are bumping around raping and pillaging: “They sold the booty to women who followed the army in wagons peddling goods, so the gang members always had money for food, drink, and whoring.” Such acts have consequences, not just in the diminishment of German fortunes, but also in the swelling of German wombs, and by the time Kuisl is swinging into action three decades later, there are new figures on the scene as a result. One of these is Kuisl’s daughter, who finds herself tasked with saving his bacon when off in the big city, and a plot unfolds that threatens not just to end his tenure at the gallows, but also to take down the German royals. Is the head bad guy a ghost? It takes us several hundred pages to chart a career trajectory “[f]rom a mangy mercenary to a respected raftmaster,” during which time there are a respectable number of thrills, spills and pools of blood on the tile. Whatever the case, that bad guy is very bad indeed, and to the very end he argues that legitimate rape is no rape at all. Think what you will of that proposition, there’s plenty of murder, fratricide, abortion and bad rye bread to go around. Think The Name of the Rose meets The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and you’re part of the way there. A reasonably good historical thriller but without much that makes it stand out above a crowded field.

and difficult truths in her life, the two become closer, and Carla finds herself caring for her sister as well as her son. She maintains a warm friendship with her son’s father even as she finds love with a man who comes into the restaurant looking for her. She turns her artistic skills toward creating erotic dolls (hence the title), which sell well on the Internet, and eventually gets her own show at a local gallery and achieves a certain celebrity. Despite, or perhaps because of, her very human flaws, Carla is a character who is easy to love, and her journal is an engaging read.

THE PRETTY ONE

Rosenfeld, Lucinda Little, Brown (320 pp.) $24.99 | Feb. 5, 2013 978-0-316-21355-4 A sly novel about competition, jealousy and love as experienced by three sisters in New York. Imperia, Olympia and Augusta are not only saddled with their mother’s obsession with ancient Greece, they are also victims of her penchant for criticism and categorization. Oldest Perri is the perfect one and has happily turned her OCD tendencies into a thriving organizing (of closets and cupboards) empire. Youngest Gus is the compassionate one; as a teen, she championed for the impoverished of Central America, and now she is an attorney championing abused women in the Bronx. Olympia is in the middle, and she is the pretty one, the flaky one, the artsy one, the one with a string of bad relationships, a lackluster career at a small museum and conflicted feelings about the anonymous sperm donor who produced her 3-year-old daughter, Lola. Rosenfeld’s fourth novel is slight on plot and long on character, and much of the novel’s pleasure comes from the complicated relationship the three sisters have with one another. They speak daily and argue just as often, but they couldn’t imagine life without the sister-mirror. But things do happen: In the throes of a mini-nervous breakdown, Perri leaves her husband to rendezvous with an old college boyfriend in Miami. Gus is shocked to have fallen hard for Perri’s brotherin-law; first because he’s a flaky ski bum, second because she’s a lesbian. Olympia pines for the one who got away, a married man with a heart of gold. But these are trivialities compared to the bomb dropped on the sisters’ parents. One morning, Jennifer Yu—a beautiful pediatric oncologist—shows up introducing herself as the long-lost Hellinger sister. It appears that their impossibly geeky father, Bob, had a brief premarital liaison while working at Los Alamos, and now Jennifer is revealed as the new, and frankly superior, oldest sister. Old jealousies threaten to tear the sisters apart. A witty character study of that contentious organism: sisterhood.

DOLLS BEHAVING BADLY

Ritchie, Cinthia Grand Central Publishing (352 pp.) $13.99 paperback | Feb. 5, 2013 978-0-446-56813-5 The story of a young woman who suffers from low self-esteem and who at first sells herself short, but she makes progress in her life by starting and keeping a journal with guidance from a guest on Oprah Winfrey’s show. The author’s narrative style is witty and completely downto-earth and creates the expectation of a meaningful message that is ultimately delivered. Carla has grown up in the shadow of an oh-so-perfect older sister, her own artistic talent not appreciated by her alcoholic mother, and is resigned to working as a waitress, barely able to support her gifted 8-year-old son while digging herself deeper and deeper into debt. She does not expect to find love, prosperity or even self-respect, but as the story unfolds, she finds all these things. Following suggestions from the Oprah guest, whom she calls “the Oprah Giant” (the woman is quite tall), Carla explores such concepts as forgiveness and gratitude. She also experiences visions of her beloved Polish Gramma, and this ghostly visitor is a more positive influence on her life than the memory of her living but estranged mother. As her older sister begins to unravel and reveal the sad 2656

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DIE EASY

Sharp, Zoe Pegasus Crime (336 pp.) $25.00 | Jan. 9, 2013 978-1-60598-400-1 Sharp’s latest entry in her Charlie Fox series has her gritty heroine making a Die Hard-inspired stand in the Big Easy. Charlie Fox, a woman in the maledominated profession of personal protection, has more than the rich man she’s guarding to worry about on this assignment: Her former lover, Sean, is back on his feet following a near-fatal shooting and is working for the first time in months. But he’s not the same Sean she once knew. In fact, his memory of their former relationship has been wiped clean, and he’s keeping Charlie firmly at arm’s length. When Charlie and Sean sign on to guard Blake Dyer, a millionaire attending a special weekend of fundraising for Katrina victims, they end up with more than they bargained for, including Dyer’s refusal to pack it all in and go home following two violent assaults. Meanwhile, one of Charlie’s old foes turns up in the form of Vic Morton, a fellow bodyguard who trained with her when she was in school back in England. Morton is no friend to Charlie, though, since he was one of the four men whose rape of her led to her dismissal from training. When Morton shows up to guard Blake’s godson and the offspring of another millionaire, Charlie discovers he’s filling Sean’s head full of lies and now must combat not only her former lover’s suspicions that she’s his enemy, but also prove in the process that’s she’s competent to partner with him on assignment. That Charlie is tough is never open to question; sometimes Sharp plays her a little too macho to be engaging. But in the end, the movie parallel will strike the right note with fans of nonstop action/adventure, despite the author’s tendency to overexplain the mechanics of the protagonists’ professional choices to readers in it more for the thrill than the education. Sharp delivers another solid entry in a series that consistently delivers a world-weary heroine who can outdo any man who crosses her path.

the even larger Cham contingent. Among his followers are a simple fisherman and his family and a pair of young lovers. Asal is a favored advisor of the Cham king until he falls for Voisanne, a beautiful Khmer captive who helps change his perspective about war and killing and reminds him of his own heartbreak when he was younger. Facing certain torture and death, they flee Indravarman’s stronghold to assist Prince Jayavar. Shors infuses the story with fascinating information about the ancient temple of Angkor Wat and Buddhist and Hindu cultures, but he often loses focus—and the interest of the reader—by deviating from the plot and providing entirely too much detail. The characters, who initially are appealing, begin to lose their luster long before the final battle between the Khmers and the Chams. The action comes to a standstill as the lovers engage in incessant declarations of love and meandering philosophical conversations; Indravarman’s repetitive acts of brutality soon become tedious rather than shocking; and the continuous whining by Vibol, the fisherman’s son, gets old, especially since his parents spend much of the book worrying about his self-esteem. An ambitious attempt, but it falls short of its mark.

TEMPLE OF A THOUSAND FACES

Shors, John New American Library (544 pp.) $16.00 paperback | Feb. 5, 2013 978-0-451-23917-4

Shors’ (Cross Currents, 2011, etc.) latest, set in 12th-century Cambodia. The plot centers on the efforts of Khmer Prince Jayavar and his favorite wife, Ajadevi, who’ve been forced to flee to the jungle following a bloody invasion of Angkor by barbaric King Indravarman of the Chams. Seeking to restore his people to their rightful place, Jayavar plans a counterattack and amasses thousands of troops, including Siamese mercenaries, to oppose |

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“A novel that reads more like a memoir than fiction.” from a deeper love inside

DOMESTIC AFFAIRS

this precocious 10-year-old girl is “kidnapped” by social services. When she takes offense at a remark made by a social worker about her mother, she stabs the woman in the neck with a sharpened No. 2 pencil and is thereafter incarcerated in a juvenile detention facility, where she meets and trades life stories with other inmates. All of the stories are horrific, some in predictable, stereotypical ways, some so idiosyncratic they could be based on that proverbial truth that is stranger than fiction. Although she is much younger than the others, she is recruited into a clique called The Diamond Needles by an older white girl, and together, they later escape and go to live on an Indian reservation with a woman the girl knows. The novel takes the reader into the moment-to-moment, day-to-day life of Porsche Santiaga from early childhood to young womanhood, a life of dancing, yearning for her family and mourning for her momma; a life of seeking and eventually discovering love. A book that will appeal to the author’s many fans.

Siegel, Bridget Weinstein Books (322 pp.) $24.00 | Jul. 31, 2012 978-1-60286-164-0 By-the-numbers political soap opera by former campaign staffer (Kerry/ Edwards, Obama/Biden, Cuomo, Clinton) and debut novelist Siegel. The fifth directive on a campaign staffer’s list of to-do’s and not-to-do’s is this: Pack light. “Wrinkle-free suits could look totally different with a new shirt, and a black shift dress worked for everything.” So glosses young Olivia Greenley, stealing a march from The Accidental Tourist, delighted nonetheless to discover that the campaign bus on which she’s signed up has anchored next to a Super Target. On that list, at least if the staffer is a sensible young woman, of course, is this admonition: Don’t sleep with the boss. Well, Olivia’s better at observing the rules of packing than those of dallying. After all, with a dreamboat governor now putting it all on the line to run for president, what’s to keep a girl from doing a Monica? Well, he’s not just a dreamboat. Shoe-conscious Olivia, whose heart melts at the sight of Jimmy Choos, notes first thing that the candidate’s “gorgeous wife” hits the deck wearing Christian Louboutins. The shoe consciousness will doubtless speak to Candace Bushnell fans, but that’s as close as we get to smart thinking about policy in these pages. That gorgeous wife turns out to be a tough cookie of the sort Sigourney Weaver plays with such skill. A typical burst from her runs along the lines of, “Now, why in the fuck would I stand outside a Target all day? Do any of you know how fucking cold it is in Iowa in October?!” The candidate’s a weasel, naturally, which may send readers searching for clues as to who he might be modeled after. Someone sexy, to be sure, for Siegel serves up some light porn to speak to his skills: “His tongue moved hers back and forth. It was softer than she remembered. And it tasted of the pretzels from the ballroom tables, mixed with the spearmint Tic Tacs he was constantly popping.” Better that than stale cigars, one supposes.... Tired and predictable; there’s not a plot turn here that we haven’t seen before. Jimmy Choo will be happy, though.

DARK LIE

Springer, Nancy New American Library (304 pp.) $14.00 paperback | Nov. 6, 2012 978-0-451-23806-1 A woman’s deepest secret threatens her life—and that of the daughter she barely knows. To all outward appearances, Dorrie White is a sad, middle-aged housewife. Overweight and disfigured because of lupus, the former schoolteacher seems to be the long-suffering doormat of the workaholic Sam. What neither Sam nor any of their neighbors know is that Dorrie—aka Candor or Candy—had one brief, torrid affair as a teenager, before her parents forced her to leave her hometown behind. But Dorrie has never forgotten the passionate Blake, the love of her life, nor the infant that she was forced to give up for adoption. And although her dark and brooding lover is lost to her, when Dorrie locates her daughter, the beautiful Juliet, she cannot resist following her. And when she sees the girl abducted, she has no choice but to follow. What she will do to save her only child is nothing compared to the truths she will discover about the abductor and about herself. Two-time Edgar winner Springer (My Sister’s Stalker, 2012, etc.) writes for a YA as well as an adult audience, and her eye for teen concerns plays well here, as does her ability to create suspense. As the author alternates among the points of view of Dorrie and other characters, most notably the quietly devoted husband, she makes the far-fetched feel plausible, building the stoic Dorrie into a protagonist of epic proportions. One plot twist, involving an elderly cop, may be one coincidence too many, but it does play into a fine finale. A compulsive page turner that will have readers cheering on the decidedly unglamorous heroine, this thriller gets points for making the suburban mom-type the one who saves the day.

A DEEPER LOVE INSIDE The Porsche Santiaga Story Souljah, Sister Emily Bestler/Atria (432 pp.) $26.99 | Jan. 29, 2013 978-1-4391-6531-7

A novel that reads more like a memoir than fiction. The narrator talks the authentic talk of tough girls in the hood, although she continually protests that she “comes from money” and attaches inordinate significance to trivial fashion items like bags and boots. After her parents are arrested, 2658

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THE SIXTH STATION

Stasi, Linda Forge (368 pp.) $24.99 | Jan. 22, 2013 978-0-7653-3427-5

Media talking head and newspaper columnist Stasi pens a conspiracy thriller that chases the legend of a terrorist who might be more than he seems. Overly plucky reporter Alessandra “Ali” Russo, a newspaper columnist like the author, happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when an accused international terrorist is brought to trial at the United Nations. Demiel ben Yusef stands accused by the International Court of Justice of causing the deaths of thousands in terrorist incidents aimed at religions across the globe. When Yusef, a prisoner under enormous security, improbably manages to stop and plant a kiss directly on the reporter’s mouth in full view of the world’s press, she’s stunned. Ali doesn’t know Yusef; she only knows that his trial is a three-ring circus, and covering it is the biggest story of her career. When she turns in a column that falls short of what her editor expects, she’s unceremoniously fired. Returning home, she finds her apartment ransacked and relies on an odd assortment of old and new friends to help her puzzle through the who, what and why of what is happening to her. Although the snooze-worthy courtroom opening falls flat with a silly and spectacularly dull trial, Stasi picks up the pace once she puts her heroine on the run in this familiar conspiracy-theory–centered novel, with its glib-talking, spunky protagonist, tackling of the controversial issue of cloning, religious persecution, international coverups and a bevy of priests, both as friendlies and heavies. Melodramatic in places, with a tendency to bog down in historical minutiae, the narrative takes a sometimes difficult-to-follow trip around the world, plunging Ali into intrigue, narrow escapes and a darkening plot that threatens both her life and the balance of world power. Stasi trots out the usual tricks in this provocative but often clunky thriller that spotlights an evil conspiracy and a slightly past-her-prime reporter who chases a murky truth through numerous time zones, leaving the bad guys scrambling to keep their nefarious plans intact. (Agent: Liza Fleissig)

FRIENDS FOREVER

Steel, Danielle Delacorte (322 pp.) $28.00 | Jul. 24, 2012 978-0-385-34321-3

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph. When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite |

their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. More about grief and tragedy than romance.

TARGETS OF REVENGE

Stephens, Jeffrey S. Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster (448 pp.) $26.00 | Feb. 19, 2013 978-1-4516-8872-6 CIA agent Jordan Sandor, who has been in all the world’s trouble spots and has the scars to show for it, has a personal stake in eliminating the Venezuelan terrorist mastermind known as Adina. A close friend of Sandor’s was killed during an operation to uncover Adina’s latest deadly plot. Now, Sandor will stop at nothing short of returning the favor. The third in a series, this book opens with Sandor flying into the Venezuelan jungle in a one-man glider, in violation of explicit orders not to take matters into his own hands. He makes quick work of Adina’s security force, gains access to the terrorist’s compound and erases a few more thugs. But after discovering Adina is manufacturing anthrax, he can’t proceed with his plans to kill him until he determines what the terrorist is planning to do with the deadly powder. The trail leads to Egypt, Russia and New York, among other places. Sandor’s life is at risk, as are the lives of the colleagues and foreign friends he entices to help out on the mission. At greater risk is New York, where Adina plans on unleashing a devastating attack culminating in the distribution of the anthrax. An attorney, Stephens lays out his story in orderly fashion, with one action scene neatly following another. The pace of the book is Bourne-like. But Sandor is one-dimensional. If he’s haunted by anything in his past, he keeps it to himself. Ultimately, the suspense is clinical. The tale maintains our interest without stirring our imaginations. As skillfully rendered as the book is, readers will not necessarily look forward to the next installment in the series.

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THE CITY OF DEVI

The second in Turtledove’s Supervolcano series (following Eruption, 2011) traces the fates of scattered members of police lieutenant Colin Ferguson’s family. Rob, stranded in Maine, releases his indie band dreams to embrace a rugged lifestyle, finding love with Lindsey, a local high school chemistry teacher. Practically interned at a concentration camp (euphemistically named Camp Constitution), Rob’s sister Vanessa resorts to performing sexual favors to gain at least a modicum of independence and, ironically, dignity. She maneuvers her way onto a salvage team, but are they salvaging or stealing? Back home in California, Louise, Colin’s ex-wife, faces wreckage on not only a natural, but also a personal scale. Abandoned by her lover, she decides to have his baby anyway. Her son Marshall, a not-so-struggling writer, grudgingly agrees to baby-sit the baby so Louise can work, but his resentment over his mother’s adultery lingers. Geologist Kelly, Colin’s second wife, struggles to make sense of her possible role in the supervolcano’s eruption. Yet she, like Rob, embraces life in the aftermath, as she and Colin decide to have a baby, too. Meanwhile, Colin must solve the increasingly gruesome case of the South Bay Strangler, who rapes and murders little old ladies. Turtledove strives for a dry, gritty, nearly noir tone, which does underscore the beleaguered world the Fergusons now inhabit. At times, however, the language instead gives the tale a strangely clichéd feeling. We already know that each challenge facing the Fergusons—from finding gas to solving crimes—will be resolved in favor of what is good and life-affirming. This disaster tale abounds with plotlines but leaves the reader emotionally detached.

Suri, Manil Norton (352 pp.) $26.95 | Feb. 4, 2013 978-0-393-08875-5

Part international thriller, part romantic soap opera and less satisfying than the author’s previous works. The third novel from the India-born, Maryland-based professor of mathematics (The Age of Shiva, 2008, etc.) deals with all sorts of schisms: between Hindus and Muslims, India and Pakistan, spiritual and secular. But the main battle here is sexual, a romantic triangle to which one party is oblivious throughout most of the novel, climaxing in purple prose that American readers might associate with a bodice-ripper but in the land of the burqa. “Surely supernovas explode that instant, somewhere, in some galaxy,” gushes Sarita, one of the novel’s co-narrators, the bride whose explosive consummation apparently makes the delay worth the frustration, despite the complication apparently necessary to arouse her husband’s ardor. “The hut vanishes, and with it the sea and the sands—only Karun’s body, locked with mine, remains. We streak like superheroes past suns and solar systems, we dive through shoals of quarks and atomic nuclei.” In other words, an apparently successful reunion with her physicist husband, who disappeared mysteriously on the eve of a rumored atomic attack by Pakistan on India, sparking genocidal violence between the Hindu and Muslim populations of the author’s native Mumbai. As she announces early on, “the sole imperative in my mind was to find Karun, or risk everything trying.” Most of the novel details that increasingly dangerous quest, through a narrative interspersed with various flashbacks to the courtship of Sarita, a statistician past 30 when she meets her future husband, the sexually ambivalent Karun. Early on, she acquires a companion and accomplice, and the novel a co-narrator: a handsome cosmopolitan of Muslim origin who shares her goal—“Karun, whom I must find, whom I need to dazzle, whose rectitude I hope to penetrate”—though the passion of the “the Jazter” (as he calls himself) for her husband remains secret from Sarita. The melodrama of romantic intrigue is this novel’s driving force. (Author tour to Baltimore, New York, Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.)

AFTER THE RAIN

White, Karen NAL Accent/Berkley (368 pp.) $15.00 paperback | Dec. 31, 2012 978-0-451-23968-6 By the light of a crescent moon, Suzanne Paris spies through her bus window a opossum. Her eyes riveted, she wonders if the creature, like her, will simply wait for the next catastrophe. Or could she, for once, stop hiding. Abruptly, Suzanne gets off the Atlanta-bound bus to find herself in Walton, Ga. There’s no better place to hide than this rural town. No one, not even her frightening ex-fiance, will find her here. Yet, everyone she meets wants to know where she’s from and where she got the unusual charm around her neck. Walton turns out to be populated with warm characters who have no intention of letting her slip under the radar. There’s Miss Lena, who seems to recognize Suzanne, even though Suzanne’s rough childhood, bouncing between foster homes and an alcoholic mother, never brought her to Walton. There’s Lucinda, who seems to recognize Suzanne’s wariness and hires her to help with her lingerie store. Most importantly, there’s Joe, Lucinda’s widowed nephew-in-law. Father of six, high school teacher, football coach, incumbent mayor—Joe seems impossibly good. A woman

ALL FALL DOWN

Turtledove, Harry ROC/Penguin (416 pp.) $26.95 | Dec. 4, 2012 978-0-451-46481-1 Series: Supervolcano, 2 In the aftermath of a supervolcano’s eruption, the world is plunged into a cold, post-apocalyptic, nearly uninhabitable environment. Resources are scarce. Human nature is put to the test. 2660

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“A moving, engaging romance.” from timber creek

with secrets, Suzanne seems like a walking bad decision. Luckily, Joe’s eldest daughter, Maddie, begins to connect the two destined lovers. Like Suzanne, Maddie lost her mother at 14 and has a talent for photography. Soon, Suzanne is tutoring Maddie, baby-sitting Joe’s younger kids and becoming inextricably woven into the fabric of his life. Enter the villain: Stinky Harden, Joe’s competition in the mayoral race and Suzanne’s nemesis as he determines to discover her secret and use it to discredit Joe. Soon, Suzanne’s past threatens her future, and only love—and some rather wicked trickery—can save the day. White (Sea Change, 2012, etc.) re-polishes her 2003 publication to good effect. This charming romance brims with appealing characters and captivating phrasing.

TIMBER CREEK

Wolff, Veronica Berkley Sensation (304 pp.) $7.99 paperback | Dec. 31, 2012 978-0-425-25116-4

THE LAST MINUTE

Abbott, Jeff Grand Central Publishing (480 pp.) $24.99 | Jul. 3, 2012 978-0-446-57520-1 Just because the ex-wife and CIA colleague who betrayed Sam Capra lies in a coma and the son he’s never met has been kidnapped doesn’t mean there’s no more fight left in the man. Not by a long shot. Forgoing such niceties as back story and exposition—hey, read Adrenaline (2011) if you want to get oriented—Abbott plunges into Sam’s story as he and his mysterious partner, Mila, are meeting with a representative from an illegal adoption agency in the hope of finding Sam’s infant son, Daniel. Naturally, the meeting goes awry, and Sam ends up with an offer he can’t refuse: agree to join a total stranger in tracking down and assassinating someone for the people who have his son if he

Coming back to her small hometown to regroup, Laura Bailey sets her sights on expanding her family’s lodge-anddiner business. She won’t let high school adversary Eddie Jessup stand in her way with his new project, no matter how attractive or alluring he might be. Laura Bailey couldn’t wait to leave her small town behind for college and the big city, but when the upand-coming marketing star loses her job and her fiance in one fell swoop, she returns, determined to streamline and possibly expand her family’s business while she considers how to get back to her city life. When she learns that a big resort development company is trying to build on property nearby, she sees them as a threat and will do everything in her power to shut them down. So what if her high school crush with movie-star looks, Eddie Jessup, is the local contractor in charge of the project and that his own business expansion depends on success? He was a screwedup, arrogant jerk then, and from what she can tell, not much has changed. So why does she feel that she wants to spend more time with him, rather than less, and that every minute in his company makes him even more attractive? Eddie’s had a thing for Laura Bailey for as long as he can remember, and she’s as annoying and meddling as ever. Trouble is, he thinks she may be on to something, and as they sift through what’s best for their town, their businesses and each other, he can’t deny that her passion, determination and intelligence are a perfect package—one he’s been waiting for all his life. Too bad her heart’s set on getting back to the city. This is the latest installment of the Sierra Falls series, and Wolff has created an amiable, relatable community with primary and secondary characters that are well-drawn and convincing. Laura starts out as screechy and nearly unlikable but softens as she moves through her insecurities and comes to embrace herself, her hometown and her new love. A moving, engaging romance.

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ever wants to see Daniel face to face. Leonie, Sam’s new accomplice, is an information broker so skilled at hiding people that the international outlaw organization Novem Soles figures she must be equally good at finding them. And she’s also under the gun, since Novem Soles has snatched her daughter, Taylor, as well. Their designated target is Jack Ming, a young hacker who’s learned more about Novem Soles than either he or they wanted. Jack has just flown from Europe to New York to visit his mother, Sandra, a State Department officer turned consultant, and put some distance between himself and his pursuers. Neither goal works out, and the second of many action sequences that seem choreographed with one eye on the movies leaves Sam holding Sandra’s hand as she expires and promising that he’ll do his best to protect her son. It’s all a lie, of course, but a dizzying series of plot twists will make it more true than Sam could have imagined. Enough hired guns, double bluffs, CIA turncoats, narrow escapes, acts of political and personal treachery and scenes of armed and bare-knuckled combat for a miniseries. The perfect antidote for Downton Abbey.

MISS DIMPLE SUSPECTS

Ballard, Mignon F. Minotaur (272 pp.) $24.99 | Jan. 22, 2013 978-1-250-00967-8

Miss Dimple hunts a killer and teaches her town a lesson. Amid the fear and deprivation of World War II, Miss Dimple Kilpatrick joins the search party in her small Georgia town to look for one of her students. She finds Peggy Ashcroft, who is very ill, only as darkness falls. A friendly dog guides her to the cabin of reclusive artist Mae Martha Hawthorne and her companion, Suzy, who’s been helping her recover from a leg injury. Their care helps the child survive until the phoneless home can get word to the doctor. But there’s no happy ending yet, for a few days later, a frantic call from Suzy brings Miss Dimple and her friends Charlie, Virginia and Annie rushing to the cabin, where they find Mae Martha dead from a blow to the head. The police suspect Suzy, who has disappeared, but Miss Dimple thinks the gentle, caring girl’s Japanese ancestry has sent her into hiding. When the desperate Suzy calls again, the ladies hide her in Virginia’s house while they search for the real killer. Mae Martha’s valuable painting may have provided a motive for murder, and although both her nephews seem to have loved her dearly, they must join her handyman and several neighbors as suspects. While some townsfolk denounce Suzy as a Japanese spy and a murderer, Miss Dimple and her friends continue the search for the truth. When the sleuths find Mae Martha’s handyman dead, they realize that they’d better solve the crimes quickly, as their own lives may be in danger. Ballard complicates the generally heartwarming tone of her gently nostalgic mysteries (Miss Dimple Rallies to the Cause, 2011, etc.) by dramatizing a shameful episode in the country’s history. 2662

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m ys t e r y SPEAKING FROM AMONG THE BONES

Bradley, Alan Delacorte (400 pp.) $24.00 | Feb. 5, 2013 978-0-385-34403-6

Irrepressible Flavia de Luce, the selftaught whiz kid who adores cyanide and has a soft spot for strychnine, confronts lead poisoning. To celebrate St. Tancred’s quincentennial, the vicar has asked permission from the diocese to open the holy man’s tomb and have his remains present at the feast. Naturally, 11-year-old Flavia, who loves corpses the way other girls her age love butterflies and unicorns, mounts her bicycle, Gladys, and races to the church to be first in line to see the remains. The vicar, the diggers and Flavia are aghast when the first corpse they come upon belongs to Mr. Collicutt, the church organist, who died with a gas mask on and a bit of ruffle at his throat. Inspector Hewitt is at a loss, but Flavia has stepped up to crime-solving before (I Am Half-Sick of Shadows, 2011, etc.). Despite the distressing news that the debts of her father, the colonel, so exceed his income that Buckshaw, the family home, must be put on the market, Flavia conscientiously collects blood dabs; discovers love rivals in the Ladies Altar Guild; meets Magistrate Ridley-Smith’s son, locked away in the upper reaches of Bogmore Hall, who mistakes Flavia for her long-gone mother, Harriet; discovers a tunnel leading from the cemetery to St. Tancred’s crypt; and consults with private eye Adam Sowerby, who knows that some Latin marginalia in an ancient text and plant lore gleaned from herbalist Mad Meg are important clues. Then there’s nothing more to do than call Inspector Hewitt into the study and explain everything to him. But can young Flavia, who can deal with even grand-scale mayhem, cope with her father’s pronouncement on the very last page? The Flavia bandwagon rolls on: Not only will she star in five more novels, but she’ll also shine in several made-fortelevision films. (Agent: Denise Bukowski)

THE CORPSE ON THE COURT

Brett, Simon Creme de la Crime (224 pp.) $28.95 | Feb. 1, 2013 978-1-78029-032-4

Propelled by spite (in Carole’s case) and love (in Jude’s), the Fethering ladies embark on separate investigations. Jude is so besotted with Piers Targett that she hasn’t given a thought to her alternate therapy practice or schmoozed with her neighbor |


Carole for two weeks now. Carole doesn’t know about the new man in Jude’s life, but to dispel the doldrums and prove she doesn’t care that she hasn’t heard from her friend, she’s looked over old crime stories and decided to tackle the unsolved Lady in the Lake mystery, a cause célèbre seven years ago. Jude meanwhile has taken up Piers’ obsession, real tennis, a sport much admired in Henry VIII’s reign and nearly as incomprehensible as cricket. Unfortunately, her first lesson at tony Lockleigh House coincides with the death of Reggie Playfair, who collapses on court. Reggie’s wife, suspecting that he was meeting a lover there, asks Jude to investigate. Ever intrepid, Jude unearths various late-night courtside trysts, a wannabe ghost wandering around in her wedding dress, a liaison begun years back in Paris and a wife to whom Piers still seems emotionally attached. Carole’s equally dramatic venture leads her to a mother still grieving over her long-lost child, a father who so loathes his ex that he’s erased her from his press releases and CV, and an abusive Russian who smacks his wife around. When Carole and Jude finally reunite and discuss their cases, resolution is produced by the one name common to both. Top-flight Brett (Guns in the Gallery, 2012, etc.), with droll potshots at flawed husbands, the women who shouldn’t have married them, rabid sports enthusiasts and quasi-tiffs among friends.

THE OPERATIVE

Britton, Andrew Kensington (400 pp.) $25.00 | Jul. 1, 2012 978-0-7582-6351-3 Ex-CIA agent Ryan Kealey (The American, 2006, etc.) returns to save the world again, this time from a bunch of terrorists armed with two nuclear weapons. Britton warns you early and often that this isn’t geopolitics as usual. The CIA agents who assume responsibility for wanted terrorist Yasmin Rassin, aka the Veil, in a swap with the Canadian authorities who detained her, don’t fly her to Islamabad, as they told the Canadians they’d be doing, but instead spirit her off to a secret lair where hypnotherapist Dr. Ayesha Gillani can plant subtle mental suggestions in her. That unexpected detour is only a prelude to a series of bombs that explode in the Baltimore Convention Center, killing dozens and interrupting a nursing conference co-hosted by Julie Harper, whose husband, Jon, is deputy director of the CIA. As Julie lies in a coma, duly constituted representatives of diverse government agencies jockey for position. Antiquities heir Jacob Trask emerges from his usual seclusion long enough to stir the pot vigorously; the FBI’s Reed Bishop duels the CIA; the FBI’s assistant director and the assistant director of its New York office differ with unusual warmth about an off-the-books project; and President David Brenneman himself reactivates Kealey, who’s already shown his mettle in joining Julie’s old student, CIA psychotherapist Allison Dearborn, to free hostages that the Baltimore |

bombers took. By the time a pair of suspicious crates arrive at a New York office building, you won’t trust a soul. For beneath the high body count and the equally high acronym count designed to remind you how much research the author’s done is a wonderfully subversive notion: Nuclear terrorism is the logical extension of agency infighting. Don’t worry about the American democratic system. As Bishop sneers to the archvillain at bay, “it always selfcorrects. It was designed to do that.” (Agent: John Talbot)

A MEDAL FOR MURDER

Brody, Frances Minotaur (432 pp.) $25.99 | Feb. 5, 2013 978-0-312-62240-4

Sleuthing becomes more than a diversion for a World War I maybewidow whose husband is still MIA. Now that Kate Shackleton and her assistant, ex-policeman Jim Sykes, have succeeded in solving a case of murder (Dying in the Wool, 2012, etc.), they’re asked to recover goods stolen from a pawnshop. Each of them is given a list of owners of pawned goods to notify. Kate’s list takes her to the spa town of Harrogate, where she’d taken cast photographs for Meriel Jamieson, a talented but dishonest theatrical producer. The name and address on Kate’s list prove to be fake, but the trip is far from a waste of time, for when she attends Meriel’s play, Kate stumbles over a dead body. The murdered man, wealthy Mr. Milner, was heartily disliked by all, including his son Rodney, who, as a friend of the lovely star of the play, Lucy Wolfendale, resented his father’s plan to marry her. Lucy, who wants to go to drama school, has cooked up a plan with another amateur thespian, Dylan Ashton, to extort tuition money from her grandfather, Captain Wolfendale, by faking her abduction. Having asked Kate to find Lucy, the Captain grows furious when he realizes that she’s looking into his past, especially the shady secrets he shared with Milner during the Boer War. Meanwhile, something more than a professional relationship has sprung up between Kate and Inspector Charles of Scotland Yard. There are a number of plausible suspects, including two who confess, but do they have the real killer in the end? Brody’s excellent second offers a morally conflicted sleuth, historically detailed flashbacks to the Boer War and a clever mystery indeed.

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“Cozier than most British procedurals.” from burying the past

KILLER CRUST

Cavender, Chris Kensington (304 pp.) $24.00 | Dec. 24, 2012 978-0-7582-7152-5 Two sisters get into trouble when the pizza-making contest they’re involved in leads to murder. Pizza-maker Eleanor Swift isn’t expecting much—much good, that is—when Laughing Luigi asks to meet with her at her shop, A Slice of Delight. The unpleasant mogul of frozen dough has had run-ins with Eleanor and her sister Maddy in the past, but his pitch this time may work to the sisters’ advantage. Luigi plans to hold a contest of pizza makers in Timber Ridge, and he offers Eleanor and Maddy the last slot in his competition. The other three teams of cooks are a mix of friendly allies and fearsome competitors, all with their eyes on the $25,000 prize. When Luigi (nee the ethnically challenged George Vincent) is murdered halfway through the battle, Eleanor and Maddy resolve to find out who had a motive to off the moneyed mogul or who hadn’t. Instead of trying to deter them, local police chief Kevin Hurley surprisingly spurs them on, suggesting that they may have a unique ability to probe the other contestants without rousing suspicion. And the girls know they have not only the law, but their guys— Maddy’s fiance, Bob, and David, whom Eleanor’s finally learning to trust—on their side. A bit more abrupt in its pacing than Cavender’s usual (Rest in Pizza, 2012, etc.), but that just proves that it’s good to get to the point. The recipe following the story reads like product placement. (Agent: John Talbot)

BURYING THE PAST

Cutler, Judith Severn House (224 pp.) $28.95 | Feb. 1, 2013 978-0-7278-8209-7

Kentish detectives’ upcoming nuptials are disrupted by murder, rape and antiques. Caffy, one-half of Pact (Paula and Caffy’s team) Restoration, has left her life of drug use and petty crime behind and now is an ace builder. So detail-oriented is she that she’s the only one to spot an irregular patch in the garden of the rectory that’s the future home of Detective Chief Superintendent Fran Harman and Assistant Chief Constable Mark Turner (Still Waters, 2008, etc.). When the hard ground yields up its obligatory skeleton, the building is cordoned off as a crime scene. With their love nest sealed up under the watchful eye of DI Kim Thomas, Mark and Fran look to move back to Mark’s house in Loose, only to be rebuffed by his daughter Sammie, who’s left her husband, moved in with her two kids and changed all of the locks. Sammie enlists the trans-Atlantic support of 2664

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brother Dave, who flies in from the U.S. to persuade his dad not to remarry. In the meantime, the Rev. Janie Falkirk, Mark and Fran’s officiant, develops cancer. Before her mastectomy, she asks Fran to look into the claim of young parishioner Cynd that she was raped and dispatched her assailant with a knife. Once Cynd, also a drug user and hooker, does a runner, Fran has no perpetrator and no victim for either crime. The rectory murder also hits a wall, since former owner Marion Lovage seems to have left no papers, no mementos and no past at all, except for some marvelous old furniture. So, Fran calls on furniture restorer Lina Townend to unlock the mysterious Ms. Lovage’s writing cabinet in hope of unlocking the decades-old mystery. Cozier than most British procedurals, Cutler’s fourth Harman entry will please readers who prefer their malice domestic.

DECEMBER’S THORN

DePoy, Phillip Minotaur (304 pp.) $25.99 | Jan. 22, 2013 978-1-250-01198-5

When a wife you don’t remember you had shows up on your doorstep, should you introduce her to your fiancee? The three-month coma from which folklorist Fever Devlin has just emerged (A Corpse’s Nightmare, 2011, etc.) may have addled his brain. Did some wraithlike woman clad in black really appear at his cabin one night claiming to be his wife and the mother of his son, or is he hallucinating? When Fever’s old friend Skidmore, the sheriff of Blue Mountain, Ga., can’t find a trace of the phantom bride, Fever’s fiancee, Lucinda, a nurse, asks psychiatrist Ceri Nelson for an opinion. Thus begins a chase through Jungian archetypes, the basis for the Tristan and Isolde legend, and a reconsideration of the sprigs on the Devlin family tree—along with rifle blasts, confrontations with black bears and a whiff of sexual interest between the quirky doctor and her even quirkier patient. Is it possible Fever has repressed more than an acquaintance with the now-you-see-her-now-youdon’t bride? To Fever’s chagrin, the puckish Dr. Nelson keeps on bringing up mother issues. To untangle them, Fever must revisit a trip to Wales he took as a young college instructor and a student’s obsession that landed Fever smack in the middle of a scenario out of Wagnerian opera. Is he echoing Tristan? Is the demon bride replaying Wagner’s Isolde? Who then would be King Mark? Is there a conjunction between myth and reality? Cue the music; the tragedy is about to unfold. Nobody is better at misdirection than DePoy. Nobody is better at making Carl Jung entertaining than DePoy. And if you ever need a psychiatrist, Ceri Nelson is probably the most endearing practitioner in all of mystery fiction.

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ARSENIC AND OLD PUZZLES

Hall, Parnell Minotaur (320 pp.) $24.99 | Jan. 22, 2013 978-0-312-60248-2

Since every murderer in Bakerhaven, Conn., seems to leave a puzzle with the corpse, Police Chief Harper considers himself lucky that the Puzzle Lady is on hand to solve them. If only he knew. Cora Felton, who’s been married at least six times, has started a relationship with the unhappily married Dr. Nathan but covered herself by getting people to think he’s romancing local attorney Becky Baldwin. The deception would be impossible for anyone but Cora, the face of a syndicated crossword empire who can’t construct or solve crosswords—her niece Sherry is the person who actually creates them—though she’s a whiz at sudoku. The latest puzzling victim is a tourist staying at a bed and breakfast run by the elderly Guilford sisters. Always looking to help out Becky, Cora has her represent the sisters and their nephew Alan Guilford, who claims to have just arrived from New York. His girlfriend, Arlene, who lives next door, bursts onto the scene with a crossword she found on the doorstep. Once the crossword is solved, all the clues point to Arsenic and Old Lace, including the exact poison used by the fictional sisters in the well-known play and movie. More bodies and more crosswords add to the confusion. The town drunk is found dead in the Guilfords’ window seat. He’s followed by one of the sisters, then another couple staying at the B&B. Is the logic of the play dictating the killer’s actions, or are all the deaths just a coverup for one? Clever, manipulative Cora ($10,000 in Small, Unmarked Puzzles, 2012, etc.) provides laughs and an ingenious mystery along with the obligatory puzzles for those who can’t figure out whodunit.

countries later, he winds up on a ferry to Corfu, where he picks up a tail while he’s on the way to reacquaint himself with his artist friend Morva, perhaps cadge lodgings from her and, oh yes, find Kyla. Morva has a few problems herself: a snake in the kitchen, a tortoise with a candle strapped to its shell setting fire everywhere, a car cantilevered down the hillside headed straight for her. There’s no sight of Kyla, though. Instead, Chris finds a bird-watcher and an armed guard wearing a vampire-printed T-shirt at the entrance to the Thalassa Organic Olive Oil Cooperative. His footsteps are dogged by a woman wearing gloves in the Mediterranean heat, someone else following her in turn. Annis and Tim arrive for a holiday, bringing more trouble and Ouzo hangovers. But eventually, all is straightened out, though you may never invest in expensive olive oil again. Who wouldn’t want to spend a fortnight in Corfu with the droll Honeysett and his chums? Helton, who divides his writing time between two series, the noir (Four Below, 2012, etc.) and the wry (Rainstone Fall, 2008, etc.), is a great traveling companion.

AN INCH OF TIME

Helton, Peter Creme de la Crime (240 pp.) $28.95 | Jan. 1, 2013 978-1-78029-031-7 Tiny cups of coffee strong enough to pave potholes and glasses of cheap, terrible Greek red wine introduce a desultory private eye to life on Corfu. It’s a cold, damp, penniless April in Bath when uninspired artist Chris Honeysett lands a windfall. As sole proprietor of Aqua Investigations, which he runs with his live-in gal pal, Annis, and her alternate boyfriend, Tim, Chris is asked by a major supermarket chain to locate missing employee Kyla Biggs. Would he mind leaving the awful weather to look for her in Corfu, where she was last spotted? A disreputable motor coach carries him off with his cat, Derringer, as stowaway. Many miles and several |

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BONNIE OF EVIDENCE

Hunter, Maddy Midnight Ink/Llewellyn (312 pp.) $14.99 paperback | Feb. 8, 2013 978-0-7387-2705-9 A bus tour of Scotland awakens ancient clan hatreds. Emily Andrew Miceli and her husband, a retired chief inspector, own a travel agency and are regular tour leaders for a group of mostly senior citizens from Iowa. Now that they’ve found the joys of smartphones, the seniors are sometimes too busy texting to look up and enjoy the scenery. To attract more business, they’re providing a free trip to the person who wins a geocaching contest, an updated scavenger hunt using cellphone GPS and websites to find hidden objects. The group is divided into teams whose bickering reflects ongoing antipathies. One member, Isobel Kronk, goes so far as to remove the sought object, which turns out to be the ancient Maccoull dagger, an artifact with a dark history. The very next morning she is found dead in bed. The cause is unknown, but her end doesn’t look peaceful. The hotel owner and several tour members with Scottish blood are sure the Maccoull curse has killed her, but the police are eager to find a living suspect. The tour is allowed to proceed even though the cause of death is still unknown. The next death causes the police to retain Emily’s Nana, who’s been handing out herbal medicine foisted on her by Emily’s mom. The seniors, invigorated by their sleuthing during their last trip in Holland (Dutch Me Deadly, 2012), are ready for their next mystery. Hotels out of Fawlty Towers, haggis and boat accidents on Loch Ness all threaten to distract Emily as she attempts to unmask a ruthless killer. Bits of Scottish history enliven the mildly amusing mystery.

VEILED THREAT

Loweecey, Alice Midnight Ink/Llewellyn (288 pp.) $14.99 | Feb. 8, 2013 978-0-7387-2640-3 A former nun and a private investigator scramble to find a kidnapped baby. Giulia Falcone used to be a nun. Now she’s working her way into a business partnership and romantic relationship with Frank Driscoll, who used to be a cop. When two lesbian friends who’ve recently adopted a baby come to her desperate for help, Frank is far from eager to put in a word with his former colleagues. The homophobic officer handling the case is ignoring information the couple has provided on other babies kidnapped from same-sex couples, babies who were never returned even after the ransom was paid. Instead, Frank’s old boss, who’d love to have Giulia work for the police, takes over the case. Together they find the one thing all the kidnappings had in common: a visit to The Wildflower, 2666

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a resort that caters to lesbians. Going undercover as a chambermaid, Giulia meets a number of people she suspects could be the kidnappers but finds it hard to narrow down the list of suspects. After her friends succeed in raising the ransom money, the police lose the pickup person in a snowstorm. All the phone calls from the kidnappers have included religious rants about the evils of homosexuality, but do they represent the perps’ true feelings, or are they just a cover for coldhearted schemers immune to the Christmas spirit? A former nun herself, Loweecey (Back in the Habit, 2012, etc.) infuses her complex heroine with all the knowledge and courage it takes to switch from the convent to crime fighting and pairs a solid mystery with a budding romance.

LITTLE WOLVES

Maltman, Thomas Soho (352 pp.) $25.00 | Jan. 8, 2013 978-1-61695-190-0

A double tragedy opens primordial wounds in an isolated Minnesota community. Everyone always thought that Grizz Fallon’s boy, Seth, was no good. At 16, he’d already done drugs and gotten into trouble with the law. But no one ever imagined that he’d get up one Saturday morning, methodically saw the barrel off the 12-gauge shotgun Grizz had given him for Christmas, hide it under an unseasonably heavy coat, ring the doorbell of his pregnant English teacher, Clara Warren, who doesn’t answer the door since she’s sneaking a cigarette in the basement, and then, when Sheriff Will Gunderson spots him strolling through the center of Lone Mountain in that coat and pulls over his cruiser to talk to him, pull out the shotgun and unload into the sheriff ’s face. The story, which might seem to end just a few minutes later when Seth shoots himself in a nearby cornfield, continues in two directions. Going forward, an argument about whether Seth will be banished to the corner of the graveyard reserved for suicides leads Grizz to steal his corpse and bury it himself, and the locals are troubled by sightings of the coyote pups Seth had been raising after his father shot mama coyote. Going backward, Clara, who’s persuaded her husband, Logan, a Lutheran minister, to accept his first pulpit in this unappealing little town so that she can find out more about the mother her own father would never talk about, links Sylvia Meyers’ death to a chain of dark secrets that join saints and sinners, man and beast. Maltman (The Night Birds, 2008) makes his leading characters so sensitive that you may shudder at the same revelations that so appall them.

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“Leisurely, ruminative and tangled.” from a grain of truth

MONKEY LOVE AND MURDER

McClintock, Edith Five Star (256 pp.) $25.95 | Jan. 16, 2013 978-1-4328-2638-3

A sudden decision to take a job in the South American rain forest only increases a young woman’s angst. Emma Parks, who’s just finished up a stint with the Peace Corps, is depressed over the death of her closest friend. About to leave Suriname, she runs into Dr. Alice Buchanan, a biological anthropologist who offers her a job as a research assistant studying spider monkeys at Kasima National Park. Accepting even though she has no experience in the field, Emma finds herself at a remote outpost with a diverse group of people who are often at each other’s throats. She’s instantly attracted to Nick, a handsome Australian who serves as Dr. Buchanan’s second-in-command. At a party to celebrate the takeover of the park by International Wildlife Conservation, Emma meets the charismatic Jack West, who plans to kick Dr. Buchanan and her team out of the park. A romantic interlude with Nick on the riverbank turns into a desperate search when Emma jumps into the river to save West, who’s being swept away, but loses him in the rapids. When his body is found at last, it’s clear that he’s been murdered. While the authorities investigate, research goes on, and Emma is both exhilarated and frightened by her work. Deep in the forest, she faces more danger from new companions who make it hard to distinguish friend from foe. A second murder leaves Emma fighting for her life. This debut from McClintock, who served in the Peace Corps and worked on a monkey research project, has the ring of authenticity, along with romance and a mystery that keeps you guessing.

A GRAIN OF TRUTH

Miloszewski, Zygmunt Translated by Lloyd-Jones, Antonia Bitter Lemon Press (386 pp.) $14.95 paperback | Jan. 8, 2013 978-1-908524-02-7 A Polish prosecutor’s ill-advised decision to move from Warsaw to the provinces cuts down on his case load but not on the angst his first big opportunity brings. Barbara “Basia” Sobieraj thinks the case never should have gone to Teodor Szacki in the first place. After all, he’s an outsider, a very recent arrival to Sandomierz from Warsaw (Entanglement, 2010), whereas she’s known the Budniks for years. When Elzbieta Budnik’s naked corpse is found outside the old synagogue that now serves as the town archive, her throat savagely slashed, Basia feels a much closer attachment to both the victim and her husband, Grzegorz, than Szacki ever could. But that’s just the problem, her maternal boss |

Maria Miszczyk tells her: The mystery of who killed an English teacher of whom no one speaks a word of ill needs an objective eye. For better or worse, though, Szacki is hardly objective. Having rashly decided to abandon his wife and daughter in Warsaw so that he can take up a new life in this charming backwater, he’s thrown himself into a series a meaningless affairs and a depression so deep that he welcomes the Budnik murder. Slowly but inevitably, complications darken his view. Wealthy businessman Jerzy Szyller disappears shortly after he confesses his involvement with the victim. Grzegorz Budnik, the only plausible suspect, instead follows his wife in death. And everything about both murders, carried out in a way ghoulishly appropriate for the Jewish slaughter of kosher animals, seems to link them to evils with much deeper roots—evils that pose special obstacles to an outsider like Szacki. Leisurely, ruminative and tangled—more successful as a portrait of the complex, self-hating, yet oddly likable detective than of the crimes he’s called to investigate.

COME THE FEAR

Nickson, Chris Creme de la Crime (224 pp.) $28.95 | Jan. 1, 2013 978-1-78029-030-0 A fire in a house that stands empty in 1733 reveals the charred corpse of a pregnant woman. As the City of Leeds emerges from the icy clutches of winter, Constable Richard Nottingham has all the usual crimes to solve. But when he searches the burnt building and finds a young woman with a baby ripped from her womb, he and his deputies, John Sedgwick and Rob Lister, focus on tracking down a merciless killer. Each of the deputies has problems of his own. New father Sedgwick suffers from lack of sleep and an older son whose jealousy of the baby makes him run wild. Lister’s father has forbidden his marriage to Nottingham’s daughter Emily since he considers the family to be beneath his. The victim is Lucy Wendell, a simple girl with a harelip who had been turned away by the wealthy family she worked for when her pregnancy was discovered. She never returned to her mother or her blacksmith brother for help. So, what was she was doing in the month before her death? In addition to dogging the dead girl’s steps, Nottingham also has to deal with a London thieftaker who has set up shop in Leeds and may be behind a rash of burglaries and the fear that sweeps through the city when a child is kidnapped in broad daylight. Nottingham’s fourth (The Constant Lovers, 2012, etc.) is a police procedural with a nicely detailed historical setting, the obligatory social commentary and a middling mystery.

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THE MISSING ITALIAN GIRL

Pope, Barbara Corrado Pegasus Crime (384 pp.) $25.00 | Feb. 13, 2013 978-1-60598-408-7

An unlikely sleuth is drawn into another murder mystery in turn-of-thecentury France. On June 24, 1897, Maura and Angela, a pair of teenagers, help a Russian named Pyotr Ivanovich Balenov transport a corpse on a cart to a river just outside Paris, where they dump it. Now far away, hardworking teacher Clarie Martin rushes home after a tiring day, her only wish to spend time with her children and beloved husband, Bernard. But Francesca, an Italian charwoman at her school, buttonholes Clarie with a colorful and emotional tale about Francesca’s daughter Angela, who’s been “taken away” by an unsavory man who’s promised to marry her. Can Clarie help? At home, Bernard greets her with the news that he has finally secured a salaried job, and the couple goes out to celebrate for the first time since moving to Paris. But the plight of the “Italian girls” continues to bother Clarie, who’s lost a child and feels Francesca’s anguish. As the girls toil away in a shirtwaist factory, the sudden disappearance of Pyotr and a suspicious bombing worry Angela and Maura immensely, and the arrival of a police inspector with questions about Barbereau, the dead man on the cart, push them to the brink. When Clarie receives a letter notifying her that Francesca won’t be reporting for work since Angela has been killed, she knows what she must do. Pope’s third mystery featuring Clarie (The Blood of Lorraine, 2010, etc.) expertly doles out pieces of its complex plot, a picaresque puzzle with satisfying period flavor.

COLD FEET

Pullen, Karen Five Star (292 pp.) $25.95 | Jan. 16, 2013 978-1-4328-2637-6 The perfect wedding gift: strychnine for the bride. What’s keeping the bride? It turns out to be a fatal case of indigestion caused by a cup of herbal tea laced with poison. Stella Lavender, currently handling undercover drug busts for North Carolina law enforcement but yearning for a transfer to Homicide, is on the spot to find out whodunit and why after her granny, Fern, invites her to the nuptials at the Rosscairn Castle Bed & Breakfast. Wyatt, the innkeeper, insists it’s all a plot to close him down. He cites the maple syrup in the air-conditioner compressor, the ammonia in the water softener, the dead raccoon in the driveway and the spray painting on the inn sign. But Stella, relying on computer input from her ex and chats with the bridal party, 2668

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uncovers several other motives for killing Justine, including the fact that before she started calling herself Justine and had gender reassignment surgery, she was named John. Did the groom know? Did his parents, who operated an ultraconservative online church ministry? Did his sister and her gay partner? Did the best man, whose wife died of anaphylactic shock at a picnic six months before? Did the couple who filed a $1 million lawsuit against the birthing center where Justine worked? While she’s sorting through all the possibilities and sexual proclivities among the attendees, Stella’s undercover drug buys put her and her flirtatious granny in jeopardy, necessitating a short stay at a neighboring B&B, whose owner loathes Wyatt even though her son works for him. There’ll be one more fatality before a commitment ceremony and a sperm-donor pregnancy conclude Stella’s first murder case. The best thing about this debut is the chili recipe (tried and tasted) that ends it.

THE SIN EATER

Rayne, Sarah Severn House (272 pp.) $28.95 | Aug. 1, 2012 978-0-7278-8162-5 More than a century after some notable evildoing, an old dark house continues to cast frightening shadows upon its new owner. Benedict Doyle dreads his upcoming visit to the North London house he’s set to inherit on his 21st birthday, weeks away. Orphaned as a child when his parents died in a car crash, he was raised by his brisk Aunt Lyn and harbors memories of the house, called Holly Lodge, haunted by his great-grandfather. Fortunately, Benedict’s stalwart cousin, Nina, is on hand to support and motivate him. Nina’s friend Nell West, an experienced antiques dealer (Property of a Lady, 2011, etc.), has inventoried the contents of Holly Lodge and senses that they may include ghosts. Following a flashback to the 1890s that presents great-grandfather Declan Doyle and his sidekick, Colm Rourke, the tale thereafter jumps back and forth in time. Benedict knows Declan as the Mesmer Murderer, a tamer successor to Jack the Ripper, but the reader meets him as a vibrant young man seeking adventure. Together, Declan and Colm pursue the dark mystery of Nicholas Sheehan, a devout priest driven for some unknown reason to a hermetic exile. When Nell meets Benedict, she’s unnerved to see his eyes abruptly change color. She decides to keep this observation from her close friend Michael, whose discovery of writings from the time, by a servant girl and an abbot respectively, add another dimension to the story. Rayne’s 10th keeps suspense simmering with controlled, intelligent prose and a provocative weave of haunted yarns that sort themselves out in their own eerily attenuated time.

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WATCHING THE DARK

Robinson, Peter Morrow/HarperCollins (368 pp.) $25.99 | Jan. 8, 2013 978-0-06-200480-2 The death of a fellow officer sends DCI Alan Banks (Bad Boy, 2010, etc.) looking for secrets in every corner of Eastvale and eventually as far afield as Estonia. Why would someone track recently widowed DI Bill Quinn to a police convalescent center and shoot an arrow into his chest? Banks, convinced that the murder must have to do with one of Quinn’s old cases, isn’t sure which case holds the key until a second murder provides the clue. Mihkel Lepikson, a freelance journalist from the Estonian town of Tallinn, bonded with Quinn six years ago when they both investigated the disappearance of Rachel Hewitt, a bridesmaid who got separated from the rest of her hen party during a pub crawl in Tallinn and was never seen again. Now the reporter is dead, evidently tortured and drowned in a building that’s most recently been used to warehouse the immigrants brought into the country to work for the substandard wages Roderick Flinders’ employment agency pays and then railroaded into dead-end loans by obliging shark Warren Corrigan. Most disturbing of all for Banks, however, is that he’s sent to Estonia not with DI Annie Cabbot, just returned from her own long convalescence, but with Inspector Joanna Passero of Professional Standards, who’s been attached to the investigation to determine whether Bill Quinn might have been a bent copper. Robinson cuts back and forth between Banks and Passero’s adventures in Estonia and Annie’s inquiries back home. The result is a patient unraveling of sad but unsurprising developments that provide Rachel’s parents with that most overrated of all aspects of justice: closure. The tale unfolds realistically but uncompellingly, with Banks the only truly memorable character this time around.

A STUDY IN REVENGE

Shields, Kieran Crown (384 pp.) $25.00 | Jan. 8, 2013 978-0-307-98576-7

1893. A deputy and a private detective in Portland, Maine, investigate a murder with some very unusual features indeed. When the burnt body of a thief whose burial Deputy Archie Lean witnessed turns up in an empty house surrounded by occult symbols, Lean immediately calls on Perceval Grey for assistance. Grey is a half Abenaki Indian raised by his wealthy white grandfather. Well-educated and well-off, he has a passion for criminology. Grey has been hired by the dying Horace Webster to find his missing granddaughter and recover an heirloom stolen from his lawyer’s office, a stone covered |

with mysterious runes that was left to his other granddaughter. The symbols, which resemble those found with the body, have been ascribed to both early Viking explorers and alchemists seeking to turn lead into gold. Grey is not the only one looking for the stone. Also in the hunt are Webster’s grandsons, a white man raised as an Indian who thinks the stone is sacred, and Dr. Jotham Marsh, with whom Grey tangled in a prior case (The Truth of All Things, 2012). Grey and Lean soon realize that the present cases are intertwined and that Marsh may not be the only connection to the earlier crime that nearly killed them both. His blood up, Grey travels from the wilds of Maine to the libraries of Boston looking for clues that will reveal the truth. Erudite, mysterious and exciting, with a brooding, brilliant Sherlock-ian detective. The denouement is just as surprising as in Grey’s first case.

TRUE GREY

Simon, Clea Severn House (224 pp.) $28.95 | Jan. 1, 2013 978-0-7278-8215-8 A graduate student finds that life imitates art a little too closely in the gothic romances she studies. Dulcie Schwartz (Grey Matters, 2011, etc.) doesn’t understand the meaning of her recurring nightmares, in which she finds a body—sometimes red-haired, sometimes dark-haired— from which the “precious ichor glistened jewel-like no longer.” She does know that under the watchful eye of Thomas Griddlehaus, chief clerk of her university’s famed Mildon Collection, her dissertation about The Ravages of Umbria is moving along nicely—at least until the arrival of celebrated gothic scholar Melinda Sloane Harquist leads the Mildon to be locked down under the orders of Dean Haitner, who wants to give Melinda sole access to its treasures. Ignoring a warning from Mr. Grey, her dearly departed cat, who comes periodically from the other side to counsel her, as well as the concerns of her current pet, the younger but equally talkative Esmé, Dulcie goes to Dardley House to confront Melinda. She finds her rival sprawled out like the figure in Dulcie’s dream and every bit as dead. Now, Dulcie is a person of interest in the investigation, and her friendship with Detective Rogovoy of the university’s security force doesn’t help much when she’s questioned by the Cambridge police. Adding insult to injury, Dean Haitner slaps her with plagiarism charges. Now that her boyfriend, Chris, is working a night shift and her thesis advisor is giving her wide berth, Dulcie has almost no one to share her sorrows with—except of course her feline friends. As paranormal talking-cat mysteries go, Simon’s latest gives her humans their due and a little bit more.

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“Satisfying twists and authentic WWII elements should keep readers engaged.” from orders from berlin

A CUP FULL OF MIDNIGHT

Terrell, Jaden Permanent Press (288 pp.) $28.00 | Aug. 1, 2012 978-1-57962-225-1

In his second appearance (Racing the Devil, 2012), Nashville shamus Jared McKean goes up against Goths, vampires and other culture vultures. Sebastian Edward Parker re-named himself Razor: “Sharp. Bright. Dangerous.” He was all those things and a predator as well, battening on teenage boys, charming them first, corrupting them when he could and delighting in the process. Razor enjoyed inflicting pain. The Parker Principle, as he’d called it in graduate school— cynical manipulation and blatant cruelty masked as sociological research—became a pillar of his lifestyle until someone killed him. Among those whose life he’s blighted is Josh McKean, the teenage son of Jared’s older brother, Randall. Though abused and discarded by Razor, Josh remains an acolyte. He begs his uncle to find Razor’s murderer. Reluctantly, Jared signs on, beginning a dark journey into a vicious world of sociopathic game players where hurting earns validation and victimization is a way of life. Meanwhile, Jared’s domestic arrangements are coming under increasing strain. Though emphatically straight, he shares a house with Jay, a gay friend who’s slowly dying of AIDS. Dying more swiftly of AIDS is Jay’s former lover. Jay and Jared take him in and care for him tenderly, an act of kindness that Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe and Lew Archer might have admired but would never have emulated. Overplotted, but Terrell writes too well to dash hopes for a turnaround next time.

THE MIDWIFE’S TALE

Thomas, Sam Minotaur (320 pp.) $24.99 | Jan. 8, 2013 978-1-250-01076-6

A determined midwife must solve a murder to save a friend from a horrible end. England, 1664. Now that Parliament’s armies are attacking areas loyal to the king, the northern city of York is under siege. Wealthy widow Bridget Hodgson, proud of her skills as a midwife, prefers working to sitting around leading the quiet life of a lady. She has no intention of turning detective until her friend Esther Cooper’s husband, an outspoken Puritan who treated his wife badly, is found dead and poison is discovered hidden in Esther’s room. The hapless widow is swiftly and illegally tried, convicted and sentenced to burn at the stake. Bridget, ignoring threats from the authorities, declares Esther pregnant, forestalling her demise. Although her well-connected family pushes Bridget to drop the matter, her new servant, 2670

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Martha Hawkins, has unusual skills that make her a big help. When Bridget and Martha are attacked by an inebriated soldier, Martha skillfully dispatches him, and Bridget hires guards to protect her house and has her nephew accompany them when they travel the city. As Bridget goes about her business, she picks up gossip, becomes involved in a case of infanticide and haunts the apothecaries looking for the source of the poison. She senses that more than one person would like to see her dead but remains grimly determined to find the real killer. Historian Thomas’ fiction debut is packed with fascinating information about a midwife’s skills and life during the English civil war. The ingenious, fast-paced mystery is a bonus.

ORDERS FROM BERLIN

Tolkien, Simon Minotaur (336 pp.) $25.99 | Dec. 11, 2012 978-0-312-63214-4

In the early years of World War II, a plot as ingenious as it is outrageous unfolds in London and Berlin. With Reichsmarschall Goering at his side, Adolf Hitler convenes a military conference in September 1940 to develop an invasion plan for Britain, and something more. Taking Gestapo head Reinhard Heydrich aside, he outlines an entirely different plot focused not on invasion, but on disinformation, deploying several covert agents to target Winston Churchill. Meanwhile, in London, Alec Thorn, second-in-command at MI6, is strangely exhilarated by the Nazi threat. He goes to visit the astute and knowledgeable Albert Morrison, the former head of MI6 who Thorn thinks was put out to pasture far too early. Shortly after this visit, Morrison is killed in a suspicious fall. His daughter Ava, with whom Thorn has a past relationship he is anxious to rekindle, claims that he was pushed. But nothing in the complex case is exactly as it seems, as the young investigator Trave (The King of Diamonds, 2011, etc.) soon learns. When family and the British Secret Service attempt to stonewall Trave, his boss, DCI John Quaid, must intercede, injecting new tension into the relationship between the two men. As the duo dig deeper, they uncover chicanery surrounding the victim’s will and the Berlin-based plot not just to confuse, but perhaps to kill Churchill. In his third Inspector Trave thriller, Tolkien’s plot surpasses his prose, which often lacks subtlety or style. But satisfying twists and authentic WWII elements should keep readers engaged.

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THE GARDEN PARTY

Turnbull, Peter Severn House (192 pp.) $27.95 | Jan. 1, 2013 978-0-7278-8216-5

A very unauthorized interment provides a third outing for Metropolitan DI Harry Vicary (Deep Cover, 2011, etc.). Genteel East Finchley hardly seems the spot for a brutal crime. But when the workers restoring the wall in the back garden of a Victorian home in the neighborhood find a note in a bin liner stuffed between the courses of glazed Northern Red Brick, builder Alan Brady brings it straight to DC Frank Brunnie of the Murder and Serious Crime Squad. That’s because the note gives the location of a box that the writer hopes “one day…will get a right burial,” suggesting that its contents were once human. And so Dr. Shaftoe, the medical examiner, confirms when Brunnie and Vicary unearth a box of bones in a field outside of Ilford. Whose bones are they? And how did they come to be burned, boxed and buried? Vicary and Brunnie, along with DC Penny Yewdall and DC Tom Ainsclough, start with virtually nothing. But the builder gives them a name: Des Holst, a bricklayer who worked on the original restoration of the wall. Holst’s widow, Pearl, has a temper. More importantly, she has a grudge. Des was once known as Ralph Payne, a prize blagger until he got religion in his old age and gave up thieving for honest labor. But connecting Des to a garden party in Bedfordshire in which two witnesses may have been killed for grassing up Arnie Rainbird will take Vicary’s crew time, patience and, most of all, luck. Vicary, well up on grit but short on detection, spins the same facts over multiple witnesses and interviews.

BURROWS

Wortham, Reavis Z. Poisoned Pen (322 pp.) $24.95 | paper $14.95 | Lg. Prt. $22.95 Jul. 3, 2012 978-1-4642-0005-2 978-1-4642-0007-6 paperback 978-1-4642-0006-9 Lg. Prt. Another stroll down memory lane to Center Springs, Texas, where life in 1964 is a lot more eventful than you remember. Kendal Bowden’s therapist said that laying the ghosts to rest would help. So Kendal’s embarked on a murder spree, killing Randal Wicker and Josh Brooks, former schoolmates who tormented Kendal as a child, along with Josh’s wife, Beth, and his mother, Onie Mae. A headless body found in the creek turns out to be that of Kevin Jennings, whom Kendal broke out of a Tulsa asylum before tiring of his company. Although Ned Parker has retired as constable in favor of his son, Cody, it’s Ned who gets called to the scene and pressed into service when it becomes clear that Kendal is the killer. Even so, Cody, who served as a tunnel rat in Vietnam, will see plenty of equally nerve-shredding action on the homefront. When the trail leads to |

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the home that Kendal’s abusive stepfather, retired mortician George Hart, shares with his invalid brother Alvin, a rookie deputy’s mistake triggers a device that turns the house into a deathtrap. Now it’s up to Cody and Big John Washington, Lamar County’s only deputy of color, to make their way through a dark, deadly interior labyrinth rendered disgusting by George’s inability to throw anything away and harrowing by the booby traps someone’s set. As in Ned’s debut (The Rock Hole, 2011), his grandchildren, Top and Pepper, are on hand to provide welcome humor and lend perspective to the acutely and unobtrusively observed small-town landscape. The result is that rare bird, a mystery with something for everyone.

science fiction and fantasy THE SIX-GUN TAROT

Belcher, R.S. Tor (368 pp.) $25.99 | Jan. 22, 2013 978-0-7653-2932-5

Adherents to a variety of magical and spiritual traditions confront a Lovecraftian menace in an 1869 Nevada desert town. Peculiar people tend to collect in Golgotha, an isolated little place bordering a supposedly played-out silver mine. When an evil older-thancreation begins to stir in that mine, the angel entrusted with guarding it (now masquerading as a shady local businessman), a sheriff who can’t die, his half-coyote deputy, the mayor and heir to the Mormons’ most sacred treasures, an assassin following the path of Lilith and a young fugitive carrying a mysterious Chinese jade eye must imprison it again before it destroys the world. The core crisis—the threat of an eldritch menace to our reality—is so played out that it’s typically the source of parody these days. What distinguishes this book are the colorful back stories of the characters; unfortunately, there is simply not enough time or plot to give these intriguing people the fleshing out they deserve. It would have been wonderful to spend more time with the proto-feminist assassin trained by a legendary pirate queen; the resurrectionist so desperately in love with his best friend’s now-deceased wife that he reanimated her preserved head; the closeted gay Mormon mayor who neglects his two wives to spend time with his male lover; a bordello piano player and so on. This is a debut work; perhaps the author will devote more pages to these fascinating types, or others like them, in the future. Interesting and polished, if somewhat overstuffed and not entirely satisfying.

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“Flawed and overinvolved, but highly imaginative.” from blood’s pride

CROWN OF VENGEANCE

Lackey, Mercedes; Mallory, James Tor (608 pp.) $27.99 | Nov. 13, 2012 978-0-7653-2438-2

Lackey and Mallory (The Phoenix Transformed, 2009, etc.) begin another speculative allegorical series with the chronicle of Elven Queen Vieliessar of Farcarinon. Royal Lady Nataranweiya, pregnant and pursued, seeks safety within the Sanctuary of the Star. There, she’s greeted by Astromancers, Lightborns and Mages. At the Sanctuary, Nataranweiya dies birthing Vieliessar, a babe who must fight for her royal birthright. She is renamed Varuthir. Oblivious to her heritage, she grows up as the ward of her family’s mortal enemies. Ambitious to become a knight, Varuthir instead is informed of her regal heritage and exiled into servitude. Speculative adventures forever pit good against evil, creation against destruction, and within this narrative, it’s the forces of Light against the Endarkened. The plot is universal: a quest. Here, however, it is laced with the magick power of Healing. This power Vieliessar/Varuthir discovers within herself while exiled back at the Sanctuary. There she meets another postulant, Thurion, lessthan-royal born, soon to be transformed into a warrior. Varuthir morphs into Vieliessar, warrior queen, one whose saga is sure to appeal to speculative fans who treasure long, complex, gore-filled plots. Amid Sturm und Drang, Vieliessar becomes a conquering lord avenging the House of Farcarnion against the Caerthalien. There are spells and incantations, lackeys and varlets, revenge and remorse. The book is ripe with mythical beasts, complex nomenclature and overwrought descriptive phrasing—“I shall see you drown in your own blood!”—all laced into a narrative motif fit for a Technicolor swashbuckler. With Lightbrothers and Lightsisters, Farmfolk and Landbond, komen and komentai’a, the authors could have made the task easier for readers by adding a history synopsis and a glossary. A fantasy fanatic’s feast.

BLOOD’S PRIDE

Manieri, Evie Tor (528 pp.) $24.99 | Feb. 19, 2013 978-0-7653-3234-9 Fantasy debut from New Yorker Manieri, previously published in the U.K. A generation ago, the Norlanders came in their ships to attack Shadar, a peaceful city lodged between the desert and the sea. The Shadari ashas, or wizard-priests, all jumped into the sea (having, we later learn, taken a drug that enabled them to see the future), leaving the city all but defenseless. The Norlanders, or Dead Ones—they’re telepathic among themselves, have frigid blue blood and sunlight is lethal to them—enslaved the 2672

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survivors. The Norlanders set the Shadari to toil in the mines for the metal which, smelted and tempered with Norlander blood, imbues weapons forged from it with magic powers. Now, the Norlander governor lies dying. Of his three warrior children, ice-maiden Frea nurses ambitions to return to Norland and conquer it; Isa yearns to challenge Frea and win the right to name her sword; and Eofar has fallen in love with a Shadari, Harotha, and impregnated her, though to protect the baby, Harotha claims the father is Daryan, the Shadari daimon or king. Underground leader Faroth, Harotha’s twin brother, sees opportunity in the Norlander’s internecine struggles and negotiates with the Mongrel, a mysterious and reputedly unbeatable mercenary warrior, to lead a rebellion. Dramash, Faroth’s young son, has the magic powers of an asha, and Jachad, king of the desert-dwelling Nomas, can summon flames. The stage is set, then, for a fine brouhaha. There’s plenty of action, most of it physically improbable, computer-game style. As for the characters, apart from their confusingly similar names, you’ll rarely encounter a more conflicted, emotive, impulsive, secretive, garrulous bunch whose favorite phrase seems to be “No, wait.” Flawed and overinvolved, but highly imaginative; an encouraging foundation on which to build future efforts. (Agent: Becca Stumpf )

ICE FORGED

Martin, Gail Z. Orbit/Little, Brown (592 pp.) $15.99 paperback | Jan. 8, 2013 978-0-316-09358-3 First of a new fantasy series from the author of The Dread (2012, etc.), brewed from standard ingredients. Condemned as a murderer for killing his brute of a father, Blaine McFadden is shown mercy by King Merrill of Donderath; instead of execution, he’s exiled to Velant, a bleak penal colony in the arctic Edgeland. Despite the brutality of the colony’s swaggering governor, Prokief, and his cruel mages, Blaine—calling himself simply “Mick” to conceal his aristocratic background—survives and, in a limited way, prospers, acquiring a “family” of fellow exiles. But when the supply ships from Donderath stop arriving, the colonists face a harsh winter that many will not survive. Back in Donderath, meanwhile, young Connor serves as a go-between, reporting the news from King Merrill’s councils (neighboring Meroven has invaded, and the news is grim) to vampire Lord Penhallow. Finally, Meroven’s mages prepare a mighty blast of magic; Merrill counters but dies in the attempt—and the magic itself is extinguished. In Edgeland, Prokief’s evil mages find themselves suddenly powerless and no match for the vengeful colonists. Luckily, at this point, an abandoned but seaworthy ship sails itself into harbor, so Blaine/ Mick and chums prepare to sail back to Donderath to find out what’s going on. There’s plenty of action and plot embroidery, and the pages turn easily enough—although, after nearly 600 of them, Martin still can’t provide even a token resolution. Better than average, but be prepared to settle in for the long haul.

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nonfiction ANY GIVEN MONDAY Sports Injuries and How to Prevent Them for Athletes, Parents, And Coaches— Based On My Life In Sports Medicine

These titles earned the Kirkus Star: BLACKETT’S WAR by Stephen Budiansky.................................. p. 2675 THE BIRTH OF THE WEST by Paul Collins.................................p. 2678

Andrews, James R. with Yaeger, Don Scribner (288 pp.) $25.00 | Jan. 8, 2013 978-1-4516-6708-0

THE LIVES OF ERICH FROMM by Lawrence J Friedman.........p. 2681 FEAR ITSELF by Ira Katznelson..................................................p. 2685 THE STILL POINT OF THE TURNING WORLD by Emily Rapp..............................................................................p. 2692

FEAR ITSELF The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time

Katznelson, Ira Liveright/Norton (512 pp.) $29.95 Mar. 1, 2013 978-0-87140-450-3

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A fully functional sports manual focused on the awareness and prevention of common athletic injuries. Andrews, a pioneering orthopedic surgeon in his fifth decade of practicing sports medicine, is uniquely qualified to pen this type of medical sourcebook. He firmly believes many organized-sports ailments are preventable, and he aggressively advocates for grass-roots educational programs and prevention campaigns as effective frontline measures aimed at tempering the “crisis point” injury level he feels has been reached for youth-sports injuries. In the opening chapters, the author offers a condensed history of sports medicine, pertinent statistics and a snapshot profile of his life. Andrews then highlights three trauma priorities as assigned by the top sports-injury authorities: knee ACL damage, concussions (football) and overuse injuries (juvenile baseball pitchers). He states that while the “invincibility” felt by youth enables athletic injuries, increased parental involvement in children’s sporting lives should stem this pattern. After citing baseball as the source of the highest number of acute injuries, Andrews calls attention to accidentprone, less-obvious activities like cheerleading, golf and water polo. Medically speaking, he forewarns parents not to consider an MRI test for their ailing child as the exclusive method of diagnostic conclusiveness and offers a fascinating chapter dispelling popular sports-injury myths. The bulk of the guidebook briskly examines a wide swath of popular youth sports and counters their associated maladies with safety tips and injuryprevention measures. A gold mine of contemporary cautionary information for the sports-minded.

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“Amiable and revealing missives from two remarkable minds.” from here and now

REPORTING THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR Before It Was History, It Was News

Andrlik, Todd Sourcebooks (384 pp.) $39.99 | Nov. 1, 2012 978-1-4022-6967-7

In his first book project, Andrlik, the curator and publisher of Raglinen.com, an online archive of rare newspapers, presents an intriguing real-time look at the American Revolution. To supply context and analysis, the author enlists a few dozen other Revolutionary War scholars—some, such as Bruce Chadwick, Ray Raphael and Thomas Fleming, will be well-known to war buffs—for essays and remarks elucidating the excerpts from 18thcentury newspapers handsomely reproduced here. He reminds us “there are no photographs of the American Revolution,” that newspapers remain the closest thing we have to snapshots of the conflict as it developed. Focusing on the years 1763 to 1783 and drawing on publications from both sides of the Atlantic, this lavishly illustrated volume contains reporting on the war’s signal battles, Lexington and Concord to Yorktown, and many lesser engagements as well. It covers controversies over Parliament’s Sugar, Stamp, and Townsend Acts, reported from vastly different perspectives in, say, the Pennsylvania Gazette or the London Chronicle. In the 18th century, printers scrambled for information, often poaching private letters or plagiarizing each other for accounts of the Boston Tea Party, Benedict Arnold’s treason, the alliance between France and America, or Washington’s resignation of his commission. Andrlik artfully directs readers’ eyes to these and hundreds of other events reported on the page right next to advertisements for hogsheads of “Jamaica Spirit,” the sale of a wooden tenement, a plea for “200 barrels of pork,” or a notice about a “strayed or stolen” brown cow. As they accumulate, these pages charmingly return us to a troublesome time when average people were leading their lives as close to normal as they could manage, when our war for independence was breaking news, the outcome far from certain. An impressive cache of primary-source documents, normally the province of scholars, presented here in an entertaining, aesthetically pleasing fashion guaranteed to entice general readers.

HERE AND NOW Letters (2008-2011)

Auster, Paul and Coetzee, J.M. Viking (256 pp.) $27.95 | Mar. 11, 2013 978-0-670-02666-1 A genial, often riveting exchange of letters between American novelist Auster (Winter Journal, 2010, etc.) and the South African (now an Australian citizen) Nobel laureate Coetzee (Scenes from Provincial Life, 2012, etc.). 2674

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Although Coetzee, 72, is seven years older than Auster, the two writers and friends have many things in common—a fascination with sports (not always the same ones), liberal politics, a sadness about the decline of the book, a love of travel and language, admiration for their spouses and a willingness to respond thoughtfully and respectfully to issues the other correspondent raises. There are some features missing that readers will expect: an introduction explaining the genesis of their friendship and the idea for the publication; an explanation of why the letters stopped (or have they stopped?); annotations. But the bounties cancel cavils. Both acknowledge the importance of admiration in friendship, an observation that leads them into a recurring discussion about sports. Auster writes powerfully (here and elsewhere) about baseball; Coetzee enjoys tennis and writes admiringly of Roger Federer. The letters are not heavily literary. There are some discussions of Beckett, Dostoyevsky and Derrida, but nothing too cerebral. Auster muses about how critics jumped him for his portrayal of an older man’s sexual affair with a 17-year-old in Sunset Park but had little to say about the incest in his Invisible. Coetzee speculates that American poetry has declined; Auster effectively and respectfully counters. There are also quotidian concerns—travel plans, food, sleep habits, etc. Auster periodically raves about his wife, writer Siri Hustvedt, and talks a little about the writing of Winter Journal. The authors also discuss films (a passion for both), and we learn that Auster is a bit of a Luddite—he uses a typewriter and has no cellphone, and the writers exchanged many of these letters via fax machine. Amiable and revealing missives from two remarkable minds.

THE KING OF INFINITE SPACE Euclid and His Elements

Berlinski, David Basic (176 pp.) $24.00 | Feb. 1, 2013 978-0-465-01481-1

A playful yet deep excursus through Euclid’s Elements, from veteran mathematician Berlinski (One, Two, Three: Absolutely Elementary Mathematics, 2011, etc.). It is a pleasure to follow the author as he grasps the logistical tail of Euclid’s mathematics and follows it to this day. He delves into the trials of the Beltrami pseudosphere, the hyperbolic triangle, the Poincare disk and the Erlangen Program and its classification of different kinds of geometry. It is a profound investigation, as math was synthesized and refined and Euclid broke out with his axiomatic system (“composed of small, mincing, but precise and delicate, logical steps”) as a way of seeing, a way of life. He fashioned an axiomatic organization that stylized abstraction to devise all the propositions of geometry via a handful of theories. The first four books of the Elements (“by far and away the most successful of mathematical textbooks”) are the pivots, but the drama comes from the simple waxing complexity of the formulations, especially the fifth, where discomfort sets in. Euclid may not

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FAST FUTURE How the Millennial Generation Is Shaping Our World

have been happy with these interrogations of his common notions, axis, proof and theorems, but Euclidean geometry lasted for 2,000 years. Nearly a third of the book tackles the parallel postulate and the coming of analytic geometry, with David Hilbert’s brainstorms being critical referents. Berklinski also provides a list of Euclid’s definitions (e.g., “A point is that which has no part”). The author’s storytelling is clear, crisp and emotive, and he brings Euclid’s little-known life alive. (13 b/w figures)

BLACKETT’S WAR The Men Who Defeated the Nazi U-Boats and Brought Science to the Art of Warfare Budiansky, Stephen Knopf (336 pp.) $27.95 | Feb. 20, 2013 978-0-307-59596-6

Little-known story of the Allied scientists whose unconventional thinking helped thwart the Nazi U-boats in World War II. With the largest fleet of submarines (U-boats) in the war, Germany dominated early fighting in the Battle of the Atlantic, destroying much Allied shipping. During three months in 1940 alone, U-boats sank more than 150 ships; U-boat commanders were celebrated as daring heroes back home. By war’s end, U-boat crews would suffer the highest casualties of all German forces. Military historian Budiansky (Perilous Fight: America’s Intrepid War with Britain on the High Seas, 1812–1815, 2011, etc.) offers an excellent, well-researched account of the unlikely group of some 100 British and American scientists whose ideas halted the Nazi submarine menace. Foremost among them was British experimental physicist Patrick Blackett, a controversial socialist and later Nobel Prize winner, who directed operational research for the Admiralty during the war. His teams of scientists brought “a scientific outlook and a fresh eye” to problems that had previously been addressed by tradition and gut instinct. Drawing on math and probability theory, the scientists developed effective solutions to issues such as armor placement on RAF aircraft, the optimal size of warship convoys to protect merchant ships (larger was better), and the proper use of plane-delivered depth charges. Their work doubled or tripled the effectiveness of the Allied campaigns against U-boats; writes the author: “It is no exaggeration to say that few men did more to win the war against Nazi Germany than Patrick Blackett.” Especially fascinating is Budiansky’s account of Blackett’s successful effort to urge the wartime mobilization of scientists at a time when the military greatly distrusted intellectuals and civilians. The scientists’ contributions to the war effort secured “a permanent institutional foothold” for scientific advice in government. An engrossing work rich in insights and anecdotes.

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Burstein, David D. Beacon (240 pp.) $25.95 | $25.95 e-book | Feb. 12, 2013 978-0-8070-4469-8 978-0-8070-4470-4 e-book An inspiring look at what the millennial generation is doing in America. “Millennials are people born in the 1980s and 1990s,” writes Fast Company contributor Burstein, founder and director of the youth-voter engagement organization Generation18. They “share the characteristic of having had one foot in the preInternet, pre-cell phone, pre-Facebook world, while the other foot is in the new world.” It is this unusual combination of old and new that makes them go-getters who use technology to its fullest extent as a tool and a social platform to bring about rapid changes in today’s evolving world. As Burstein elaborates through various stories, millennials brought Facebook into the world, have tackled establishments such as Egypt’s government and Wall Street, and have successfully campaigned for President Barack Obama. Due to their self-confidence, assertiveness and willingness to experiment, coupled with their dissatisfaction with the status quo, this generation has opened thousands of new businesses, most of them online, despite the recession. They are eager to move toward their high ideals in small, practical and incremental steps and are hopeful about the future and eager to embrace change despite global warming, the threat of war and terrorism, failing economies, etc. Burstein’s interviews and firsthand accounts bring to light these young people, and readers will gain a deeper appreciation and awareness of the rapid progress and changes that have occurred worldwide since the advent of the Internet. Stimulating accounts of what is being accomplished by an ambitious generation.

DARWIN A Graphic Biography

Byrne, Eugene Illus. by Gurr, Simon Smithsonian Books (100 pp.) $9.95 paperback | Feb. 5, 2013 978-1-58834-352-9

A serviceable graphic summary of Darwin’s life and achievement, pegged somewhere between educational use for preteens and a primer for adult readers. The latest collaboration between writer Byrne and illustrator Gurr (Bristol Story, 2007) is a little odd in light of both the publisher’s reputation and the conventions of the graphic format—this is far more text-heavy than what readers of graphic novels have come to expect, and attempts at a playful sense

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of humor seem strained. To questionable effect, the narrative is framed as an episode of “Ape TV,” in which apes learn about the life of the unlikely scientist whose theory that mankind and the ape were part of the same evolutionary process would be so transforming. Once readers get past those apes and into the story itself, they learn that Darwin was an indifferent student and someone whose future by no means seemed secured, until he received an invitation to take a voyage that “would not just change Darwin’s life, it would change the course of history.” The commander of an expedition was looking for “a gentleman-naturalist as a companion,” someone who could keep him company as more of an equal than the crew under him. It says something about Darwin’s lack of immediate plans that he was able to commit to a journey that was anticipated to last two years yet lasted five. The animals he encountered seemed so different than ones he’d known that he theorized that if it weren’t a matter of different conditions that resulted in such “transmutation,” they might well have had a different creator. The text corrects common misconceptions concerning “social Darwinism” and “survival of the fittest,” yet is misleading in its attempt to reconcile creationism with Darwin’s theory. More text than younger readers will want to wade through, yet framed in a way that might seem silly to older readers.

MAFIA COP The Two Families of Michael Palermo; Saints Only Live in Heaven Cagan, Richard Stanley Skyhorse Publishing (416 pp.) $27.95 | Feb. 1, 2013 978-1-61608-857-6

The account of an Italian-American police officer whose friends included both law enforcement officials and “wise guys” in 1960s-era New York City. The NYPD was no stranger to corruption in the mid-20th century, but this book places a different spin on that infamous scenario. Growing up in Harlem, Michael Palermo befriended many neighborhood kids who went on to fill a who’s-who list of prominent Mafiosi. Choosing the straight-and-narrow path for himself, he nonetheless retained relationships with his old pals even as he rose through the police ranks to become a narcotics detective. Cagan (The Chrysalis Connection, 2005) details this delicate balancing act by showing how Palermo navigated Mafia-run establishments as well as police hangouts, ultimately welcoming both elements to a christening party for his daughter (a thinly veiled Ray Charles, whom Palermo claims to have helped kick heroin, makes an appearance here to sing a few tunes). Punchy dialogue, visceral scenes of violence and gruesome factoids about the mob’s propensity for burying victims in dumping grounds throughout the Tristate area initially keep the narrative moving. However, the book often reads more like a movie treatment than an examination of its subject, and the haphazard editing makes for some rocky patches, especially in 2676

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the lengthy opening sections. The Synopsis, Preface, Introduction, Flash Forward and Introspectus (an overwrought account of the Rolling Stones’ concert at Altamont, which has little to do with the rest of the story) ramble on for 36 pages before the first chapter even begins. Court transcripts further bog down the momentum, with verbatim trial jargon replacing action and sentiment often trumping the trickier ramifications of Palermo’s decision to honor his “two families.” Will interest Mafia aficionados, but too scattered and heavy-handed to find a wider audience.

HOPE AGAINST HOPE Three Schools, One City, and the Struggle to Educate America’s Children Carr, Sarah Bloomsbury (336 pp.) $27.00 | Feb. 26, 2013 978-1-60819-490-2

Education reporter Carr debuts with a balanced account of the growing charter-school movement in post-Katrina

New Orleans. Deftly weaving in background on the abysmal historical performance of New Orleans public schools and the strong focus on discipline and routine of charter schools aimed at preparing students for college, the author shows how the charter approach is working on the ground through the eyes of individuals in three randomly selected schools: 14-year-old Geraldlynn Stewart, who struggles to find her way as a high school student; Aidan Kelly, a 24-year-old teacher and Harvard graduate who sees his school as an academic boot camp; and Mary Laurie, veteran principal of one of the first schools to reopen after Katrina, who asks students, “Would you come along with me on this journey?” Their closely reported experiences in schools of the national chain KIPPS (Knowledge Is Power Program) illustrate the issues, challenges and satisfactions of the demanding, noexcuses charter way. Like the other charters, Sci Academy, where Aidan teaches, emphasizes success on standardized tests; it is “a technocrat’s dream: run by graduates of the nation’s most elite institutions, steeped in data, always seeking precision, divorced from the messiness…of democracy.” With their missionary zeal and outsider status, its young teachers “resemble the settlement house workers of a century ago,” writes Carr. Principal Laurie hopes her students will journey on to college; Geraldlynn’s parents, too, hope the new charter schooling will open a longed-for door. While often repetitive, the book evokes the realities of a city school system in transition. The schools are improving and test scores are up, she writes, but only college graduation rates in future years will tell whether charters make a difference. Detailed and thoughtful.

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“Smart, funny and slickly designed, Colbert’s sequel to I Am America (2007) does better than similar efforts at capturing a TV comedian’s sensibility on the printed page.” from america again

THE GLOBETROTTER DIARIES Tales, Tips and Tactics for Traveling the 7 Continents Clinton, Michael Glitterati Incorporated (264 pp.) $30.00 | Feb. 1, 2013 978-0-9851696-6-4

Hearst Magazines president Clinton’s first nonphotography book (American Portraits, 2010, etc.) mixes travel

guide and travel diary. Beginning with a youthful dream to visit family in Ireland, the author relates how he became obsessed with travel and then highlights some of the 122 countries he’s visited, with each chapter representing a different country or region. Fortunately, with so many experiences to choose from, Clinton is able to warn readers to avoid the disappointing or overexposed. In many countries, he suggests itineraries to add on to the usual jaunts—e.g., in Tuscany, certainly visit Florence or Pisa, but also the coastal town of Forte dei Marmi. Unfortunately, these tips are buried among Clinton’s personal asides, thoughts that often come off as arrogant. In an anecdote about trying to leave Europe when a cloud of volcanic ash had stopped most flights, he writes, “Ahhh, now I know what it must have been like when people tried to get out of Europe in 1939!” In relating his memories, the author clearly wants to express the wonder of his experiences, but the stories often fall flat and seem unfinished. Still, each chapter contains the kind of information that could change a journey from average to amazing. At the end of many chapters, Clinton includes a list of tips from other world travelers that will be handy for explorers in different stages of their own globe-trotting adventures. Though it will take perseverance to uncover them, the tips contained in this book are treasures worth the work. A good choice for those who look for expert advice in finding more adventurous choices for their global journeys.

course they are, and always have been. We have the greatest history in the history of History. But never forget, our best days are also ahead of us, and always will be. Because America also has the Greatest Future in the history of the Future. It’s our present that is the problem….and always is [sic] be.” On ethnic cuisine: “Honestly, I can’t tell you which Chinese dish I dislike the most: the #41 or the #16. To me, it all tastes like a steaming pile of #2. General Tso should be tried for War Crimes against my colon.” And so on. Areas covered within this manifesto of American Exceptionalism include position papers on jobs, health care, Wall Street and Easy Solutions (the main ones including “Tax cuts,” “Cutting taxes,” and “the encuttifying of our taxular system”). As for those who question America’s primacy in all areas, “Critics love to point out that the American life expectancy of 78 ranks 42nd in the world. But that’s ignoring the current Life Exchange Rate: 1 year in America is worth 10 in some foreign hellhole.” For better and worse, the book should make American readers feel proud to be Americans. Much more than the usual bits and one-liners in book form.

AMERICA AGAIN Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t

Colbert, Stephen Grand Central Publishing (240 pp.) $28.99 | $14.99 e-book | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-446-58397-8 978-0-446-58398-5 e-book

Smart, funny and slickly designed, Colbert’s sequel to I Am America (2007) does better than similar efforts at capturing a TV comedian’s sensibility on the printed page. It has become a cottage industry for those who have achieved mass popularity on TV to parlay that success into book-publishing endeavors. The Jon Stewart axis has done this better than most, and in the follow-up to his best-selling debut, Colbert raises the bar, with glossy pages, 3-D glasses, inventive graphics and a text filled with the blowhard, nonsense pomposity that the author both embodies and skewers. “The Real Question is: Are America’s best days behind us?” he asks. “Of |

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“Who knew the 10th century could be so compelling?” from the birth of the west

THE BIRTH OF THE WEST Rome, Germany, France, and the Creation of Europe in the Tenth Century

Collins, Paul PublicAffairs (496 pp.) $29.99 | Feb. 12, 2013 978-1-61039-013-2

A lively, full-to-bursting history of the turbulent 10th century in Europe, when inner dissention and external marauding began to give way to cohesion and centrality. Australian nonpracticing Catholic priest and historian Collins manages to enthrall readers in the vicissitudes of an early medieval era marked by random violence and unpronounceable Nordic names via his thorough knowledge of the epoch and ability to spin an engaging tale. While giving the brilliant learning of al-Andalus (Muslim Spain) its due, he agrees with Thomas Cahill that the Irish and specifically monks indeed “saved civilization” by their stewardship and dissemination of Latin and Greek learning. Collins presents chaotic upheaval across Europe in an organized and riveting fashion. He provides a rich depiction of the physical landscape, which was experiencing a medieval warm period, allowing the Vikings to settle Greenland in the 980s after the North Atlantic sea ice had retreated. He recaps the important democratic shifts and religious conversions thanks to the inroads of Charlemagne in northern Europe and the Muslims in the south; notes the destabilizing terror struck constantly by the marauding Vikings, Saracens and Magyars; delineates the messy and increasingly dangerous papacy; and one by one takes up the dramas of important galvanizing leaders who emerged to impose some sense of order and centrality of government, even if briefly—e.g., the Saxon king Otto I, King Alfred in England and Brian Boru in Ireland. Along with stories about the likes of Liutprand of Cremona, Otto’s diplomat, the remarkable regent queen Theophano and polymath Gerbert of Aurillac (aka Pope Sylvester II), Collins also explores the lives of ordinary people in a convulsive time. Who knew the 10th century could be so compelling?

DAYS THAT I’LL REMEMBER Spending Time with John Lennon and Yoko Ono

Cott, Jonathan Doubleday (304 pp.) $25.95 | Feb. 12, 2013 978-0-385-53637-0

Rangy and revealing interview/ conversations between Rolling Stone journalist Cott (Bob Dylan: The Essential Interviews, 2006, etc.) and John Lennon

and Yoko Ono. This is the story of Cott’s long association with Lennon and Ono, starting in 1968, told mostly through fully rambling 2678

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interviews. The pleasure is in hearing their voices, for it seems that the material is verbatim from recordings. It starts during that fraught period when the Beatles were breaking up but still producing game-changing music, and Lennon and Ono were coming in for much more than their share of grief: for their naïve and ludic ways, the experimental nature of their music, the dissolution of the band and the passing of a brilliant cultural moment. Cott engages with Ono’s art, which could be challenging, and embraces its spirit of mindfulness and mirth while exploring how she managed to turn the vitriol spewed her way into a positive energy. But it is Lennon who commands the stage here, holding forth on the music he and Ono were making, bridling at the disservice of the press, explaining the bed-ins, the nude album cover, the deportation battles, the struggles with writing songs (“I always think there’s nothing there, it’s shit, it’s not good, it’s not coming out, it’s garbage…”) and the troubles of fame (“Do they want me and Yoko to kill ourselves onstage? What would make the little turds happy?”). Cott keeps the proceedings fluid and conversational, sometimes with a bit too much detail—“John got up and went over to a closet, took out a blue denim jacket, put it on, and then the three of us walked to the front door”—and sometimes a bit sycophantish (“an undeservedly blessed fan like myself ”). Overall, though, he provides rare, raw and insightful comments from two colorful art personalities. Lennon and Ono as open and naked as on the cover of Two Virgins.

MUGGED Racial Demagoguery from the Seventies to Obama

Coulter, Anne Sentinel (326 pp.) $26.95 | Sep. 25, 2012 978-1-59523-099-7

Venomous conservative political pundit Coulter (Demonic: How the Liberal Mob Is Endangering America, 2011, etc.) delivers a blistering polemic on the issue of race in American politics since the 1960s. Arguing that “after nearly a century of Republicans fighting for civil rights against Democratic segregationists,” liberals chose to come out strongly against race discrimination after the mid-1960s passage of landmark civil rights legislation, using the issue to achieve their own goals. Liberals “couldn’t care less about black people,” she writes. “All they care about is their own glorious selves and how courageous, forward-thinking, and fair-minded they are.” Moreover, liberals (notably academia, the media and Hollywood) are to blame for the race-related incidents and controversies of the period, from riots to hoaxes. She recounts headline-making police shootings of blacks, Marion Barry’s controversial mayoralty in Washington, D.C., staged racial incidents and innumerable other occasions that became opportunities for liberal accusations of racism. In each instance, Coulter offers factual summaries of incidents laced with snarls over the wrongheadedness of liberal players and

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their “New-York-Times-Charlie Rose-PBS thinking.” Later, she considers white guilt as the animating source for many debacles, including the presidency of Barack Obama. Reading the book is like listening to a Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh talk show marathon, except that Coulter is somewhat more entertaining, at least in her brazen, self-satisfied way. Simpatico readers will enjoy her snide, nasty, outrageous provocations. The fair-minded will feel caught in a wind tunnel with no railings to grab for safety. Liberals will quite properly turn their noses up at the book, as Coulter turns her nose up at them.

WHAT’S BEHIND THE NUMBERS? A Guide to Exposing Financial Chicanery and Avoiding Huge Losses in Your Portfolio Del Vecchio, John; Jacobs, Tom McGraw-Hill (256 pp.) $30.00 | Sep. 19, 2012 978-0-07-179197-7

Densely structured handbook, full of subheads and tables and big numbers, on how to structure a portfolio. You’ve got to hand it to the publisher for chutzpah: Sam Antar, the former Crazy Eddie CFO and convicted felon, endorses this book as a guide to the financial fraud that Wall Street perpetrates daily. And not just fraud: The numbers in the financial world are so big and so fluid that it often seems that even the talking heads on the business channels don’t understand what they mean. Consider overvalued companies, bid up far beyond their worth through the magic of the machine. Write fund manager Del Vecchio and Motley Fool veteran Jacobs, it’s important to “identify these companies by looking for a high price-to-sales ratio, specifically one in the highest decile.” Fair enough, but what constitutes a high ratio, and why look at the highest decile? The authors explain, and well, but in language that is necessarily daunting and that presumes some serious dedication on the part of readers, who are likely coming to this book in the hope of making money. That can be done, the authors write, but through the practice of some fundamentals, including one that is so often overlooked in a culture of churn—namely, lose less, make more. Del Vecchio and Jacobs look sideways and decidedly askance at supposed hedges such as gold, mostly because it “really has been worth only what people say it is,” and locked-up assets (“I prefer hard assets in use rather than in storage”). The overriding message is study, study and study the numbers some more but always with this understanding: “Every financial statement offers the opportunity for manipulation, because they all interrelate.” A highly useful companion to making financial decisions, though not for the innumerate or the casual investor.

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THE KINGDOM OF RARITIES

Dinerstein, Eric Island Press (336 pp.) $29.95 | Jan. 17, 2013 978-1-61091-195-5

The World Wildlife Fund’s chief scientist examines the ecological impact of rare species in shaping the Earth’s environment. In 1988, Dinerstein (Tigerland and Other Unintended Destinations, 2007, etc.) was observing extremely rare one-horned rhinos in India when his attention was drawn to the large communal dung piles that they create. Islands of trees had been created from the fruit seeds that were contained in them. This observation led him to consider the possibility that “ecological impact does not always reflect numerical abundance.” The importance of preserving species diversity is recognized as essential to the maintenance of dynamic ecological balance, but not necessarily the historical evolutionary role of rare species. “[R]obins, rats, and roaches may account for 90 to 95 percent of all individuals on earth,” writes the author, but astonishingly, “as much as 75 percent of all species on Earth may be drawn from the ranks of the rare.” The author makes a subtle distinction between absolute numerical rarity and the rarity of habitats. For example, a species abundant in a small number of specific geographical locations may become extinct because of environmental shifts such as climate change. Trees in the Amazon rain forest may have a large range but, unlike more northerly trees that cluster, be spread out as individuals. A single gigantic tree may “create a three-dimensional stage for millions of smaller organisms and…hold more ant species than are found in the entire British Isles.” Throughout this intriguing book, Dinerstein covers a wide range of topics, including how myths about the supposed medicinal effect of rhino horns has created a lucrative illegal market that threatens them with extinction and why long-lived large animals with few predators but low reproductive rates are especially vulnerable. An illuminating perspective on the complexity of life.

FACING THE WAVE A Journey in the Wake of the Tsunami Ehrlich, Gretel Pantheon (240 pp.) $25.00 | Feb. 12, 2013 978-0-307-90731-8

Lyrical, meandering dispatches and eyewitness accounts from the devastation of the 2011 tsunami in Japan. Deeply engaged in Japanese culture and history since her first trips to Japan in 1968, poet and nature writer Ehrlich (In the Empire of Ice: Encounters in a Changing Landscape, 2010, etc.) made several visits to Japan in the months after the shattering earthquake and tsunami. Moving along the coast in the

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company of her friend Masumi and her family, who live in Sendai, near the epicenter, Ehrlich tried simply to make sense of the unspeakable horror the Japanese experienced, recording accounts by traumatized survivors and her own poignant on-the-ground observations. The tsunami waves wrecked 400 miles of Japan’s northeastern coast and caused the lethal meltdown of the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant, which had long needed repairs, resulting in a national scandal. Exploring the coast where Masumi spent her childhood, wearing protective clothing against radiation, Ehrlich viewed a “wild place of total devastation,” where the sea wall was useless in keeping back the towering waves and entire towns were wiped out. The author records eyewitness blogs, such as by the fisherman who rushed out to sea just after the last big earthquake struck (preceded by several smaller ones) and watched the tsunami devastate his home, before being stuck for days on his boat without food. Ehrlich visited shrines that became evacuation centers and crematoriums during the crisis, and she mixes some Buddhist ideas of perishability with haiku from Matsuo Basho and her own work. Ehrlich renders the enormity of loss in a fashion comprehensible to her American readers. An eloquent attempt to grasp the Japanese experience of the “The Wave,” which was “center and fringe at once, a totality, both destructive and beautiful.”

RUSS & DAUGHTERS Reflections and Recipes from the House that Herring Built

Federman, Mark Russ Schocken (224 pp.) $25.95 | Mar. 5, 2013 978-0-8052-4294-2 978-0-8052-4311-6 e-book

An enduring narrative of an early Jewish Lower East Side small business. As the grandson of the founder of J. Russ Cut Rate Appetizing (the name changed to Russ & Daughters in 1935), Federman tells a remarkable story of family foresight and resiliency. A former New York City lawyer who returned to run the family’s smoked-fish and candy store at 179 East Houston Street from 1978 until 2009, when he sold it formally to his daughter and nephew, the author has collected the story of the business’s early founding from many of the old-timers still around to lend their memories. Originally from a Yiddish-speaking shtetl in Galicia, between Poland and Ukraine, Joel Russ was sponsored to come to America in 1907 by his older sister, who needed help running her busy herring stand on Hester Street. Russ opened his “appetizing” store on Orchard Street in 1914, before moving to the present location in 1923. An appetizing store is less strictly kosher than a deli; it sells a mix of dairy and meat and also nonkosher fish such as sturgeon. Federman gives fascinating details of early life among the squalid, teeming, narrow streets of the Lower East Side in the first decades of the century, chockablock with family-run shops and clogged with pushcarts. Russ did so well he was able 2680

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to move his increasing family out to Brooklyn, until the Depression forced them back to the old neighborhood. Not exactly a feminist, Russ recognized that changing the name was a good marketing ploy, and his pretty, grown daughters, Hattie, Ida and Anne, had helped him grow his business and prosper. Including precious pictures and recipes, this work offers a savory wealth of social history. A century of change on the Lower East Side as viewed from the neighborhood fishmonger, told humorously and endearingly. (8 pages of color photography; b/w illustrations throughout)

THE FEMININE MYSTIQUE (50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION)

Friedan, Betty Norton (592 pp.) $25.95 | Feb. 13, 2013 978-0-393-06379-0

The 50th-anniversary edition of a modern classic, featuring an introduction by Gail Collins and an afterword by Anna Quindlen. A great deal has changed since Friedan’s monumental book was published, but readers should not be discouraged from revisiting it. In 1929, Virginia Woolf ’s A Room of One’s Own helped define the goals women had been seeking for 100 years, and Friedan picked up the ball and drove it forward, giving women the right and the will to “be.” The days of functional education are gone—no more college courses on marriage— and the image of the “little woman” is also a thing of the past; women are no longer just living vicariously through husbands and children. What still lingers is the exaltation of housework, the need for a “woman’s touch” and the advertising industry’s continued attempts at glorifying the role of women in family and society. Having a man cooking, putting away the groceries or holding the baby doesn’t change the old image of Mom running the house and Dad earning the living. The author notes that in the 1930s and ’40s, women were more likely to apply their college educations in meaningful careers, even though many still ran the house. The onset of World War II changed all that. Suddenly, it was society that defined what a woman was, ignoring the constant quest for “something more.” Also included in this edition of the groundbreaking book is the introduction to the 10th-anniversary edition and Friedan’s 1997 piece, “Metamorphosis: Two Generations Later.” A vastly significant book that has made a world of difference, much of it slowly acquired.

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“Academic biography at its best.” from the lives of erich fromm

THE LIVES OF ERICH FROMM Love’s Prophet

Friedman, Lawrence J. Columbia Univ. (464 pp.) $29.95 | Feb. 19, 2013 978-0-231-16258-6 The brilliantly comprehensive study of psychoanalyst Erich Fromm’s (1900– 1980) many “lives” as a clinician, philosopher, social critic and political activist. In this highly readable biography, Friedman (Harvard University’s Mind/Brain/Behavior Initiative) argues that Fromm’s early life shaped his thinking on his signature concept of social character. The future psychoanalyst grew up in a dysfunctional household in Frankfurt, Germany, but he was also surrounded by Jewish religious and ethical traditions that helped him break free of his “stifling family” and see that “there was a world out there with pressing contemporary issues that required bold solutions.” As Fromm developed intellectually, he became committed to the idea of using Freudian psychoanalysis to help individuals find their way toward happier, more productive lives. In so doing, he could fulfill the vision of social justice he had glimpsed in his studies of the Talmud. But he differed from orthodox Freudians in that he believed that human behavior was not only shaped by libidinal drives, but also “social structure and culture.” For most of his life, he would attempt to integrate Marxist thought into his own psychoanalytic theories, which came under intense fire. Other Frankfurt School luminaries, such as Theodor Adorno and Herbert Marcuse, questioned Fromm’s critique of Freud’s libidinal theory, and Fromm broke away from the psychoanalytic establishment and went to Mexico, where he presided over the Mexican Institute of Psychoanalysis. During this time, he became a highly influential peace/anti-nuclear activist. He maintained contact with key policymakers in the Kennedy administration and argued for a “Third Way” movement that would negotiate a sane and healthy humanist path between the sick, bipolar alternatives of “Soviet military hegemony” and “American corporate capitalism.” Academic biography at its best.

ANOTHER FORGOTTEN CHILD

Glass, Cathy Harper Element (304 pp.) $14.99 paperback | Feb. 5, 2013 978-0-00-748677-9

Diaristic account of providing foster care to a woefully abused child. Glass, a prolific author of books on her experiences as a foster parent (A Baby’s Cry, 2012, etc.), was initially reluctant to provide a foster home for a girl as severely abused as Aimee, who was “on the child protection register at birth.” Although the author had experience with |

traumatized children who acted out toward the social workers and foster parents who stepped in, even she was shocked by Aimee’s physical condition and behavior: ill-clothed, lice-ridden, addicted to sweets, rude and possessed of a sexual knowledge indicative of abuse. As Aimee began to adjust to the foster-care experience, Glass found the process more difficult due to the disturbances caused by Aimee’s mother, Susan, a wretched drug addict who had clearly left Aimee vulnerable to unsavory men. Susan threatened Aimee and made up dramatic stories for the various social workers attempting to manage the case, though she also eventually gave a partial admission of her faults: “You know how to look after kids. I never did. I’m not a bad person, I just can’t look after kids properly.” Although Aimee’s story has a happy ending, Glass ends with a reminder that Aimee is “one of millions of children worldwide who are not rescued when their parents fail.” The author writes in a straightforward and journalistic rather than melodramatic fashion, which makes the grisly back story of the misdeeds committed against Aimee easier to bear. However, she chooses not to employ editorial compression, so readers witness what seems to be the complete daily progress of Glass’ relationship with Aimee and her many dramafilled encounters with Susan. It is a monotonous approach to disturbing material. A straightforward, full documentation of the challenges encountered in providing care to society’s most neglected children.

THE ICARUS DECEPTION How High Will You Fly?

Godin, Seth Portfolio (256 pp.) $24.95 | Jan. 1, 2013 978-1-59184-607-9

Popular business writer Godin (Whatcha Gonna Do with that Duck?: And Other Provocations, 2006–2012, 2012, etc.) offers a self-help guide to surviving and thriving in the new, postindustrial economy. “We are all artists now,” writes the author. Making art is not the purview of a select few, but rather a defining act of being human: “Anyone who cares and acts on it is performing art.” Entrepreneurs and freelancers are as much artists as painters or writers. Further, making art is no longer a choice but a necessity. The new connection economy rewards the risk-taker, the rebel, the person who understands that success now lies in “creating ideas that spread and connecting the disconnected....” Yet many are intimidated and fearful of this new world, which has few rules or sure rewards. We have, however, been brainwashed to fear making art. The “ruling class” of the now-waning industrial age taught us “to dream about security and the benefits of compliance.” We are expected to fit in, not stand out, and defying such conformity creates fear and internal resistance. Still, conformity no longer rewards, and the fear we face can be acknowledged while still understanding it as learned behavior. This is a worthy yet not wholly original message—Norman

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Vincent Peale, Tony Robbins and many others have preached the same self-help mantra. Occasionally, readers may feel they have walked into a movie that’s already started, as explanation too often gives way to appealing aphorisms and banal bromides ripe for Dilbert parody—e.g., “Seek out questions, not answers”; “Who is the self in self-control?”; “shame is a choice.” Enjoyable, if not particularly enlightening, take on the new economy.

BAD PHARMA How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients

Goldacre, Ben Faber & Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux (448 pp.) $28.00 | Jan. 8, 2013 978-0-86547-800-8 An explanation of why pharmaceutical companies have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years. As both a physician and medical correspondent (Bad Science, 2010), Goldacre has been in the catbird seat in regard to the detection of medical fraud. Here, he discusses the gray area in which drug companies can legally manipulate data in order to package experimental results in the most attractive way. Although Goldacre practices medicine in the U.K., his book is applicable to the U.S. pharmaceutical industry. He explains what should be an obvious flaw in the system: The majority of experiments validating the safety and benefits of new drugs are funded by the pharmaceutical industry, either directly or indirectly, through grants to universities and other methods. Because of this, writes Goldacre, “industry-sponsored studies are more likely to produce results that flatter the sponsor’s drug.” The author cites the conclusion by three researchers from Harvard and Toronto, who conducted a meta-analysis of data on antidepressants and other drugs in 2010. They found major discrepancies in results related to reported effectiveness between research conducted by industry-funded and government-funded trials. Goldacre believes that such reviews should be conducted routinely, backdated and made easily available to the public. Currently, pharmaceutical companies are not obligated to publish results that are unfavorable to their product. Another shady tactic is touting the short-term performance of drugs that become less effective over time. The author supports enforceable government regulation. A useful guide for policymakers, doctors and the patients who need protection against deliberate disinformation.

PIGEON IN A CROSSWALK Tales of Anxiety and Accidental Glamour Gray, Jack Simon & Schuster (224 pp.) $22.00 | Feb. 19, 2013 978-1-4516-4134-9

An Emmy Award–winning CNN producer shares an occasionally humorous peek into his star-studded, behindthe-scenes life in broadcasting. “If a bird can adapt and succeed in the big, complicated city,” writes Anderson Cooper 360 producer Gray after observing a pigeon cross a busy street, “I can, too.” The author chronicles his career from its early beginnings in small-town New Hampshire, where, armed with a camcorder, he recruited his 8-yearold sister and great-grandmother for his own nightly news show. Since then, Gray has booked the likes of powerhouse notables Condoleezza Rice, John Kerry and Mitt Romney, and he’s witnessed the “glorious chaos” of the political arena. He’s also become best buds with Kathy Griffin and Soleil Moon Frye. As with all good works of celebrity gossip, Kim Kardashian makes a brief appearance in these essays. Although the relentless scatological humor and cheap shots at celebrities who’ve made it on his hit list are no doubt intended to be funny, the comedy is often lost in Gray’s cynical, heavy-handed snark. Gray is at his best when he steers clear of secondhand glamour, instead focusing on his family or shining a spotlight on the shortcomings of the contemporary news-media industry. The author writes eloquently and insightfully of the rapidly changing cable-news scene and its “real-time insanity,” while simple stories of his dog, grandparents and coming out to his family are honest and tender. Play-by-play accounts of buying donuts with Griffin in the middle of the night, however, have more in common with the kind of Twitter drivel Gray lambastes. A small-town-kid-in-a-big-city memoir that mostly shines with borrowed star power but glows every now and then with its own candor and heart.

AN ARMENIAN SKETCHBOOK

Grossman, Vasily Translated by Chandler, Robert and Chandler, Elizabeth New York Review Books (160 pp.) $14.95 paperback | Feb. 19, 2013 978-1-59017-618-4 978-1-59017-635-1 e-book

A new translation of Russian novelist Grossman’s delightful journal of his stay among the Armenians. Composed two years before his death in 1964, this journal records the author’s reflections on the Armenian people among whom he lived for two months in 1961 as a “translator” for a famous Armenian novelist, Rachiya 2682

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Kochar, although Grossman didn’t speak Armenian. Rather, rewriting his novel in collaboration with the vain, large-living author, Grossman, who was occasionally gripped by bowel trouble from the early stages of kidney cancer he was unaware of, moved among the humble, mountain-dwelling Armenians and found them enormously sympathetic, salt-of-the-earth people whose diversity, national pride and piety contrasted sharply with the Russian temperament. In this sprightly translation by the Chandler husband-and-wife team, who previously tackled Grossman’s Everything Flows and The Road, Grossman’s character sketches, executed with swift, loving strokes, provide simply charming reading. The author digresses as nimbly about the master craftsmen of Russian stoves found in the homes of the high-mountain villagers (“what quantities of bread, what a great deal of cabbage, how much living warmth his stoves have given birth to!”) as he does the touching customs of a rustic wedding he attended. Living among the Armenians, he witnessed a kind of timeless biblical nobility he conveys with artless simplicity in his own work. Deft, poignant characterizations by an author who deserves a wider readership.

BOMBING HITLER The Story of the Man Who Almost Assassinated the Führer Haasis, Hellmut Translated by Odom, William Skyhorse Publishing (272 pp.) $24.95 | Feb. 1, 2013 978-1-61608-741-8

The story of Georg Elser, the man who tried to kill Hitler. In the fall of 1938, Elser made the decision to assassinate the dictator around the time of the celebration of the anniversary of the 1923 Munich Beer Hall Putsch. Elser later told one of his interrogators, “I wanted to prevent even greater bloodshed through my act.” Haasis recounts how Elser placed an explosive device in a pillar supporting the roofing above the speaker’s platform of the beer hall. His device worked exactly as planned, killing eight people, but Hitler had left for Berlin shortly before. Haasis provides a clear portrait of the different components of the Nazi police state and details Himmler’s personal involvement in brutal beatings of Elser. He was executed at Dachau in 1945. The author has put the story together from recollections of family, co-workers and others, as well as historical records. His effort has been as much to celebrate Elser’s indomitable courage as to rescue his reputation. In the decades since his execution, Elser has been accused of being an SS agent and provocateur who was given special treatment within the concentration-camp system. Haasis details just what that special treatment involved for Elser, his family, his work mates and the communities where they lived and worked. Provides a focus for further insight into the workings of Hitler’s Reich and its repressive apparatus. |

WORD BY WORD Emancipation and the Act of Writing

Hager, Christopher Harvard Univ. (296 pp.) $39.95 | Feb. 11, 2013 978-0-674-05986-3 978-0-674-06748-6 e-book

Hager (English and American Studies/Trinity Coll.) debuts with an examination of the emerging literacy of slaves and former slaves in the decades around the Civil War. The author begins his analysis with a document written by a person known to history only as “A Colored Man,” a slave who in 1863 New Orleans, copied and commented on the U.S. Constitution. This text allows Hager the opportunity to outline his case, to speculate about the relationship between freedom and literacy, and to note how many slaves saw literacy as a way to enter a society that had systematically excluded them for centuries. The author focuses on texts that, in most cases, were not published— or written for publication. Although he supplies some history when needed (e.g., Nat Turner and the Emancipation Proclamation), his interest is not so much in external events as in the internal activities that were producing words and texts. He discusses an 1852 letter from Maria Perkins, for example, and notices how some sought to emulate the conventions they had learned from the writing of whites. Hager suggests we need a term for a genre he calls “the enslaved narrative,” personal stories written by people still enslaved, not by the liberated or the escaped. An interesting section involves the writing of William Gould and the gradual emergence of the word we in his diary as he began to feel more a part of the literate world. Another category of documents are the letters of protest written during and after the war by African Americans complaining about their treatment, in some cases their maltreatment by Union soldiers. Hager also examines the emerging publications for black writers and readers. Sometimes dense but always engaging account of how the path to freedom was paved, in part, with written words.

THE LAST OUTLAWS The Lives and Legends of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Hatch, Thom NAL/Berkley (368 pp.) $26.95 | Feb. 5, 2013 978-0-451-23919-8

In this dual biography of celebrated bandits, a specialist in the Old West deftly separates fact from fiction. The nature of their business required Robert Leroy Parker and Harry Longabaugh to adopt many aliases, but they were best known as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Raised in religious families, both men were well-read, both did a prison

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“Sturdy biography of an important, long-overlooked figure in the early development of the United States.” from the measure of manhattan

stretch for horse stealing, and both had a taste for the traditional cowboy pleasures of drinking, gambling and whoring. The handsome, quick-tempered, aloof Sundance was famous for his lightning draw. The gregarious, shrewd Butch was a naturalborn leader, known for his meticulous execution of heists, paying special attention to the getaway plan. Together, from rough hideouts like Wyoming’s Hole-in-the-Wall and Utah’s Robbers’ Roost, they bossed the notorious Wild Bunch, a loose confederation of ruffians and desperados that included the likes of “Kid Curry” and “News” Carver. Butch and Sundance made periodic attempts to go straight, but they always returned to their robbing ways, finally fleeing to Bolivia where the cavalry caught up with them in 1908. Though he supplies plenty of information, Hatch (Osceola and the Great Seminole War, 2012, etc.) earns huge credibility by frankly admitting that much remains unknown about these legendary outlaws, including the mysterious origins and disappearance of Sundance’s beguiling paramour, Etta Place, and the precise circumstances of their deaths. He underscores his theme of Butch and Sundance as the last of a breed, reminding us that by the turn of the century, outlaws no longer faced capture merely by random individuals, but rather by an “organized system,” whereby detective agencies, Pinkerton and Wells Fargo, armed with money and resources, could coordinate with all levels of law enforcement to hunt down criminals. An easygoing account of the outlaw duo whose era separated Frank and Jesse James from Bonnie and Clyde.

E STREET SHUFFLE The Glory Days of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

Heylin, Clinton Viking (400 pp.) $27.95 | Jan. 13, 2013 978-0-670-02662-3

A new biography of The Boss and his incendiary band. For those fans who have followed Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band from their heyday in the 1970s and ’80s, this overview will undoubtedly stoke controversy. While veteran rock journalist Heylin (All the Madmen: A Journey to the Dark Side of English Rock, 2011, etc.) painstakingly resurrects a bevy of dates and details from Springsteen’s forays into the studio, it quickly becomes apparent that the author doesn’t hold the fawning view of his subject that previous biographers have displayed. Depicting Springsteen less as a proletarian humanist and more as a perfectionist workhorse who wasted countless hours committing songs to tape while disbanding and reforming the band at his whim, Heylin seems intent on puncturing an American rock myth. Indeed, the book often reads as a cautionary manual on how not to approach the recording process, with the author laying the blame on Springsteen’s obsessive-compulsive revising of songs as well as the lenient attitude of his producer and yes man, Jon Landau. The phenomenally successful Born in the USA tour paradoxically 2684

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comes off as the nadir of Springsteen’s career, as intimate venues for die-hard fans gave way to stadiums for picnic-goers who came to hear only the hits. After officially breaking up the band in 1989, Springsteen recorded a series of mediocre albums, then took to the road with the E Street Band again in 1999. More successful than ever, the band is currently enjoying a second renaissance, but even that happy ending can’t dispel the aroma of tepid disapproval that this book emits. Heylin’s attempt to deromanticize an icon is admirable, but the finished product comes across as sullen and lackluster.

THE MEASURE OF MANHATTAN The Tumultuous Career and Surprising Legacy of John Randel, Jr., Cartographer, Surveyor, Inventor Holloway, Marguerite Norton (336 pp.) $26.95 | Feb. 18, 2013 978-0-393-07125-2

Sturdy biography of an important, longoverlooked figure in the early development of the United States. “His was the era of laying lines of the land—lines for communication, for transportation and goods; lines for establishing nationhood, statehood, and individual ownership.” So writes Holloway (Science and Environmental Journalism/Columbia Univ.) of John Randel (1787–1865), a master surveyor who improved on the tools of his trade while taking on some of the toughest surveying challenges of his time, the most important of them being the imposition of a grid system on the then-rugged topography of Manhattan. Frederick Law Olmsted is better known for his contributions to the making of Central Park, but Randel figures there with a surveyor’s bolt set in rock; he also figures across the island for leveling hills and filling earth, among the earliest efforts at terraforming. A lover of math and data, Randel went on to work in the nascent railroad industry and to lay out canals between the Delaware River and Chesapeake Bay, though for various reasons his work was less successful than on Manhattan. Holloway serves up a suitably vigorous life of the man, who was always on the go, and she does not assume that readers will share his interests and knowledge—she provides useful little lessons in geometry, in how geosynchronous positioning works, and the like. There is much to like in this book and its now-restored subject. A solid contribution to the history of the early republic. (63 illustrations)

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O.J. IN THE MORNING, G&T AT NIGHT Spirited Dispatches on Aging with Joie de Vivre

Hotchner, A.E. St. Martin’s (192 pp.) $19.99 | Feb. 12, 2013 978-1-250-02821-1 978-1-250-02820-4 e-book

Acclaimed author and feisty nonagenarian Hotchner’s (Paul and Me: Fiftythree Years of Adventures and Misadventures with My Pal Paul Newman, 2010, etc.) witty ruminations about the art of living well into old age. For “super seniors” in their 80s and beyond, life presents certain undeniable challenges. Physically, “fading biceps, reflexes, knees [and] rotator cuffs conspire against you” while “frown lines, heavy lines and escalating wrinkles” reveal the inexorable passage of time. Illness, loneliness and death become more visible presences. But old age can also be a time for new beginnings and enhanced enjoyment in the act of living. With brio and a touch of his trademark sass, Hotchner writes about rediscovering love after 75, finding joy in a scrappy African gray parrot he named after his longtime friend, Ernest Hemingway, and going on his very first safari at age 88. A positive attitude is critical to overcoming the obstacles aging presents, he writes, along with glasses of orange juice in the morning and “a big gin and tonic at night.” Interspersed among Hotchner’s wry, touching personal observations about old age is practical advice. Super seniors must never let well-meaning children tell them what to do and always “stand tall, resist inroads and preserve [their] own way of life.” They should get their estates in order to avoid complications for those they leave behind, and if they decide to marry, drawing up a prenuptial agreement can avoid problems not only between the two people involved, but also between their respective families. For Hotchner, the key to enjoying a good last act is not only to “keep the ball in play” for as long as your mind and body will allow, but ultimately, “to live your life and forget your age.” Upbeat words of wisdom about aging with dignity and spunk.

FEAR ITSELF The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time Katznelson, Ira Liveright/Norton (512 pp.) $29.95 | Mar. 1, 2013 978-0-87140-450-3

A wholly new approach to the New Deal takes history we thought we knew and makes it even richer and more complex. In this deeply erudite, beautifully written history, Katznelson (Political Science and History/ Columbia Univ.; When Affirmative Action was White: An Untold |

History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America, 2005, etc.) adopts an expansive view of the New Deal, extending it to the end of the Truman administration. He reminds us that, while anxieties and apprehensions attend every age, FDR assumed office at a time when a profound, abiding fear predominated: about the very survival of liberal democracy in the face of economic meltdown and competition from fascist and communist dictatorships abroad. The dread persisted through a brutal world war, the dawn of the Atomic Age and the beginning of the Cold War. By the time of Eisenhower’s inauguration, a vastly different state had emerged, and its architecture would remain largely undisturbed by the first Republican president in 20 years. Katznelson distinguishes his history in two other important ways. First, in keeping with his theme about the survival of representative democracy, he places special emphasis on the role of Congress in helping to forge the policies and programs that came to define the era. Second, he is cold-eyed about the dicey compromises the New Deal made domestically with the legislature’s dominant force, the Jim Crow South, and internationally by associations with totalitarian governments. An especially fine chapter illustrates the nature of these disturbing alliances by resuscitating the now almost forgotten stories of Italy’s intrepid aviator Italo Balbo, the Soviet Union’s Nuremberg judge Iona Nikitchenko and Mississippi’s racist senator Theodore Bilbo. Although he sees the New Deal as “a rejuvenating triumph,” the author unflinchingly assesses its many dubious, albeit necessary concessions. Some will quarrel with aspects of Katznelson’s analysis, few with his widely allusive, elegant prose. (24 illustrations)

THE WEALTH CHOICE Success Secrets of Black Millionaires

Kimbro, Dennis Palgrave Macmillan (304 pp.) $25.00 | Feb. 19, 2013 978-0-230-34207-8

A study of black millionaires is the basis for this presentation of the laws of wealth. Motivational lecturer Kimbro (What Makes the Great Great, 1996, etc.) adds this latest title to his series of self-help books aimed at the black community. He presents the thinking and habits that some of the 1,000 people included in his studies of black millionaires employed on their road to success. These include director Spike Lee, Tyler Perry, Richard Parsons, Terry McMillan and Bob Jones of the BET network. Rather than offering practical tips, the author aims to convey the changes in thinking, outlook and habit that have proven integral to success. In different ways, he frequently repeats his conception of success, which includes such insights as, “your net worth will equal your self-worth,” or “the pursuit of wealth is not only legitimate but a duty.” This single-minded fixation on the goal is part of what distinguishes Kimbro’s teachings from “what they teach at Harvard Business School.” The author emphasizes the massive importance of self-confidence and a firm belief in one’s

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“A master class on the pleasures of the English language well-wrought—a useful complement to his guide on writing literary nonfiction, To Show and to Tell, which will publish simultaneously.” from portrait inside my head

PORTRAIT INSIDE MY HEAD Essays

own abilities. “Security? There’s no such thing,” he writes. “There’s only opportunity…entrepreneurship is an endless adventure.” Ultimately, Kimbro presents a study of the acquisition of wealth for those who wish to be wealthy. A few helpful kernels amid a monotonous, repetitive text.

STATIONS OF THE HEART Parting with a Son

Lischer, Richard Knopf (272 pp.) $25.00 | Jan. 24, 2013 978-0-307-96053-5

A father’s deeply felt memoir of witnessing his son’s final months and grieving at the young man’s death. In April 2005, Lischer (The End of Words: The Language of Reconciliation in a Culture of Violence, 2005, etc.), a Lutheran minister and faculty member at Duke Divinity School, received a phone call from his 33-year-old son Adam telling him that his melanoma had returned. What the author did not know was that in little more than three months, Adam would be dead. Stories of battling cancer are commonplace, as are stories of bereavement; what gives this story a twist is the religious angle. When Lischer’s son learned of his diagnosis, he became more heavily involved in the Catholic Church. He and his pregnant Catholic wife adopted a series of daily rituals that involved lighting candles, attending Mass, praying and reading the Bible. As his son’s faith was increasing, Lischer’s was drying up: “I saw my son…motionless, serene as a sanded statue, and lost in a realm I could not enter.” The author compares his experiences with his dying son to walking the Stations of the Cross, but here the reminders of pain are more mundane—visits to labs, meetings with oncologists, etc. By June, Lischer was searching for a cemetery, and in July, he was camping out in his son’s hospital room listening for his last breath. After Adam’s death, the author came to see grief as a series of dark caves of longing and despair that one repeatedly falls into, not unlike the anguish of a parent watching over a terminally ill child. The book ends on a somewhat brighter note with the baptism of Adam’s daughter. A fond view of a father-son relationship and a loving tribute from a minister to a son who chose a different spiritual path in his life and to his death.

Lopate, Phillip Free Press (304 pp.) $26.00 | Feb. 12, 2013 978-1-4516-9586-1

Esteemed essayist and poet Lopate (At the End of the Day: Selected Poems and an Introductory Essay, 2010, etc.) offers “a motley collection of essays, personal and critical,” loosely tied together around the theme of “the discovery of limitations, and learning to live with them.” The author divides the essays into sections devoted to family, daily life, city spaces and literary concerns. Yet there is a single “sensibility flowing through disparate subject matters,” that of the good-humored cynic and gentle contrarian. In the first essay, the simple event of Lopate’s daughter losing a balloon presents evidence that life is, in the end, “loss, futility, and ineluctable sorrow.” In another essay, the author concludes that being a baseball fan “means learning to absorb failure and be on a friendly footing with defeat.” And so it goes through essays on sex, marriage, film, writing, politics, the Bible and more. Lopate leaves behind at times the purely personal with telling essays on film and literature. He moves from revisiting Ginsberg’s Howl to thoughts on a wide variety of writers, including Charles Reznikoff, Leonard Michaels, Stendhal and others. No matter the topic, however, another constant throughout is fine writing; the words Lopate chooses are the only words that will do. “The interruptive nocturne of clinics” perfectly captures nights on the pediatric ward where his daughter spent so much of her infancy. Brooklyn, he muses in a paean to his beloved hometown, has “a touch of the amateur, voluntary, homemade about the place.” In a concluding essay, Lopate confesses that writing is his life. Readers are well-rewarded for his obsession. A master class on the pleasures of the English language well-wrought—a useful complement to his guide on writing literary nonfiction, To Show and to Tell, which will publish simultaneously.

LORD OF PUBLISHING A Memoir

Lord, Sterling OpenRoad Integrated Media (312 pp.) $16.99 e-book | Jan. 29, 2013

In his debut, the nonagenarian founder and co-chairman of Sterling Lord Literistic remembers his youth, the founding of his literary agency, some literary lions (and bears), his four wives, success and failure. It’s not a bad idea to start with a chapter about Jack Kerouac, so Lord begins in 1952 with On the Road, animating the story with an account of his easily defeating Kerouac in a one-on-one 2686

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basketball contest. Lord tells about his childhood home in Iowa, his early influences (the local library), his considerable tennis skills, his beginning in the bookbinding business before heading off to World War II and meeting his first wife in Paris. After the war, he tried magazine journalism and then took a shot at becoming a literary agent, a job about which he knew little. Good things happened quickly. Rocky Graziano’s Somebody Up There Likes Me did well—as did the subsequent film with young Paul Newman—and soon Lord was representing Kesey, Breslin (one of the only big-time authors to leave the agency) and Southern. There is a touching chapter about his long relationship with Peter Gent (North Dallas Forty), his involvement with political figures and their memoirs, and his good relationship with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. He writes about the struggle to sell David Markson’s The Ballad of Dingus Magee (everyone eventually profited handsomely) and the early success of Quotations from Chairman LBJ, a volume that tanked when, shortly after publication, the president said he would not run for reelection. A significant chapter considers the major success of the Berenstain Bears franchise, which is, oddly, followed by one about his four failed marriages. Near the end come tributes to Kesey and Bill Nack and a few superficial observations about the evolving book business. Anecdotal and occasionally self-admiring—but some affecting episodes sprinkled throughout.

THE GREAT CONVERGENCE Asia, the West, and the Logic of One World Mahbubani, Kishore PublicAffairs (304 pp.) $26.99 | Feb. 12, 2013 978-1-61039-033-0

A manifesto for multilateralism, oneworldism, social justice and all the other things that haunt tea party nightmares. The nation-state, writes Singaporean scholar/diplomat Mahbubani (Beyond the Age of Innocence, 2005), is an artifact of the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648. Most of us may think of it as the natural order, but he argues, “it is hard to believe that a human construct invented more than three hundred fifty years ago can serve humanity when everything has changed so totally.” Indeed: Think of what has changed in just the last couple of decades, with China poised to become the world’s largest economy within this decade and the United States turned from the world’s sole superpower to a declining polity crumbling from economic weakness and imperial overreach. For all the “clash of civilizations” that defines the modern era, Mahbubani urges, things aren’t necessarily all that bad out there; Saudi Arabia may repress women, but it’s also built “the world’s newest and largest scientific university.” China has risen as a power in part because of American generosity but also because America “was so supremely self-confident that it would always remain number one.” The trick now, writes the author, is to shed ideas of supremacy. There are some obvious platitudes |

attendant in such a rosy view, among them this: “The whole world would be better off if the 7 billion citizens of planet earth became more and more aware of the global impact of their activities.” Well, yes, but for all the fuzziness, Mahbubani offers practical steps, including a recomposition of the U.N. Security Council to encourage one-worldism. Just the thing to give your black helicopter–fearing uncle—or maybe not. An interesting exercise in geopolitical wonkiness.

LIKE A HAMMER SHATTERING ROCK Hearing the Gospels Today

McKenna, Megan Image/Doubleday (224 pp.) $14.00 paperback | Feb. 5, 2013 978-0-385-50854-4

Prolific writer and prodigious traveler McKenna (Breaking the Word: Reflections for Lectionary Readings Cycle B, 2012, etc.) reimagines the Gospels for the 21st century. Written from the viewpoint of a socially progressive Roman Catholic, the book is a call to action as much as it is a call for reinterpretation. The author begins by arguing that the church has been misreading the Gospels for centuries, looking past their radical purpose and inserting lukewarm theology in its place. Here, McKenna seeks to do three things. First, she restates what she believes to have been the purpose of each Gospel (Mark is about discipleship and leadership, Matthew is about violence and inhumanity, etc.). Second, she reinterprets each Gospel for modern times. Third, she introduces new gospel concepts for our present-day sociopolitical problems (Gospel of Peace, Gospel of the Earth, etc.). McKenna’s views are based in a solid understanding of church history, a somewhat irreverent view toward Catholic doctrine and practice, and a widespread experience with the world’s cultures and with other religions. Though certainly not a master storyteller, the author gladly shares tales from across the world, both truth and legend, in order to make her point. The results are mixed, as some stories drive home her argument while others cause readers to meander through the flow of the author’s thoughts. McKenna’s book is overly ambitious and, as such, has a tendency to be dense and unfocused. However, she also expresses valid concerns with modern Catholicism and Christianity. For instance, in condemning rules against divorced Catholics, she states bluntly, “The Eucharist is not a reward for being good.” The reform-minded will stand and cheer. Alternately thought-provoking and dull but certainly from the author’s heart.

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k i r ku s q & a w i t h jon r on s on Lost At Sea author Jon Ronson loves a good mystery, and there’s hardly a place the Welshborn journalist won’t travel for a good story. When Kirkus recently spoke with him, comfortably back home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, he could barely contain his enthusiasm at having just met “a great, eccentric crazy person” while driving through Nashville on assignment for the Guardian newspaper. “A feeling overwhelmed me of just being so happy to be there,” Ronson says. Here, the writer who also brought us The Men Who Stare At Goats and The Psychopath Test talks about having the best job in the world and how the gig often transforms his very being. LOST AT SEA: The Jon Ronson Mysteries

Ronson, Jon Riverhead (400 pp.) $26.95 Oct. 30, 2012 978-1-59463-137-5

Q: What’s the best thing about the kind of writing that you do? A: There’s something weird that happens to me when I’m in one of these mysterious, shadowy places. I just have this sense of real excitement, that I’m privileged that I’ve gotten to go somewhere people don’t normally get to go. And then I can write about it for other people to experience and enjoy. I just feel kind of skittishly excited. But I’m not so addicted that I have to do that every day. I’m happy sort of doing that once a month, and then I’m happy the rest of the month sitting at home structuring it into a story that people will enjoy reading. I’m very lucky to be able to do this job. Sometimes people ask me, ‘How do you handle the stress of being in all of these dangerous places?’ But I just feel very lucky being able to do this. Q: Are there certain conditions that must exist in order to get the most out of your subjects? A: I’ve got to be really interested in the person I’m interviewing; I’ve got to care. There also has to be some sort of mystery I want [to] solve. To me, if there’s no mystery, I’ve got a real problem. If I feel like I know the answers before I’ve asked the questions, that’s no good for me. So, I guess I need to be surprised. I can never go back to the same areas once I feel like I’ve solved the mystery.

being completely different from what I first imagined. The more curve balls there are, the better. Q: Did you have that experience with Lost at Sea? A: Yeah, it happens in almost every story that I do. You never know where it’s going to go. The best stories in Lost at Sea, like the best stories in all my books, are the ones where I completely changed my mind midway. In my previous book, The Psychopath Test, I became a kind of power-crazed psychopath spotter. I started seeing psychopaths everywhere, and I become drunk with my psychopath-spotting powers. And then I realized becoming a psychopathic spotter turned me a little psychopathic, desperate to label everybody a psychopath. And I didn’t anticipate any of that journey happening. I didn’t anticipate that I would become this fantastically adept, but powercrazed, psychopath spotter, and I didn’t anticipate that it would lead me astray. Q: Are you often changed in the process of trying to unravel a mystery? A: When I am changed, that’s when I’m happiest. When you buy a novel, you want characters that go through some kind of change. And I’ve always felt that should be the case with nonfiction, too. Why not have as high an ambition for nonfiction as you have for fiction? So, when I do go through some kind of big change, even if by the end I’ve changed back again to how I’ve been before, that always feels exciting to me. It feels justified being in a book. But you mustn’t force it. It’s really important that you mustn’t go through some kind of fake change because readers will know that you’re faking. So, the change always has to be for real. –By Joe Maniscalco

9 For the full interview, please visit kirkus.com.

Q: How often do you finish up an interview still scratching your head?

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p hoto by B a r n ey p oo l e

A: Oh, quite often. And then it all becomes part of the tapestry of a bigger project. If I’m desperate to find out something about somebody, I’ll go see them. And they’ll take me somewhere else. They’ll give me a lead to another part of the story. Kind of like Hansel and Gretel. I love that. Often, I don’t know what the book’s going to be until I’m in the middle of it, because, to me, not knowing is letting myself into an unfolding story which can twist and turn and end up


“A slam-dunk for readers energized by fast-paced, play-by-play sports stories.” from outside shot

KNOCK KNOCK

McNear, Suzanne Permanent Press (200 pp.) $28.00 | Dec. 31, 2012 978-1-57962-286-2 Editor and short story writer McNear (Drought, 2009) sketches the life of her alter ego, March Rivers, from her mother’s womb to the present day. McNear, an editor at Playboy in the magazine’s heyday and a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin at the height of student unrest, has stories worth telling, and her kaleidoscopic, streamof-consciousness style alternately engages and disorients. At her best, the author describes people and events in striking, original and funny ways; one character has “pools of white blonde hair that fell about her bare shoulders, like whipped cream”; another looked “like a gigantic mattress, wrapped up in plaid.” At her worst, she is a shameless name-dropper who compulsively lists her literary influences. Although individual sentences light up the prose, too much remains hazy and unsatisfying. The author’s many vague disappointments and regrets are not the stuff of drama, and it’s hard to become engrossed in the life story of someone for whom so little is at stake: McNear was born to wealthy parents, well-educated, well-connected, and the recipient of free housing, maid service, book contracts and highly coveted editing jobs. Many privileged people lead lives as worthy of documentation as anyone else’s, but the privileged must take extra care to avoid being perceived as entitled. Given that she is hyperaware of her own feelings and largely unconcerned with those of others, including her daughters, whom she “failed…in ways she regretted, but could live with,” McNear is unlikely to come across as anything else. Self-indulgent but worth reading for those interested in the self-dramatizing stars of the American literary scene of the 1960s and ’70s.

OUTSIDE SHOT Big Dreams, Hard Times, and One County’s Quest for Basketball Greatness

O’Brien, Keith St. Martin’s (320 pp.) $25.99 | Jan. 15, 2013 978-1-250-00033-0

A reporter digs deep into a Kentucky high school’s pivotal basketball season. Fully immersing himself in the experience, O’Brien relocated his family to Scott County, Ky. for eight months in the winter of 2009, chronicling the highs and lows of a group of young athletic hopefuls. His firsthand reportage follows a wintry season for the Scott County Cardinals, and, through interviews, emotive photographs and recorded dialogue, he provides a bird’s-eye perspective inside the games and practices |

and the players and their family lives. O’Brien paints the bluegrassed landscape and its rugged chronology with an artist’s eye for detail. He focuses on four Scott County senior players, all from challenging backgrounds, all aggressively and passionately shepherded by longtime coach Billy Hicks, who steered “his boys” toward a hopeful victory amid a season fraught with tension stemming from two of his key players, Dakotah Euton, a restless “bearded man-child,” and Chad Jackson, a fatherless quiet storm, who both transferred in from other districts. O’Brien also traces the lives of Ge’Lawn Guyn, the second-ranked player in the state stunted by bad knees and a troubled childhood, and Will Schu, benched with a broken hand and a broken spirit after sabotaging himself on the court. Studded with real-time dialogue and exhilarating courtside action, O’Brien presents the Cardinals of Scott County High School as a meritorious collective bravely facing tough school rivalries, racial bias, peer pressures and the raw agony of a regional tournament defeat. A slam-dunk for readers energized by fast-paced, playby-play sports stories. (18 b/w photographs)

KILLING KENNEDY The End of Camelot

O’Reilly, Bill; Dugard, Martin Henry Holt (338 pp.) $28.00 | $12.99 e-book | Oct. 2, 2012 978-0-8050-9666-8 978-0-8050-9667-5 e-book

O’Reilly and Dugard (Killing Lincoln, 2011) team up again with a comprehensive account of the John F. Kennedy administration and its untimely end. As with their previous work, this is quick, gossipy and sure to please Kennedy buffs, but the newsroom attitude toward the story will leave academics wanting. That is not to say the authors’ facts are anything but accurate, and the journalistic style of writing makes it easy reading. The wealth of material available for a work like this, including primary and secondary sources, requires careful selection to avoid a massively overbearing work. The authors cover the events of the three short years of the administration from the president’s dalliances to the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban missile crisis and the star power of the family. It’s a noteworthy picture of Kennedy’s transformation into a world leader and the outside influences that were used and discarded. O’Reilly and Dugard also expose Kennedy as a man who avoided unpleasant confrontations, using his brother to deal with contentious issues and express opinions that countered the general consensus of the cabinet. By paralleling the period with loner Lee Harvey Oswald’s desperate attempts at recognition and his fixation on communism, it’s easy to see how the assassin slipped under the radar. Of course, the book drives on to that fateful day in November 1963, but the constant reminders of the few years, months or hours Kennedy had left to live are tedious in the extreme. We all know how it ends. A quick-fire, easy-to-read account of the Kennedy years, with some salacious details to spice it up.

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HEART OF DARKNESS Unraveling the Mysteries of the Invisible Universe

Ostriker, Jeremiah P.; Mitton, Simon Princeton Univ. (288 pp.) $27.95 | Feb. 1, 2013 978-0-691-13430-7

A lucid history of cosmology. Ostriker (Astrophysical Sciences/ Princeton Univ.; Development of Large Scale Structure in the Universe, 1992, etc.) and British science historian Mitton (Fred Hoyle: A Life in Science, 2005, etc.) illustrate J.B.S. Haldane’s famous quote that “the universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.” The Greeks proved that the Earth was round and determined its circumference. Copernicus placed the sun at the center of the solar system, and Kepler described planetary movements. Newton founded cosmology by asserting that his laws applied everywhere. Einstein showed how gravity rules the universe, and Hubble proved that it was expanding. By 1970, scientists agreed that everything (matter, energy, space, even time) began with the Big Bang 14 billion years ago. Having delivered the history, the authors pose obvious questions: Will the universe expand forever, or will gravity reverse matters? Since the Big Bang produced a uniform soup of energy and simple elements, how did stars, galaxies and planets form? Where did heavier elements come from? Where did we come from? Astrophysicists can explain how galaxies formed and how exploding stars produced heavier elements and eventually us. The universe’s future seemed comprehensible until two discoveries muddied the waters. By 1980, it was clear that most matter in the universe is “dark”—literally invisible, detectable only because of gravitational effects. By the 1990s, researchers realized that most energy is also “dark,” permeating space, opposing gravity and accelerating expansion. With infectious enthusiasm, diagrams and even a little high school math, the authors deliver the available answers along with the increasing confusion. A fine introduction to cosmology but rich enough to inform readers familiar with other introductions. (16 color illustrations; 40 halftones)

98% FUNKY STUFF My Life in Music

Parker, Maceo Chicago Review (208 pp.) $24.95 | Feb. 1, 2013 978-1-61374-346-1 A breezy, anecdotal memoir by the funky saxophonist who reveals himself to be an uncommonly decent man. Though fans of James Brown and Parliament-Funkadelic know Parker as one of the finest saxophonists in the genre, even he admits that his first name is his claim to fame, particularly after his first 2690

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recorded solo on “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” when Brown exhorted him, “I want you to blow, Maceo.” That huge hit elevated Parker beyond the ranks of talented but little-known sidemen, spreading the word even among international audiences who thought that “Maceo” was some kind of exotic slang rather than an actual man’s name. Though the book’s repetitiveness could have used a strong editor and another writer might have mined the material for more dramatic detail and narrative momentum, the author’s conversational tone makes for genial companionship. He relates his upbringing in a musical, churchgoing family, the financial struggles of his alcoholic (but much beloved) father, the adventures of a Southern black musician during segregation and the civil rights movement, and his attempts to avoid the draft during the Vietnam War. He tells how his drummer brother first commanded the attention of Brown, who agreed to hire Maceo as well to fill a need for a baritone saxophonist (which he had never played). The contrast between the strict discipline in Brown’s band and the comparative anarchy under P-Funk’s George Clinton (with whom many Brown alums decamped), as well as that between the early, whipcracking Brown and the later, drug-addled one generate much of the interest in the book. Yet even more compelling is the author’s self-portrait, as one who has “stayed away from drinking and drugs my entire life” and who was “most comfortable traveling in the slow lane when it came to women” (and lost some because of it). A lightweight but enjoyable memoir from a humble man who has enjoyed a career he can be proud of. (20 b/w photos)

HER A Memoir

Parravani, Christa Henry Holt (320 pp.) $26.00 | Mar. 5, 2013 978-0-8050-9653-8

In this haunting memoir, photographer Parravani deconstructs the intense bonds between identical twins, the trauma of her sister’s death and her battle against similar self-destruction. Raised by a strong-willed mother, the twins, Christa and Cara, shared a magical, intense and creative world of their own making. Plagued by unstable and abusive father figures and poverty, they still managed to attend prestigious colleges, begin careers as artists and embark on marriages. But following a rape while out walking her dog, Parravani’s twin began a terrifying descent into drugs and self-destruction. A year after the rape, the author began to understand that her sister’s situation was serious enough to require a stay at an expensive rehab center. “I was under the impression, the diluted perspective of the desperate,” she writes, “that the more money we threw at the problem of Cara’s addiction and despair, the more likely it was that she’d recover.” Faced with the statistic that when one identical twin perishes, the surviving twin’s rate of dying within the next few years spikes, the author chronicles her battle to avoid her

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sister’s fate. Parravani’s marriage failed, and as her career as a photography professor at a small college faltered, she checked herself into a personality-disorder wing of a hospital. Delicately weaving lyrical language together with her sister’s journals, her mother’s correspondence and conversations with family members, Parravani’s mesmerizing narrative tapestry reveals the multiple facets inherent within their tangled, complex and loving relationship. “My reflection was her and it wasn’t her. I was myself but I was my sister. I was hallucinating Cara—this isn’t a metaphor,” writes the author, who stepped back from the brink and began life anew with her second husband, the writer Anthony Swofford. Parravani delicately probes the fragile, intimate boundaries among love, identity and loss.

ISRAEL HAS MOVED

Pinto, Diana Harvard Univ. (212 pp.) $24.95 | Feb. 28, 2013 978-0-674-07342-5

A close look at Israeli society yields a sense of disorientating psychosis rather than clarity. Describing herself as a Jew of the vibrant diaspora living in Paris, Pinto visits Israel periodically on business, presumably in her capacity as an intellectual historian and policy analyst. Here, she presents impressions and interviews that reveal both Israeli truculence to go its own road as well as deep schisms within Israeli society. The author’s vivid characterizations of Israeli society expose its deeply problematic nature: as “autistic,” in that its brilliant young people and leaders operate within a self-contained obliviousness of others; as a “realm of collective psychosis” in thinking, as ultranationalist religious Zionists do, that the Temple in Jerusalem could ever be rebuilt, since it would obliterate the Dome of the Rock, a holy site for Muslims; as a postmodern Utopia in its scientific and genetic advances; as a “very large and ultrasophisticated aquarium” containing exotic fishes, all “turning rapidly away to avoid the others, and all of this in utter silence.” From the choosing of which road to take into Jerusalem (through heroic landmarks or the less-traveled Route 443 leading to various Arab exits) to the country’s spectacular embrace of high technology and Asian investment, which offer a glaring juxtaposition to the pre-modern lifestyles of the ultraorthodox, everywhere Israel is awash in contradictions. But does Israel really care who thinks so? Fewer and fewer sophisticated Israelis bother to envision a two-state solution, and Pinto fears that this solipsism is engendering a dangerous “self-satisfaction bordering on hubris”—and it can’t last. A solid work of intellectual criticism.

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VOW A Memoir of Marriage and Infidelity Plump, Wendy Bloomsbury (272 pp.) $25.00 | Feb. 12, 2013 978-1-60819-823-8

A woman’s account of discovering her husband of 18 years had a second family and her confessions of her own affairs. Freelance reporter Plump opens her book with an epigraph by W.H. Auden: “Hunger allows no choice.” She then goes on to describe the terrible choices she and her husband, Bill, made for the duration of their union. In 2005, a close friend of Plump’s disclosed to her that Bill had another house nearby, and he often stayed there with a girlfriend Plump didn’t know existed. The most gutting news was that Bill and his mistress, Susan, shared an 8-month-old baby. When confronted, Bill offered confirmation but no explanation. Partly for the sake of their two sons, the author tried to save her marriage despite Bill’s repeated lies about having ended his affair. As Bill, who traveled frequently for business, evaded his wife, Plump pieced together the timeline of his infidelity (it started 10 years earlier) and communicated with Susan. She writes candidly about her own indiscretions, recounting details about each of her three affairs. She began cheating on Bill during their first year of marriage. “Romanticizing adultery seems an unfair thing to do,” she writes, “but the truth is that it can be transformational on every level.” She finally separated from Bill after his duplicity became unbearable. In the final third of the book, the author examines the differences between having an affair and being the victim of adultery. Readers may vacillate between finding Plump’s behavior indefensible and feeling sympathetic toward her. Voyeuristic and base but surprisingly engaging.

ESLANDA The Large and Unconventional Life of Mrs. Paul Robeson

Ransby, Barbara Yale Univ. (424 pp.) $35.00 | Jan. 8, 2013 978-0-300-12434-7

Scholar and activist Ransby (History and Gender Studies/Univ. of Illinois, Chicago; Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement, 2002) deftly details the accomplishments, struggles and impact of Eslanda Cardozo Goode Robeson. Robeson’s life, writes the author, “was set against the backdrop of the Harlem Renaissance, World War II, the Cold War, African decolonization, and the early rumblings of the U.S. Black Freedom movement.” Though Essie’s husband, the well-known artist and activist Paul Robeson, has been the subject of multiple biographies and numerous articles, her accomplishments have not garnered the in-depth attention they deserve. Ransby outlines Essie’s

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“A beautiful, searing exploration of the landscape of grief and a profound meditation on the meaning of life.” from the still point of the turning world

early life and family history, delves into the high points of her married life in Harlem, and recounts her growing awareness and tenacious engagement in the numerous political causes she supported. Beginning in the 1920s, Essie was deeply involved in the international art scene, corresponding with giants like Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Virginia Woolf and Noel Coward. By the ’40s, Robeson’s political consciousness emerged, and she became an outspoken proponent for racial justice in the United States and “freedom and self-determination” for people around the world. During the McCarthy era, Essie and Paul suffered persecution for their political views and personal relationships. Ultimately, their passports were revoked for nearly a decade, causing the couple great financial hardship. Upon regaining their freedom to travel, the couple relocated abroad for five years. When they returned to America in 1963, a shift had occurred, and the Black Freedom movement was stirring. Known as a journalist, anthropologist and public speaker, Essie repeatedly spoke out on the evils of colonialism and racism in America, and she supported independence movements in India and Africa. A well-researched, informative, readable biography.

THE STILL POINT OF THE TURNING WORLD

Rapp, Emily Penguin Press (224 pp.) $25.95 | Mar. 11, 2013 978-1-59420-512-5

A passionate, potent chronicle of the author’s last months with her son. In January 2010, Rapp (Creative Writing and Literature/Santa Fe Univ. of Art and Design; Poster Child: A Memoir, 2007) learned that her firstborn, 9-month-old son, Ronan suffered from Tay-Sachs, a fatal degenerative disease, and would likely die by age 3. The Rapps had been concerned that Ronan’s development was retarded; although he was an alert, happy child, he neither walked nor spoke. The author describes her moving struggle to make each day spent with her son memorable and to savor her ability to mother during the time remaining. She also considers her son’s disability in light of her own congenital deformity that led to the amputation of her left leg. Though her disability goaded her to overcome all obstacles, such a path did not exist for her son. Her love for Ronan was unconditional and profound and otherworldly. In contrast to the expectations of ordinary parents, she and her son inhabited “a magical world…where there were no goals, no prizes to win, no outcomes to monitor.” Despite her tragic loss, Rapp is fierce in her defense of the unique worth of her son’s short life. He was “in his own way, perfect,” and the author poses the rhetorical question: “We are not what we become, how we look, what we do—are we?” Searching for spiritual solace, Rapp and her husband attended a Buddhist retreat and cherished the words of one of the teachers: “Remember there’s a whole person behind whatever physical affect presents itself.” A beautiful, searing exploration of the landscape of grief and a profound meditation on the meaning of life. 2692

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BETWEEN MAN AND BEAST A Tale of Exploration and Evolution Reel, Monte Doubleday (352 pp.) $26.95 | Mar. 5, 2013 978-0-385-53422-2

Former Washington Post reporter Reel (The Last of the Tribe: The Epic Quest to Save a Lone Man in the Amazon, 2010) offers a fascinating sidelight on the perennial debate of man’s origins. In the decade before the publication of Darwin’s On the Origins of Species, evolution was already a hotly debated topic. The naturalist Richard Owen, a contemporary of Darwin, was considered the foremost British anatomist of his day. A proponent of the theory of evolution, Owen believed that the Creation was not a one-time event as reported in the Bible, but a continuous process. However, he opposed the notion that man was kin to primates. He compared the skulls of primates and humans, on display at the museum of the Royal College of Surgeons in London, hoping to establish “taxonomical lines…between humans and apes.” Reel weaves together the fierce contentions about the theory of evolution among leading Victorian scientists and the story of young African explorer Paul Du Chaillu. In 1852, Du Chaillu (an African claiming to be of French descent) was educated by American missionaries in Gabon. He subsequently traveled to America, where he obtained funding for an expedition to hunt African gorillas. When he returned to the U.S. with their preserved remains, the Civil War had begun and the financial support he expected was withdrawn. In 1861, after writing a book about his exploits, Owen invited him to London. There, his book was published and he became an overnight celebrity, for a time overshadowing Darwin in the popular imagination. Ultimately, Du Chaillu was accused of embellishing his account. A lively footnote to the debate between science and religion and the exploration of the African jungle in the Victorian era.

THE ELIMINATION A Survivor of the Khmer Rouge Confronts His Past and the Commandant of the Killing Fields Rithy Panh Translated by Bataille, Christophe Other Press (300 pp.) $24.95 | Feb. 12, 2013 978-1-59051-558-7

Harrowing personal reflections by the Cambodian French filmmaker of surviving the Khmer Rouge as a young teenager. Rithy Panh’s film S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine explored the stories of the prisoners and their torturers from the notorious Security Prison 21, in Phnom Penh, from 1975 to

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1979, yet it was only recently that he was able to interview the feared commander of the prison, known as Comrade Duch. In this work, Rithy Panh uses selections from his chilling interviews with Duch as a frame for the author’s own traumatic memories of being driven from his home with his family by the Khmer Rouge in 1975, one day before his 13th birthday. Evacuated to the countryside by the Khmer Rouge, the author, his father (serving then as an undersecretary of education), mother and younger siblings were branded “new people” by the regime—i.e., “oppressors who were to be reeducated in the countryside—or exterminated.” Moving around squalid transit camps and cooperative housing, suffering increasingly from starvation and disease, the family was stricken one by one until only the author was left to fend for himself, “a starveling, an eater of scraps,” in hospitals or camps, indoctrinated into the vicious ways of the Khmer Rouge yet able to squeak by until the Vietnamese liberation in 1979. Alternating with these memories are commentaries by the mocking and philosophical Duch, an exquisite administrator who “put the language of slaughter down on paper” and ran his torture prison like a tight ship. A technician of the revolution, as Duch considered himself, he calmly informed the filmmaker that “the Khmer Rouge were all about elimination. Human rights didn’t exist.” A riveting, intimate look deep inside the machinery of the executioner.

RAISING CUBBY A Father and Son’s Adventures with Asperger’s, Trains, Tractors, and High Explosives Robison, John Elder Crown (304 pp.) $26.00 | CD $35.00 | Mar. 12, 2013 978-0-307-88484-8 978-0-307-88135-9 CD

A father reflects on the “tumultuous father-son journey” that he and his son have shared. In this alternately funny and moving memoir, a follow-up to his 2007 best-seller, Look Me in the Eye, Robison (Be Different, 2012, etc.) discusses how he dealt with the joys and challenges of fatherhood. As he relates, these were exacerbated by his own social inadequacies and those of his son, both of whom are Aspergian and suffer from “blindness to the nonverbal signals of others.” The author reveals his thought processes as he struggled to share his painfully arrived-at social insights with his son in order to help him navigate a fulfilling life. Though his early life was rocky, Robison became a successful electrical engineer. Although he had not completed high school, he worked on sound and lighting effects for Kiss and other top rock bands of the 1970s. Later, he designed computer games before opening his own business restoring and servicing high-end European cars. When his son was born in 1990, fatherhood proved to be more of a challenge. Beginning with his efforts to understand why his baby was crying, he describes the trial-and-error |

problem-solving approach that he used to compensate for his inability to intuit social signals. In 2007, his 17-year-old son, who had a basement chemistry lab, was arrested for “possessing explosives with intent to harm people or property.” Although he was ultimately exonerated, Robison believes that targeting his son was an example of political grandstanding by the prosecution and a failure of the justice system. A warmhearted, appealing account by a masterful storyteller.

WITH OR WITHOUT YOU A Memoir Ruta, Domenica Spiegel & Grau (224 pp.) $25.00 | Feb. 26, 2013 978-0-8129-9324-0

The memoir of the emancipation of a daughter from her drug-dealer, addict mother. Despite the hardships she endured as a child, Ruta demonstrates a deep and loving bond with her mother. Other family members meander in and out of the narrative, but it is Ruta’s mom who features the most prominently in these stories of coming-of-age during the 1980s. Marathon movie nights spent tucked in bed counterpoint days of poverty, trash-strewn rooms, drug dealing and her mother high on cocaine, OxyContin or other drugs. “Mum never distinguished between physical and emotional pain,” writes the author, “especially when she had a pill that could cure both.” Ruta holds nothing back as she realistically and tenderly portrays her childhood in Massachusetts, whether she’s writing about school events at her Catholic school, her mother’s ascent as a millionaire and subsequent loss of money due to drug use, or the sexual abuse at the hands of a pedophile, one of her mother’s friends. Ruta also delves into her own drug and alcohol abuse, her desire to make something of herself and how she crawled back into society: “I used to be a miserable, spiritless, insecure egomaniac who smelled like whiskey. Now I am a wellintentioned, sometimes volatile, even more insecure egomaniac who smells like coffee.” It is this kind of exposure, and the use of dark humor and explicit language, that makes the book so intriguing, and Ruta shows how a strong maternal bond at an early age can lead to forgiveness regardless of the circumstances. A sharp portrayal of recovery from a lifetime of pitfalls and the love that held it all together.

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“Both the light and dark sides of the man who made the country both laugh and gag.” from al capp

AL CAPP A Life to the Contrary

Schumacher, Michael; Kitchen, Denis Bloomsbury (320 pp.) $30.00 | Feb. 26, 2013 978-1-60819-623-4

A warts-and-all biography of the creator of “Li’l Abner.” Co-authors Schumacher and Kitchen bring a unique set of tools to their excavations. The former is the biographer of Allen Ginsberg, Eric Clapton, Phil Ochs and, most recently, comic pioneer Will Eisner (Will Eisner: A Dreamer’s Life in Comics, 2010). Kitchen is a cartoonist and publisher—Al Capp’s Complete Shmoo, 2011. From 1934 to 1977, Capp’s “Li’l Abner” strip appeared in hundreds of newspapers. Its creator, born Alfred Caplin in 1909, lost his left leg in a traffic accident at age 9 but soon realized his artistic and humorous talents. He worked for a while with cartoonist Ham Fisher on his “Joe Palooka” feature, but the two fell out and remained bitter competitors for decades. Once “Li’l Abner” began, it took off quickly, and as the authors show, Capp was a master of self-promotion and marketing. Movies and TV shows did not work out too well, but the 1956 eponymous Broadway show was a success, as were a number of his characters, both human (Daisy Mae) and non (the Shmoo). His Sadie Hawkins Day remains a tradition in many schools and colleges, though probably few teens could now identify the source. Capp had a couple of marriages and some family conflicts (especially with brother Bence), but when the 1960s roared in, the formerly liberal Capp veered right and charged high fees to visit college campuses, where he ridiculed student activists and fiercely attacked the left. And it was on some campuses that his libido ended all. Some highly publicized attacks on young women students in his motel rooms cost him both his popularity and his career. Both the light and dark sides of the man who made the country both laugh and gag. (b/w illustrations throughout)

LITERARY ROGUES A Scandalous History of Wayward Authors

Shaffer, Andrew Perennial/HarperCollins (304 pp.) $14.99 paperback | Feb. 5, 2013 978-0-06-207728-8

A quick-read biographical guide to literature’s most notorious wastrels, scoundrels and rebels, from the Marquis de Sade to James Frey. Shaffer (Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love, 2011) poses the initial question that gives this historical guide to authorial selfdestruction its impetus: Why are popular writers today so dull and uncontroversial compared to the literary lions of the past? Though light on hard analysis, this compendium of the creative ways in which history’s most lauded wordsmiths poisoned themselves is enjoyable enough. Shaffer achieves user-friendliness by reducing 2694

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each of these literary masters to a sum of their worst qualities: Most notable are de Sade’s twisted promiscuity, Lord Byron’s freewheeling pansexuality and the absinthe-fueled jailbird misadventures of decadent poet Paul Verlaine. Shaffer provides a wide historical reach, as the opium-addled 18th-century romantics and diversely corrupted 19th-century English decadents give way to the 20th century’s melancholic suicidal alcoholics: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway. Shaffer also treats the Beats, New Journalists and Merry Pranksters of the 1950s and 1960s, who mixed in LSD, pot and heroin with the good old-fashioned alcoholism of their forebears. Schaffer’s book loses its kick, however, when spotlighting the last three decades of relatively lame literary roguery: After being regaled with, for example, Lord Byron’s life of “bling, booze, and groupie sex” and his dramatic death on a Greek battlefield, readers may not be impressed by Jay McInerney’s penny-ante coke habits. Further, there’s no speculation as to why, in an uncensored 21st-century culture where seemingly anything goes, most prominent writers now lead drearily sober lives. Entertaining and well-researched but facile pop history.

MUMBAI NEW YORK SCRANTON A Memoir Shopsin, Tamara Scribner (288 pp.) $24.00 | Mar. 12, 2013 978-1-4516-8741-5

Graphic designer and illustrator Shopsin (C’est le Pied II, 2009, etc.) delivers a terse account of a visit to India and her work as a freelance artist, with asides on her marriage, novelties business and family’s restaurant. As a traveler abroad, the author is a bit frail—always tired, always sick, often scared. Many readers may find her incessant whining and timidity irritating, until the discovery of what might have induced her frequent bouts of nausea and unsteadiness of foot: a brain tumor. But apart from the impulse to wish her a full recovery and admiration for her genuine courage during the ordeal, this has no bearing, after the fact, on the writing. Even if the disjointed narrative is meant to reflect the effects of the tumor on her state of mind, readers will still note the book’s many shortcomings. The memoir is rambling and unfocused, offering 132 pages on her experiences in India yet no concrete take on the country or culture save for impressions of chaos. Readers may enjoy the story to the extent that they favor the author’s odd marriage of clipped sentences and stream-of-consciousness style (with too many meandering eddies), yet it suggests that Shopsin simply wrote down whatever popped into her head. The book is freighted with trivialities and pointless digressions, and if there is the occasional arresting observation or fleck of wit, it’s buried beneath an avalanche of irrelevancies. Punctuated with photographs that barely qualify as snapshots, it’s a 288-page book with half as much content, given the curious “open” typography and page breaks. Some will find the approach whimsical, others superficial and undisciplined. A brisk but slapdash, unrewarding journey.

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THE ART OF FREEDOM Teaching the Humanities to the Poor

GRAVEN WITH DIAMONDS The Many Lives of Thomas Wyatt: Poet, Lover, Statesman, and Spy in the Court of Henry VIII

Shorris, Earl Norton (320 pp.) $27.95 | Feb. 18, 2013 978-0-393-08127-5

A prolific author and founder of the Clemente Course in the Humanities, a free program designed to teach reflective thinking to the disadvantaged, tells stories about the students and teachers touched by the experience. Inspired almost 20 years ago by a prison inmate’s remark that the poor needed “a moral alternative to the street,” Shorris (The Politics of Heaven: America in Fearful Times, 2007, etc.) established the Clemente Course, using the ideas of the great books to pierce what he clunkily terms “the surround of force” that bears down on the impoverished, keeping them from fully exercising their citizenship. Here, he offers a field report on the progress and spread of Clemente and its variants in Alaska, Wisconsin, Washington, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, Australia, Korea, Canada and Sudan. All courses employ first-class teachers, all use the Socratic method, and while the curriculum may vary, the motivating idea abides: that philosophy, history, art history, literature and logic belong to everyone and that they inspire the critical thinking necessary for the poor to move from lives of reaction to reflection to civic freedom. Although he generously praises fellow teachers and especially the students who have overcome so much, Shorris asserts his progressive bona fides throughout and barely suppresses his ego beneath a bumbling-professor pose. Nor, other than a couple of thin studies, does he offer any more than anecdotal evidence about Clemente’s efficacy. There’s no arguing with the individual success stories, with the dedication of the instructors, or with the earnestness of the enterprise, but whether a heavy dose of Plato and Kant, Keats and Coleridge, Botticelli and Renoir is the answer to poverty remains problematic. Shorris died last June but not before receiving a National Humanities Medal for his work and surely not without the thanks of thousands of low-income people now equipped to continue their educations. To ask and answer the question “What would Socrates do?” may not cure the pathologies of poverty, but Shorris insists it’s a necessary exercise for the poor to begin to free themselves.

Shulman, Nicola Steerforth (368 pp.) $19.99 paperback | Feb. 5, 2013 978-1-58642-207-3

The author of A Rage for RockGardening: The Story of Reginald Farrer (2004) returns with a nuanced look at the poetry and life of Thomas Wyatt (1503–1542). Along with just about everyone else in the court of Henry VIII, Wyatt, who brought the Petrarchan sonnet to England, had to master the intricacies of the survival dance in that era—or kneel before the chopping block. (Wyatt somehow survived—barely—his king’s bloody capriciousness.) Shulman charts the choreography of Wyatt’s career during the time of Henry and later. She notes that his reputation as a poet had fallen considerably, but she, among others, is effecting a restoration. She sketches the rise of the Tudors and then rehearses the biographies of the wives of Henry VIII, noting along the way the roles that Wyatt played—or didn’t play—on the marital merry-go-round. Throughout, the author closely examines Wyatt’s various love poems, noting that he wrote not for publication but for circulation among friends and associates. She acknowledges one severe problem: Wyatt’s poems have no dates, so inference is the historian’s closest companion. But Shulman, confronting her daunting task with aplomb and sensitivity, shows us how Wyatt’s lyrics, subtle and layered, can refer to a deer or a woman, a hunt or a courtship. She also examines the courtly love tradition, the influence and status of Chaucer, the psychology of the king and the tangled history of the English Reformation. Readers of Hilary Mantel’s two novels about Thomas Cromwell will enjoy seeing him in a different context (and—spoiler alert—will learn his fate). Shulman also reveals her own considerable lyrical chops: On Anne Boleyn: “With her wit, her dazzle, her ludic, punning Burgundian manners, she melted into his [Henry’s] dream of Albion.” A gracefully written, thoroughly researched story of an agile and articulate survivor.

MANIFEST INJUSTICE The True Story of a Convicted Murderer and the Lawyers Who Want Him Freed Siegel, Barry Henry Holt (400 pp.) $28.00 | Mar. 26, 2013 978-0-8050-9415-2

A detailed examination of a 1962 double murder that may have resulted in a wrongful conviction. In 2010, Pulitzer Prize–winning former Los Angeles Times correspondent Siegel (English/Univ. of California, Irvine; Claim of |

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Privilege: A Mysterious Plane Crash, a Landmark Supreme Court Case, and the Rise of State Secrets, 2008, etc.) became intrigued by “a scattering of news accounts” about the murder conviction of Bill Macumber, who remains in an Arizona prison, perhaps completely innocent of the double murder but never exonerated despite two jury trials and various post-conviction appeals. Maricopa County law enforcement agencies failed to solve the seemingly senseless murder of a young engaged couple. A career criminal with a history of violence named Ernesto Valenzuela confessed to murdering the lovers to two different lawyers representing him, and the lawyers believed him. But police never arrested Valenzuela for the crime, and prosecutors never charged him. Valenzuela died in 1973. The next year, Macumber’s wife, Carol Kempfert told police and prosecutors that her husband had spontaneously confessed to the crime. Kempfert, who had been working toward a divorce and custody of the couple’s sons, was employed in a local law enforcement agency, establishing credibility with her co-workers. Siegel presents evidence that she had been carrying on sexual liaisons with multiple police officers, evidence denied by Kempfert. Whatever the reality, her account trumped that of her husband. He was arrested, and forensic examination of the murdered couple’s car supposedly yielded a palm print matched to Macumber’s palm. After a jury convicted him, he won a new trial on appeal and then lost again. Siegel explores the law school– based innocence project that served as Macumber’s investigative team, which helped persuade an Arizona clemency board to release Macumber from prison in 2009. However, Gov. Jan Brewer refused to accept the unanimous recommendation. A fascinating, convoluted murder mystery demonstrating that the law should never be confused with common sense.

THE MAN CALLED BROWN CONDOR The Forgotten History of an African American Fighter Pilot Simmons, Thomas E. Skyhorse Publishing (320 pp.) $24.95 | Feb. 7, 2013 978-1-62087-217-8

The forgotten history of John Charles Robinson (1903–1954), a pioneer African-American aviator and educator. Simmons (Forgotten Heroes of World War II, 2002, etc.) brings to life Robinson’s inspiring struggle against racism through the story of how he rose to become the commander of Haile Selassie’s air force in Ethiopia’s attempt to defend itself against Mussolini’s brutal invasion. The author traces how Robinson, a Tuskegee-educated auto mechanic, could not find employment up to his skill level in Gulfport, Miss., where he grew up. He left for Detroit to work as a mechanic but had to confront the prejudice that black men and aviation could not mix. He moved on again to Chicago, where he mastered aviation mechanics by auditing classes while employed as the office cleaner. When he couldn’t afford a plane, members of the flying club he set up helped him 2696

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to make one. Robinson’s qualities were eventually recognized by the Curtiss-Wright aviation business. He organized flight schools and worked on a project to establish an aviation program at the Tuskegee Institute. Returning to America to a hero’s welcome after fighting Mussolini, Robinson was able to awaken the public to what the country would need to do to fight its likely German and Italian enemies in the coming war. Simmons documents how Robinson again overcame prejudice working to develop the engineering and technical infrastructure that supported the segregated black units in World War II. Robinson’s determination to succeed helped make the bomber escort units known as the Tuskegee Red Tails possible. He returned to Ethiopia after Mussolini’s occupation to help rebuild the country’s air service. An inspiring affirmation that celebrates the old adage that where there’s a will, there’s a way, even against seemingly impossible odds.

LOVE IN THE TIME OF ALGORITHMS What Technology Does to Meeting and Mating

Slater, Dan Current (272 pp.) $25.95 | Jan. 24, 2013 978-1-59184-531-7

A thorough examination of online dating sites. Finding a companion in life has never been an easy task. In fact, as Fast Company contributor Slater writes, “for virtually all of human history the search for a mate has been predicated on scarcity: One met only so many people in his or her lifetime.” It is a logical jump in today’s world to use modern technology to help improve the chances of meeting someone. Using personal interviews and extensive research, Slater shows how the latest mode of dating, online, has amplified one’s chances by thousands of times as people connect in cyberspace. From its humble beginnings to the thousands of sites now available, cyberdating is the new way to mingle, with complex algorithms and extensive questionnaires analyzed by computers, which decide who might be the perfect mate. Sites like Match and OkCupid bring together millions of people, and the industry continues to flourish. In 2010, it was estimated that one out of every five couples got together through online dating. This new tool to finding a soul mate has changed the way society looks at relationships, as one does not have to settle for a partner from the immediate area. But, as Slater writes, “these new means of connection are threatening the old paradigm of adult life”—not every match made online lasts. Many users find it easier to break up with someone who is not quite the perfect fit rather than work on accepting differences. Choice overload becomes an issue as well, as users question how long to stick with someone; after all, there could be someone better on the next webpage. Although not a choice for everyone, online dating is here to stay; whether it is the best way to find a mate is still under debate. An enjoyable exploration of the evolution and implications of online dating.

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“Overstated and overheated at times, but an important cautionary note to counter the national embrace of gentrification as the solution to every urban ill.” from twenty minutes in manhattan

WHEN SOMEONE DIES The Practical Guide to the Logistics of Death Smith, Scott Taylor with Castleman, Michael Scribner (240 pp.) $16.00 paperback | Mar. 12, 2013 978-1-4767-0021-2

A how-to-guide on navigating the legal intricacies of dying. With assistance from co-author Castleman (A Killing in Real Estate, 2010 etc.), Smith applies his expertise as an investment banker to the painful subject of death. He explains the unexpected pitfalls, including the legal requirement that heirs not only deal with funeral arrangements, but the disposition of bank accounts and other assets, payment of taxes, credit charges and mortgage debt, and the need to inform government authorities such as the IRS and Social Security Administration. While sending out obituaries and closing social media accounts and email, as well as notifying relatives and friends, are social rather than legal obligations, they are also expected. Smith also discusses such practicalities as having multiple copies of a death certificate on hand, and he recommends taking measures to protect property before it is finally disposed of and guard against allegations of fraud or abuse of trust by the executor. An appendix includes resources and a copy of model forms for documents such as power of attorney. The author shares his own painful experience when his elderly mother suffered brain damage after a fall that rendered her unconscious. Her end-of-life health directive included a do-not-resuscitate clause, and Smith decided against an operation to relieve pressure on the brain even though his mother briefly expressed the wish to have the operation. His justification was a grim prognosis for recovery. Smith retells this painful incident to emphasize the need to assign medical power of attorney along with making a living will. A book of clear, practical advice.

TWENTY MINUTES IN MANHATTAN

Sorkin, Michael North Point/Farrar, Straus and Giroux (272 pp.) $14.00 paperback | Mar. 12, 2013 978-0-86547-757-5 The walk from his West Village apartment to his Tribeca office provides a springboard for architect/urban planner Sorkin (All Over the Map: Writing on Buildings and Cities, 2011, etc.) to reflect on the changing nature of city life. Anyone who has read Variations on a Theme Park (1992), the groundbreaking collection of essays edited by Sorkin, knows the basic argument: The diversity and vitality of America’s |

cities are threatened by a rapacious real estate industry, enabled by permissive municipal governments, that creates a bland, homogenized environment composed of luxury condominiums, high-end shopping and expensive restaurants. Restating it as an accompaniment to his daily walk gives Sorkin the opportunity to illustrate his argument with specifics, beginning with the health and safety codes that dictated the layout of his 19thcentury apartment building and ending with his enforced move from the loft that housed his office when the building was being converted into (you guessed it) luxury apartments. Sorkin is a fount of information on everything urban, from staircases (gracious public spaces in Europe; unwelcoming, grudging fulfillments of legal mandates here) to large-scale International style on superblocks, about some of which he is surprisingly positive. He doesn’t favor any particular style so much as the “accumulated forms and rituals” that give cities their eclectic appeal. Native New Yorkers will recognize the cranky tone of a classic Village bohemian in Sorkin’s zestful accounts of battles with his landlord and his blunt disdain for members of the gentrifying elite. This tone can get a little grating sometimes, but many will share the author’s dismay over the ongoing transformation of America’s cities from centers of production and sources of shared wealth to places of unbridled consumption by a privileged few, “yet another zone of high-priced good times.” Overstated and overheated at times, but an important cautionary note to counter the national embrace of gentrification as the solution to every urban ill.

JUNGLELAND A Mysterious Lost City, a WWII Spy, and a True Story of Deadly Adventure Stewart, Christopher S. Harper/HarperCollins (256 pp.) $27.99 | Jan. 8, 2013 978-0-06-180254-6

Wall Street Journal editor Stewart (Hunting the Tiger: The Fast Life and Violent Death of the Balkans’ Most Dangerous Man, 2008) makes use of the legacy of a 1930s explorer and adventurer in a new attempt to locate a fabled city in the tropical rain forests of Honduras. The author found a walking stick and map that once belonged to Theodore Morde, who claimed to have discovered Ciudad Blanca, the White City, in 1939. Stewart’s research also produced the logs and records, which included interviews with Indian inhabitants and uncovered Morde’s great knack for storytelling. Even Stewart and his experienced archaeologist guide Chris Begley were unsure about what they had found and whether they followed Morde’s trail to the city he claimed to have discovered. But they have crafted a clear trail to follow on the way. Set against a background of the latest military coup in Honduras and the activities of narcotraficantes, corporate jungle destroyers, pirates, robbers and other human predators, as well as deadly snakes and insects and almost impenetrable jungle,

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their modern search bears eerie parallels to the trail made by Morde and his companions. Back then, the United Fruit Company was on the march, and exiles from Nazi Germany were trying to scratch a living from the unforgiving terrain. Stewart left his wife and daughter in Brooklyn and traveled to the Mosquito Coast, from which he set off overland. Modern transportation, however, seemed less reliable than the river routes followed by the earlier crew, and the modern explorers embarked on an exciting journey in search of landmarks, tribes and, in the depths of the jungle, the Monkey-men, worshipers of the Monkey God. A great revival of an older genre, the treasure hunt, and associated adventures. (8-page b/w photo insert)

SUGAR IN THE BLOOD A Family’s Story of Slavery and Empire Stuart, Andrea Knopf (448 pp.) $27.95 | Jan. 23, 2013 978-0-307-27283-6

The tortuous, unsweetened story of the author’s English forebear as he migrated to Barbados to grow rich from sugar and slavery. Caribbean-born, English-educated Stuart (The Rose of Martinique: A Biography of Napoleon’s Josephine, 2004) examines the narrative of her ancestor George Ashby, a middling-born English migrant who bought a small plot in Barbados around 1640 and thrived from the bumper crop of sugar. Like many migrants of the time, Ashby was young, enterprising and possibly down on his luck, but determined to apply his “plantation skills” (he was a blacksmith by trade) to make a go in the wilds of the New World. Stuart adeptly re-creates the early life of a small farmer like Ashby, just as Barbados, a small island muscled out in the growing of tobacco by larger colonies like Virginia, took up the planting of sugar to spectacular success by the end of the 1640s, requiring more laborers and thereby prompting the replacement of indentured servants and natives with hardier, cheaper African slaves. The European migrants set aside any repugnance to slavery to make a profit, and Stuart effectively demonstrates how the organization of this “first slave society” in Barbados defined all aspects of the institution of slavery, setting the model for the rest of the British Americas. Ashby prospered by the purchase of slaves and more land, and Stuart traces over many generations and mixed parentages between master and slaves and shows how this uneasy relationship essentially created the complicated, rich, tragic legacy of the modern Caribbean. An intractable, unwieldy story both intimate and universal, handled expertly by Stuart. (8 pages of photos)

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WHO I AM A Memoir

Townshend, Pete Harper/HarperCollins (512 pp.) $32.50 | Lg. Prt. $32.50 | Oct. 8, 2012 978-0-06-212724-2 978-0-06-220152-2 Lg. Prt.

The soul-searching of a deeply conflicted rock star will likely draw a mixed response from readers. As the creative force driving the Who, one of the most explosive and ambitious rock bands in history, guitarist/composer Townshend (Horse’s Neck, 1985) has shown himself offstage to be an uncommonly articulate and reflective musical celebrity. For those who want to go deep into his psyche, from the Dickensian childhood in which he believed he was sexually abused (and was unquestionably mistreated) through the marital fidelity that he tried to sustain and the depression, anxiety attacks, alcoholism and other conditions he has successfully battled, Townshend bares his soul and is tougher on himself than most readers are likely to be. (Even those readers aware of the scandal in regard to his accessing child pornography are likely to agree that it was a careless mistake.) Along the way, he lets Who fans know just what inspired and influenced audacious achievements such as Tommy and intriguing hits such as “I Can See for Miles” and “Pictures of Lily.” He’s remarkably generous in the credit he gives other musicians, particularly the Kinks’ Ray Davies and a whole lot of jazz artists (he idolizes pianist Keith Jarrett). Yet the narrative falls surprisingly flat in its surfeit of details (on houses, boats and much younger women who seemed to attract and torture him mainly because of their beauty), while adding little understanding to the unique dynamics of the Who. Jimi Hendrix comes alive in these pages, but ex-wife Karen Townshend does not. Regarding the “odd couple” relationship he has sustained with singer Roger Daltrey, Townshend doesn’t seem to understand it any better than readers will. Fans will find plenty of revelation; others may be overwhelmed or just confused.

NOBODY WALKS Bringing My Brother’s Killers to Justice

Walsh, Dennis M. Dunne/St. Martin’s (304 pp.) $26.99 | Feb. 5, 2013 978-1-250-00548-9

Pulpy, engrossing account of losing a family member to a senseless murder and retribution delivered through the criminal justice system. Attorney Walsh was the only one among his four brothers to follow the straight-and-narrow path, perhaps due to the example set by their father, a Cleveland cop turned mobster. But none of them were prepared for the death of Chris, the youngest, at the

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“A highly revealing study with global implications.” from the rule of the clan

hands of fellow denizens of the meth-and-gangs subculture on the fringes of Southern California’s pornography business. Walsh lived a sibling’s nightmare, asked to identify Chris’ decaying body. Street gossip quickly pinpointed the killer, David Steinberg, Chris’ former roommate, who was an associate of white supremacist prison gangs. Despite fears that he might pre-emptively sabotage eventual prosecution, Walsh began sniffing around Chris’ friends, a motley group of drug users, porn stars and entertainment-industry hangers-on. Many agreed to cooperate with him, given the implied threat of his more criminally inclined brothers’ thirst for vengeance. The narrative is sensibly straightforward, following the turns as police, prosecutors and Walsh make efforts to gather evidence on, arrest and successfully prosecute Steinberg and his cronies. As the author himself might agree, he is in some ways too close to the material. The narrative is populated by a surfeit of underworld figures who don’t really come alive as fully developed characters, but instead seem caricatures of seamy decrepitude. Still, Walsh captures the arc of his family’s involvement in an act of senseless malice, calling into question the cultural endurance of macho violence within certain subcultures and the difficulty of holding men responsible for horrific acts within the legal system’s overtaxed framework. Gritty, effective, personalized tale of the outlaw lifestyle and its consequences. (8-page b/w photo insert)

LAST APE STANDING The Seven-Million-Year Story of How and Why We Survived

Walter, Chip Walker (240 pp.) $26.00 | Jan. 29, 2013 978-0-8027-1756-6

About 27 humanoid species roamed the Earth since splitting off from their ape ancestors 7 million years ago; more are turning up, but only one remains. Science journalist and former CNN bureau chief Walter (Thumbs, Toes, and Tears: And Other Traits That Make Us Human, 2006) delivers a mixture of fact, research and conjecture that describes how this happened. Anthropologists define humans as primates who walk upright, but the author focuses on another fundamental, if bizarre, difference—human species deliver children prematurely. Traditionally, teachers explain that this allows passage of our increasingly large skull and brain through the birth canal, but there is more to it. We are not only born as fetuses, but we keep infantile ape features (near-hairlessness, flatter faces, higher foreheads, a straight big toe) into adult life. Carrying the analogy further, Walter emphasizes that humans not only have an extended physical childhood (gorillas reach adulthood at 11), but we preserve the mental qualities of childhood: curiosity, adaptability, and the love of play, new experiences and experimentation. Our victory was not preordained, and three other brainy species shared the planet when the first Homo sapiens appeared 200,000 years ago. The first breakthroughs, tools and |

fire, occurred over 1 million years earlier, and we did not seem an improvement. More than another 100,000 years passed before Homo sapiens’ burgeoning neural connections passed a tipping point that produced the language, culture, creativity and technology that enabled it to rule the world. The author offers a short epilogue about the “next human,” writing, “short of another asteroid collision or global cataclysm, we will almost certainly become augmented versions of our current selves.” Walter never explains precisely why our species stands alone, but few readers will complain at the end of this engrossing, up-to-date account of human evolution. (8-page b/w insert)

THE RULE OF THE CLAN What an Ancient Form of Social Organization Reveals About the Future of Individual Freedom

Weiner, Mark S. Farrar, Straus and Giroux (288 pp.) $27.00 | Mar. 12, 2013 978-0-374-25281-6

A compelling argument about the indispensable function of the modern liberal state as a bulwark for individual freedom against traditional kinship-based clan forms of social organization. Weiner (Constitutional Law and Legal History/Rutgers School of Law; Americans Without Law: The Racial Boundaries of Citizenship, 2008, etc.) asserts that, in the wake of the recent financial crisis, current calls to “engage in the wholesale dismantling of public institutions” have the potential to be “a catastrophe for individual freedom.” He forcefully presents the case that individual rights will be weakened, not strengthened, by the diminution of state power. Personal liberty will be challenged due to the need of people to place greater reliance on the family structure to ensure survival. This decentralization will enhance the power of the kin-based group, with its collectivist organization of honor and blood feud and social justice among kin. The author presents legal, historical and current political contexts for his case, drawing from the work of the British legal historian Henry Sumner Maine, who distinguished between societies of “status” and societies based on “contract” for a foundation. Weiner also presents anthropological studies of the Nuer in Sudan and tribal organization throughout the Arab world and the Indian subcontinent. The author turns to Icelandic and Anglo-Saxon history to show how clans and the liberal state have coexisted in the past and continue to do so. He makes a convincing case that it is the strength of the clan structure, rather than the Islamic religious worldview, that breeds terrorism in countries such as Pakistan or Syria. Romeo and Juliet and Walter Scott’s Waverley also provide grist for the author’s mill. Weiner believes that modern liberal states can support the constitutional development of clan-based societies by supporting the professional classes. A highly revealing study with global implications.

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EMBRACING FRY BREAD Confessions of a Wannabe

Welsch, Roger Bison/Univ. of Nebraska (296 pp.) $19.95 paperback | Dec. 1, 2012 978-0-8032-2532-9

A Nebraska-born folklorist shares how his life and perspectives have changed as a result of his 60-year-long relationship with Native American communities. Welsch (My Nebraska: The Good, the Bad, and the Husker, 2011, etc.) resides with his wife in Dannebrog, Neb., (pop. 347) on land he has returned to the Pawnees—and on which he continues to live “by their grace.” Through personal interest, the author developed lifelong friendships with members of the Omaha and Pawnee nations, having been officially accepted as a member of both tribes. Welsch offers a disclaimer early on that his book is a memoir of his own experience of being accepted into another culture—a “casual, straggling conversation,” not a scholarly study, nor an attempt to speak on American Indians’ behalf. This approach makes the book authentic and engaging, if repetitious, and frees the author to toss in as much snark as he pleases. Welsch doesn’t suffer fools (most of mainstream white America, especially Nebraska football fans) gladly and doles out smug exaggerations where a touch of perceptive wit would be more effective and less alienating. Nonetheless, he writes ably and knowledgeably about a variety of topics, offering readers plenty to learn and enjoy. Welsch praises much of Indian culture, including civil debates, eloquent speechmaking, rich oral history, gift-giving practices, patriotism, community and lack of conflict among faiths. He also leverages his unique position as a full member of both cultures to humorously highlight the differences between Native and white cultures, such as “Indian Time,” and to deconstruct stereotypes in white and Native relations. Welsch’s gratitude toward the Omahas and Pawnees is real, his outrage at their painful history is justified, and his story is proof that Native American culture is still alive and complex.

reins of General Motors and saw it through the tough process of federally mandated reorganization. “None of this is magic,” he faux modestly avers. It does, however, have everything to do with good management, and by his account, good management is in exceedingly short supply. The truisms begin to mount as he proceeds: “People are the number one asset of any business”; “Good managers know that change is the only constant in business, so they actively manage their businesses—smartly, aggressively, and as humanely as possible”; “Life, when you really think about it, is basically just a series of key moments or turning points.” Such things might seem self-evident and obvious, but when Whitacre serves up horror stories of corporate culture run amok, including places where ordinary employees weren’t allowed to ride in the same elevators as top management and where those same ordinary employees were made to feel as if they were scarcely worth being seen, let alone being heard, then it becomes more obvious that common-sensical approaches have to be beaten into the heads of some of the privileged corporate elite. There’s no sense of privilege in the author’s pages, though it’s obvious that he’s made a vast amount of money. Instead, Whitacre provides a refreshing amount of sunshine and fresh air, with guardedness surrounding only the question of why he left GM, an event that still seems a touch mysterious. A keeper in a field of undercooked, underwritten books by CEOs.

AMERICAN TURNAROUND Reinventing AT&T and GM and the Way We Do Business in the USA

Whitacre, Ed with Cauley, Leslie Business Plus/Grand Central (304 pp.) $28.99 | Feb. 5, 2013 978-1-4555-1301-7

A tough-talking Texan offers business truisms. Whitacre is a turnaround specialist who took AT&T from a $9 billion “Baby Bell” to a global giant with annual revenues of more than $120 billion; he later took the 2700

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children’s & teen

IT’S OUR GARDEN From Seeds to Harvest in a School Garden

These titles earned the Kirkus Star:

THE WRAP-UP LIST by Steven Arntson..................................... p. 2701

Ancona, George Photos by Ancona, George Candlewick (48 pp.) $16.99 | Jan. 8, 2013 978-0-7636-5392-7

BUILDING OUR HOUSE by Jonathan Bean................................ p. 2703 EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION by Tonya Bolden................p. 2704 ETCHED IN CLAY by Andrea Cheng............................................ p. 2707

Ancona takes readers on a yearlong tour of one Santa Fe, N.M., school garden. The garden at Acequia Madre Elementary School will no doubt give rise to the little green monster in the hearts of more than a few educators. Complete with an outdoor classroom, greenhouse, composting area, and some local college students to pitch in and help, it is an enviable addition to the campus. Students are involved in all aspects of the garden: They help plan it, plant the seeds, transplant seedlings, mulch and water and compost the beds, raise butterflies to pollinate the garden, make adobe bricks to line garden beds, coat the horno (a traditional oven) in new adobe, harvest the fruits and vegetables, and prepare the garden for winter. In the summertime, the community comes together for gatherings in the garden, many of which involve eating the produce. Color photographs give educators something to drool over, while charming artwork done by the kids dots the pages. While there are some educational tidbits scattered in the text—for example, how plants are pollinated—this is less a gardening book for children than a book for those educators who want to go from the dreaming stage to the planning and doing stages…and who want to involve their students in the process. It’s sure to bring out the green thumb of many an educator, and it just may provoke some kids to get out in their own yards and make a garden. (bibliography, websites) (Informational picture book. 5-8, adult)

THE RUINING by Anna Collomore.............................................. p. 2708 HOOKED by Liz Fichera............................................................... p. 2712 BRAVE GIRL by Michelle Markel; illus. by Melissa Sweet......... p. 2720 TEETH by Hannah Moskowitz......................................................p.2722 MY BROTHER’S BOOK by Maurice Sendak................................ p. 2725 HOKEY POKEY by Jerry Spinelli.................................................p. 2726 POLAR BEAR MORNING by Lauren Thompson; illus. by Stephen Savage................................................................ p. 2728 ONE CAME HOME by Amy Timberlake......................................p. 2729 A SPLASH OF RED by Jen Bryant; illus. by Melissa Sweet........ p. 2730 THE PRICE OF FREEDOM by Dennis Brindell Fradin; Judith Bloom Fradin; illus. by Eric Velasquez..............................p. 2731 NELSON MANDELA by Kadir Nelson.........................................p. 2731 YOU NEVER HEARD OF WILLIE MAYS?! by Jonah Winter; illus. by Terry Widener.................................................................. p. 2732

THE WRAP-UP LIST

Arntson, Steven Houghton Mifflin (240 pp.) $15.99 | Jan. 8, 2013 978-0-547-82410-9

LIL’ RED by Brian Main................................................................p. 2733

Some people die; others simply “depart.” No one knows why, but 1 percent of all deaths are “departures.” With U.S. troops overseas on the brink of war, they are on the rise. After receiving a Death Letter from her Death, Hercule, 16-year-old Gabriela Rivera has one week to write her Wrap-Up List of things she hopes |

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will happen in her final days and to prepare for her departure. While she wishes for a first kiss from the popular football starting receiver and a Pardon from her fate, she also selflessly hopes for first kisses for her three best friends. Despite the seemingly moribund subject matter, Gabriela’s first-person narration gushes with dark humor. Topping everything are the Deaths themselves. These skinny, 8-foot-tall, silvery figures, which seem to move by swimming in air, have to stand in line for coffee just like mortals when awaiting a departure. As the quick but thoughtful story chronicles each day before the Latina teen’s departure, the fulfillment of the Wrap-Up List leads to many surprises, including the real cause of her grandfather’s World War II–related death and the questioning of her long-standing religious faith. But if Gabriela wants that Pardon, she needs to find out Hercule’s Noble Weakness—and fast. Quirky, charming and life-affirming, supernatural style. (Supernatural fiction. 12 & up)

EVERBOUND

Ashton, Brodi Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins (368 pp.) $17.99 | $9.99 e-book | Jan. 22, 2013 978-0-06-207116-3 978-0-06-207118-7 e-book Series: Everneath, 2 Desperation replaces melancholy as Nikki struggles to rescue Jack from the Everneath. Every night since Jack took Nikki’s place in the Everneath’s Tunnels during Everneath (2012), he has visited her dreams. While his presence gives Nikki hope he’ll survive, it’s clear his memory is deteriorating—unless Jack escapes soon, the Everneath will claim him completely. Nikki schemes to use Everliving Cole to gain entrance to the Everneath. The path to Jack takes Nikki through every danger that the Everneath can throw at her. Not only are the obstacles physically and psychologically intense, but they also draw from numerous myths (Persephone and Theseus and the Minotaur, to name just a couple) and Dante’s Inferno. Every night, Nikki must return to the normal world to meet Jack in their shared dream in order to anchor him, but time spent with him is time she can’t use to get closer to him. Cole still claims to love her, and he definitely still wants to make her the Everneath’s queen. He guides her quest in order to keep her alive, as the entirety of the Everneath seeks to kill her. Alongside the literary references, the text paints a clear, cohesive picture of the Everneath’s specific rules and order. The ending strikes just the right note, resolving this storyline while opening up a new one. Intense, intriguing and highly addictive. (Paranormal romance. 13 & up)

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PRESIDENT ADAMS’ ALLIGATOR

Barnes, Peter W.; Barnes, Cheryl Shaw Illus. by Barnes, Peter W.; Barnes, Cheryl Shaw Little Patriot Press (40 pp.) $16.95 | Feb. 18, 2013 978-1-62157-035-6 This tally of presidential pets reads like a school report (for all that the author is a journalist for Fox Business Network) and isn’t helped by its suite of amateurish illustrations. Barnes frames the story with a teacher talking to her class and closes it with quizzes and a write-on “ballot.” Presidents from Washington to Obama—each paired to mentions of birds, dogs, livestock, wild animals and other White House co-residents— parade past in a rough, usually undated mix of chronological order and topical groupings. The text is laid out in monotonous blocks over thinly colored scenes that pose awkwardly rendered figures against White House floors or green lawns. In evident recognition that the presidents might be hard to tell apart, on some (but not enough) pages they carry identifying banners. The animals aren’t so differentiated; an unnamed goat that William Henry Harrison is pulling along with his cow Sukey in one picture looks a lot like one that belonged to Benjamin Harrison, and in some collective views, it’s hard to tell which animals go with which first family. The runt of the litter of print titles and websites covering the topic. (bibliography, notes for adult readers) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

GIRL MEETS GHOST

Barnholdt, Lauren Aladdin (224 pp.) $15.99 | Feb. 5, 2013 978-1-4424-4246-7

Life gets complicated for a seventhgrade girl just starting her first romance when ghosts that only she can see interfere. Kendall, 12, doesn’t know how to approach cute Brandon, until her most recent ghost starts giving her boy-chasing advice. Unbeknownst to anyone, Kendall has seen ghosts since she was a baby; once she solves the ghosts’ problems, they move on. Her current ghost, a 16-year-old gymnast named Daniella, knows she’s dead but can’t remember what her problem is except that it involves someone named Jen. Kendall researches the problem online and finds a likely Jen but succeeds only in annoying her. Meanwhile, Kendall gets an actual date with Brandon, but Ellie does better in her romance with Brandon’s friend Kyle. Brandon keeps discovering Kendall talking with the invisible Daniella and backs off their relationship. Can Kendall satisfy Daniella’s ghostly needs while simultaneously pursuing Brandon and avoiding a restraining order from Jen? And what about a new ghost that scares even Kendall? Barnholdt keeps kirkus.com

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“Throughout, the watercolor-and-ink illustrations invite close examination for narrative details…while also providing ample visual information about construction.” from building our house

the narrative light and her characters chirpy. Kendall might get discouraged, but she’s always ready to bounce back with a new hairstyle or a spiffy outfit. Much of the comedy comes from Kendall’s attempts to explain her increasingly outlandish actions as she tries to hide the truth about her ghosts. Funny and bubbly. (Paranormal comedy. 9-12)

Told from the perspective of Bean’s older sister, the story revels in the practical work of house-building, demystifying the stages of construction in a matter-of-fact, engaging tone. The oversized, portrait format echoes the height of the house the family builds, but front endpapers first show a vast, rural landscape in the foreground of which lies the “weedy field Dad and Mom bought from a farmer.” Frontmatter depicts them packing and leaving the city. Ensuing spreads detail how they live in a trailer on their new property while slowly building the house: setting the corners of the foundation; digging out the basement; gathering rocks and using them in the foundation; measuring, marking and cutting timber for the frame; and so on. The scene depicting a frame-raising party situates the little homesteading family in a loving community of relatives and friends who gather to help; then, right after they all move in, the family grows when both Mom and the pet cat have babies. Throughout, the watercolor-and-ink illustrations invite close examination for narrative details such as these while also providing ample visual information about construction. Raise the roof for this picture book. It’s something special. (Picture book. 3-8)

BUILDING OUR HOUSE

Bean, Jonathan Illus. by Bean, Jonathan Farrar, Straus and Giroux (48 pp.) $17.99 | Jan. 8, 2013 978-0-374-38023-6 Bean sets aside the urban setting of his Boston Globe–Horn Book Award winner, At Night (2007), in this homage to his back-to-the-land parents, who built his childhood home in the 1970s.

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“A vivid depiction of the issues and tensions surrounding abolition and the development of Lincoln’s responses to them as the United States plunged into the Civil War.” from emancipation proclamation

MISTLE CHILD

Berk, Ari Simon & Schuster (352 pp.) $17.99 | Feb. 12, 2013 978-1-4169-9117-5 Series: The Undertaken Trilogy, 2 The bipolar young escort to newly dead souls introduced in Death Watch (2011) acquires potentially soul-corrupting powers and necromantic skills in this deliberately paced but strongly atmospheric middle volume. Having prematurely succeeded his father as Undertaker in the ghost-ridden town of Lichport, Silas Umber makes his way to the thoroughly haunted ancestral estate of Arvale to continue his training as a psychopomp. There he meets the specters of family going back thousands of years, becomes enmeshed in their subtle intrigues and undergoes a ritual that gives him the ability to banish the restless dead from this world forever. He also inadvertently frees a mad, ancient spirit. In bringing her to rest, he learns some distinctly unwholesome spells from her cursed grandfather that, by the end, look to be leading him straight to an ugly fate. The spectral figures that mostly surround Silas are (somewhat) less frightening and the narrative’s measured language more somber than luridly melodramatic: “She stood in a long woolen gown, limned with flickering, melancholic fire, looking out over the twilight salt marshes.” The general scenario and tone, the many elements drawn from myth or folklore, and the ominous extracts from old books and journals printed in a variety of alternate typefaces are reminiscent of Joseph Delaney’s Last Apprentice series. Fine bedtime fare for readers looking to cut down on their sleep. (Ghost story. 12-15)

THE MARBLE QUEEN

Blake, Stephanie J. Amazon Children’s Publishing (192 pp.) $16.99 | $9.99 e-book | Jan. 1, 2013 978-0-7614-6227-9 978-0-7614-6228-6 e-book Freedom Jane McKenzie, 10, has written her “Last Will and Testimony,” and in it, she passes her most treasured worldly possession, her bag of marbles, on to her best friend, Daniel. That would be fine, except Daniel has come to the sad realization that sixth-grade boys should probably primarily be associating with boys, not playing marbles with girls, even talented ones like Freedom. In fact, nearly all of the marble-playing boys have decided they don’t want to play with her. Meanwhile, she’s set her sights on winning the marbles competition at the Autumn Jubilee. Her mother strongly disapproves. But her mother has a few more issues to deal with besides marbles: Freedom’s father’s drinking has begun to control his life and theirs, and she’s due to have a 2704

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baby any day now. Blake’s debut novel, lovingly set in 1959 Idaho, gently reminds readers that some things never change: Growing up was a challenge in the 1950s, and it remains so. Incorporating the lingo of marble-playing, which will be unfamiliar to most readers, adds a mildly exotic flavor to Freedom’s entertaining tale. Freedom’s voice, nicely captured in her first-person narration, is often droll and never boring. This one is for keepsies, and it would be perfect paired with a how-to book on marble games. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION Lincoln and the Dawn of Liberty

Bolden, Tonya Abrams (128 pp.) $24.95 | Jan. 1, 2013 978-1-4197-0390-4

A vivid depiction of the issues and tensions surrounding abolition and the development of Lincoln’s responses to them as the United States plunged into the Civil War. From the first, Bolden adopts a personal voice that infuses her narrative with urgency—”Over the years, we rejoiced when a Northern state abolished the abomination. We agonized when a slave state entered the union.” The account opens with scenes of hushed abolitionist vigils as the hour that the proclamation would officially go into effect approaches; it closes with glimpses of the joyous celebrations that followed. In between, the author tracks rising tides of both rhetoric and violence, as well as the evolution of President Abraham Lincoln’s determined efforts to forge a policy that would serve military, political and moral necessities alike. Along with relevant sections of the Constitution and the final proclamation’s full text (both with glosses), the author adds to her narrative a heavy infusion of impassioned rhetoric from contemporary writers and orators. These, plus a spectacular set of big, sharply reproduced prints, photos and paintings, offer cogent insights into major events and the overall tenor of the public discourse. A convincing, handsomely produced argument that the proclamation, for all its acknowledged limitations, remains a watershed document. (endnotes, bibliography, extensive timeline) (Nonfiction. 12-15)

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THE TERRIBLE THING THAT HAPPENED TO BARNABY BROCKET

textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet. A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Boyne, John Illus. by Jeffers, Oliver Knopf (288 pp.) $16.99 | $10.99 e-book | PLB $19.99 Jan. 8, 2013 978-0-307-97762-5 978-0-307-97764-9 e-book 978-0-307-97763-2 PLB

JACOB WONDERBAR AND THE INTERSTELLAR TIME WARP

Barnaby Brocket has been defying the laws of gravity since the day he was born. Now, at the ripe old age of 8, his life continues to be ruled by this fact: If he’s not held down by outside forces, he floats. And as if that wasn’t enough of a problem, he also happens to have been born into “the most normal family who ever lived in the Southern Hemisphere.” Unfortunately, his mother and father have about as much compassion as the Dursleys of Harry Potter fame or the Wormwood parents in Roald Dahl’s Matilda. They are so obsessed with maintaining normality that they not only send him to “The Graveling Academy for Unwanted Children,” but are led to do something even more perfectly awful and unparentlike, which changes the course of Barnaby’s life forever. Boyne (The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, 2006) is no stranger to difficult topics and uses this fanciful tale to explore being different and how to cope with it with wit and imagination. On his sometimes harrowing and fantastical odyssey back to his Australian home, Barnaby meets an amazing array of people similarly rejected by their families. All of his experiences ultimately prove to be character-building, if repetitive in their themes. A story of self-empowerment told with wry humor and purpose. (Fable. 8-12)

Bransford, Nathan Illus. by Jennings, C.S. Dial (272 pp.) $15.99 | Feb. 7, 2013 978-0-8037-3703-7 Series: Jacob Wonderbar, 3

Space is huge, but Jacob and his friends are about to find out that time is even huger. Jacob Wonderbar and his friends Sarah Daisy and Dexter head home after Jacob loses his campaign for president of the universe (Jacob Wonderbar for President of the Universe, 2012)—but they find themselves 50 years in Earth’s future. Jacob’s mother tells him the only way to fix things is to find his father, which Jacob has been trying to do for two years. Now he discovers he has to search through all space and time. Mick Cracken (who won the election) is still president 50 years later, and he offers Jacob a time machine. On their trip to the Jurassic Period, the trio stumble upon Sarah’s bratty little sister, Chloe...and then things really go off-kilter. An organization of Earth humans called the Strangers is set on the destruction of the Astrals (humans who went into space with Einstein), and if they succeed, Jacob will never exist—since his missing father was an Astral. Bransford finishes his Jacob Wonderbar trilogy with a time-hopping, screwball adventure sure to please fans of the slapstick space antics of the previous volumes. Though it mostly ignores the paradoxes of time travel (the pace doesn’t allow for deep thought), this is nevertheless a satisfying series closer. Steer newbies to the first in the series so they can experience the whole goofy tale. (Humorous science fiction. 8-12)

HEY, DUCK!

Bramsen, Carin Illus. by Bramsen, Carin Random House (40 pp.) $17.99 | Jan. 22, 2013 978-0-375-86990-7 A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend. He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts. When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear |

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SHADOWLANDS

Brian, Kate Disney Hyperion (336 pp.) $17.99 | Jan. 8, 2013 978-1-4231-6483-8 Rory’s life is turned upside down when she is attacked by a serial killer who has been posing as a math teacher at her school. The FBI informs the family that over the years, Mr. Nell has murdered 14 other |

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girls and always escaped. He is even able to overcome the alarm system the FBI has rigged at Rory’s house to leave a rose and a threatening message on Rory’s bed. Quickly, the family is sent from New Jersey down the coast to a Southern resort island town. Along the way, Rory has a vivid nightmare that she, her father, her sister and the attacker are all killed violently. Life in Juniper Landing is partly delicious and partly frightening. It’s full of gorgeous boys and girls who quickly make the acquaintance of Rory and her sister, Darcy, but there is no cell service or Internet, isolating them. The juxtaposition of reality against the dream world mirrors the alternation between Rory’s account of events and short sections in which the killer describes his thoughts. These passages combine with the peculiarity of the town, its weather and a populace that is gradually disappearing to provide the ample goose bumps and chills required for the genre; it’s suspenseful all the way up to its final, disappointing reveal. Suspend disbelief and it’s a fun ride. (Horror. 11-16)

HENRY AND THE CANNONS An Extraordinary True Story of the American Revolution Brown, Don Illus. by Brown, Don Roaring Brook (32 pp.) $16.99 | Jan. 22, 2013 978-1-59643-266-6

Brown brings to life a complex undertaking that had important repercussions, though his early-elementary audience may not be quite ready for it. The book’s trajectory is clearly laid out: A simple map traces an almost-300-mile path through the wilderness from Fort Ticonderoga in New York to Boston. The first line draws readers firmly into the past—“It was the winter of 1775”—and defines the problem: British soldiers occupy Boston, and the Americans have no way to dislodge them. Despite the seeming impossibility of transporting heavy cannons over snowy roads, across icy lakes and through forbidding forests, young Henry Knox, a bookseller and militia member, volunteered to get the job done. As he has in other informational picture books, Brown uses a variety of page layouts, including some sequential panels, to convey the action. Cool blues and icy whites evoke the wintry landscape; figures and faces are loosely drawn but ably express emotion and determination. Likewise, the brief text employs lyrical language to both get the basic facts across and communicate the feelings and experiences of Henry and his band of hardy helpers. Children intrigued by Brown’s succinct summary will want to follow up with Anita Silvey’s Henry Knox: Bookseller, Solider, Patriot, illustrated by Wendell Minor (2010). Despite the book’s clarity, many young listeners still may not understand the enormity of the enterprise or its importance in U.S. history (bibliography) (Picture book. 6-8)

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ONE GORILLA

Browne, Anthony Illus. by Browne, Anthony Candlewick (32 pp.) $16.99 | Feb. 1, 2013 978-0-7636-6352-0 Browne really cranks up the color intensity in this gorgeous, large-trim portrait gallery of primates. Beginning with “1 gorilla” and counting up to “10 lemurs,” he presents on each spread a formally arranged head and upper-body close-up, with each subject placed against a plain white backdrop facing the viewer. Most are smiling, though as the groupings increase in size, they begin to take on the look of class photos, with a range of expressions on view and eyes sometimes playfully glancing to the side rather than looking directly out. Nonetheless, every visible eye gleams with steady, clear intelligence. Each ape is painted in hair-fine detail, in variegated hues that—particularly for the titular simian and the fiery orange parent and child orangutans that follow—glow incandescently. Browne closes with a self-portrait followed by a multicultural gathering of humans spanning the age spectrum, all with features and expressions that clearly echo those seen previously on hairier faces. The former British Children’s Laureate has a simple point—“All primates. / All one family. / All my family… / and yours!”—and he makes it in a visually compelling way. (Picture book. 3-8)

PULSE

Carman, Patrick Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins (384 pp.) $17.99 | $9.99 e-book | Feb. 26, 2013 978-0-06-208576-4 978-0-06-208578-8 e-book Best-selling author Carman launches a new series in a dystopian civilization that has its roots in today’s United States. It’s 2051, and global warming has wreaked havoc around the world. Most of America’s remaining population has moved into one of the two remaining States, where life is stringently controlled and people are kept amused by whatever latest entertainment is available on their ever-present Tablets. Outside the States, life is freer, but even there, kids like Faith Daniels still have to go to school, despite shrinking student populations. On her own, she clings to her friendship with Liz while wondering what it would be like to have a boyfriend like Wade Quinn. She soon finds out that both Wade and his sister Clara are dangerous. When Liz and her family move into the Western State, Faith is even more alone, except for Hawk, a genius hacker, and Dylan, who can not only move things with his mind, but ward off almost all threats to his body. Faith has this extra “pulse” as well…if only Dylan can train her to use it in time. The third-person narration shifts from one character’s kirkus.com

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“At once intimate and universal; the riveting story of an unforgettable life lived during an unbelievable time.” from etched in clay

perspective to another in short, colloquial chapters, keeping the pace swift from the beginning. Carman’s grounding of his dystopia in this recognizable near-future makes it highly believable. The successful mix of suspense and romance combines with unexpected twists to keep readers engrossed from the start and begging for more. (Dystopian romance. 13 & up)

Harvey Drake, who, with his uncles, held the Pottersville Stoneware Manufactory in South Carolina. Dave took to the wheel within weeks and went on to become one of the most accomplished potters in the region. Cheng’s spare free-verse poems masterfully highlight the repeated hardships Dave endured: being relocated no fewer than four times when loaned or sold to a new owner; losing two wives when their owners forced them to move to different states; losing his leg after being hit by a train; and, in the face of severe anti-literacy laws designed to keep slaves down, bravely creating art that “etched in clay” his ability to read and write. Says Dave: “I am not afraid / to write on a jar / and fire it hot / so my word / can never be erased.” Combining visual art with poetry as Dave did, Cheng includes her own striking woodcuts, illustrating both Dave’s experiences and his artistry. At once intimate and universal; the riveting story of an unforgettable life lived during an unbelievable time. (Verse biography. 9 & up)

RETURN TO ME

Chen, Justina Little, Brown (352 pp.) $17.99 | Jan. 15, 2013 978-0-316-10255-1 A teen psychic learns to embrace her visions after her father breaks up their family. Reb is just about to start as a freshman at Columbia when her father announces that he wants a divorce. The teen believes that this must be a result of the family curse that mandates all the women on her mom’s side to end up alone because of their precognitive abilities. Reb has squashed her own visions after a near-death experience as a child, but she now finds herself seeking them out as she tries to help her mom through the breakup, navigate her own relationship with a too-good-to-be-true boy and decide if she will go to college or take a gap year to follow her love of creating intimate architectural spaces. Her mother and grandmother dole out inspirational platitudes like, “Inertia. Sometimes moving is the hardest thing to do,” and, “Forgiveness is a process, and sometimes it’s an entire life’s work.” These often make this earnest and plodding character study of three generations of women trying to discover and live their passions read more like a self-help book than a novel. While this may have bibliotherapeutic value for older teens who are struggling with big life decisions, most readers in search of a good story would be better off sticking with the author’s solid earlier work. Disappointing. (Paranormal fiction. 13 & up)

by Shelly Dickson Carr Travel back to 1888 London with Katie Lennox. Can this smart, gutsy teen stop a serial killer?

“You’ll be torn by the need to race through the pages of RIPPED to discover what horror happens next, and the desire to a Jack the Ripper Time-Travel Thriller slow down and savor the fascinating details of Victorian London. A ripping-good novel!”

a YA Novel 520 pages, 6×9 in. 60 illustrations $19.95 paperback eBook Available

ETCHED IN CLAY The Life of Dave, Enslaved Potter and Poet Cheng, Andrea Illus. by Cheng, Andrea Lee & Low (144 pp.) $17.95 | Jan. 1, 2013 978-1-60060-451-5

Cheng follows on the Caldecott Honor–winning Dave the Potter, by Laban Carrick Hill and illustrated by Bryan Collier (2010), to further open up the fascinating life of the enslaved potter named Dave for children. Records indicate Dave, who was born in the United States in 1801, was most likely purchased at a slave auction at age 17 by |

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ISBN 978-1-939003-00-3

–Ellen Yeomans

Available December 15, 2012 From Ingram and Baker & Taylor

author of

Rubber Houses

www.ripped-book.com

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“…this story unwinds as a corker of a read with an unreliable, or perhaps not, narrator.” from the ruining

THE RUINING

Collomore, Anna Razorbill/Penguin (336 pp.) $17.99 | Feb. 7, 2013 978-1-59514-470-6 A compelling psychological thriller presents a vulnerable girl on the brink of madness. This intriguing take on the classic story “The Yellow Wallpaper,” finds Annie, a refugee from poverty in Detroit, moving to a mansion in San Francisco to become the nanny for a wealthy couple’s 3-year-old girl, Zoe. The couple pays Annie’s tuition at San Francisco State University and promises her a measure of freedom to study and have a social life. Almost immediately, however, Libby, Zoe’s beautiful mom, takes over Annie’s life, giving her clothing, choosing her university classes and deluging her with advice. Annie idolizes Libby, but she finds her increasingly hard to please. Libby finds fault with minor things, becoming especially unhappy when Annie begins a romance with Owen, the handsome, smart and super-nice guy next door. She demands most of her time, takes the door off Annie’s room and begins to install hideous yellow wallpaper there. As time passes, Libby becomes ever more hostile, accusing Annie of things the girl has no memory of doing and causing Annie enormous anxiety. Collomore supplies enough clues for astute readers to guess what’s going on, but she builds the suspense from Annie’s viewpoint until readers will be flipping through the pages till they run up against the too-neat resolution. Up until then, however, this story unwinds as a corker of a read with an unreliable, or perhaps not, narrator. Gripping stuff. (Suspense. 12 & up)

JANIE FACE TO FACE

Cooney, Caroline B. Delacorte (352 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | PLB $20.99 Jan. 8, 2013 978-0-385-74206-1 978-0-375-97997-2 e-book 978-0-375-99.39-7 PLB Series: Janie, 5

Over two decades after the Janie series began with The Face on the Milk Carton (1990), Cooney concludes the thriller-romance saga of kidnapped Janie Johnson. Janie, having balanced living with both her “real” family and her kidnap family, looks forward to the anonymity of college, only to discover that a true-crime writer wants to revive the ordeal in a book. Although her heart is still with Reeve, the boy next door who betrayed her, she begins to date Michael— who is actually stalking her as a researcher for the crime writer. Dumping Michael, she falls back into Reeve’s waiting arms. In a romantic proposal scene at the airport, they decide to marry 2708

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immediately. With much rehashing of back story and Janie’s endless wrestling over which boy she loves, the pace drags until the heart-pounding final pages. Janie, for all she has been through, is shallow and saccharine—a throwback to decades ago. Janie’s wedding plans and multiple professions of faith in God give the book an explicit Catholic tone. Kidnapper Hannah Javensen’s character, expressed in the interspersed chapters that explore her mental instability, has more psychological depth. Fans who have wondered whether Reeve and Janie’s love endures and whether the kidnapper is caught will want this final piece of the puzzle. (Fiction. 12-17)

RISE

Cremer, Andrea Philomel (416 pp.) $18.99 | Jan. 8, 2013 978-0-399-15960-2 Series: Nightshade This second prequel to the popular Nightshade werewolf series keeps the action moving. Picking up right where the last book left off, this installment alternately follows heroine Ember and her lover, Barrow, and her longtime friend turned enemy, Alistair. Bosque Mar, the demon that will plague the Nightshade trilogy, has gained control of the society of Conatus, originally formed to fight demons of his ilk. Ember, Barrow and friends manage to escape to France and a sympathetic Conatus member who aids them, but Ember decides to return to Scotland to spy on Conatus from the inside. Alistair, fully under the influence of Bosque Mar, remains in unrequited love with Ember, but now he finds his own purpose: making the first werewolves. The main Nightshade trilogy emphasized individual freedom as a recurrent theme; that theme seems less explicit here, except in the defiance of the rebels and in Ember’s desire to be a warrior who eschews feminine clothing. Popular paranormal motifs abound: the medieval setting, the looming demonic threat, the portal to the netherworld, battles and dark, secret catacombs, not to mention the beginnings of the werewolves. Interesting characters populate the pages, all designed to keep fans glued to the book. One wonders if a third prequel can be made to fit. If not, this one sets up the popular trilogy quite well. Still exciting. (Paranormal romance. 12 & up)

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VORTEX

episodes and some pathos. Worldbuilding and characterization suffer, however. Readers never learn anything about the Church of Spiritual Freedom aside from its brutal intent to destroy the Indigo children. The church and its believers appear to have no religious doctrine whatsoever. Rayne’s sister, Mia, has become part of the Church, but neither her motivations nor her position within it are clear. Rayne, at least, has a spunky personality and a pet iguana that adds some spice to the narrative. Some of the Indigo children also stand out as interesting characters. Exciting if not particularly filling. (Paranormal thriller. 12 & up)

Cross, Julie Dunne/St. Martin’s Griffin (368 pp.) $17.99 | Jan. 15, 2013 978-0-312-56890-0 Series: Tempest (Cross), 2 In the sequel to Tempest (2012), Jackson Meyer is now an agent-in-training, working for a top-secret branch of the CIA. Still hunted by the Enemies of Time and reeling from heartache, Jackson throws himself into his work. With a new partner and a team of other young agents-in-training, Jackson soon finds himself back in New York City, working undercover to prevent time travelers from tampering with the present in order to rewrite the future. As if things weren’t complicated enough, Jackson finds himself face to face with Holly, the love he abandoned in a different timeline in order to save her life. While this Holly may look like the girl he loved, Jackson is shocked to learn that that is where the similarities end. Jumping back and forth between timelines, Jackson embarks on a desperate and dangerous mission to learn who is manipulating the ones he loves and what they have in store for him and, more importantly, for the world. While there’s plenty of action, particularly in the last third of the novel, the mind-numbing logistics of time travel bog down the narrative and will likely leave readers scratching their heads. Additionally, though some of the new characters are welcome, this novel ultimately fails to recreate the authentic, emotional connections among characters that made its predecessor feel so fresh. Disappointing. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

ANOTHER LIFE

David, Keren Frances Lincoln (352 pp.) $16.99 | Dec. 1, 2012 978-1-84780-380-1 The sequel to When I Was Joe (2010) and Almost True (2011) finds Ty Lewis being tried on two counts of carrying an offensive weapon. In witness protection and sometimes using the names Joe and Jake, Ty is a Londoner who is both street-smart and mixed up in some bad stuff. He shares narration duties with his cousin Archie, who enjoys the cushy life of an only child of successful lawyers. The gang Ty ratted on in the first book is still in pursuit, threatening not only him, but also his family and friends. Readers not already familiar with Ty will find the large cast of characters and their intricate relationships confusing, and those familiar will find Archie’s pals a bit boring. However, it is Archie’s naïveté that amps the suspense, through his complete lack of understanding of the danger and his bumbling interference, and his account of events that have already happened can counter Ty’s narrative unreliability. Fans who have already immersed themselves in Ty’s troubles and are looking for insight into what really happened will enjoy the gradual revelations right up to the final pages. The story is becoming a bit played out, though, and this will not likely win new readers. (Adventure. 12 & up)

INDIGO AWAKENING

Dane, Jordan Harlequin Teen (304 pp.) $9.99 paperback | Jan. 1, 2013 978-0-373-21076-3 Series: The Hunted, 1 Ultrapsychic children with intense blue auras—hence the label “Indigo”— find themselves under attack from a group of fanatics. Seventeen-year-old Rayne’s brother Lucas has fled from a mental hospital operated by the sinister Church of Spiritual Freedom. Lucas may be a “crystal child” with psychic abilities far superior to even the best of the Indigo children. Now he runs through the streets of Los Angeles, seeking refuge. Meanwhile, Rayne meets Gabe, a boy who appears to have even more psychic power than Lucas. They search for Lucas while the Church searches for all of them. Fortunately, the extreme psychic powers, such as the ability to manifest hordes of snakes, bats and other animals, works well for protection from various bad guys. Galloping suspense turns out to be the main attraction of the book, along with a few romance |

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THE CATS OF TANGLEWOOD FOREST

de Lint, Charles Illus. by Vess, Charles Little, Brown (304 pp.) $17.99 | Mar. 12, 2013 978-0-316-05357-0

Rather than let Lillian Kindred die of a snakebite, the titular cats turn her into a kitten, and thereby hangs this sweetly magical tale. Tanglewood Forest is inhabited by cats and cat spirits, talking animals and the Apple Tree Man. Kitten Lillian meets Jack Crow, |

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Old Mother Possum and the fox T.H. Reynolds (whose initials stand for “Truthful and Handsome”) in her quest to regain her girl form— but that precipitates yet another snakebite and a different twist to an already twisty story. The tale is infused with Native American and European folk motifs as it meanders along. While it sometimes seems to be held together by little more than verbal gossamer, it is clearly written on a level even a young middle grader can easily follow. Vess’ many and varied illustrations will be in color in the final version (only black-and-white sketches and some full drawings were seen). While Lillian grows in both grace and stubbornness, she also learns to listen and even to see the fairies she longs for. A satisfyingly folkloric, old-fashioned–feeling fable. (Fantasy. 8-12)

DOOMED

Deebs, Tracy Walker (480 pp.) $17.99 | Jan. 8, 2013 978-0-8027-2373-4 “Beat the game. Save the World.” An eco-disaster cyberthriller races through a checklist of teen-lit clichés at a nonetheless entertaining clip. Pandora Walker’s career-obsessed mother may have forgotten her 17th birthday, but not her long-absent father. Unfortunately, his unexpected email kicks off a countdown to global apocalypse, via an Internet virus that shuts down the power grid and electronic communications. With the authorities hot on her trail and civil society collapsing, Pandora teams up with two bitterly antagonistic but conveniently skilled (and gorgeous!) stepbrothers to track down the clues planted in an online game before time runs out. From tag line to climax, this story is an unapologetic flood of pop-culture allusions and predictable young-adult-novel tropes. The “real-life” narrative mirrors the structure of the virtual game: a road trip with puzzles, monsters, obstacles, miniature lessons and escalating threats leveling up to the final boss fight. This conceit, despite the relentless pace and genuine dangers, results in an oddly detached effect. Similarly, the characters are strangely empty archetypes: the neglectful parents, the sassy best friend, the sinister government agent, the environmental activist–turned-terrorist, the charming, careless jock and the tormented genius bad boy. Pandora herself, although bestowed with a random-feeling array of personality quirks, serves as little more than a place holder for the player— er, reader. Still, the zippy prose and day-after-tomorrow currency make for a quick and enjoyable (if forgettable) read. (Science fiction/thriller. 12 & up)

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MASTER GEORGE’S PEOPLE George Washington, His Slaves, and His Revolutionary Transformation Delano, Marfé Ferguson with Mount Vernon Photos by Epstein, Lori National Geographic (64 pp.) $18.95 | PLB $27.90 | Jan. 8, 2013 978-1-4263-0759-1 978-1-4263-0760-7 PLB

A revealing portrait of the father of our country as a slave owner. Revered and remembered as the man who led the young United States to a Revolutionary War victory over the British and served two terms as our first president, Washington was also a Virginia plantation owner and slaveholder. Delano details the day-to-day operations of Mount Vernon and the work, food, clothing and family life of Washington’s slaves. Short biographical sketches are given on those few whose names survive. Washington was a hands-on manager of his land and his “people,” as he referred to the enslaved. What separates him from other Founding Fathers is the turn in his thinking that led him, not long before his death, to change his will and free his slaves. (Martha Washington’s slaves were her dower property from her first husband and were not affected by this.) A generous serving of period illustrations and photographs of Mount Vernon’s historical interpreters adds great visual interest and clarity, although the contemporary folk are no doubt much better dressed and fed. Endpapers excerpt the Declaration of Independence and Washington’s last will and testament. Delano has succeeded in writing a carefully researched, balanced and ultimately moving story. A thoughtful new insight into an iconic American life. (endnote, chronology, bibliography, sources, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

HERE COMES TROUBLE!

Demas, Corinne Illus. by Jones, Noah Z. Orchard (40 pp.) $16.99 | Jan. 1, 2013 978-0-545-35906-1

Toby is a precocious tan-and-brown hound who learns to get along with a neighbor cat in this mildly humorous sequel to Always in Trouble (2008). In the previous story, Toby learned how to behave in obedience school, but now he reverts to mischievous behavior such as running into the road and digging up daffodils. Toby’s antics fail to impress Pandora, the “slinky and spunky and snooty and snobby” cat who lives next door. She ignores Toby completely, until she comes for a visit while her owners are on vacation. Then, as Toby continues to misbehave, Pandora follows suit, though the family members now inadvertently ignore her as she has ignored Toby. When Pandora gets stuck in a tree, the dog saves the day by spelling out “CAT IN TREE” in muddy paw prints on the kitchen floor. In an amusing conclusion, cat and dog celebrate together kirkus.com

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by jumping up and down on Emma’s bed in conspiratorial hijinks. Bold, cartoon-style illustrations with exaggerated shapes refreshingly depict an African-American family, and Toby’s bulgy eyes and winsome expressions steal the show. Though Toby is a pleasing pooch, ultimately the caninevs.-feline conflict is less than compelling. (Picture book. 3-6)

some money and decide what to do next. It’s not long before they run into an old friend Ulric, who is only too happy to be a strong shoulder for Gina…or anything else she’d like him to be. Taking jobs as guides on the nightly ghost tours of Salem, Gina and her crew become all too close to a vengeful spirit who is out to murder anyone it can get its hands on. Gina is caught among the ghost, the authorities, the normals, an investigative TV crew and a horrendous Pilgrim outfit (so not to die for!). Things only get worse when Bobby’s body is taken over by the ghost and turns on Gina herself. As always, it’s up to Gina to solve the problem without revealing herself or getting any of her friends staked in the process. Another amusing romp in the series, this installment also sees its hardy heroine beginning to mature, adding further dimension to her character. Reminiscent of Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse and Janet Evanovich’s Stephan Plum, Gina never fails to deliver the goods. (Paranormal comedy. 12 & up)

A KID’S GUIDE TO ARAB AMERICAN HISTORY

Dennis, Yvonne Wakim; Addasi, Maha Chicago Review (160 pp.) $16.95 paperback | Jan. 1, 2013 978-1-61374-017-0 Series: A Kid’s Guide To... Ralph Nader, Khalil Gibran and Danny Thomas: What do they have in common? They are Lebanese-Americans mentioned in this uneven compendium of facts and activities that explores the history of immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa. The title is misleading, as such groups as Chaldeans, Berbers and Sephardic Jews, among others, are included, even though they do not believe that they are Arab. Despite this, exposing American readers to the great religious and cultural diversity of these 16 countries and the Palestinian territories and their immigrants is a worthwhile endeavor. Unfortunately, the craft instructions, games, recipes, dance, language-learning and writing projects vary in the strength of their connection to “Arab” culture. For example, Palestinian-American writer Naomi Shihab Nye is featured, and the related activity focuses on her poem “Every Cat Has a Story,” which is tied to her writing about “everyday events and ordinary events”—not to her writing about the Middle East. “Design a National Safety Month Poster,” strangely, attempts to connect Ralph Nader to the legendary phoenix. The diagrams are useful, and some of the design elements are attractive, but the other illustrations are amateurish. Professionals and parents can probably pull a few interesting activities and anecdotes from this book, but the individual parts do not add up to a cohesive whole. (resources, bibliography, index [not seen]) (Nonfiction. 8-11)

FANGTABULOUS

Diver, Lucienne Flux (288 pp.) $9.99 paperback | Jan. 8, 2013 978-0-7387-3150-6 Series: Vamped, 4 The fourth in the Vamped series carries the gang to the infamous center of all things witchy: Salem, Mass. Gina Covello, teen vamp and ex-Fed, is on the run with her trusty BFF Marcy and her oh-so gorgeous BF Bobby. They’re on the down-low for now and hoping to stay under the radar long enough to earn |

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“An eloquent memoir of teen drug abuse from 1970s Berlin retains a contemporary feel in a new translation.” from zoo station

WHEN MY BABY DREAMS OF FAIRY TALES

in West Berlin. Readers might, however, wish for more information about how the memoir came to be published, and a note about HIV infection (not a possibility in Christiane’s time, but certainly a risk now) would also be helpful. Disturbing but compelling. (Memoir. 14 & up)

Enersen, Adele Illus. by Enersen, Adele Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins (48 pp.) $14.99 | Jan. 1, 2013 978-0-06-207177-4

The likes of the Grimms and Andersen meet Anne Geddes in this inventive, whimsical paean to fairy tales and babyhood. “Once upon a time, there was a baby girl named Mila,” writes photographer and new mother Enersen, who presents a series of photographs of her sleeping infant daughter set against backdrops of carefully arranged materials that evoke iconic scenes from children’s literature. Each spread includes a simple line of text recalling a particular story. The aerial perspective in the accompanying photographs creates the impression that the sleeping baby is not lying down on a floor covered with materials, but standing, sitting or even floating by in a forest in one spread, a tower in another or on a magic carpet in yet another. Granted, not every tale referenced is strictly a fairy tale (take, for example, the scene devoted to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince), and others feature no recognizable story at all, but the sum of the parts is downright enchanting. Clever use of materials features stuffed animals cast as characters, like the three bears, alongside other, less-expected details, such as a pair of tights placed atop the baby’s head as rabbit ears. A lovely traipse into the woods. (Picture book. 3-6)

ZOO STATION A Memoir

F., Christiane Zest Books (352 pp.) $12.99 paperback | Jan. 2, 2013 978-1-936976-22-5

An eloquent memoir of teen drug abuse from 1970s Berlin retains a contemporary feel in a new translation. Christiane F.’s story begins in childhood. Readers feel, from her 6-year-old perspective, the sense of frustration and restlessness that permeates the housing projects of Gropiusstadt and her father’s violent punishments for mild infractions. At 12, she first tries alcohol, hashish and LSD, and the experiences are described with evocative imagery. That Christiane will ultimately become addicted to heroin is apparent from the first page, and a sense of tragic inevitability pervades each early anecdote. Christiane paints a grim portrait of the drugs-and–sex-work scene around Berlin’s Zoo Station, but readers will also see the sense of fraught community that develops among Christiane and her friends. The strong pull of heroin is never clearer than when, after four days of brutal withdrawal, Christiane talks herself into having “one last and final fix.” Short chapters written by Christiane’s mother and a social worker, a photo spread, a foreword and editorial footnotes help contextualize Christiane’s life 2712

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ANTHONY BEST A Picture Book about Asperger’s Fahy, Davene Illus. by Inouye, Carol Sky Pony Press (32 pp.) $16.95 | Jan. 1, 2013 978-1-61608-961-0

An earnestly lifeless infodump featuring a child with a spectrum disorder who occasionally misbehaves but, mirabile dictu, can play piano like a pro. Looking about 10 years old in some of Inouye’s static suburban scenes and younger in others, Anthony is viewed by a sympathetic would-be friend. She models proper responses while explaining that he sometimes screams at loud noises, throws sand, seldom makes eye contact, flaps his hands when he’s happy and just doesn’t get knock-knock jokes. But one day, a grand piano arrives at Anthony’s house, and the narrator is astonished to find him confidently playing “a song I never heard before. Wow! I can’t do that,” she marvels. Children will come away from this with a little more awareness of some common behaviors associated with diagnoses of Asperger’s and similar disabilities, but such information is already widely available in less generic trappings, and Anthony’s musical ability—which springs from nowhere here—isn’t exactly typical. A worthy topic but no more than a discussion starter, as it’s too bland to make much of an impression on its own. (afterword, with URLs) (Picture book. 6-8)

HOOKED

Fichera, Liz Harlequin Teen (368 pp.) $9.99 paperback | Feb. 1, 2013 978-0-373-21072-5 A girl from an Indian reservation turns out to be a phenomenal golfer and falls in love with one of her rich, white team members in this heartfelt, realistic exploration of prejudice. Fred (Fredricka) has never taken a golf lesson, but her father works as the groundskeeper at a ritzy Phoenix-area country club, giving her access to its facilities. The local high school golf coach spots her talent and convinces her to join the varsity team—a change that involves kicking Seth off the team, a choice his best friend, Ryan, resents. Seth harbors deep prejudice against Native Americans and begins harassing Fred. Ryan, meanwhile, feels shame for kirkus.com

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“Not just a Romeo and Juliet story, the book examines the conflicts of white versus Indian and rich versus poor, giving it far more heft than the average romance.” from hooked

what Seth does and tries to apologize. He finds himself falling for Fred, and she responds, enraging his current girlfriend. As the story progresses, things don’t look good for the star-crossed, constantly misunderstood pair. Both struggle with their own biases and, perhaps, will make different decisions about longstanding friendships. Fichera writes a book that stands well as a romance novel, but thankfully, she completely avoids tired romance-writing conventions, creating tension through the personality conflicts that abound as the bigotry already present in the high school pushes to the surface. Not just a Romeo and Juliet story, the book examines the conflicts of white versus Indian and rich versus poor, giving it far more heft than the average romance. Bravo. (Romance. 12 & up)

BEAST FRIENDS FOREVER! Animals in Rhyme Forbes, Robert L. Illus. by Searle, Ronald Duckworth/Overlook (80 pp.) $19.95 | Jan. 10, 2013 978-1-59020-808-3

Forbes tenders a curiously wayward collection of animal love poetry. “For soon they’ll grow up and want to go play / With game skunky guys for a sniff and a spray.” Sure, if educated fleas do it, then skunks do it: They fall in love. But Cole Porter might have framed it differently, as it seems a little rich for 7-year-olds, the starting audience for which this book is disingenuously pegged in its marketing: 7 to 70. Elsewhere, readers will find “a pig whose name is Squig,” a “camel named Kim” and a “doe gazelle named Mellow”—not to forget “[t]wo raccoons, Liz and Rick” (whose name suddenly turns to Dick in the last stanza), none of whom will tickle too many 60-year-olds. And for such a handsome production—the paper is lovely, and the reproductions of Searles’ illustrations, with their wonderful spidery, anarchic linework and trails of color that leave afterimages, are terrific— it is jarring to find “unfatihfulness” and “morning dove” (though the last occurs in one of the better poems, about a sea gull leaving home—the beach—because he is tired of the soggy French fries). Of the 27 poems here, Forbes best hits his stride in the longer pieces, especially “Down at the Old Mill Inn,” with its cast of unsavories kept in check by the headwaiter. Unfortunately, the extended poems are too few and far between, though Searles’ artwork (he died in 2011) saves the book’s bacon. (Poetry. 10-12)

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WHAT THE SPELL?

Geragotelis, Brittany Simon & Schuster (336 pp.) $16.99 | Jan. 29, 2013 978-1-4424-6815-3 Series: Life’s a Witch, 1 A little magic might have elevated this book’s shallow, unrealistic characters and clichéd plot, which originated with the author’s Wattpad project, Life’s a Witch. Brooklyn feels like she’s invisible; her only friend is her guidance counselor, Ms. Zia. But all that changes on her 16th birthday, when her parents finally unbind her magical powers. The inevitable makeover from bland to beautiful ensues. Then she works to gain the attention of the Elite, her school’s most popular clique and the group that Brooklyn is desperate to join. Best of all, her crush, Asher, turns out to be a witch, too. Contrary to her parents’ wishes, Brooklyn naturally goes on a magic spree, using her newfound matchmaking ability to match herself with Asher and to meet the challenges the Elite put to her. This all ends predictably: Brooklyn gets blackmailed by the Elite, random students are hurt, and Brooklyn learns some valuable lessons. Brooklyn is a manipulative, self-absorbed twit, which at least differentiates her from the interchangeable supporting characters. The story’s attempts at twists fall flat, failing to create tension. Readers will need a memory spell to remember this after they’re finished. (Paranormal chick lit. 14 & up)

MY FIRST BIBLE STORIES

Goodings, Christina Illus. by Barker, Stephen Lion/Trafalgar (24 pp.) $12.99 | Jan. 1, 2013 978-0-7459-6342-6

Eleven familiar stories from the Christian Bible are presented for a preschool audience with bright, simple illustrations and just a few sentences encapsulating each story. The enticing cover shows Noah and his ark along with several pairs of animals, with a rainbow curving behind the title. The first two pages retell the Creation story in just five simple sentences, showing the sky, the land, the sea and Adam and Eve strategically positioned behind green bushes. Other stories include baby Moses, David and Goliath, and Daniel in the lions’ den. The life of Jesus is explained with his birth, two parables, the story of Jesus welcoming the children and a concluding spread that summarizes the crucifixion and resurrection. Each story is simplified to just the most basic characters and plot elements but retains enough meaning to serve as an introduction for the youngest listeners. Children will be drawn to the vivid illustrations done in collage style with simplified shapes and cheerful characters. |

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There is no other collection of Bible stories available with the combination of such simple retellings and attractive illustrations, making this an excellent starting place for younger children. (Picture book/religion. 2-5)

NOBODY BUT US

Halbrook, Kristin HarperTeen (304 pp.) $9.99 paperback | $8.99 e-book Jan. 29, 2013 978-0-06-212126-4 978-0-06-212127-1 e-book Desperate to escape her violent father, 15-year-old Zoe agrees to run away with her 18-year-old boyfriend, Will. Their plans go awry almost at once, when Zoe’s father attempts to prevent their flight. Will solves this problem as he always does: with his fists. With one eye on the rearview mirror and the other on his adoring co-pilot, Will steers them into the night and away from a life they both dearly want to leave far behind. However, as the miles tick by, Zoe and Will are forced to confront both their pasts and their dreams of the future. Will’s violence escalates throughout the journey, culminating in a death. The novel is told in their alternating first-person, present-tense voices, giving readers immediate access to each character’s thoughts and emotions. At 15, Zoe’s naïveté about the consequences of their actions feels age-appropriate. However, Will clearly understands the legal and moral ramifications of their plans. This disparity makes it unclear whether Will is really the savior that Zoe imagines or simply the reiteration of her father, as she fears. Unfortunately, as the journey reaches its tragic end, Will’s intentions remain confused. This ambiguity makes Zoe’s parting thoughts either the appropriate tribute to a brave friend or the misguided veneration of a predator. Random violence and mistaken passion find a bleak end. (Fiction. 14 & up)

A PET NAMED SNEAKER

Heilbroner, Joan Illus. by Lemaitre, Pascal Random House (48 pp.) $8.99 | $11.99 library ed. Jan. 8, 2013 978-0-307-97580-5 978-0-375-97116-7

Sneaker the snake proves himself a lovable pet in this beginning reader. Initially, Sneaker languishes in the pet store while other animals leave with new owners. When Pete purchases Sneaker, the pair enjoy each other’s company in a series of vignettes that mark the strongest point in the story. “He had fun with Pete. He played I Am a Necktie, I Am a Hat, and I Am Handcuffs,” reads the controlled text, which is accompanied by pictures of Sneaker contorting himself into the various items. When Pete goes to school, Sneaker hides in his backpack 2714

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and ends up starring as the boy’s offering during show and tell. At first, Pete’s classmates are leery, but then “a brave girl” picks Sneaker up, and he’s suddenly a hit. Then, in an abrupt shift perhaps better suited to a separate book, Pete and Sneaker visit a pool. Sneaker is not welcomed there, either, since a sign reading “NO PETS” bars him from swimming, but all’s well that ends well when Sneaker rescues a child who falls into the pool. The lifeguard asks Sneaker to be his “helper,” and a closing scene shows the snake serving as lifeguard to a pool filled with pets of all stripes. Throughout, cartoonish illustrations reminiscent of Syd Hoff’s beginning-reader artwork reinforce the text, providing context clues and humor. A worthy title for new readers. (Early reader. 5-7)

PEANUT

Halliday, Ayun Illus. by Hoppe, Paul Schwartz & Wade/Random (216 pp.) $17.99 | PLB $20.99 | Jan. 22, 2013 978-0-375-86590-9 978-0-375-96590-6 PLB A faked allergy spins wildly out of control in this prosaic graphic novel. Starting at a new school, sophomore Sadie Wildhack is led by first-day jitters to concoct one whopper of a lie: She informs her classmates that she is gravely allergic to peanuts. Her feigned condition serves as the perfect segue into new conversations, and it eventually helps Sadie find friends and even a handsome boyfriend named Zoo. As most lies do, Sadie’s catches up with her, and predictably, she is forced to confess to her prolonged pretense. While the theme of the story is universal (lying is bad!), here it is sadly pedestrian in its execution, verging on didactic. The notion of faking a peanut allergy feels juvenile, something better suited to a middle schooler than a high school student. Despite this, Hoppe’s artistic style helps add some interest. Sadie’s feelings of unease are visually palpable, evinced through her always-red shirt (and many wardrobe changes) set adrift against a backdrop of blacks, whites and grays. With its odd subject, this at times feels like an after school special, trying to show how relevant and edgy it could be, and is reminiscent of the failed Minx line from DC Comics. If readers can suspend some disbelief and simply roll with what’s offered, perhaps this will work for them. (Graphic fiction. 12 & up)

NEIGHBORS: The Yard Critters Too Held, George Illus. by Kim, Joung Un Filsinger & Co. (32 pp.) $20.00 | Jan. 17, 2013 978-0-916754-26-6

Poems celebrate 12 animals that might be found in American backyards. kirkus.com

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EXTREME BABYMOUSE

This collection complements Held and Kim’s The Yard Critters (2011), which similarly invites young readers to think about beings that share their world. From ladybugs to chipmunks, each doublepage spread features a different creature, one that may be familiar from storybooks, if not from personal experience. In a few short stanzas, the poet describes both attributes and habits. Of the porcupine: “It’s a thrill / to see this / walking quill / cushion // strolling uphill / from the cellar / where he’s built / a den down under.” “So much / does Nature / love her, / Shrew // can birth / ten litters / per year— / whew!” There’s even a riddle: “Flying from Belize to bless our summer, / this ingenious gem is called the ———.” (The word “hummer” appears in a later poem, “Field Mouse.”) Not all the ideas are important or even accurate; this is not an informational book. Nor are these your usual children’s poems. The vocabulary is sophisticated. The rhymes and sound patterns are complex and vary unpredictably. With only 12 poems, this title may seem slight. What adds value are Kim’s intriguing collage illustrations, creating stylized but recognizable animal images set on generous white space with elements crossing the gutter to lead eyes to the text. This oversized volume won’t fit on a bookshelf; leave it open on a table to display the art. (Picture book/poetry. 7-9)

Holm, Jennifer L. Illus. by Holm, Jennifer L.; Holm, Matthew Random House (96 pp.) $6.99 paperback | PLB $12.99 Jan. 8, 2013 978-0-307-93160-3 978-0-375-97096-2 PLB Series: Babymouse, 17 Babymouse + snowboard = many faceplants on the way to wisdom and cupcakes. In her 17th outing, Babymouse’s yearning to join the latest craze at school actually results in a trip to Snowy Mountain—not to the plush resort itself, but to the cobwebby cabin of a family friend: “Where’s the hot tub?” “I think you’ll be lucky to have hot water, Babymouse.” “Typical.” It’s a long day on the training slope (“What did you learn on your first day of snowboarding, Babymouse?” “The true meaning of pain”). A timely recollection of her instructor’s cautionary “go at your own pace and always

THEY CALL ME A HERO A Memoir of My Youth Hernandez, Daniel with Rubin, Susan Goldman Simon & Schuster (240 pp.) $17.99 | Feb. 5, 2013 978-1-4424-6228-1

The young political intern who provided first aid to Congressional Representative Gabrielle Giffords after her shooting, likely saving her life, steps for-

ward to tell his story. This account—written by Rubin, but based on lengthy interviews and cast in Hernandez’s first person—hits all the right notes. Insisting that he’s not as heroic as people who devote their entire lives to public service (though he vows to do just that), Hernandez describes the attack and immediate aftermath in sharp detail. He then goes on to chronicle the next six months of memorial and other ceremonies, meetings with President Barack Obama and speeches and news interviews by the hundreds as his background and personal details (he is a gay Latino) draw widespread public attention. He rounds out the narrative with snapshots (both textual and visual) of his south Tucson childhood, schooling and experiences in local campaigns, both for others and for himself (running and losing for university student-body president, running and winning for his school board). Throughout, he comes across as self-assured but not full of himself, conscious of but not obsessed with his image and his status as a multiple role model, opinionated but not angry or preachy. An absorbing eyewitness view of a shocking event wrapped in a fluent, engaging self-portrait. (bibliography) (Memoir. 11-15)

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“An Alice returns through the rabbit hole in this cinematic if oversaturated goth-punk retelling of Alice in Wonderland.” from splintered

listen to your inner voice” keeps her out of deadly Half-Pipe Alley despite a sneering classmate’s dare, leaving her enjoying a snack at the resort as the aforementioned tormentor wipes out big time. Presented in the customary mix of thick-lined drawings with pink highlights, easy-to-read dialogue in balloons and occasional interjections from the outside, the tale positively shreds its way down the narrative slope for an awesome stick. Extremely entertaining. (Graphic fiction. 7-12)

CHICKS!

Horning, Sandra Illus. by Goodell, Jon Random House (32 pp.) $3.99 paperback | PLB $12.99 Feb. 26, 2013 978-0-307-93221-1 978-0-375-97117-4 PLB Step by step, a family acquires chicks and watches them grow into chickens old enough to produce eggs and chicks themselves. Even today, not all chickens are raised on farms. Some, like the ones in this book, are thriving in the backyards of homes in areas where zoning permits. From the family’s trip to the farm to purchase three chicks through early indoor nurturing to building outdoor shelter and then nest boxes, the story proceeds chronologically. The very simple text includes plenty of repetition to support beginning readers as well as words specific to the activity: brooder and coop, beaks and wattles, chirp and cluck. The farmer is African-American, and the mom, dad, girl and boy pictured may well be Latino—a welcome departure from the norm in agricultural stories. The chickens are realistically drawn. The illustrations support the text, offering plentiful clues. This entry, at the Step 1 level in the long-running Step into Reading series, reflects the current demand for engaging informational reading at all levels. It more than meets that need, standing out for its clear description of the process and its subtle multicultural appeal. Whether these fowl are feathered friends or future food, they are nourishing. (Informational early reader. 4-7)

SPLINTERED

Howard, A.G. Amulet/Abrams (400 pp.) $17.95 | Jan. 1, 2013 978-1-4197-0428-4 An Alice returns through the rabbit hole in this cinematic if oversaturated goth-punk retelling of Alice in Wonderland. When she reached adolescence, Alyssa Gardner began to hear voices, like her mother and the other “Alices” before her. Instead of talking back, she kills the whispering bugs and flowers and uses them in her morbid art, maintaining her spot 2716

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as school oddball and tortured artiste. Madness, gift or curse, Alyssa ignores the legacy of Alice Liddell until she must enter Wonderland to save her mother. With hot crush Jebediah Holt— artistic, scarred and with an endlessly fascinating labret—in tow, Alyssa races to correct the original Alice’s mistakes, drying up the sea of tears, punishing the walrus and restarting the tea party. Alyssa’s rather muddled mission becomes even more convoluted thanks to tasks assigned by Morpheus—a dark butterfly-boy who has haunted her since childhood. Alyssa thrives in the chaos, though characters’ murky motivations cast her as pawn rather than queen in Morpheus’ ever-shifting chess game. Howard playfully employs Carroll’s original matter, but the absurd Victorian framework suffers under the weight of a standard teen love triangle as well as added issues of parental abuse and mental illness. Attention to costume and setting render this a visually rich read. More Tim Burton than Lewis Carroll, a sensuous version of Alice’s adventures for the Hot Topic crowd. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

RED KITE, BLUE KITE

Jiang, Ji-li Illus. by Ruth, Greg Disney Hyperion (32 pp.) $17.99 | Jan. 22, 2013 978-1-4231-2753-6

Set during the Cultural Revolution in China, a heartwarming tale of a father and son whose love never stops soaring. Tai Shan and his father, Baba, like to climb to the tippytop of their roof and fly kites. The two kites—one red and one blue—rise and dive through the sky together. But one day, Baba is taken away to a labor camp, and Tai Shan must stay with a woman called Granny Wang, who is not his grandmother but is kind to him. A thick forest and many miles stand between father and son. Luckily, Baba devises a secret way for them to talk: Every morning, Tai Shan flies his red kite on the hill, and every evening Baba flies his blue one. The kites wave in the wind and whisper messages of comfort until the two are reunited. Ruth’s muted primary palette of dusty tans and browns are a stark contrast to the few carefully placed flashes of color. The Red Guards’ armbands blaze angrily, yet the two kites soaring in the sky and the bright orange leaves on the trees are spots of hope. Though this is told against the backdrop of a dark part of Chinese history, any child coping with separation from a loved one may find comfort in this story. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

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THE SEVEN SWORDS

Kong and battle their way through the Ringmaster’s henchmen, all while keeping themselves secret and disguised from normal humans. The fight scenes are comical—at one point, the heroes incapacitate enemies by tying their shoelaces together. The meerkat ninja team combats evil clowns and even a trained circus poodle. Illustrations amp up the humor, taking advantage of comedic visuals. The jokes fly just as fast as Jet’s fists. Straightforward and humorous throughout, the story is ideal for reluctant readers. Fast, funny and charming. (character profiles) (Adventure. 7-10)

Johnson-Shelton, Nils Harper/HarperCollins (368 pp.) $16.99 | $9.99 e-book | Jan. 2, 2013 978-0-06-207094-4 978-0-06-207096-8 e-book Series: The Otherworld Chronicles, 2 In the second installment of the Otherworld Chronicles trilogy, the fate of the world is at stake. “I feel like we’re in the second Lord of the Rings movie!” young Kay says to her brother Artie Kingfisher, the new King Arthur. On a quest to recover seven magical swords of the Dark Ages, Artie and Kay gather “New Knights of the Round Table” and try to unite two worlds. Standing in their way is Lordess Morgaine, who has created (a different) Arthur and Mordred in a laboratory—genetically engineered creations essential to her goal of retrieving Excalibur, killing Merlin and attaining supreme power. Artie and his band travel from Ohio via crossover points between worlds in search of swords in Sweden, France and Japan, and they join forces with fairies, dragons and even Numinae, the forest lord, in an Armageddonstyle confrontation with Morgaine and her minions. It’s a wild mix of Arthurian tales, with such folkloric elements as dragons, witches, fairies and bear soldiers, and a 21st-century world of video games, iPad sword apps, genetic engineering and characters who say things like “dude” and “Holy mirror image, Batman!” Johnson-Shelton thus manages to incorporate many of the elements of the classic tales and make them fresh. Real excitement and horror await readers in this new take on classic Arthurian lore. (Fiction. 9-14)

PRETTY PENNY MAKES ENDS MEET

Kinch, Devon Illus. by Kinch, Devon Random House (40 pp.) $16.99 | Jan. 22, 2013 978-0-375-86737-8 Series: Pretty Penny

In her latest book, Penny uses her craft skills to help her grandmother pay for some home repairs. From page 1, readers who have not read about Penny’s previous monetary escapades (Pretty Penny Sets up Shop, 2010, etc.) will be slightly lost, as Bunny (Penny’s grandmother), Iggy, (an animated stuffed pig?) and the Small Mall (an attic space for crafting and displaying sale items) are never explained. A noise in the night turns out to be a flood in the basement that will cost $100 to fix(!), but Bunny has spent all the money budgeted for house repairs. Penny sleeps on the problem, waking up with the solution—a jewelry show. After two days of crafting, the Small Mall is ready for friends and neighbors to browse. Though Penny makes $60 from the jewelry sale, she has to subtract the $10 spent on supplies to find their profit. Wooden dialogue and stilted sentences plague this outing, and readers will have to suspend some disbelief to get through it—how are customers to get to a shop in the house’s attic? Do Penny and Iggy go to the craft store on their own? And why is the plumber still working and Bunny still mopping two days later? Kinch’s digital illustrations are bright and detailed, though there are a few missteps— the shadows are off, and Bunny is far from “knee-deep in water,” as described. More than a few pennies shy of a full dollar. (Picture book. 5-8)

THE CLAN OF THE SCORPION

Jones, Gareth P. Illus. by Finlayson, Luke Square Fish (110 pp.) $5.99 paperback | Jan. 22, 2013 978-1-250-01664-5 Series: Ninja Meerkats, 1

A fuzzy version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. British author Jones brings furry new heroes up from the depths of the Red Desert. The Clan of the Scorpion is a secret ninja organization made up of meerkats. Boastful Jet Flashfeet, inventor/ genius Donnie Dragonjab and muscle Bruce Willowhammer are led by the pun-as-proverb–spouting Chuck Cobracrusher. When Ming the tiger goes missing, the meerkats know something foul is afoot, as Ming possesses a rare and secret ability, the Roar of Victory, which is used for mind control. They know her disappearance could only be the work of their nefarious, circus-themed archnemesis, the Ringmaster. He plans on using Ming to brainwash the entire world. To solve the mystery of the missing Ming, the Clan of the Scorpion must travel to Hong |

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k i r ku s q & a w i t h a s h l e y b r ya n

WHO BUILT THE STABLE?

Bryan, Ashley Illus. by Bryan, Ashley Atheneum (40 pp.) $16.99 $12.99 e-book | Oct. 2, 2012 978-1-4424-0934-7 978-1-4424-5458-3 e-book

Ashley Bryan believes that “the desire of a child, when they see someone in need, is to help.” Perhaps it’s his own desire to help others that keeps Ashley Bryan such a youthful and involved human being—or should we say “human doing”—at age 89. Who Built the Stable? A Nativity Poem began during Bryan’s annual trip to work with children in Africa. The boy hero, a carpenter and shepherd, offers shelter in a stable he’s built to a couple who seeks a place to stay after others have turned them away. Q: How did the idea for this retelling of the Nativity story come to you? A: One Christmas, I wrote down in my sketch pad, “Who built the stable?” For years we’ve learned about the Holy Family in the Nativity story, but who built the stable? Then in late January and February, I was in Kenya helping in the rural schools. In Nairobi, the van picks us up, all of us who do this work each year, and it’s about four hours to Nyere. I’m usually looking out the window and drawing. This time, when I opened up my sketchbook, I came upon those words, [“Who built the stable?,”] and I began working on them. By the time I reached Nyere, I was writing a poem. Kemie Nix and her group, Children’s Literature for Children, based in Atlanta, organize this trip [to Nyere] each year. As I developed the poem, they would keep talking to me about, “Remember that it’s a boy who built the stable. He knows nothing of the Holy Family.” By the time I left Nyere, the whole feeling of the poem was there, and I crossed out anything that suggested the boy knew anything about the Holy Family. Q: Did the images come to you right away? A: I worked for a year on illustrating the poem. I started at the beginning. I used bricks, wooden sticks. I used clay and sod. It was not leading anywhere. Then a friend asked for help with a postand-beam house he was raising on the island. When I saw that structure go up, I made a swift sketch of the house. I saw immediately, this is what the story must begin with, the structure of the stable. Once I got to that, everything else flowed within it.

A: In illustrating, you must follow a text. But I wasn’t sure I could fulfill these words. I thought, “Maybe [my editor] Caitlyn should give this to someone who could develop the images.” That’s 2718

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Q: This is one of the few Nativity books that reflect the people who live in the region that Mary and Joseph traveled. Was it important to you to bring the people of Egypt and other parts of Africa and the Middle East into the story? A: The story is of a boy working with people of many backgrounds. I wanted the richness of the region: Africa and Egypt, and the bridge across into the Sinai Peninsula. The boy has this feeling of openness; the couple could have had the look of anyone in his father’s carpentry shop. He was not afraid of people, and he was able to see [Mary and Joseph] were people who needed help. The desire of the child, when they see someone in need, is to help. Jesus reached out to those in need: the widow, the sick, the lame. It’s the basic meaning of our lives on this Earth. Q: You have worked in a variety of media. Your artwork here looks like stained glass—even in the way the borders pick up on colors from each composition. A: I was working with the spirit of illuminated manuscripts. When I did Langston Hughes’ Carol of the Brown King: Nativity Poems, I also used borders. I wanted the borders to contain the glow of each spread, so you could stop and enjoy each spread, feel the adventure of how it was designed and painted. I use tempera paints because they’re the colors children use in schools, poured into separate parts of a muffin tin, and they can mix them, and paint with them. I’ve used them from childhood. If mixed with a great deal of water, it may be used like watercolor. I get a range of textures, from strong color to almost translucent. I use acrylics with it if I want to reinforce the color. Acrylics are also water-based and accessible. I apply the tempera paints and then a touch or two of the acrylic when I wanted to get a bit more emphasis than the tempera paint would give it. –By Jenny Brown

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p h oto A L IC IA B ES S ETTE

Q: Is this typical for you, to begin with the words then do the illustrations?

the misgivings we have in our lives. Then we push through, and the next step is the opening to everything. The not-giving-up moment. Taking the step beyond when you’re giving up. After that it was a joy. Once I had the sketch of the house, I had to keep the focus on the boy. I’d already been playing with the idea, “Was it made by human hands, / Was it built by God?” I immediately began playing with hands of many colors.


THE REBELS OF NEW SUN

another scheme, since Swindle’s promised to use his dog-show winnings to make the kids’ lives miserable forever. Korman’s fifth caper is wholly unbelievable from start to finish but a ton of fun nonetheless. Kids will be too busy laughing at the antics of Griffin and his pals to mind their implausibility. Easy, slick and silly; it’s Saturday-morning-cartoon hijinks between the covers of a book. (Fiction. 9-12)

Kinch, Michael Flux (288 pp.) $9.99 paperback | Jan. 8, 2013 978-0-7387-3151-3 Series: The Blending Time, 3

This conclusion to an exciting dystopia morphs from shoot’em-up into spy thriller as the titular rebels try to bring down the corporate tyranny established in their African territory. Called back to the city where they first landed in Africa, Jaym, Reya and D’Shay separate and work to free their colleagues from a notorious prison and to foment an attack on GlobeTran, the corporation that has established an intrusive, ruthless dictatorship. The three friends split up, each working on separate missions. Reya goes undercover as a medic in the prison where two of her friends suffer. D’Shay starts selling contraband inside the local military base in an attempt to swing the soldiers there to New SUN’s side. Jaym, still morose after his fiancee’s death (The Fires of New SUN, 2012), reluctantly teams up with her sister to aid New SUN’s existing undercover network in the city. Kinch’s emphasis here is on intrigue rather than battles. The often stilted expository dialogue is compensated for by a few nifty robot foes, such as flying bugs and metallic dogs. These are in keeping with his futuristic setting, although most of the African town comes across as contemporary. Nevertheless, fans will identify with the three returning heroes and should enjoy the conclusion to the series, even though this story rarely mentions the series’ original premise of repopulating Africa. A satisfying conclusion. (Dystopian adventure. 12-16)

HIDEOUT

Korman, Gordon Scholastic (288 pp.) $16.99 | $16.99 e-book | Jan. 1, 2013 978-0-545-44866-6 978-0-545-52018-8 e-book Series: “The Man with the Plan”, 5 Hiding out’s easy; forcing 150 pounds of former guard dog to hide out—not so much. Thirteen-year-old “Man With The Plan” Griffin Bing and his five friends are celebrating the fifth birthday of Savannah’s rescued Doberman, Luthor, when S. Wendell Palomino, or “Swindle,” as they came to know him during their first adventure, arrives to say he is suing to get Luthor back. The kids know it’s because Swindle heard that Luthor nearly won a ton of money at a recent dog show. When the dog pound fails to produce Luthor’s release-for-adoption paperwork, Swindle wins him back. Rather than surrender her beloved fur-friend, Savannah prevails on the group to help her hide him...but all of them are headed to different summer camps in a few days. Griffin must devise his most complex plan to date, and when that goes south (as most of his plans do), it’s on to yet |

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THE TRAGEDY PAPER

LaBan, Elizabeth Knopf (272 pp.) $16.99 | $10.99 e-book | PLB $19.99 Jan. 8, 2013 978-0-375-87040-8 978-0-375-98912-4 e-book 978-0-375-97040-5 PLB Boarding school students learn the consequences of poor decision-making. Last year at the Irving School—motto: “Enter Here to Be and Find a Friend”—something terrible happened. Readers will have to push through nearly 300 pages, narrated alternately by Tim Macbeth, a recently graduated senior who transferred to Irving for his final semester, and Duncan Meade, the current senior who inherited Tim’s dorm room and with it, a stack of CDs containing Tim’s reminiscences of that fateful school term, to find out what it was. Tim, a deeply self-conscious albino, spends an idyllic 18 hours stranded in Chicago with lovely fellow senior Vanessa en route to Irving and is totally smitten. Tim’s hopes are dashed by Vanessa’s commitment to her popularity and her current boyfriend, the loathsome and jealous yet handsome Patrick. Predictably, however, Tim goes along with Vanessa’s furtive occasional advances, all the while whipsawing between his conviction that she cares for him and his crippling self-loathing. Duncan, meanwhile, is alternately transfixed and horrified by Tim’s story, as he feels partly responsible for the terrible outcome of Tim, Vanessa and Patrick’s love triangle and eventually hopes to mine it for his Tragedy Paper, Irving’s multidisciplinary approach to a senior thesis. With his overreliance on obvious foreshadowing, debut author LaBan creates a mystery without thrills and parallel romances that lack any frisson. Readers will wonder, what was the point? Completely, sadly skippable. (Fiction. 12 & up)

THE BLACK RABBIT

Leathers, Philippa Illus. by Leathers, Philippa Candlewick (40 pp.) $14.00 | Jan. 22, 2013 978-0-7636-5714-7

An adorable bunny discovers his shadow; trepidation and then friendship follow in this familiar and mildly entertaining tale. It’s a beautiful day when Rabbit awakes, but he is not alone. An ominous, looming rabbit has appeared. Scared, the little |

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“What catches the heart are the bits of stitching on cloth ribbons that outline or accent some of the pages and the sweet, determined faces of these girls.” from brave girl

hare runs, hides, swims—even bravely tries to engage it. Nothing dissuades the giant shadow, who quietly follows his originator’s every move. Rabbit finds relief in the deep, dark wood until a hungry wolf chases him out, whereupon his shadow reappears and frightens the wolf away. Hand in hand, the bunny and his shadow walk safely away together. Leather uses a simple, cartoony style, making the story feel safe and accessible to readers of various sensitivity levels. She also plays with the shadow’s scale and size, helping readers to understand Rabbit’s fears without frightening them. The appealing drawings are done in watercolor with pen, yet for all their thoughtfulness, they fail to show that Rabbit ultimately understands the Black Rabbit to be his shadow. Imagery showing a light source casting the shadow would have helped complete the journey. Sweet but slight. (Picture book. 3-6)

HYDE AND SHRIEK

Lubar, David Starscape/Tom Doherty (144 pp.) $14.99 | Jan. 8, 2013 978-0-7653-3081-9 Series: Monsterrific Tales, 1 The kids at Washington Irving Elementary School are about to find out their hometown of Lewington is a monster magnet. Miss Jackie Jean Clevis loves kids and her job teaching science to all grades at Washington Irving Elementary, and she may well be the student body’s favorite teacher. One morning, she accidentally mixes the chemicals for the day’s experiments with her banana-honey-yogurt breakfast drink, with mind- (and body-) altering consequences. When she’s around mean people, she morphs into sadistic Ms. Hyde, and when she’s around the nice, she becomes sweet sixth-grade student Jackie. Can Miss Clevis reintegrate with the help of new sixth-grade friends? Or is she doomed to yo-yo forever...or worse, be stuck as Ms. Hyde? Lubar kicks off his six-book series of kids-as-monsters tales with an uncomplicated meditation on good vs. evil that riffs on Jekyll and Hyde. As long as readers don’t question how Jackie/Ms. Hyde’s clothes are also magically altered by ingested chemicals, they’ll likely enjoy this, particularly if they liked the Adventures of the Bailey School Kids, which this resembles, down to Bermudez’s occasional illustrations. Fans of Lubar’s Nathan Abercrombie zombie series will find much to like here too. Ever-so-slightly creepy monster fun. (Horror. 8-12)

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BRAVE GIRL Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909

Markel, Michelle Illus. by Sweet, Melissa Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins (32 pp.) $17.99 | Feb. 1, 2013 978-0-06-180442-7 A sparkling picture-book biography of the dauntless organizer of the titular strike. Immigrant Clara Lemlich was tiny and spoke little English, but she not only worked to support her family in a factory that made women’s clothing, but read and studied at night. When the male workers talked about a strike to protest their fearsome working conditions, they thought the girls weren’t strong enough to join them. But it was Clara who finally—in Yiddish—called for a general strike. She was arrested 17 times and beaten, but the strike won the right to unionize for workers in many factories (but not the Triangle Waist Factory, whose gruesome fire claimed 146 lives in 1911). Markel’s text is well-supported by Sweet’s watercolor, gouache and mixed-media images, some clearly based on archival photographs. What catches the heart are the bits of stitching on cloth ribbons that outline or accent some of the pages and the sweet, determined faces of these girls. They were girls indeed, some as young as 12, most in their teens and early 20s. A bibliography of primary and secondary sources and a note about the garment industry fills in some more background, including Clara’s further work in the labor movement, and the fact that 70 percent of the workers were between 16 and 25 and that most were Eastern European Jews and Italians. Very fine indeed. (Picture book/biography. 5-9)

THE PASSOVER LAMB Based on a True Story

Marshall, Linda Elovitz Illus. by Mai-Wyss, Tatjana Random House (32 pp.) $17.99 | PLB $20.99 | Jan. 22, 2013 978-0-307-93177-1 978-0-375-97106-8 PLB The birth of a newborn lamb adds extra challenge and meaning to a traditional Passover Seder for one little girl. Miriam is eager to attend the Seder at her grandparents’ home; she’s ready to recite, for the first time, the four important questions that introduce the recounting of the Exodus story. But as the family packs the car, Snowball gives birth to three lambs, one of which cannot nurse and must be bottle-fed. Rather than stay home and miss her chance to engage in the ceremony, Miriam remembers the story of how the baby Moses was rescued and cared for from a basket and similarly creates a traveling bed for her newborn lamb. At her grandparents’ home, the lamb is welcomed and affectionately named Moses. Farm images created in graphite and watercolors extend the storyline, kirkus.com

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depicting a contemporary rural setting; the highlight is a satisfying, domestic scene of a Jewish family gathered for the Seder. While the basic plot complication unfolds and is resolved easily, undercurrent themes of responsibility, kindness and attentiveness emerge from the springtime holiday backdrop. A satisfying addition to the Passover shelf. (author’s note) (Picture book. 3-5)

well-worn shoes, pass down from sibling to sibling. Linus inherits the job of delivering groceries for the family store, and every other week, he brings a crate of oranges to a man he dubs “Mister Orange.” Based on the Dutch painter Piet Mondrian, Mister Orange introduces Linus to the “the colors of the future”—yellow, red and blue—that decorate his canvases and his apartment. For Linus, visiting Mister Orange, with whom he discusses art and who teaches him the boogie-woogie, is a welcome distraction from Albie’s absence. However, Linus soon wonders if art, whether it’s comic books or Mister Orange’s paintings, has a purpose when soldiers are dying. Matti ably depicts Linus’ loss of innocence as he discovers the brutality of war. However, certain subplots, like a fight between Linus and his best friend, feel too easily resolved. The novel is strongest in the depiction of Linus’ unlikely friendship with Mister Orange, who has a childlike spirit but also knows how art can be a way to fight for freedom. Concluding notes on Mondrian add context. A poignant story of art, growth and loss. (further reading, websites, list of museums) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

YUCK’S FART CLUB AND YUCK’S SICK TRICK

Matt and Dave Illus. by Baines, Nigel Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster (112 pp.) $15.99 | paper$4.99 | Jan. 1, 2013 978-1-4424-8153-4 978-1-4424-8152-7 paperback Series: Yuck, 1

This British import is something of a psychological test; parents who read it will find out exactly how permissive they are. This slim volume is divided into two parts clearly telegraphed by the title. “In Fart Club, you can toot, poot, cut the cheese, break wind, drop a bomb, and let off as much as you like,” Yuck says quite early on in the first story. “Just make sure it’s big, loud, and smelly.” The second story unsurprisingly includes lengthy discussions about vomit. Yuck mixes up a batch of fake puke and pours it into his sister’s school bag. He also plays tricks on his teacher and his mother. Feminists may note that all of the victims are female, but a book about the quest for the world’s biggest fart may not require sociological analysis. The first story includes this sentence: “They did HONKERS and POPPERS, BLASTERS and SNEAKERS, CRACKERS and SQUIDGERS, but most of all…really smelly STINKERS!” Parents who can imagine reading that sentence out loud to their children will love this book. Those who stop reading by “SQUIDGERS” might consider another title, possibly a story about orphans who teach each other to read. Their children will thank them and hide Yuck’s Fart Club behind the cover. Regardless of the permissiveness of their parents, children of a certain age will flock to this book. (Humor. 7-10)

MISTER ORANGE

Matti, Truus Translated by Watkinson, Laura Enchanted Lion Books (164 pp.) $16.95 | Jan. 14, 2013 978-1-59270-123-0 A young boy discovers the power of art during wartime in Matti’s second novel (Departure Time, 2010). It’s November 1943 in New York City. When Linus’ older brother Albie leaves for the war, household responsibilities, just like the family’s |

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THE TELL-TALE START

McAlpine, Gordon Illus. by Zuppardi, Sam Viking (224 pp.) $15.99 | Jan. 10, 2013 978-0-670-78491-2 Series: Misadventures of Edgar & Allan Poe, 1 Two twins so nearly interchangeable that they even share each other’s thoughts nearly fall victim to a mad scientist in this mildly farcical series kickoff. Despite genius-level intellects, the young Poes little suspect that their every move has been surreptitiously recorded since birth by crazed nuclear physicist S. Pangborn Perry. Convinced that they are living embodiments of quantum entanglement, he intends to kill one and enslave the other to open a channel of communication with the afterlife. McAlpine first establishes the twins’ bona fides as pranksters by having them turn their Baltimore basement into a chamber of horrors to cow a gang of bullies. He then sends them on a road trip to a supposed Oz-themed amusement park in Kansas, where Perry lurks with their kidnapped cat, Roderick Usher. Along the way, the lads cotton on to the fact that nefarious doings are afoot thanks to garbled warnings from their ancestral namesake, who watches over them from the not-quite-Heavenly office that generates fortune-cookie fortunes. In a climax filled with flying stage monkeys and falling counterweights, they scotch Perry’s plot— at least for this episode. Occasional letters, journal entries and text messages, as well as small, scribbly ink sketches fill out and add visual breaks to the narrative. Middle-grade fans of L.L. Samson’s Enchanted Attic series will enjoy this, though it’s less clever in its twists and literary references. (Adventure. 10-12)

THE DARKNESS DWELLERS

Miller, Kirsten Bloomsbury (416 pp.) $17.99 | Jan. 22, 2012 978-1-59990-736-9 Series: Kiki Strike, 3

Kiki Strike and the Irregulars are finally back, in their third (and seemingly final) adventure. This time, the adventure involves an evil twin, a World War II mystery, Upper East Side zombies (of the well-mannered sort), the catacombs of Paris and a possible resolution to Kiki’s lifetime fight to prove that her evil aunt killed her parents. Plus some romance, both successful and hopeless. Whew! It’s a good thing Ananka Fishbein is there to lead the Irregulars in New York while Kiki and Betty take Paris by storm, even if Betty’s perfect boyfriend proves distracting for Ananka. Like the previous entries in the series, this girl-power mystery/adventure is tongue-in-cheek 2722

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but full of heart. Miller’s motley crew of heroines can take on anything, and by the tale’s end, it looks like their breed of awesome is poised to take over all of New York City. Thematically, this volume is all about being true to oneself and recognizing that genius comes in many forms. Happily, this “lesson” comes wrapped in sheer delight. Here’s hoping that this latest volume attracts droves of new devotees for some of the coolest girls in fiction. (Adventure. 12-16)

WHAT WE SAW AT NIGHT

Mitchard, Jacquelyn Soho Teen (272 pp.) $17.99 | Jan. 8, 2013 978-1-61695-141-2

A trio of teens afflicted with a rare genetic disorder that necessitates complete avoidance of sunlight dedicate themselves to the practice of the extreme sport of Parkour in this interesting but somewhat complicated thriller. Allie, Rob and Juliet have Xeroderma Pigmentosum and have grown up as outsiders, leading their lives while the rest of the world sleeps. Introspectively narrated by Allie, who often feels in the shadow of Juliet, the daredevil of the three who introduces them to Parkour, this latest from Mitchard is quickly paced and intricately plotted, with flares of humor cobbled into the dialogue. While scaling a building one night, Allie glimpses something in a window that deeply unsettles her. It’s made worse when Juliet seems to deliberately doubt her. The mystery that unfolds around them places them in grave danger. As Allie’s feelings for Rob are finally reciprocated, introducing realistic tension into their friendship, Juliet seems to be increasingly lost to them. So much is packed in here that some may have difficulty keeping track of characters and their motivations at times, but the suspense will keep them engrossed. Groans may greet the final abrupt cliffhanger, as readers suddenly understand that resolution will come only with a sequel, but most will likely resolve to stay tuned. (Thriller. 14 & up)

TEETH

Moskowitz, Hannah Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster (288 pp.) $17.99 | paper$9.99 | Jan. 1, 2013 978-1-4424-6532-9 978-1-4424-4946-6 paperback In a taut, unusual fable, narrator Rudy’s family has moved to a remote island where a rare species of fish has magical healing properties when eaten. Rudy is glad to see his brother Dylan’s cystic fibrosis symptoms clear up, but he finds the island stifling. Then he discovers kirkus.com

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“This exploration makes clear how hard [African-American women] fought on their own behalf and how resistant U.S. society was to change…” from double victory

THE SHADOW MASK

that there are two other teenagers on the island: Diana Delaney, who rarely leaves her home, and the fishboy. Human from the waist up and sporting a bedraggled fish tail below, Teeth describes himself wryly as “their dirty secret.” Whose? The islanders’? The Delaneys’? The cruel, miserly fishermen’s? As Rudy becomes closer to the fishboy, he not only learns disturbing truths about the island’s history, but also becomes embroiled in a fundamental conflict: To the islanders, the fish are salvation; to Teeth, the fish are family. Short paragraphs, evocative imagery, and simple, sometimes curse-laden sentences give the story a breathless feel. Rudy’s choices are impulsive but believable, and the consequences for both betraying Dylan and betraying Teeth are immediate and physically brutal. Throughout, the book leaves unanswered the question of what Rudy ought, morally, to do, and the nature of Rudy’s intense emotional attachment to the fishboy is similarly ambiguous. Provocative, unsettling, complex and multilayered. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Oliver, Lin; Baker, Theo Scholastic (368 pp.) $16.99 | $16.99 e-book | Jan. 1, 2013 978-0-545-19694-9 978-0-545-51031-8 e-book Series: Sound Bender, 2 Newly orphaned, forced to live with an uncle he never knew he had and trying to cope with a strange new ability to hear the past, Leo’s suffering more than

normal teen angst. Leo Lomax and his brother, Hollis, were first introduced in Sound Bender (2011), in which Leo discovered how to experience other dimensions simply by touching key objects. Uncle Crane is determined to use Leo to his own ends, counting on Leo to find rare objects of antiquity that he can convert to hard currency. It doesn’t matter that Leo wants no part of it; Uncle Crane will force his compliance by separating him from his younger brother, his school and all his friends. Leo finally agrees to help find a missing tribal mask but only if Crane agrees to finance a search in Antarctica to find out what really happened to Leo’s parents. The result is an immediate departure for the deep jungles of Borneo, where he finds a lot more than he bargained for. Leo’s character has matured, and this sequel is better than its predecessor. However, the adventure remains murky and not all that intriguing, although the brief attempts at humor help to move the story forward. It’s clear there will be a third installment, which may help to clarify what all the fuss is about…or not. (Science fiction. 10-14)

DOUBLE VICTORY How African American Women Broke Race and Gender Barriers to Help Win World War II

Mullenbach, Cheryl Chicago Review (272 pp.) $19.95 | Jan. 1, 2013 978-1-56976-808-2

The role of African-American women in World War II, both at home and abroad, has not been explored as fully as other aspects of that war, and Mullenbach here addresses this deficit. The women who tried to participate struggled against multiple obstacles: prejudice against women, segregated institutions and deep-seated discrimination against blacks in the United States. Despite these realities, many African-American women were determined to have a role in the war effort and to use their struggles to push the country toward greater inclusion for all. This exploration makes clear how hard they fought on their own behalf and how resistant U.S. society was to change, even in wartime and even as its leaders sought to galvanize the country around “four essential human freedoms.” Mullenbach effectively weaves this narrative by presenting a wide variety of individual stories of struggle, some victorious, others discouraging, many accompanied by period photographs. Whether she is describing a boycott of segregated Independence Day celebrations at an overseas Red Cross club or the indignities of Jim Crow travel for uniformed women, their dogged determination to fully engage is revealed. One of the many strengths of the book is the range of areas affected, including journalism, manufacturing, troop support, military nursing and many others. Ultimately, their unstinting efforts during World War II helped pave the way for the civil rights movement and major societal change. A valuable asset. (notes, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction 14 & up) |

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ANOTHER 365 DAYS

Payne, K.E. Bold Strokes Books (316 pp.) $11.95 paperback | Jan. 15, 2013 978-1-60282-775-2 In a follow-up to 365 Days (2011), emotive British lesbian teen Clem Atkins writes a diary entry for each day of the year. When the story opens, on January 2, Clem is happily but secretly seeing her emo girlfriend, Han. School starts, and with it comes a variety of social joys and woes. The new art teacher, Miss Smith, is unexpectedly attractive. There is awkwardness with Clem’s former friend, Alice, whose romantic advances Clem rejected the previous year. Han becomes attached to Miss Smith, and Clem seeks comfort from Alice. True to the diary format, the narration is informal and episodic. Clem’s voice is contemporary and full of hashtags (e.g. #TryingNotToCry) as well as British terminology and slang. American readers will have to work out what it means to get an A* on an exam or “look like a right tit in a tabard,” but the interpersonal and family dramas |

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are easily recognizable. Clem writes frankly about having sex without going into graphic detail, and her feelings about coming out to friends and family are believably ambivalent. Readers may cringe at some of Clem’s less-thoughtful decisions, and her desire to get married while still a teenager comes as a surprise, but she remains sympathetic throughout. Funny, engaging and accessible. (Fiction. 12-18)

CINDERS & SAPPHIRES

Rasheed, Leila Disney Hyperion (400 pp.) $17.99 | Jan. 22, 2013 978-1-4231-7117-1 Series: At Somerton, 1

A thoroughly satisfying romp for Downton Abbey fans. Lady Ada Averley, returning by steamboat to her British ancestral estate after a childhood in India, shares a furtive, passionate kiss with Ravi, an Indian revolutionary. At 16, Ada prefers books to ball gowns and dreads the byzantine formalities of the upcoming social season; she’d rather convince her father to let her attend Oxford than find a husband. But the family’s name is imperiled by scandal, and Ada’s loyalty demands that she play the game, even as Ravi dominates her thoughts. Ada’s emerging social consciousness—she gamely struggles against the pervasive sexism, racism and classism of pre–World War I England—provides an intellectual backbone for what could easily have been just another high-society soap opera. Rasheed sidesteps sanctimony, however, by infusing the story with humor, vivid descriptions—a diamond hangs in a debutante’s décolletage “as tempting as the fly on a fishing line”—and a surplus of intrigue above and below stairs, propelling the narrative toward the cliffhangers of the final pages. Breathless readers will look forward to the next sudsy chapter in this planned series. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

FADING AMBER

Reed, Jaime Dafina/Kensington (304 pp.) $9.95 paperback | Jan. 1, 2012 978-0-7582-6926-3 Series: The Cambion Chronicles, 3 Pacing problems hamper the third installment of the Cambion Chronicles. Readers eager to find out what happened after the cliffhanger ending of Burning Emerald (2012) have something in common with heroine Samara—she too wants to know what happened, as gaps in her memory and strange physical evidence imply it was something big. She’s also dealing with two different pieces of unfinished Cambion business: Tobias’ possession of people in order to strike out at her and demand her help 2724

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and the complications involving the Santiago family, Cambion royalty that govern part of North America, including Samara’s hometown. They are a distant threat about which Nadine’s family, visiting, educates Samara. They seek justice against Caleb’s family for covering up their father’s dangerous feeding during Living Violet (2012) and are concerned—as is Samara—that Caleb’s feeding is also getting out of hand. The Santiago family could choose to execute Caleb; one way to prevent that is for Samara and Caleb to bond with each other by consummating their relationship, as killing a Cambion’s mate is against their laws. But both storylines are in a drawn-out holding pattern until Samara starts to get her memory back. Once the action starts, the humor and danger also return to the prose, yielding a satisfying ending. The last act rewards patient readers, but the rest probably should have been condensed. (preview chapters from earlier books in the series) (Paranormal romance. 13-17)

SHADES OF EARTH

Revis, Beth Razorbill/Penguin (384 pp.) $18.99 | Jan. 15, 2013 978-1-59514-399-0 Series: Across the Universe, 3 Though not “frexing brilly” like Across the Universe (2011) and A Million Suns (2012), this conclusion nonetheless supplies plenty of suspense and twists to satisfy readers already on the ride. Desperate to live on a planet, even one with unidentified monsters, Elder and Amy gather 1,456 terrified people onto a shuttle and break away from their life-supporting spaceship to land on Centauri-Earth, a planet with two suns. There’s no turning back: shuttle operation is dubious, and only the prematurely awakened Amy’s ever lived on a planet—Elder’s people were born on Godspeed, a generation ship. Also aboard the shuttle are “frozens,” earthborn scientists and military personnel—including Amy’s parents—who’ve been cryogenically frozen for five centuries, waiting for arrival. On Centauri-Earth, pterodactyllike creatures, toxic flora, sentient beings who won’t reveal themselves, and hostility between earthborns and shipborns (“They’re not our people”) all bring danger. Death tolls soar as Elder and Amy—alternating first-person narration in virtually indistinguishable voices—race to unravel history and mysteries. Romantic focus and purple prose exceed that found in the previous volumes (“I die at the end of each kiss and am brought gasping back to life at the beginning of the next”), which is a pity. Interpersonal relationships and motivations aren’t Revis’ strong point, but action and revelations are. Strong on setup and plot, weak on human complexities and characterization, this still brings it home on a planet far from home. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

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UNLUCKY CHARMS

their quest to understand what has happened to them yields fewer answers than questions, especially for Anna, whose own memories increasingly appear suspect. In the desperate race to find answers before the Branch agents find them, Anna clings to what she knows is true: her love for Sam. A surfeit of casual violence detracts from the ending, but this debut’s strengths— pacing and plot twists, especially—outweigh the deficits. Riveting. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Rex, Adam Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins (400 pp.) $16.99 | $9.99 e-book | Feb. 5, 2013 978-0-06-206005-1 978-0-06-206007-5 e-book Series: Cold Cereal Saga, 2 In this hectic middle volume, Rex’s notably diverse crew of human, parthuman and nonhuman allies splits up in hopes of scotching the schemes of the sorceress Nimue, who is out to create a worldwide army of mind-controlled “sugar zombies” through magically enhanced breakfast cereal. Rex fills in background as he goes, from doughty pixie Prince Fi’s search for his brothers Fee, Fo and Denzil to Merle Lynn’s exposé of his sword-in-the-stone trick (“It was magnets”). The action here takes place mostly in England, where the discovery of a portal to magical Pretannica allows separate missions to seek help from the queen of the Fay and to rescue the kidnapped queen of England, who has been imprisoned in what she thinks (with some justice) is a Harry Potter story. Meanwhile supergenius Emily, sasquatch ex-librarian Biggs and the others stay stateside to work on cryptic clues (what would a story like this be without cryptic clues?) and prevent Nimue from seizing the portal. Much of the frequent black-and-white art was not available for review, but those examples included exemplify Rex’s usual hilarity. A mad mix of attacks, chases, squabbles and revelations goose the main plot along while setting the stage nicely for the closer. (Fantasy. 11-13)

ALTERED

Rush, Jennifer Little, Brown (336 pp.) $17.99 | Jan. 2, 2013 978-0-316-19708-3 Ignore the shaky start—within minutes, this medical-engineering thriller will have readers glued to their seats. In the farmhouse upstairs, Anna and her widower dad lead a quiet life. Downstairs, the four surgically altered boys whom Anna has tended and her dad has studied for five years live in comfortable, isolated cells. Home-schooled Anna is isolated, too, her mother’s treasured, annotated cookbook their only connection. Though Anna’s attached to the boys, even sullen Nick, Sam is the one she sneaks down to see at night. She knows the boys are human lab rats in a project run by the Branch, a private company funded by the government, and dreams of freeing them, but it’s Sam who masterminds their escape when Branch agents show up to end the project. Urged by her dad, the boys take Anna with them. With no memory of life before the farmhouse and few clues to guide them to safety, |

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MY BROTHER’S BOOK

Sendak, Maurice Illus. by Sendak, Maurice Michael di Capua/HarperCollins (32 pp.) $18.95 | Feb. 5, 2013 978-0-06-223489-6 In his last finished work, Sendak tips a cap to intellectual and artistic influences, but he puts his own unique stamp on a lyrical flight that looks toward a reunion with Jack, his long-dead brother. As vivid and surreal as a dream, the narrative begins with the separation of Jack—catapulted to “continents of ice” where “[h]is poor nose froze”—and Guy, who lands “[o]n soft Bohemia” to be consumed by a hulking bear after posing his brother’s fate as a “sad riddle.” “Diving through time so vast—sweeping past paradise,” Guy emerges at last into a mystical springtime where he finds Jack entwined in roots and “veiled blossoms.” Guy bites Jack’s nose “to be sure” and hearing his brother’s sighed “Just lost—when I am saved!” enfolds him tenderly, whispering “Good night / And you will dream of me.” In the small, loosely brushed paintings on each facing page, he depicts the brothers, reminiscent of William Blake’s diaphanously gowned figures. Befitting the surreal textual imagery, they float in twisted postures amid stars and organic billows of moonlit clouds and landscape or lie together beneath canopies of greenery. The literary references (to Shakespeare, Keats, Emily Dickinson and others) may escape many, but they are secondary to the book’s impact. The sharply felt humor and yearning that infuse both the verbal and visual narratives will kindle profound emotional responses in hearts of any age. (introduction by Stephen Greenblatt) (Illustrated poem. All ages)

THE MADMAN’S DAUGHTER

Shepherd, Megan Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins (432 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | Jan. 29, 2013 978-0-06-212802-7 H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau, as seen through the eyes of the doctor’s daughter. Abandoned by her father and mourning the death of her mother, tough yet |

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prissy Juliet Moreau lives in near-poverty working as a medical school scullery maid in Victorian-era London. When she learns that her father inhabits an island far, far away, where he performs horrific experiments on animals via vivisection, Juliet makes her way there along with Montgomery, her father’s assistant, and Edward Prince, a castaway they meet along the way. Naturally, sparks fly among Juliet and the gents, but danger lurks on the island in the form of humanlike creatures—some more ridiculously rendered than others—built from the body parts of animals, the results of Dr. Moreau’s experiments. Shepherd takes several liberties in her interpretation of Wells’ work, including the insertion of Juliet and the naming of Moreau’s creations using Shakespearean characters. The plot moves quickly; in some instances it goes too fast, especially during the voyage from London to the island, when accelerated action forces readers into mental gymnastics. Shepherd excels at worldbuilding in the historical London setting but has trouble fully realizing the landscape of the island. While the chemistry between Juliet and Montgomery spikes instantaneously and believably, the attraction between Prince and Juliet feels more contrived. An unessential but entertaining interpretation. (Science fiction. 13 & up)

HOKEY POKEY

Spinelli, Jerry Knopf (272 pp.) $15.99 | $10.99 e-book | PLB $18.99 Jan. 8, 2013 978-0-375-83198-0 978-0-307-97570-6 e-book 978-0-375-93198-7 PLB If childhood were a place…. In the adultless land of Hokey Pokey, a dry, sandy environment reminiscent of the Southwest, children arrive when they’ve outgrown diapers and receive a ticklish tattoo of an eye on their abdomens. At midday they line up for a serving of hokey pokey, an ice treat in any flavor imaginable. The rest of their day is spent playing, watching a giant television with nonstop cartoons or riding bicycles, which are horselike creatures that roll in herds and can buck their owners off at will. In this inventive, modern fable, Jack awakens with a bad feeling that’s realized when his legendary Scramjet bike is stolen by Jubilee, a girl no less, and his tattoo has started to fade. As he searches for his bike and the reason why “[t]he world is rushing at him, confusing him, alarming him,” he recalls The Story about The Kid who grew up and hinted at tomorrow, an unrecognizable place to children. With nods to J.M. Barrie, Dr. Seuss and Philip Pullman, Newbery Medalist Spinelli crafts stunning turns of phrase as Jack “unfunks” and tries to “dehappen” the day’s events. While reluctantly accepting his growing up, Jack brings Hokey Pokey’s bully to justice, suddenly finds Jubilee an interesting companion and prepares his Amigos for his imminent departure. A masterful, bittersweet recognition of coming-of-age. (Fiction. 10-13, adult) 2726

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THE STONE OF FIRE

Stilton, Geronimo Illus. by Stilton, Geronimo Scholastic (128 pp.) $6.99 paperback | $6.99 e-book Jan. 1, 2013 978-0-545-44774-4 978-0-545-52048-5 e-book Series: Cavemice, 1 Warp back in time for a prehistoric spinoff adventure with Geronimo Stilton’s ancestor, Geronimo Stiltonoot in Old Mouse City. Readers will find Geronimo Stiltonoot a familiar character, outfitted differently from descendant Stilton yet still running a newspaper and having wild adventures. In this introduction to prehistoric mouse life, someone has stolen the most powerful and important artifact housed by the Old Mouse City Mouseum: the Stone of Fire. It’s up to Stiltonoot and his fellow sleuth and friend, Hercule Poirat, to uncover not only the theft, but a dangerous plot that jeopardizes all of Old Mouse City. As stand-ins for the rest of the Stilton cast, Stiltonoot has in common with Stilton a cousin named Trap, a sister named Thea and a nephew named Benjamin. The slapstick comedy and design, busy with type changes and color, will be familiar for Stilton readers. The world is fictionalized for comedic effect, featuring funny uses for dinosaurs and cheeky references to how far back in time they are, with only the occasional sidebar that presents facts. The story takes a bit long to get started, spending a lot of time reiterating the worldbuilding information laid out before the first chapter. But once it does start, it is an adventure Stilton readers will enjoy. Geronimo Stiltonoot has the right combination of familiarity and newness to satisfy Stilton fans. (Fiction. 6-10)

LETTING GO

Stoeke, Janet Morgan Illus. by Stoeke, Janet Morgan Dial (32 pp.) $16.99 | Feb. 7, 2013 978-0-8037-3768-6 Series: The Loopy Coop Hens It’s the third outing for the cockamamie Loopy Coop hens. Midge, Pip and Dot, three terminally gullible and mildly delusional hens, are taking in the shade under an apple tree. An apple falls, startling them. What could that be about, they wonder? Very likely, they decide, it is a fox up in the tree throwing apples down at them. When more apples continue to rain down, Dot, who is feeling intrepid this day, decides to climb the ladder and see what’s up. What she finds is that apples fall of their own accord and that the view is sublime. The pure transcendence infects the hens. “I feel like I am an apple,” says Pip. “I feel like letting go,” says Dot. And Stoeke lets them do just that. They drop like rocks—or apples, it is true—their kirkus.com

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“Unfolding in omniscient third-person, this flawed but vivid and original fantasy makes a refreshing change from me-centered, first-person, present-intense narration.” from delusion

chicken wings as useful as bicycles in the sky. They sprawl in the shade of the tree once more, now knocked dizzy from their crash landing, but giddy: “That was fun!” “I love being an apple!” “Let’s do it again!” Here is an unconventional and gratifying take on “letting go.” The story, in all its brevity, subverts any moralizing. If there is any didacticism present, it is that letting go needn’t only be a taxing rite of passage; it can be sheer, even mystical joy. Midge, Pip, Dot—the Marx Sisters. (Picture book. 3-5)

PENELOPE CRUMB NEVER FORGETS

Stout, Shawn K. Illus. by Docampo, Valeria Philomel (196 pp.) $14.99 | Jan. 24, 2013 978-0-399-25729-2 Series: Penelope Crumb, 2

“The sun is up. Time for work. Construction Kitties grab their hats.” Four kitties of various shades don their construction hats (one of which is pink) and head off for the construction site. “Into the dump truck. Onto the backhoe. Move that dirt!” They work until the sun is high, and then they break for lunch. With full tummies they rest, and then it’s back to work. “Into the grader. Onto the roller. Smooth that dirt!” When the sun is low, their project is done. Construction Kitties have built a playground! They hop in their trucks and head out over the long highways home. “Construction Kitties purr and sing to the music. Soon it will be time to play!” Though Sturges’ text is a little flat, young construction-machine fans can’t but love seeing their favorite machines in action. Halpern lends her signature bright, blocky and perky heavy-lined, full-bleed illustrations to the package. A good addition to construction-machine collections everywhere. (Picture book. 2-5)

DELUSION

Penelope Crumb is back with the same spunk and quirky narration that won readers over in her eponymous

Sullivan, Laura L. Harcourt (352 pp.) $16.99 | Jan. 8, 2013 978-0-547-68836-7

debut (2012). Still struggling with the reality that her dad is Graveyard Dead, Penelope must also contend with a rival for her best friend Patsy Cline’s attention. New on the scene is perpetuallyin-pink Vera Bogg, who wants to be Patsy’s new BFF. When Penelope realizes that Patsy might actually prefer being Vera’s best friend instead of hers, she finds herself coping with another potential loss. Grandpa Felix, dealing with some changes in his own life, dispenses wisdom such as “Nothing is forever” and “Sometimes you just have to let go.” Inspired by a school field trip and fueled by her need to hold onto some part of all the people she loves, Penelope empties out her closet and makes it into her “Ultra Museum of Forget-Me-Notters.” Kids will completely understand the odd items she chooses to include: her lost teeth (some with blood still on them!), strands of Patsy Cline’s hair, her dad’s shoehorn, her mother’s self-portrait, her brother’s drawings and Grandpa Felix’s beloved camera, Alfred. Unfortunately her good intentions are misinterpreted as thefts or worse. But Penelope stays true to herself and learns how to fix what she can while adjusting her expectations for the future. Readers will root for and relate to this fresh-voiced young heroine who joins the likes of Ramona, Judy Moody and Clementine. (Fiction. 7-10)

Their public debut canceled by the London Blitz, beautiful stage illusionists Phil and Fee Albion, sisters, are sent by their anxious parents to sit out World War II in the village of Bittersweet. That suits Fee, but Phil longs to contribute to the war effort and, finding the locals oddly indifferent, enlists help from a nearby magicians’ college. After spells worked against the girls fail, they’re reluctantly granted access to college secrets and the magicians (some attractive) who keep them; love blossoms. Fans of American mysteries set in England will appreciate the gauzy Anglophilia, though it jars with other elements. Even briefly referenced, the Holocaust generates its own dense atmosphere through which fantasy elements like the war’s possible magical origins can appear heartless and trivial. Unfolding in omniscient third-person, this flawed but vivid and original fantasy makes a refreshing change from me-centered, first-person, present-intense narration. The unpredictable plot and abrupt shifts in tone—arch and mannered, harsh and elegiac—keep readers off balance, forcing them to consider unsettling but resonant questions. Is violence ever justified? Can its use annihilate life’s interconnectedness? Sullivan’s learning to manage her unique imagination, but when thickening plot and rising tension cry out for action, she relies on exposition, narrating events from a safe psychic distance. Quirky, intense, moving—an exasperating gem. (Historical fantasy. 12 & up)

CONSTRUCTION KITTIES

Sturges, Judy Sue Goodwin Illus. by Halpern, Shari Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt (32 pp.) $16.99 | Feb. 5, 2013 978-0-8050-9105-2 Who’s ready for a day of work in the sun? Construction Kitties! |

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“Clever composition conveys the rambunctiousness of the cubs, while the many hues of blue showcase the background…; two dawn-pink spreads surprise readers pleasantly.” from polar bear morning

THE LOST HEIR

thing in the bathroom”; “heart-bell”; “Talk it over in the Bird Room.” Rewarding territory to explore not just for budding artists or writers, but for daydreamers in general. (media and production notes) (Artist’s sampler/showcase. 6 & up)

Sutherland, Tui T. Scholastic (336 pp.) $16.99 | $16.99 e-book | Jan. 1, 2013 978-0-545-34919-2 978-0-545-47010-0 e-book Series: Wings of Fire, 2

KRISHNA Defender of Dharma

The dragonets of prophecy, free of both the Talons of Peace and the evil SkyWing queen, travel to the SeaWings’ palace, hoping to find a safe haven from

their many enemies. Infighting over who should lead leaves Tsunami feeling isolated. She dreams of a glorious homecoming befitting the next heir to the SeaWing throne. However, while Coral, the SeaWing queen, is welcoming, danger lurks beneath the dark water. Unable to speak the local language and thrust into a world of diplomacy and honor, Tsunami soon finds that the life of royalty is just as stifling as the cave in which she was raised. Faced with a choice between aligning herself with the SeaWings or continuing toward her prophecied destiny, Tsunami must decide where her loyalties lie. Along with the high-stakes decisions, the dragonets also face familiar adolescent challenges, including first crushes, parental angst and insecurity. This second installment in the Wings of Fire series proves to be as fast-paced and layered as the first. It also proves to be as violent. Explicit battle scenes, graphic deaths and even the suggestion that one dragon should “feel free to kill [himself]” will limit the allure of this series for many. Entertaining, but rugged. (Adventure. 9-12)

THE BIRD KING An Artist’s Notebook Tan, Shaun Illus. by Tan, Shaun Levine/Scholastic (128 pp.) $19.99 | Feb. 1, 2013 978-0-545-46513-7

Taneja, Shweta Illus. by Nagulakonda, Rajesh Campfire (152 pp.) $14.99 paperback | Jan. 8, 2013 978-93-80741-12-3 An episodic but nimbly paced life of Vishnu’s blue-skinned incarnation, presented in high-action panels only occasionally showing explicit gore or violence, despite the high body count. Cherry-picking the Mahabharata and other old texts, Taneja and Nagulakonda open with the threats of the demonic King Kansa of Surasena to conquer heaven itself. They carry the story through Krishna’s mischievous childhood, several wars, culminating with the Kaurava and Pandava clans’ wholesale mutual slaughter and the azure avatar’s eventual death by poisoned arrow. Along with barrages of hard-to-pronounce names (“…he crowned Bhagdutt, Naraka’s eldest son, the king of Pragjyotish and headed back to Dwarka”) non-Hindu readers may wrestle with moot pronouncements like: “A lie uttered to save a life, a king, or a marriage, is not a lie.” Nonetheless, Krishna’s exploits, which range from felling an elephant with his fist to sucking the life from a demon baby-killer through her breast, certainly make arresting reading. In the art, a supporting cast rich in rippling thews and exotically bejeweled costumes surrounds the androgynous but (literally) colorful protagonist. Quick glimpses of one of the world’s oldest and most dramatic stories, with at least hints of its religious and moral underpinnings. (Graphic epic. 12-15)

POLAR BEAR MORNING

From a master of visual mystery, a beguiling gathering of sketches, doodles, portraits and written thoughts about art

and creativity. To set up his gallery, Tan quotes Paul Klee’s definition of “drawing” as “taking a line for a walk,” and then he ruminates on how his ideas and his efforts to express them act on one another. The images themselves range from tiny scribbles to finished pastels or storyboards. Most are figure studies, with an admixture of alien landscapes, mazelike warrens of rooms or sustained imaginative flights, such as a full spread of nautically themed characters labeled “language of the sea.” With rare exceptions, the figures are fantasy creatures sporting beaks, armor or other strange features—but all (even a series of quick studies of pre-Columbian pottery) not only look alive, but display the artist’s distinctive whimsy and innate poignancy. Many, though not all, of the images later appeared in his published works, and most come with discreet, often oblique identifiers: “The 2728

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Thompson, Lauren Illus. by Savage, Stephen Scholastic (32 pp.) $16.99 | Jan. 1, 2013 978-0-439-69885-6

Hooray, this companion to Polar Bear Night (2004) is as charming and attractive as its predecessor. With the same spare textual sensibility, limited palette and blocky linocut prints, the story picks up where the first ended, with a new day and the freshness of morning. When a polarbear cub awakens and peeks out at the snow, ice and blue sky, she hears the faraway call of sea gulls and clambers out into the day. She sets off across the snow and ice and meets a snow cub, nose-to-nose (literally). This is dramatically illustrated with a profile view of their heads and noses covering a full double-page kirkus.com

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spread. The pair frolic, climb, tumble and jump into the sea together—new friends. The deceptive simplicity of the playful graphic design masks great sophistication. Clever composition conveys the rambunctiousness of the cubs, while the many hues of blue showcase the background (even an underwater scene); two dawn-pink spreads surprise readers pleasantly. It’s crystal clear, this is another winner. (Picture book. 3-5)

Georgie adores, but an unidentifiable body wearing Agatha’s ball gown. Alone in her belief that the body is not her sister’s, Georgie sneaks away in the dead of night, determined to retrace Agatha’s steps in order to solve the mystery of her disappearance and, she hopes, to bring her home. To Georgie’s surprise, she’s joined on the journey by her sister’s former flame. And what a journey it is, fraught with mountain lions, counterfeiters and marriage proposals. The truly memorable characters and setting—particularly descriptions of the incredible phenomenon of passenger-pigeon nesting and migration—and the gradual unraveling of the mystery of Agatha’s disappearance make this one hard to put down. The icing on the cake, though, is Georgie’s narration, which is fresh, laugh-out-loud funny and an absolute delight to read. Georgie’s story will capture readers’ imaginations with the very first sentences and then hold them hostage until the final page is turned. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

IN A BLINK

Thorpe, Kiki Illus. by Christy, Jana Random House (128 pp.) $5.99 paperback | Jan. 8, 2013 978-0-7364-2794-4 Series: Never Girls, 1 Four friends become lost girls when they land in Never Land. Kate, Mia and Lainey are best friends who go on the ride of their lives when Mia’s little sister, Gabby, grabs a fairy and they land in Never Land, with no way to return to their soccer-playing life. Now they are just Clumsies in the land of fairies, and they must rely on Tink (yes, that Tink) to help them find their way home. All fairies in this world have a talent; Tink is a fixing fairy, though a rather grumpy one. Tink’s plan to send the girls back goes awry when Kate jealously steals fairy dust and flies away. The worldbuilding is weak (convenient changes happen to the island whenever the plot demands it), and the characters develop in ways that strain credulity (Tink quickly flips from irritation to shedding a tear when the four girls prepare to leave). Bland black-and-white illustrations show three of the girls as whisperthin, stylish middle graders, with only Gabby having a real personality and healthy shape. The cliffhanger ending lets everyone know that this is the first of many adventures in Never Land. Fairy-crazy girls will embrace this series. Others will see it for what it is: a lightweight offspring of other watered-down Peter Pan stories. (Fantasy. 6-10)

ONE CAME HOME

Timberlake, Amy Knopf (272 pp.) $16.99 | $10.99 e-book | PLB $19.99 Jan. 8, 2013 978-0-375-86925-9 978-0-375-98934-6 e-book 978-0-375-96925-6 PLB In 1871, in the small town of Placid, Wis., a sister goes missing and a great adventure begins. Disconsolate over the end of a promising courtship, Agatha Burkhardt runs off without so much as a goodbye to her younger sister, Georgie. When the sheriff attempts to locate and retrieve Agatha, he brings home not the vibrant sister that |

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SAMMY KEYES AND THE SHOWDOWN IN SIN CITY

Van Draanen, Wendelin Knopf (288 pp.) $16.99 | PLB $19.99 | Jan. 8, 2013 978-0-375-87053-8 978-0-375-97053-5 PLB Thirteen-year-old Sammy has a habit of uncovering mysteries and finding trouble. In her latest adventure, the dauntless sleuth seeks to decipher the secrets in her own life. Sammy is accustomed to subterfuge, living—covertly—in elderly housing with her grandmother while her mother pursues an acting career. Another enigma is Sammy’s father, whose identity her mother refuses to reveal. Sammy also continues her relationship with boyfriend Casey, despite his mother’s objections. When Sammy learns her mother is traveling to Las Vegas, possibly to marry Casey’s dad, she decides to confront her mother and demand the truth about her father. The result is an impromptu, clandestine trip to Las Vegas. Sammy demonstrates an abundance of ingenuity in her scheming, which includes enlisting an entourage of Elvis impersonators to track down her elusive mother. Yet Van Draanen subtly reveals Sammy’s vulnerability beneath her bravado. Through an unlikely collaboration with Casey’s sister—and Sammy’s longtime nemesis—Heather, Sammy not only discovers insights into Heather’s behavior, but gains a greater understanding of her own situation. Sammy’s hijinks and a surprisingly poignant ending make this a captivating addition to the series. (Mystery. 10-14)

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PRINCE PUGGLY OF SPUD AND THE KINGDOM OF SPIFF

papers—lined, gridded, plain—decorated in pencil hatchings and a painted progression of hues between each primary color and its complement. From Pippin’s young childhood (working for pay to help his family; sketching with charcoal and paper scraps until he wins his first real art supplies in a contest), to his Army service in World War I, to the well-deserved fame that arrived only late in his life, he “couldn’t stop drawing.” When a military injury threatens Pippin’s painting ability, he tries wood burning—“[u]sing his good arm to move the hurt one”—and works his way back to painting. Sweet’s sophisticated mixed media (watercolor, gouache and collage), compositional framing, and both subdued and glowing colors pay homage to Pippin’s artistic style and sometimes re-create his pieces. Bryant’s text is understated, letting Pippin’s frequent quotations glimmer along with the art. Backmatter provides exceptional resources, including artwork locations. A splash of vibrancy about a self-taught master. (historical note, author’s note, illustrator’s note, references) (Picture books/biography. 5-11)

Weston, Robert Paul Razorbill/Penguin (256 pp.) $15.99 | Feb. 7, 2013 978-1-59514-567-3

Like Zorgamazoo (2008), A novel in rhyme, anything but sedate. It seems that Francesca, a book-loving princess Cares nothing for Fashion, despite her dad’s wincesTill scorned by the guests who have come one and all To the Kingdom of Spiff ’s Centenary Ball, She blanches in shock from their laughter and jeers And runs off in naught but pajamas and tears. Likewise Prince Puggly from neighboring Spud Is subjected to similar slinging of mud, And reeling dismayed from the general mocks At his laughable wig and nonmatching socks Conspires with Fran on a brilliant prank That leaves their tormentors repentant but rank. Presented in couplets that use a full range Of fanciful fonts and typography strange, This sendup of Fashion quite properly ends With a note about slavishly following Trends. Lighthearted flummery, far from routine. (Comical fantasy. 10-13)

LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS

Cline-Ransome, Lesa Illus. by Ransome, James E. Disney/Jump at the Sun (40 pp.) $16.99 | Jan. 29, 2013 978-1-4231-3495-4

black history month picture books A SPLASH OF RED The Life and Art of Horace Pippin

Bryant, Jen Illus. by Sweet, Melissa Knopf (40 pp.) $17.99 | PLB $20.99 | Jan. 8, 2013 978-0-375-86712-5

This outstanding portrait of AfricanAmerican artist Horace Pippin (1888-1946) allows Pippin’s work to shine—and his heart too. “The colors are simple, such as brown, amber, yellow, black, white and green,” says pencil-lettered text on the front endpapers. These are Pippin’s own humble words. His art and life aren’t really simple at all, but here, they’re eminently accessible. On that spread, brush and pencil lie on overlapping off-white 2730

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A slave mother and her daughter learn to read in spite of the great danger inherent in their enterprise. Rosa’s mother awakens her at night to walk to a “pit school,” a hole dug in the ground and covered over where slaves gather to learn their ABC’s. Their teacher is a fellow slave who had been taught to read. The patrollers make their journey perilous. Still, the men, women and children gather as often as they can. Cline-Ransome sensitively tells the story from Rosa’s viewpoint, endowing her with a yearning and determination that overcome her mother’s weariness and fear. The author learned of these schools while researching her book on Frederick Douglass, Words Set Me Free (2012). In this tale, she makes the point that learning was not just a dream of a few famous and accomplished men and women, but one that belonged to ordinary folk willing to risk their lives. Ransome’s full-page watercolor paintings—in beautiful shades of blue for the night and yellow for the day—are a window, albeit somewhat gentle, into a slave’s life for younger readers. A compelling story about those willing to risk “[a] lash for each letter.” (author’s note, further reading) (Picture book. 5-8)

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“Dramatic moments are captured in shifting perspectives; a whites-only beach is seen through a wide-angle lens, while faces behind bars and faces beaming in final victory are masterfully portrayed in close-up.” from nelson mandela

THE PRICE OF FREEDOM How One Town Stood Up to Slavery

characters with dignity. The stark fact that Hope, a child, is sent to work in the cotton fields is stated in a matter-of-fact tone, though the illustrations are softened through a muted palette that helps manage the horror. A warm story about the love of a family and the jubilation of freedom; it commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-7)

Fradin, Dennis Brindell; Fradin, Judith Bloom Illus. by Velasquez, Eric Walker (48 pp.) $16.99 | Jan. 8, 2013 978-0-8027-2166-2

NELSON MANDELA

In a collective act of protest and heroism, an Ohio community successfully defied the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act. In 1856, John Price and two other Kentucky slaves crossed the Ohio River to freedom in Oberlin. Like many other runaways, Price stayed there. Two years later, when slave hunters tracked him down and captured him, the citizens of the town banded together to defend him. The Fradins recount the confrontation, known as the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue, with its manifold legal and moral repercussions in a minute-by-minute and hour-byhour narration. Words and illustrations combine in a fast-paced, breathless, cinematic flurry that stars genuine action heroes armed with rifles and large doses of courage and principle. Velasquez uses mixed media and oil paints to portray his characters as living and acting, never posing. Many illustrations are framed by wood strips, an effective period touch. How wonderful, too, that a double-page photograph of the Rescuers, as the Oberlin citizens came to be known, concludes the saga. Judith Fradin and her late husband, Dennis, were frequent collaborators; his Bound for the North Star (2000) is also about runaway slaves. History made immediate and meaningful. (author’s note, bibliography, further reading, websites) (Informational picture book. 8-12)

Nelson, Kadir Harper/HarperCollins (40 pp.) $17.99 hardcover | $18.99 library ed. Jan. 2, 2013 978-0-06-178374-6 978-0-06-178376-0 An inspirational ode to the life of the great South African leader by an awardwinning author and illustrator. Mandela’s has been a monumental life, a fact made clear on the front cover, which features an imposing, full-page portrait. The title is on the rear cover. His family gave him the Xhosa name Rolihlahla, but his schoolteacher called him Nelson. Later, he was sent to study with village elders who told him stories about his beautiful and fertile land, which was conquered by European settlers with more powerful weapons. Then came apartheid, and his protests, rallies and legal work for the cause of racial equality led to nearly 30 years of imprisonment followed at last by freedom for Mandela and for all South Africans. “The ancestors, / The people, / The world, / Celebrated.” Nelson’s writing is spare, poetic, and grounded in empathy and admiration. His oil paintings on birch plywood are muscular and powerful. Dramatic moments are captured in shifting perspectives; a whites-only beach is seen through a wide-angle lens, while faces behind bars and faces beaming in final victory are masterfully portrayed in close-up. A beautifully designed book that will resonate with children and the adults who wisely share it with them. (author’s note, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)

HOPE’S GIFT

Lyons, Kelly Starling Illus. by Tate, Don Putnam (32 pp.) $16.99 | Dec. 27, 2012 978-0-399-16001-1 During the Civil War, an enslaved girl awaits her father’s homecoming and emancipation. Hope’s father gives her a conch shell the Christmas Eve that he runs away to fight for the Union Army; he tells her that the sound she hears is “the sound of freedom.” Through the following months, as news of the war filters through the cotton fields and the slave quarters, Hope finds strength and courage listening to her shell. Then the best news of all is whispered from ear to ear: President Abraham Lincoln is issuing the Emancipation Proclamation. Nothing much changes on the plantation, though, until finally Papa arrives with other “colored soldiers” and takes his family into his arms and away from slavery. Lyons gives Hope a strong and very sympathetic voice, while Tate uses colored pencils and gouache in a folk-art style to imbue the |

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BRICK BY BRICK

Smith Jr., Charles R. Illus. by Cooper, Floyd Amistad/HarperCollins (32 pp.) $17.99 | Dec. 26, 2012 978-0-06-192082-0 The White House is truly the people’s house. From foundation to finish, many hands toiled to construct a home for the leader of the new country. Free men and slaves worked with stone, wood and brick, using hands that were both skilled and unskilled. Smith uses rhyming verse to tell their stories with words that are powerful |

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“Widener’s superb acrylic paintings on chipboard capture every glorious moment....” from you never heard of willie mays?!

and descriptive. They are constructed to be read aloud; performed, even. Cooper works in his signature palette of muted browns and yellows and succeeds admirably in depicting individualized faces filled with weariness and pride. The tedium of each step involved in the construction of the White House had more than one result. A beautiful building arose in Washington, D.C., only to be destroyed by the British in the War of 1812. Just as important, enslaved workers learned skills that brought in money that bought their freedom. By giving the slaves names, Smith elevates them from mere numbers to individuals determined to shape their lives for the better. “Month by month, / slave hands toil, / planting seeds of freedom / in fertile soil.” An excellent title that provides an admirably accurate picture of slavery in America for younger readers. (author’s note, selected resources) (Picture book. 4-7)

DESMOND AND THE VERY MEAN WORD

Tutu, Desmond; Abrams, Douglas Carlton Illus. by Ford, A.G. Candlewick (32 pp.) $15.99 | Jan. 22, 2013 978-0-7636-5229-6 Archbishop Tutu, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, remembers a life-changing and life-affirming moment from his childhood in racist South Africa. The boy Desmond is out for a ride on his brand-new bicycle when a white boy shouts a terrible word at him. That word is never specified, but it is one that he cannot forget. Very upset, he visits his mentor, Father Trevor, who gently instructs him on the power of forgiveness; it’s something done from one’s heart and does not require an admission of regret from the speaker. At first, Desmond cannot embrace this concept and shouts his own mean word back. Later, though, he sees the white boy being bullied. When the two boys encounter each other in town, the white boy shares candy with Desmond. Tutu, writing with Abrams in the third person, effectively shares his message with young readers, presenting it in humanitarian terms, not as a religious precept. Ford’s full-page oil paintings are expressive, portraying anger and finally, triumph as Desmond metaphorically “embrace[s] the whole world in his outstretched arms.” A thought-provoking lesson for young readers on the destructiveness of bullying and racism. (letter to readers from Tutu, author’s note) (Picture book/memoir. 4-8)

YOU NEVER HEARD OF WILLIE MAYS?!

Winter, Jonah Illus. by Widener, Terry Schwartz & Wade/Random (40 pp.) $17.99 | PLB $20.99 | Jan. 22, 2013 978-0-375-86844-3 978-0-375-96844-0 PLB The greatest baseball player of all time?! In an unabashedly adulatory bio of New York Giants and later San Francisco Giants and later still New York Mets center fielder, Winter drives his point home. With folksy pen in hand, he rounds the bases and scores in this life of a Negro League and National League star. Mays could run the bases, field his position, hit, win games and wow the crowds. In this companion to You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?! (illustrated by André Carrilho, 2009), the author distills a career with great skill. Special attention is given to his legendary plays, the Throw and the Catch, and other spectacular feats, with Winter either paraphrasing or quoting from radio broadcasts. Additional facts are presented in ticket-shaped sidebars. Widener’s superb acrylic paintings on chipboard capture every glorious moment, more so than the grainy black-and-white cameras of the time. And the cover?! Mays’ powerful swing is reenacted in lenticular movement. Unlike Jackie Robinson, Mays never marched in civil rights protests. He believed that he proved his worth in the ballpark, and Winter’s presentation supports this. Say hey! An all-star gem to share with grandparents, parents, children, baseball fans and anyone else. (author’s note, career highlights, glossary of baseball terms, online resources) (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

interactive e-books BEAUTIFUL INSIDE AND OUT

Cerrotti, Adriana Illus. by Cerrotti, Adriana Adriana Cerotti $0.99 | Sep. 25, 2012 1.0; Sep. 25, 2012

This day in the life of a dog is sunk by substandard writing. Sly is a cute, Chihuahua-like dog with a small body, large, perky ears, and hugely oversized, round, blinking eyes. Each screen depicts him in action, performing such normal daily activities as running, getting muddy and lifting his leg on a tree, as well as some unusual ones, such as skateboarding and sleeping in a bed with a pillow and teddy bear. The pleasant cartoon illustrations, unfortunately, are the only bright spot in this inferior effort. The text features stilted 2732

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rhymes and near-rhymes and clunky cadence: “He sleeps and sleeps and always dreams, / with fatty, white and softy sheep.” The singsong-y narration only exacerbates the problems in the poorly written text. There is one basic tap-activated interaction per page, and navigation is simply page-forward and -back. The ending is a laudable message about self-esteem—“Sly has some flaws, as we all have. / But he is beautiful, inside and out”—but nothing in the text that leads to this will prepare readers for it, making it feel arbitrary. Sly might be considered beautiful, but this app is anything but. (iPad storybook app. 2-4)

DON’T OPEN BEFORE CHRISTMAS

Doyle, Bill Illus. by Cummings, Troy Crab Hill Press, LLC $2.99 | Oct. 4, 2012 1.0; Oct. 4, 2012

Christmas gifts opened too early come to life and make mayhem in this quirky, lecture-free lesson on the virtue of patience. Bespectacled Seymour can’t wait to get his presents—he’s hoping for a Pro Pigskin 5000 football, like the one he saw on TV. By Christmas Eve, he can’t resist taking an early peek at the computer, skates and the football he’s expecting. But when he opens the loot, making the gifts “hatch” too early, the presents start tearing the house apart. Can Seymour and his spunky pup get everything rewrapped? Told with a combination of touchactivated animation, inventive, pull-tab–like controls and lots of amusing background detail, it’s that rare holiday tale that feels both completely wholesome and a bit anarchic. When things go crazy, the perspectives go wild, and the gifts don’t just go bad; they turn into scary little mutants. The Pigskin becomes a toothy boar with menace on its mind, for instance. Of course, Seymour manages to tame the chaos in an ingenious way and learns that “sometimes waiting is the only way… / …to get what you want.” The app could use a way to skip to specific pages, but its clever and spunky personality more than make up for that. Seymour’s home is one readers will want to visit again, but they can be thankful for now that reading this app doesn’t require waiting until December 25th. (iPad storybook app. 3-8)

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LIL’ RED

Main, Brian Illus. by Main, Brian Brian Main $3.99 | Sep. 27, 2012 1.02; Oct. 15, 2012 A refreshingly distinctive take on the classic European fairy tale. The plot and substance of this story are nearly identical to what has been told for centuries. In this version, however, developers have assembled a winning trio of music, illustrations and interactions that help breathe new life into the familiar tale. All graphics are grayscale, peppered with various shades of red, providing atypically lovely visual scenery. The wolf is deliciously sinister, lurking around and rubbing his paws as he anticipates eating Lil’ Red, who has anime eyes that occasionally shoot readers a would-you-hurry-up-and-tapthings look when the screen is idle for too long. The story is told with visual speech balloons, meaning there are no words, only simple graphics that ably move the story along (and also remove any potential age or language barriers.) Much as in Peter and the Wolf, various instruments represent each character, including a string bass (wolf), a clarinet (Grandma) and xylophone (Lil’ Red). There are other cool nuances, including a mushroom patch that yields trombone tones, and a host of small interactions involving both creatures and objects. Great attention has been given to detail—a creaking swing or the delicate sound of footsteps, for example—that fortify the overall experience. In a sea of interactive homogeny this is a rare gem. (for iPad 2 and above) (iPad storybook app. 1-5)

FAT SHADOW

Scarpetta & Lauria Production Scarpetta & Lauria Productions $3.99 | Oct. 8, 2012 1.0; Oct. 8, 2012 An interactive and fantastical introduction to hand-shadows combines with a lesson on obesity. Making hand-shadows and eating black licorice wheels are Reginald’s favorite activities, earning him the nickname Reginald-Fat Shadow. When his voracious appetite causes Reginald to grow plump, his shadow decides to cut itself away from him. Distraught, Reginald finds himself on a quest to the Land of Lost Shadows. In this mysterious land, Reginald is confronted with the ghastly and skeletal Lady Dark, who controls the fates of shadows. Determined to retrieve his shadow, Reginald outsmarts the wraith by sacrificing his favorite sweet, which results in both a reunion with his shadow and dramatic weight loss. Although a fairly text-heavy app, when narrated, it flows well, and despite being a translation, there are only a few noticeable bumps in word choices. The majority of pages provide interactivity through tapping or tilting to expose silly, hidden surprises within the watercolor illustrations. Goofy |

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sound effects are also sprinkled throughout. Additionally, several pages feature light switches, which turn off a scene’s lights and expose Reginald’s shadow figures. The app’s main menu includes additional jigsaw puzzle activities and a basic illustrated guide to making one’s own shadow figures. Fun, if dark at times. (iPad storybook app. 5-9)

STOP MATH

Weigel, Jeff Illus. by Weigel, Jeff Jeff Weigel $3.99 | Oct. 4, 2012 1.0; Oct. 4, 2012 A simple app with historical leanings that should keep mathematics from becoming a kid’s personal Gitmo. Sparks, the 22nd-century narrator, is struggling with his math homework—good to know that some things never change. But when his parents run out on an errand, leaving his babysitter robot dog in playful mode, Sparks sets off, using a timemachine helmet to uncover the dastardly villain who sicced math on the world. Sparks makes his way back in time, visiting with Einstein, Newton and Al-Khwarizmi. A heavenly feminine voice floats down every now and then to deliver bare-bones explanations on such topics as relativity, gravity and positional numbers, but mostly, Sparks handles the narration and voices, some more successfully than others, as he occasionally skews singsong-y or whiny. The colors are rich, and the 1970s-comicbook-style characters have personality. While the fingertip engagement with the story is elementary—mostly just triggering stiff animations—it’s pleasingly archaic. The gist here is that nobody invented mathematics and that there is no one to cudgel into submission and take it all back, but that math is a tool—one that comes in handy when Sparks’ Chronoport helmet’s calculator breaks and he must do the math to get home. Once explained properly and given real-life application, math shows its stuff. Math taken to its fundamentals in a fun, well-paced story and with enough of a challenge to maintain steady interest. (iPad storybook app. 7-12)

This Issue’s Contributors # Kim Becnel • Marcie Bovetz • Sophie Brookover • Connie Burns • Timothy Capehart • Ann Childs • Rebecca Cramer • Julie Cummins • GraceAnne A. DeCandido • Lisa Dennis • Carol Edwards • Brooke Faulkner • Laurie Flynn • Omar Gallaga • Melinda Greenblatt • Heather L. Hepler • Megan Honig • Jennifer Hubert • Kathleen T. Isaacs • Laura Jenkins • Betsy Judkins • K. Lesley Knieriem • Megan Lambert • Angela Leeper • Peter Lewis • Lori Low • Lauren Maggio • Joan Malewitz • Hillias J. Martin • Daniel Meyer • R. Moore • John Edward Peters • Susan Pine • Melissa Rabey • Rebecca Rabinowitz • Kristy Raffensberger • Nancy Thalia Reynolds • Lesli Rodgers • Erika Rohrbach • Ronnie Rom • Leslie L. Rounds • Ann Marie Sammataro • Dean Schneider • Karyn N. Silverman • Robin Smith • Rita Soltan • Shelley Sutherland • Jennifer Sweeney • Deborah D. Taylor • Jessica Thomas • Monica Wyatt • Melissa Yurechko

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These titles earned the Kirkus Star:

Arturi, Carolyn R. CreateSpace (118 pp.) $15.95 paperback | $9.99 e-book Jul. 26, 2012 978-1475282160

NEIGHBORS by George Held....................................................... p. 2738 BITOPIA by Ari Magnusson......................................................... p. 2739 THE GLASS SKY by Niko Perren................................................. p. 2741

A goodfella recounts his life of crime, killing and evading the law in this pitchperfect dark novel. Even as children, Petey and his best friend, Ronnie, explore life as thieves. After they pull a clever heist complete with a lavish haul, the crime boss in their neighborhood makes them an offer they can’t refuse—they can continue to steal and cheat people but only if they work for him from now on. They pass their admission test by committing a surprisingly violent, seemingly passionless crime against a local shoemaker, driving nails through certain delicate body parts. From then on, Petey and Ronnie are part of the “family,” members of an exclusive, dangerous and cutthroat world of extortion, drugs and hits. Petey narrates his own story in perfect gangster vernacular, describing his crimes without compunction or remorse. He speaks of his work as sacred and necessary, while mocking law enforcement, embracing the complicated codes of chivalry, and defending the honor of his family and fellows with violence and bullets in the back. Only the beating of an innocent man gives Petey pause; the accidental obliteration of security guards is merely unfortunate timing on their part. He describes the rest of his work without flinching: dynamiting businesses for insurance money and shooting or hanging colleagues, rivals and enemies alike. Arturi’s debut reads like a long, comfortable conversation with the narrator as he looks back on a life well-lived, one he considers honorable, generous and family-focused. The author’s ability to mimic the genuine sentiment and chatter among members of organized crime is amply demonstrated. The prose flows smoothly from scene to scene as Petey recounts his story, but it barely pauses for dialogue, which at times makes it feel less like a novel and more like a diatribe. Petey’s comrades stand as shadows, one close friend blurring into the next with no distinguishing characteristics; even the women seem to be nondescript figures interested in shopping, home renovation and expensive gifts. Although the main character exhibits a shocking moral flexibility, the focused storytelling imbues the ending with a profound sense of loss. An engrossing mob life tale told in an authentic voice.

NINETEENTH-CENTURY EUROPEAN PAINTING by William Rau............................................................................. p. 2741

NINETEENTHCENTURY EUROPEAN PAINTING

Rau, William Antique Collectors Club Dist (684 pp.) $249.00 Jan. 20, 2013 978-1851497300

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THE BOOMER’S GUIDE TO RECOVERING YOUR LOST RETIREMENT: THE BILL FISHER STORY

God is no anthropomorphic, bearded Old Testament patriarch thunderously presiding from heaven over all creation. Rather, his is a god or godlike force of love and compassion, with special emphasis on compassion, and perhaps best conceived of as pure being, as opposed to a being. Teetering often on the brink of agnosticism, the author debunks the old God as unable to withstand the assault of scientific inquiry and discerns instead a small-g god who (or that) is worthy of reverence if only because he, she or it, has held sway over fervent believers since B.C. The traditional concept of a humanlike, sternly moral and punishing deity has its downsides—like its historic use by parents and clergy to scare the hell out of naughty children—but on balance, it prevented moral chaos. But foremost among all religions, the author says, is the fostering of compassion for others. This alone, he writes, is reason enough for parents to answer with a resounding yes when their children ask if there is a God. The seed planted, parents would be wise to stand back and let their maturing offspring make what they will of life’s great mysteries. Correia’s prose is very readable, his subject and intent lofty, and his viewpoint inclusive and open-minded, if heretical to some. Throughout, he makes his own perspective clear without disparaging other faith-based dogmas, though he does vigorously suggest science has left certain ancient but enduring views of godhead in tatters. A synopsis of world religions at the book’s end will allow parents to stay one step ahead of their inquiring children. But if boiling down holy books and endless religious tracts into a few short paragraphs is helpful in grasping broad outlines, such concise treatment of faiths risks oversimplification. A compact, impeccably argued and personally revealing inquiry into religious belief, as much for adults as it is for teaching to their children.

Burns, Michael R. CreateSpace (86 pp.) $14.95 paperback | $9.99 e-book Aug. 1, 2012 978-1477521809 Financial wisdom passed down from a father-in-law and tendered here as a

bighearted gift. Burns’ father-in-law, Bill Fisher, experienced plenty of financial setbacks during his life, but he put together a plan to nurture a small nest egg into something more substantial by the time he turned 72 and to turn a $50,000 bequest into $1 million by the time he died at 92. Burns tracks Fishers’ strategy, and it’s not exactly brain science; but $1 million speaks for itself. Burns is a forthright, blunt writer, and what he says is homespun but sage, humbly tendered in both tone and clarity. Readers clueless about their savings, no matter how meager, will appreciate his frankness. First, get enough income to cover your monthly expenses, which might mean getting a second job. A job, it’s noted, can be an emotional and social boon as well, offering health benefits, etc. Burns then advises when to tap into Social Security—wait until you’re 70—and how to maximize IRAs. He explains why to vest your 401(k)s in mutual funds and how to fund a sensible price-to-earning ration for your high-dividend stocks. He includes several smart rules of thumb to help avoid panic in market cycles, especially good counsel for dividend reinvestment programs: “[L]ook for quality stocks that pay a good dividend (2 to 5 percent), have an attractive P/E ration (from 7 to 18), and are diversified industries!” He even plumps for municipal bonds: “Muni bonds are very boring. They are like watching paint dry or grass grow,” but they earn a nice income every year. In this economic climate, Burns thinks residential real estate is a vulture’s game, yet the mortgage rates are a steal; your call. The short but dense book closes with Fisher’s stock preferences and master agent wholesale buy rates. Practical financial wisdom told with authority.

THE ART DOCKUMENTS

Davis, Carlton CreateSpace (296 pp.) $38.95 paperback | $12.99 e-book Sep. 9, 2012 978-1461082101 A personal, wide-ranging account of the artistic community in downtown Los Angeles during the 1980s. Amid the squalor of an industrialized wasteland, a group of artists coexisted in an abandoned building dubbed the Citizens Warehouse. In this thoroughly engrossing book, Davis (Bipolar Bare, 2009) provides an in-depth catalog of the works he exhibited between 1981 and 1986 in the Art Dock, a loading dock attached to his studio. As he states in his manifesto, this savvy, provocative decision resonates by “epitomizing the nature of contemporary art in the on-loading, off-loading, and up-loading of commodity.” With a few exceptions, each chapter contains an image of the artist (usually taken by Ed Glendinning), photographs of the art installation, concurrent sketches from Davis’ “daily diary page” (often reflecting his state of mind at the time), an interview with the artist and a postscript with follow-up

TEACHING YOUR CHILD ABOUT GOD IN A SCIENTIFIC WORLD Correia, Edward CreateSpace (166 pp.) $10.99 paperback | Sep. 13, 2012 9781478153337

An attorney and law professor from Washington, D.C., suggests ways for parents to introduce a contemporary, science-worthy version of God to children. Author Correia, a special counsel for civil rights during the Clinton administration, makes it clear from the start that his 2736

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“Galloway’s account is palpably bitter and one-sided, but it shines a powerful light on high-level malfeasance.” from anatomy of a hustle

information about his or her subsequent career. Along the way, the author relates the concepts explored in the exhibited works to his own autobiographical narrative, as he reveals personal struggles with sexual identity, substance abuse, mental health, career path, finances and dyslexia. While he focuses primarily on the Art Dock, Davis includes artistic and political happenings in other areas of LA as well. For example, he observes the changing relationships among artists, the homeless population, building inspectors and the police force, especially as precipitated by the 1984 Summer Olympic Games. Readers may notice occasional editing lapses in the text or the repetition of the phrase “I asked” during reproduced conversations, but these minor drawbacks do not lessen the overall impact of the project. It’s also worth noting that not all is doom and gloom; alongside real suffering and marginalization are tales of humor and companionship. In fact, Davis ends on an uplifting note of clarity in the epilogue, where he recalls one particular exhibit not included in the original chronology: a playful, interactive installation he created with his young daughter. He comments: “ ‘Snowflake House’ reminded me of what is so wonderful about art. There is the pure delight in creation. There is the happiness and meaning it provides for others.” A valuable, permanent record of transitory and improvised events, embedded in a particular historical and artistic moment, which otherwise may have been lost.

sharp uncluttered prose and dialogue, the novel contains elements of great maturity, but the characters need more development. And a nagging, unanswered question is: What happens when the witches die, as they seem to be able to recycle through Earth and other worlds? A remarkable, entertaining read and a useful politicalawareness treatise for thinking teens.

ANATOMY OF A HUSTLE Cable Comes to South Central L.A.

Galloway, Clinton Phoenix Publishing Corporation (356 pp.) $15.95 paperback | $9.99 e-book Aug. 15, 2012 978-0970886026 Cronyism and corruption stifle the cable TV industry in this hard-hitting memoir. In the late’70s, when the city of Los Angeles put up for bid the franchise to build a cable TV system for South-Central LA, the author and his brother partnered with an experienced cable company, lined up financing and assembled what they thought would be a winning proposal. Unfortunately, a good business plan turned out to be next to worthless in the tar pit of LA municipal politics. After a series of bullying meetings spiked with bribe offers, an aide to a powerful city councilman and an influence peddler connected to the mayor’s office demanded that they and their associates be given majority control of the prospective franchise. The Galloways, two local African-American businessmen, refused—and found themselves subject to an arbitrary, unfair evaluation process by city agencies that effectively pulled the brothers out of the running. (The franchise was finally awarded to a real estate company that had also, the author contends, tried to muscle in on the Galloways’ project.) Galloway follows the cable-franchise battle as it evolves into a lawsuit that revolved around significant issues of free speech rights and antitrust law, eventually leading to a landmark Supreme Court decision. Part true-life noir replete with threatening power brokers and sleazy backroom deal-making, part populist courtroom drama with pointed allegations of judicial bias, Galloway’s memoir is an absorbing insider’s take on the sort of cable TV franchise controversy that has erupted in many cities. His analysis of knotty business and bureaucratic and legal wrangling is both detailed and lucid, and he ties it to a larger critique of black leaders—including ugly portraits of former LA mayor Tom Bradley, celebrity lawyer Johnnie Cochrane and congresswoman Maxine Waters—whom he feels have betrayed their inner-city constituents. Galloway’s account is palpably bitter and one-sided, but it shines a powerful light on high-level malfeasance. A stinging indictment of urban politics as usual.

THE WITCHES’ SLEEP

Deann, Kaitlyn CreateSpace (428 pp.) $14.99 paperback | $0.99 e-book Aug. 8, 2012 978-1475230864 Teenager Ella is shot to death on Earth, only to be reborn as a witch in another world of seemingly friendly, happy fellow witches, but their smiles hide an evil society. Seventeen-year-old debut author Deann has written a political, moral and racial commentary on U.S. society in the guise of a fantasy novel. Ella, under her witch name of Sunlight Reflecting Off The Moon, re-emerges on the planet Raena, where all seems to be in harmony. Life after death gets even better when her boyfriend joins her from Earth; he’s also a witch and was reborn as Kindness In His Heart. But Sunlight quickly discovers that her new home is a totalitarian society that practices slavery. Her love is tested when she learns that Kindness is the son of the world’s cunning and unscrupulous overlord, who shuts down any sign of opposition. Her Raena parents behave as most Earth parents do; they’re fearful of upsetting the establishment. Sunlight sets out in rebellion, with the television media complicating every step she takes (their similarity to the media on Earth is clear and accurate). Twists in the tale include a Roman gladiator-style fight where the combatants move 10 times faster than humans and where Sunlight’s parents get a chance at redemption. Told in the present tense, with short, |

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JACK TEMPLAR MONSTER HUNTER The Templar Chronicles: Book One

(Hen Hears Gossip, 2010, etc.) team up for the first in a series that portrays the wild animals that a child might see close to home. The 13 poems each feature an animal typically found near urban, suburban or rural settings—squirrels, rabbits, groundhogs, bats, earthworms—and at least one digital collage or drawn image of the critter. The work invites discussion and reflection that can broaden the experience for children and avoid boredom for parents rereading for the umpteenth time. In language choices, Held offers material not usually considered the territory of youngsters—portmanteau words (“racku” for a raccoon haiku), near puns (“squirreling dervishes”), upper-level vocabulary (demise, omnivore) and literary references (Brer Rabbit’s race with Brer Terrapin). Although he has shortened lines from his adult verse, Held refuses to be held to simple rhymes for kiddies, providing readers and listeners with an assortment of sounds and sound patterns, including eye rhyme, alliteration and homophones. The ideas of the poems also engage; Held presents the metaphor of a deer as a weed, “diminished to a pest” by its proximity to lawns and yards, but not all of the content is this insightful or engaging. Kim keeps up: beyond the single, easily recognized animal, the supersized images invite readers to explore. Such exploration may lead to discoveries of partially hidden animals, interesting combinations of drawing and collage, or surprising choices of collage materials. Charming critters in collage and poetry for people of all ages.

Gunhus, Jeff Seven Guns Press (196 pp.) $10.95 paperback | $3.99 e-book 978-0988425903

Gunhus brings young readers a monster-filled romp to read at their own risk. In the first few pages, Jack, the storyteller and main character, warns readers not to read about these real-world monsters that would seem to only exist in fiction. The tone is set—sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek and likable; rooting for Jack is easy. The day before his 14th birthday, things start to change for him. At first it’s great: A sudden new strength helps him defend his nose-picking friend “T-Rex” from the school bully, and even his crush, Cindy Adams, takes notice. But when he meets a mysterious woman named Eva, they’re suddenly attacked by mole-creatures. Before the end of the night, he’ll have to save and then fight beside his friends, as they battle werewolves, vampires, harpies, trolls, zombies and more. Gunhus masterfully introduces fully realized characters with whom readers can connect almost instantly. The pacing is quick but not rushed, and events seamlessly progress, complete with action, cliffhangers and surprise reveals. Descended from a monster hunter, Jack has been safe because of a treaty between the humans and the Creach (the term for the collective society of monsters) that forbids killing any youngsters until they turn 14. But his unique upbringing and background made him target number one on his birthday, especially for Ren Lucre, the vampire leader of the Creach. But why is Jack so important among the monster hunters? Who is the last Templar (as they call him)? These questions and others aren’t answered, which could leave frustrated readers wanting more from what could easily, hopefully become a series of books. Emotionally honest Jack’s firstperson narration reads like he’s talking directly to you, as when he describes being so paralyzed by fear that he can’t even help his friend. But the young monster hunter is learning how to be a hero: “I realized that bravery wasn’t about not being scared; it was doing the right thing even when you are scared.” A compelling teenage adventure, despite hitting a few clichés.

POETRY FROM THE DESERT FLOOR Kelley, Pat CreateSpace (50 pp.) $14.00 paperback | Aug. 11, 2012 978-1470024796

Philosophical, narrative free verse on life in the desert. Nominally a book of nouns—the volume’s three division headings are People, Places and Things—Kelley’s poetry is really about present participles. Life in the desert is one of constant motion: “raising children / sweeping floors / milking cows / living lives of seeming desolation”; watching and wishing; and, all too often, of “leaving the land” and “losing it all.” Kelley’s work emphasizes that relentless struggle is as much a part of the desert as wind and sand, describing the setting as a “barren land” where “men die for water” because “sometimes it rains / sometimes flowers bloom / sometimes little tufts of grass / reach skyward. // But mostly it mocks / the dry cracked earth / and steams its way / back into the sky.” An all-encompassing context, the desert never functions as mere backdrop; rather, it infiltrates all, sometimes quite literally, as when the “winds blow / off the Rockies / leaving dirt on the floor, / in the bed, / on the old flowered sofa, / settling softly on the dishes.” Nor are the human inhabitants unaffected. Under the unfiltered glare, men live harsh lives marked by violent ritual, while women labor quietly and unceasingly. Kelley’s portrayals are hardly

NEIGHBORS The Yard Critters Book 1 Held, George Illus. by Kim, Joung Un Filsinger & Co. (32 pp.) $20.00 | Dec. 10, 2011 978-0916754259

Not your standard children’s poetry book, this illustrated collection offers sounds and scenes to savor for ages 3 and up. Held (After Shakespeare: Selected Sonnets, 2011, etc.) and Kim 2738

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“Despite a theme geared for younger readers and the unmistakable moral lesson of facing one’s fears head-on, the author surprises with somber, mature dialogue.” from bitopia

HAZARDOUS GOODS

one-dimensional, however. Her poems capture a complicated, beautiful interplay of human and natural forces. Each of her subjects, no matter how unforgiving the circumstances, “grows into a desert bloom, fragile, beautiful, human.” With such an emphasis on finding meaning in daily activity, it’s appropriate that her mostly unembellished poetry tends toward narrative, marked by short, free-verse lines with common metrical patterns. Visual imagery complements the author’s atmospheric photography. Though occasionally clichéd—an old cowboy’s face is “etched in leather” and wild mustangs sport “flowing manes”—Kelley’s unique explorations into the intersections of ecology and identity make her well worth the read. Patient, honest investigations of the places where external environment and personal identity clash and reshape one another.

Mackie, John A. Storm Cloud Press Nov. 1, 2012 9780988125308

Mackie’s novel, the lively start of a metaphysical mystery series, is a witty mix of the magical and the mundane. Donnie Elder quits his job as the marketing director of a software company and searches for something meaningful and different to do with the next chapter of his life. A family friend offers him a chance to become a partner in a delivery company—Arcane Transports. But this is no mere courier service. Arcane Transports has a monopoly on the transport and delivery of occult and magical items within Canada. Their offices are in a strip mall and their fleet has seen better days, but Arcane’s client list is a who’s who of the wacky and weird, from mysteriously powerful consulting firms to strip clubs needing rushed shipments of love potions. One day, while picking up a delivery from a client, Donnie and his partner are robbed at gunpoint by a henchman for the Russian Mafia. After that, Donnie’s life quickly becomes more complicated, as he tries to recover the package, stay one step ahead of the mob, romance a beautiful cop and navigate an awkward roommate situation with his loutish brother, Ted. Mackie has a lot of fun with his premise, with many of Arcane’s parcels wreaking havoc on the lives of its employees, from a ring that causes incredible bad luck to a stone that manifests deepest fears. But there’s too much going on here: As the first volume in an anticipated series, this novel spends a lot of time infodumping, and there are too many characters, segues and sidesteps before Donnie finally solves the mystery of the stolen package. Luckily, the doses of humor and invention throughout keep the work from badly bogging down. Some of the Canadian touches will confuse American readers—references to Toronto’s Bay Street or to Tylenol 3s, for example—but otherwise this promises to be the start of a clever and entertaining series. A fantasy romp set in the world of occult parcel posting— who knew it could be so perilous to ship enchanted objects?

ADELE The Rabbi’s Mother: Book One

King, Anna CreateSpace (356 pp.) $12.99 paperback | Aug. 7, 2012 978-1478200284 A rabbi’s 75-year-old mother develops her psychic abilities to catch the culprit behind a brutal attack in this mystery, a first novel for King under this pseudonym. In spite of being widowed three times, Adele Rothstein lives a good life. She has two full-grown kids; one’s a rabbi at the local synagogue. Adele may not pay much attention to God, but God pays attention to her when he gives her, at age 75, her life’s mission: to help people using her psychic abilities. When she spots a literal black cloud engulfing young Sol Wiseman and learns that Sol’s mother was attacked and now lies comatose, Adele decides to help him find the attacker. While an elderly woman doesn’t usually star in suspense novels, this twist works well. Adele has a sharper wit and more energy than many people half her age. Still, several younger characters—including her rabbi son— object to her involvement. Adele has her faults—she fails to acknowledge that long-lost-love Manny left her simply because he loved someone else—but these minor sins give her depth and believability. Most characters are well-defined, including Adele’s two love interests and Sol, her sleuthing partner. Sol resolves to find his mother’s attacker, but he is also like any other teenage boy who finds his little brother annoying and thinks about sex constantly. The mystery maintains its momentum. Plenty of clues suggest the culprit’s identity, and a few of these lead in the right direction, but many send the reader off on red herrings. One is left guessing almost to the point of the unveiling. A page-turning mystery with romance, humanity, standout characters and a heroic 75-year-old psychic as the lead.

BITOPIA

Magnusson, Ari Olivander Press (240 pp.) $9.99 paperback | $2.99 e-book Feb. 27, 2012 978-0984861057 Magnusson’s debut YA fantasy follows a young boy’s flight from the wrath of bullies, taking him to another world from which there may be no escape. On the run from bullies, new kid at school Stewart seeks refuge down a storm drain. He winds up lost in a maze of pipes until he steps out into a lush forest and the drain pipe entrance disappears. He encounters Cora, a |

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young girl who takes him to a city hidden behind a great wall. Inside are only children, guided by a book written by the Forebears—the previous inhabitants—and fearing the tall, vicious Venators outside. The venerated book prophesizes a devastating final battle, but Stewart only wants a look at its pages in hopes of finding a way home. Magnusson’s novel is an allegory: The Venators, who merely beat their prey in lieu of killing them, are equated with bullies, while the children, who never age, are the perpetual embodiment of innocence. But Magnusson infuses the narrative with stunning imagery that wallops the senses— the cacophony of a construction site as Stewart passes by or the multitude of colors in the forest. Some of the descriptions are made all the more authentic through the impressionable eyes of a child: Stewart likens the landscape to emerald green ice cream covered with candy. Ample action and suspense, including the predicted conflict between the city and its skeletal enemies, help the plot retain a steady speed. The best moments involve Cora and Stewart running through the forest, dodging the Venators; the book even opens with Stewart midsprint. Despite a theme geared for younger readers and the unmistakable moral lesson of facing one’s fears head-on, the author surprises with somber, mature dialogue, as when the Princeps, the city’s female leader, states bluntly, “[W]e are fairly confident that we are no longer on the planet Earth.” For good measure, there are also talking animals, a protagonist who’s more than deserving of a cheering audience and a bittersweet ending, with a slightly greater emphasis on the sweet. All the fun of a children’s book, coupled with the razorsharp wit and potent insight that seasoned readers crave.

major in English. Even though Jessica is nearing 40, she can’t shake her meddling, strict, conservative family; the hopelessness gnaws at her. Mah writes from Jessica’s perspective in an effortless, distinct voice that drives the novel and fits well with the fun, fast-paced style and tone. Desperate to be successful and admired like Clyde, Jessica forms an all-girl, AsianAmerican rock band with her best friend, Katie. After putting the word out and holding auditions, Chopstyx is born. Their impressive sound propels them forward, but Jessica soon discovers that being in a band isn’t as easy as she thought. Yet Jessica’s persistence—at the expense of spending time with Vincent and Chloe—gets the band their first paying gig. She constantly wants more, though, so she and a band mate begin writing their own songs in the hope of entering a battle-ofthe-bands contest. Occasional typos aside, the story brings to life its vivid, believable characters, each with genuine quirks and depth. They’ll undoubtedly draw readers into the world of amateur rock ’n’ rollers on the road to stardom. A unique story with a strong voice, definitely appealing to chick-lit fans tired of typical genre clichés.

THE LAST GENTLE DENTIST Based on actual events Pearl, Oliver CreateSpace (202 pp.) Aug. 25, 2012 147765447X

A police raid on the office of a San Francisco dentist sets in motion an erotic novel that offers plenty of laughing gas. Dedicating this raunchy, picaresque tale “to women,” Pearl says “true events” inspired it. He opens with the line: “I was drawn to her like a rowdy boy to a silly girl on a sandy beach on a windy day.” That setup warns readers to expect hyperbole, and the book delivers generous amounts of it. The plot involves a hapless dentist whose San Francisco office is raided one day by “determined men in bulletproof vests,” who wave weapons and talk about massive-scale fraud. The narrator finds himself a wanted man and begins his odyssey through Europe and America, a fastpaced and often sexually explicit journey from one stranger’s bed, couch, bathroom and bungalow to the next. He attracts the attention not just of those bulletproof-vested men, but of the Russian underworld and an improbable number of voluptuous women. In the few calm moments in the book, he reflects on his life and recent past in a way that gives his tale the air of an elongated Chekhov story with overcharged credit cards and Vicodin. As the narrator falls in with two shady businessmen, Koshel and Shurkin, and the exotic dancer Anushka, the story moves along with verve and confidence that counterbalance its essentially ad hoc nature. The prose is lean and effective, and the terseness highlights Pearl’s talent for good lines. “I never actually fall asleep, just bob in and out of some oily porridge,” the narrator says. Elsewhere: “New York has no climate; it’s a carnage of moods.” The story has an ending

CHOPSTYX

Mah, Sophia CreateSpace (376 pp.) $14.99 paperback | $5.99 e-book Oct. 11, 2012 978-1-475095-07-4 In Mah’s debut, an insecure woman in her late-30s wants to find her life’s passion and prove her traditional Chinese family wrong, so she starts a rock ‘n’ roll cover band. Unsure of her place in her family and in the world, Jessica “Jessie” Chou is seeking answers. She feels like the black sheep of her family: Her sister, Clyde, is a successful lawyer, married to a billionaire with two children. Everyone loves Clyde, but Jessica has always felt left out; she purposely tries to disconnect herself from Clyde’s perfection. Despite having a young daughter, Chloe, who adores her, and a longtime live-in fiancé, Vincent, Jessica is still unhappy and unfulfilled, due in part to her prolonged unemployment. It doesn’t help that she lives only feet away from her parents’ Northern California home, in their guesthouse, which further proves to her pushy, overbearing father that she isn’t doing enough to reach her potential. Constantly telling her to find a sensible career, he still chides her for dropping out of a pre-med program to 2740

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JIM MORGAN AND THE KING OF THIEVES

rather than a conclusion—some readers may wish for less ambiguity—before it provides a helpful glossary of Russiancriminal slang. A readable, witty exercise in modernist urban erotica.

Raney, James Matlack James Matlack Raney (282 pp.) $11.99 paperback | Sep. 28, 2012 978-0985835903

THE GLASS SKY

When 11-year-old Jim Morgan’s father is killed, he’s determined to find out why and ends up on the run in 19thcentury London in Raney’s debut historical adventure novel. Jim’s mother died when he was an infant, and his father was away at sea for much of his childhood. Jim’s aunt, who raised him, let him run amok, and he spent his days terrorizing the servants and paying little attention to his studies. His life changes the day his father comes home; by nightfall, his father is murdered, and Jim finds himself on the run from the killers. The youth ends up in the London underworld, where it’s tough to be an 11-year-old kid—let alone one with no money, no connections and a price on his head. With no one to help him, he presses on and tries to figure out how to open a box his father left him. Over the course of the novel, which also includes magic, pirates and pickpockets, Jim matures from a spoiled, friendless rich kid to a young man with friends who can count on him. The novel features strong secondary characters, including a small gang of children who adopt Jim and teach him the ways of the underworld. It also has many tense moments, as well as a strong sense of fun. Raney sets this book up to be the first of a series, and while this initial story wraps up satisfactorily, many readers will be eager to spend more time in the world Raney has created. A rip-roaring good tale for children of all ages.

Perren, Niko Self (329 pp.)

An American biospherist and a Chinese nanoengineer risk everything to save Earth’s climate in this thriller set 40 years in the future. By 2050, Earth’s climate is in crisis. Increasing carbon dioxide levels have flooded coastlines, created deserts and worsened political instability. A few biospheres protect vanishing species, but even these preserves are threatened by corruption and graft. When biologist Tania Black is unexpectedly appointed Chief Biospherist to the U.N., she wonders if she can even make a difference. Tian Jie, a Chinese nanotechnologist, has invented a material that—if everything goes right—could make an enormous glasslike sun-shield in space, helping cool the Earth. Amid various dangers and with everything at stake, Tania and Jie (with help from supporters) risk their lives to bring the shield to reality. In his debut novel, Perren draws in the reader with a well-rounded, sympathetic set of characters grounded in an all-too-possible future world. Unlike many thrillers, what’s at stake is real; it matters right now as much as it will in 40 years. Climate change could be a preachy subject, but Perren’s characters are so lifelike that their issues are inseparable from the story, making for a deeply emotional, compelling read. Tania, Jie and friends (including Ruth, the redheaded Green Army member, and Rajit, a math genius) are distinct, funny and smart. Best of all, they’ve got heart. Jie is asked why he’s risking so much; does he have a hero complex? “Jie flexed his arm to show the lack of muscle. ‘A hero? I’m here because I have a 9-year-old son.’ ” Perren’s 2050 is also believable, with many well-thought-out technological and cultural details around the world and on the moon. Some items in this version of the future are intriguing, while some are appalling or amusing, like the ubiquitous burger chain that offers “deep-fried fiber flakes” that contain “zero percent of your daily nutrients.” Perren’s sense of humor helps balance the book’s serious concerns, and the well-explained science, including some helpful diagrams, respects the reader’s intelligence. Pacing, too, is wellhandled, with events rushing to a finish that brings together several moving parts and packs an emotional punch. An exciting, well-written and compassionate ecothriller with real heroes and a mission worth caring about.

NINETEENTH-CENTURY EUROPEAN PAINTING From Barbizon to Belle Epoque

Rau, William Antique Collectors Club Dist (684 pp.) $249.00 | Jan. 20, 2013 978-1851497300 Monumental in scope and size, Rau’s coffee-table book tells the story of “art that changed the world” through stunning, full-color reproductions and comprehensive essays. The practice of classifying paintings “into styles and subjects” started in the 1800s, a century that also saw the rise of journals and critics, who expanded the dialogue, the audience and, most importantly, the field of collectors for art. By breaking his study into “Movements” and “Motifs,” Rau places “artists in the tradition they best embodied,” presenting work by category, not chronology. The first nine chapters explore the stylistic camps of Europe, from the Napoleonic Wars through the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. The remaining chapters survey the transformative era’s fascinations: the Orient, animals, ships and the newly exposed politics of the Catholic Church. Although |

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k i r ku s q & a w i t h jo h n n y t ow n s e n d MARGINAL MORMONS

Townsend, Johnny Booklocker.com, Inc. (246 pp.) $15.95 July 31, 2012 978-1621417378

Author Johnny Townsend has written a number of books featuring a diverse cast of characters who are all struggling to reconcile their beliefs to the doctrines of the Mormon church. In his book of short stories, Marginal Mormons, Townsend is at his best as he presents a fascinating set of realistic, relatable people who reside outside the “norm,” at odds with the faith due to their lifestyles and choices. While many of Townsend’s stories focus on homosexuality and the lack of acceptance demonstrated by most mainstream Mormons, the author also addresses a variety of other issues. Townsend’s work is very personal, reflecting his own struggles with the Mormon church. We recently spoke with Townsend, who weighed in on a number of subjects, from homophobic hate mail to Mitt Romney. Q: The stories presented in Marginal Mormons focus on characters who are wrestling with questions of faith and identity. You believe that one should “write what you know,” which suggests that much of your work is pulled from your own experiences.

K i rk us M e di a L L C # President M A RC W I N K E L M A N Chief Operating Officer M Eus G LM Ae B di O Ra DL ELC K i rk KU E H N # Chief Financial PresidentOfficer J ames M A RC W I NH Kull ELMA N SVP, SVP,Marketing Finance M ike HH ejny J ames ull SVP, Online SVP, Marketing Paul H offman M ike H ejny # SVP, Online Copyright by Kirkus Paul H2012 offman Media LLC. KIRKUS REVIEWS# (ISSN 19487428) is published semiCopyright 2011 by Kirkus monthly by Kirkus Media Media LLC. KIRKUS LLC, 6411 Burleson Road, REVIEWS (ISSN 0042 Austin, TX 78744. 6598) is published semiSubscription pricesMedia are: monthly by Kirkus & PrintRoad, LLC,Digital 6411 Burleson Subscription (U.S.) Austin, TX 78744. - 13 Months ($199.00) Subscription prices are Digital & Print ($199 $169 for professionals Subscription (International) International) and $129 - 13 Months ($229.00) ($169 International) for Digital Only Subscription individual consumers (home 13 Months ($169.00) address required). Single copy: copy:Single $25.00. All$25.00. other rates All other on request. onrates request. POSTMASTER: POSTMASTER: Send address address changes changes to to Send Kirkus Reviews, PO PO Box Box Kirkus Reviews, 3601, Northbrook, IL 3601, Northbrook, IL 60065-3601. 60065-3601. Periodicals Postage Postage Paid Paid Periodicals at Austin, TX 78710 78710 and and at at at Austin, TX additional mailing offices. additional mailing offices.

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A: Lots of my personal life is revealed in my stories. I try to disguise “reality” as much as is feasible. Some stories are almost word-for-word the way an incident happened; other stories come from ideas I read in newspaper articles or in email lists I belong to. Someone once asked me if a particular story was true, and I replied, honestly, “It’s ALL true, except that the events in the story never happened.” Then I laughed at how stupid that sounded. Yet, on some level, so much of the feeling or emotion in a story is “true” regardless of the “facts.” Q: The spotlight has been trained, to some extent, on Mormons this year due to the presidential election. Your work is very topical, and you mention Mitt Romney in your story “The Occupiers.” What impact do you think the 2012 presidential election had on outsiders’ views of Mormons and the Mormon faith? A: Romney frightens me. I think he believes he is the fulfillment of the supposed “White Horse prophecy,” which states that one day, the Constitution will “hang by a thread” and it will be the “elders of Israel” who save it. If he [had won], he [would have felt] it was preordained by God and that anything he says is gospel. That doesn’t mean I would fear any Mormon leader. I think Harry Reid has shown that you can be a reasonable person in politics even if you’re Mormon. As far as mentioning topical events in my stories, I used to try to avoid that so that my stories wouldn’t be “dated.” But then I decided there was nothing wrong with a reader feeling a story was written during Elizabethan times or World War

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II or whatever, so what was wrong with writing a story set clearly in 2001 or 2012? Q: You are a prolific writer, and the majority of your characters struggle with the constraints of the Mormon church. Many of your characters are gay. Others struggle with addiction, family or careers. While many of these struggles are universal, the Mormon church is at the heart of the suffering and indecision in your stories. What type of feedback do you hear from other Mormons? A: I haven’t had nearly the amount of feedback that I would like! Most True Believing Mormons wouldn’t read my books if their lives depended on it, because they feel that reading this kind of literature would damn their souls. So they mostly just ignore me. I think there is much good in the church, and I think there are serious problems as well. My personal feeling is that unless the church adapts to stronger ideas of honesty about its past and equality for all of its members, it will become increasingly less significant in the world. That is not something I particularly want to see. However, I recently received an issue of DNA, Australia’s leading gay magazine, which had done an interview with me on being a gay Mormon (or ex-Mormon). A letter to the editor accuses me of “flat out lies” and belittles me as someone who “makes his living tearing down The Mormon Church.” The writer then concludes with his hope that Mitt Romney wins the presidency and saves the United States. While this letter is from a homophobic, gay Mormon, I believe this is pretty much the common feeling of any Mormon who is even aware of my work. It is likely that most Mormons not only assume everything I write is too sinful to read, but that if they did dare read something of mine, they might actually begin to question and doubt, and wouldn’t that be terrible? It saddens me that they believe so completely that I am attacking the church. I have read a great deal of Jewish literature, and I was impressed by how many great rabbis over the centuries have proudly proclaimed their doubt. I think that questioning and doubting are signs of a mature faith, while denying reality is a sign of weakness. I certainly want lots and lots of non-Mormons to read my books, attracted by their “universal” appeal. But I do hope that there will come a day when Mormons are able to finally recognize that my attempts to portray Mormon life honestly have value for them as well. – By Emily Thompson


Paris was the epicenter, Rau notes the accomplishments of the Newlyn School in England, the magnificence of Venetian View Paintings and the Belle Époque’s long reach, from Copenhagen to Florence. His efforts to represent unsung female painters of the era add a unique perspective, as does his ability to connect the dots between styles and artists. He explains how painters, such as Corot—drawn to the town of Barbizon—heightened the reputation of landscape painting and how the work of students, Monet, Renoir and Pisarro—with the invention of zincbased paints—led to the “plein air tradition” of impressionism. He notes the influence of Millet’s realist peasant paintings on post-impressionist Van Gogh. Rau leavens his scholarly tone with lively anecdotes. At the end of each chapter, brief, dynamic bios describe the artists. Although the collapse of the Academie, the rise of photography and the devastation of World War I interrupted the “freedom of thought and action” that artists of the fin de siècle were establishing for future artists, Rau resurrects their importance. An exhilarating journey through a pivotal moment in art history conducted by a captivating docent.

hero also harbors a dark side. Michael may use his vigilantism for noble ends, but can justice ever truly be served by one man? The operator is not a blank slate, and Michael provides a satisfyingly complex character struggling with shades of gray even as he knows exactly what he must do. Though Michael Herne laments his return to the life of an operator, readers may hail a new breed of hero.

AN AMERICAN IN VIENNA

Wagar, Chip iUniverse (420 pp.) $32.95 | paper $22.95 | $9.99 e-book Jan. 25, 2011 978-1450267687 978-1450267663 paperback A budding reporter gets more than he bargains for on a trip to reconnect with distant relatives in this dramatic look at the European homefront on the

eve of World War I. When Andy Bishop, Ohio native and Notre Dame graduate, journeys to Austria-Hungary in 1914, he finds an imperial society on the brink of violent change. He meets Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the stunning Maria von Montfort via his well-to-do relatives. Through the eyes of Maria’s philandering fiance, Johann, himself a vital part of the archduke’s security detail, readers take a ride on the ill-fated convoy that unknowingly drives the archduke to his death. The momentous event entwines the lives of Andy, Maria and Johann. Once war begins, Andy must decide whether to return to America or stay in Europe; remaining abroad would place him in peril, but it would afford him an ideal perspective to write with authority from the front lines. In this debut novel, Wagar guides readers through a meticulous examination of the events and emotions that affected the lives of Austrians at the beginning of last century. He presents a country filled both with the old ideals of a structured society and the new radical theories of socialism. With painstaking attention to detail in historical events, including the sinking of the Lusitania, Wagar occasionally allows facts to overwhelm the plot, which is a rather straightforward look at the effects of war on a love triangle. Overall, though, the novel delivers ample historical insight and high drama as its characters navigate the sobering world of an empire collapsing from within. A satisfying mixture of history and romance.

OPERATOR

Vinjamuri, David ThirdWay, Inc. (178 pp.) $14.99 paperback | $4.97 e-book Aug. 10, 2012 978-0985775605 Vinjamuri’s (Accidental Branding, 2008) first novel follows a Special Forces man on a quest to uncover the truth. Michael Herne returns to his hometown to attend the funeral of his high school sweetheart. Mel’s death was ruled a suicide, but her reporter friend Veronica believes there’s more to the story and enlists Michael’s aid in unraveling the threads. Secrets on both sides trip up the investigation, which Michael knows he shouldn’t be digging into, but things suddenly get too close for comfort when Russian gangsters attempt to kill him during an early morning run. Michael’s elite military training comes in handy, and though he manages to escape, he reveals his former life as a Special Forces operator. Plunged into a world of Russian spies, child prostitution, kidnapping and the crooked deals that have kept his hometown afloat, Michael must uncover the truth that led to Mel’s untimely death. While many novels have dealt with elite military training, spy games and coverups, Vinjamuri’s work brings a fresh look at all three genres. Tight pacing offers plenty of suspense and surprise, and while the protagonist occasionally seems more superhero than mortal, it’s also clear why his superiors chose him for his line of work. Descriptions of the training Michael has received come through flashbacks that work well with the novel’s shadowy subject: overlapping mountainous upstate New York escape scenes with midnight jaunts halfway around the world to learn specialized moves from unlikely masters. The novel handles its dark subject matter straightforwardly, and while justice is certainly a theme, the |

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Seize Tomorrow! Here is John Perry, procrastinator, Stanford philosopher,

author—and, according to P. J. O’Rourke, “the Fabius Cunctator in our war against the Hannibal of the undone”— on the origins of his book: In 1995, while not working on some project I should have been working on, I began to feel rotten about myself. But then I noticed something. On the whole, I had the reputation as a person who got a lot done. A paradox. So, rather than getting to work on my important projects, I began to think about this conundrum . . . A mere seventeen years later, we are proud to present Dr. Perry’s The Art of Procrastination, a “straight-talking, badly-needed book [that] has changed my life,” says Bruce McCall. So the next time you’re feeling guilty about surfing the Web for funny cat videos instead of meeting an important deadline, don’t. Instead, revel in your dawdling, lollygagging, and postponing. Something good is bound to come out of it.

“Insightful, sensible, and amusing.” —Harry G. Frankfurt, author of On Bullshit

“What are you waiting for? Read this book.” —Patricia Marx, author of Starting from Happy

As Heard on NPR’s All Things Considered

A Visual Time Line

1. The author, John Perry, hard at work.

2. Suzie Bolotin, Workman Publishing’s editor in chief, reading the proposal.

3. Known for his swift decision-making, publisher Peter Workman contemplates making an offer.

Buy it sometime. Also available as an audiobook from

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


December 01, 2012: Volume LXXX, No 23  

Featuring 267 industry-first reviews of fiction, nonfiction and children's & teen; Also in this issue: Black History Month picture books; Jo...

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