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Featuring 318 Industry-First Reviews of Fiction, Nonfiction and Children's & Teen

KIRKUS VOL. LXXXIII, NO.

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REVIEWS

CHILDREN'S & TEEN

Shadowshaper

by Daniel JosĂŠ Older A black Latina teen comes into her powers in this shimmering urban fantasy. p. 113

NONFICTION

Billie Holiday by John Szwed As with the best of Holiday’s music, this elegant and perceptive study is restrained, nuanced, and masterfully carried out. p. 82

on the cover

What lies beneath the surface of Kazuo Ishiguro's deceptively simple novel The Buried Giant is a story that implicates all of humankind. p. 14

INDIE

T.C. Bartlett, a writer of many talents, perseveres just like his new character. p. 136

FICTION

The Rocks

by Peter Nichols Take a literary vacation to Mallorca with this wonderfully salacious novel. p. 28


from the editor’s desk:

Changes in the Magazine B Y C la i b orne

Chairman H E R B E RT S I M O N

Smi t h

# President & Publisher M A RC W I N K E L M A N

Photo courtesy Michael Thad Carter

This issue, we’re redesigning almost everything about the reported journalism we do at Kirkus Reviews. The cover story (p. 14), about Kazuo Ishiguro and his new novel The Buried Giant, is longer than most cover stories we’ve published in the past. The extra space gives contributing editor Gregory McNamee the room he needs to talk about Ishiguro’s “grand allegory of human history.” It’s been fascinating to watch Ishiguro’s career; no one could’ve predicted that the author of Never Let Me Go and The Remains of the Day would create “a Western of a kind,” as Ishiguro calls it, set in fifth-century Britain. Future issues will also feaClaiborne Smith ture longer cover stories than we’ve published in the past. There are so many interviews with compelling writers we publish at kirkus.com (whether written or video interviews) that it felt like it was time to include more of that coverage in the print magazine. In addition to one-page interviews in each section, you’ll find shorter, onecolumn interviews with authors whose books we’ve reviewed in previous issues (but whose books are publishing now). Our guide to when some of the interviews will appear on our site in the next two weeks is also now easier to read (p. 4). Kirkus has a strong history of being first out of the gate with reviews of forthcoming books; starting with this issue, we’re reporting even farther into the future. We launch a column we’re calling “Foreign Influence” (p. 128) that you’ll find the 15th of each month. Columnist Catherine Hickley, who lives in Berlin, is an arts journalist whose debut book, The Munich Art Hoard: Hitler’s Dealer and His Secret Legacy, will be published by Thames & Hudson this fall (except in North America). We’ve asked Catherine to sniff out the books foreign readers and critics are talking about the most to give our subscribers the lowdown on what everyone’s saying about those books before they’re published in America. It’s our version of what wonky political types might refer to as “advance intel.” Book criticism is the heart of what we do. But there is, Fi e l d No t e s of course, a vibrant world of books that happens apart from writers and critics sitting before computer screens. We’re adding a feature in this and all upcoming issues called “Field Notes” (p. 150) to cover writers and books out in the field. We’ll have photos of writers at parties, quoting their quips, citing funny or insightful passages from new books. If you have submissions for “Field Notes,” just write our eagleeyed reporter Megan Labrise at fieldnotes@kirkus.com. And if you want to tell me what you think of the changes in the magazine, I’m at csmith@kirkus.com. We hope you enjoy the added coverage. By Megan Labrise

In anticipation of National Poetry Month in April, the Academy of American Poets is distributing 120,000 free commemorative posters inspired by late Pulitzer Prize-winning Poet Laureate Mark Strand, designed by New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast. Request yours at Poets.org.

Adelle Waldman (The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.), Jennifer duBois (Cartwheel), and Steph Opitz, the literary director of the Texas Book Festival, at the Festival’s second annual TBF <3s Indies party, a celebration of Austin’s indie presses.

“What these numbers count is just quantity—they don’t indicate quality, they don’t indicate authenticity, they don’t indicate what the books are actually about….Ideally, what we would have would be a variety of books by and about all kinds of people.”

(l-r) Sarah Pohlman, publisher of Open Road Media; Paul Morris, PEN’s Director of Literary Programs; Phil Klay, National Book Award winner and author of Redeployment; Saeed Jones, LGBT Editor for Buzzfeed and author of Prelude to Bruise; Lisa Lucas, publisher of Guernica; and Mira Jacob, author of The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing

—KT Horning, director of UW-Madison’s Cooperative Children’s Book Center, which has tracked books by and about people of color since 1985, on the recently released 2014 data

“I think it’s often the people who are telling us the things that we don’t want to hear who are the ones we need to listen to the most.”

—Redeployment author Phil Klay, in a speech at the PEN American Center’s New Members/New Books party

“Looking for goshawks is like looking for grace: it comes, but not often, and you don’t get to say when or how.”

“You know you’ve hit upon an interesting research topic when in a single week you get interview requests from both Penthouse magazine and Christian Life Radio.”

—Alice Dreger, author, academic and intersex patients’ rights activist, in Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science

Midland Pantone Colors

PMS - 186C

—biographer James Grissom, who first interviewed the actor for Follies of God: Tennessee Williams and the Women of the Fog and is now at work on a Brando biography tentatively titled The Lake of the Mind

Coming soon!

—Helen Macdonald in H Is for Hawk

Submissions for Field Notes? Email fieldnotes@kirkus.com. 146

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PMS - 431C

Excerpted from COLLECTED POEMS by Mark Strand. Copyright © 2014 by Mark Strand. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

“Nothing will lift your ego like getting a phone call from Marlon Brando saying, ‘I’m ready to talk to you.’ ”

Chief Executive Officer M E G L A B O R D E KU E H N mkuehn@kirkus.com Editor in Chief C laiborne S mith csmith@kirkus.com Managing/Nonfiction Editor E R I C L I E B E T R AU eliebetrau@kirkus.com Fiction Editor L aurie M uchnick lmuchnick@kirkus.com Children’s & Teen Editor VICKY SMITH vsmith@kirkus.com Mysteries Editor THOMAS LEITCH Contributing Editor G R E G O RY M c N A M E E Senior Indie Editor KAREN SCHECHNER kschechner@kirkus.com Indie Editor RYA N L E A H E Y rleahey@kirkus.com Indie Editor D avid R a p p drapp@kirkus.com Assistant Indie Editor M AT T D O M I N O mdomino@kirkus.com Assistant Editor CHELSEA LANGFORD clangford@kirkus.com Copy Editor BETSY JUDKINS Director of Kirkus Editorial CARISSA BLUESTONE cbluestone@kirkus.com Associate Production Editor S arah Rodrigue z Pratt srpratt@kirkus.com Director of Technology E R I K S M A RT T esmartt@kirkus.com Director of Marketing SARAH KALINA skalina@kirkus.com Marketing Associate A rden Piacen z a apiacenza@kirkus.com Advertising/Client Promotions A nna C oo p er acooper@kirkus.com

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contents fiction

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

Index to Starred Reviews............................................................ 5 REVIEWS................................................................................................ 5 editor’s note..................................................................................... 6 On the Cover: Kazuo Ishiguro................................................. 14 Antonio Ruiz-Camacho’s Exiles .............................................. 24 Mystery..............................................................................................40 Science Fiction & Fantasy..........................................................44

nonfiction Index to Starred Reviews.......................................................... 47 REVIEWS.............................................................................................. 47 editor’s note...................................................................................48 Jean Findlay Chases Things Past............................................ 62 Dr. Paul Offit, Modern Crusader...........................................68

children’s & teen Index to Starred Reviews.......................................................... 85 REVIEWS.............................................................................................. 85 editor’s note...................................................................................86 Lesléa Newman Revisits an Old Controversy............... 102 David Arnold Goes on a Road Trip...................................... 106 continuing series....................................................................... 124 Foreign Influence...................................................................... 128

indie

Harold Bloom conveys the intimate, urgent, compelling sense of why it matters that we read canonical authors. Read the review on p. 53.

Index to Starred Reviews........................................................ 129 REVIEWS............................................................................................ 129 editor’s note..................................................................................130 T.C. Bartlett & a Dog Named Zero..........................................136

Don’t wait on the mail for reviews! You can read pre-publication reviews as they are released on kirkus.com—even before they are published in the magazine. You can also access the current issue and back issues of Kirkus Reviews on our website by logging in as a subscriber. If you do not have a username or password, please contact customer care to set up your account by calling 1.800.316.9361 or emailing customers@kirkusreviews.com.

best of indie................................................................................... 149 Field Notes......................................................................................150 Appreciations: Virginia Woolf, Debut Author................151 |

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Live on March 27 James Hannaham How has Hannaham managed to weave delicate issues like cheap labor, addiction, and race into the inventive and “provocatively funny” novel Delicious Foods? We ask him today at kirkus.com. ©Ian Douglas

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Live on March 25 Michael Wood 35 years after his death, Alfred Hitchcock remains as fascinating and strange an icon as ever; we talk to biographer Wood, author of Alfred Hitchcock: The Man Who Knew Too Much, today about the director’s storied life.

Live on March 30 Deborah Cadbury In Princes at War, a lively tale of monarchical machinations, Cadbury explores the many layers involved in the abdication crisis of 1936, which ceded the British crown to the seemingly least prepared of the four sons of George V, George VI. We ask her for the royal secrets today at kirkus.com. Robin Rinaldi

Print indexes: www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/print-indexes Kirkus Blog: www.kirkusreviews.com/blog Advertising Opportunities: www.kirkusreviews.com/about/advertising-opportunities

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Live on March 18 Barney Frank Retired congressman Frank’s memoir Frank not only tracks groundbreaking issues he helped shape, it’s also “the most fun you can have reading about the United States Congress,” notes the starred Kirkus review. We interview him today at kirkus.com. ©Michael Halsband

Never mind that she already owned a beautiful flat a few blocks away or that she was 44 and married to a man she’d been in love with for 18 years. What followed—a year of abandon, heartbreak, and unexpected revelation—is the topic of her debut memoir, The Wild Oats Project. Monogamous and sexually cautious her entire adult life, Rinaldi never planned on an open marriage; her priority as she approached midlife was to start a family. But when her husband insisted on a vasectomy, something snapped. If I’m not going to have children, she told herself, then I’m going to have lovers.

monogamy, men want variety’ story feels like something we tell ourselves,” Rinaldi told the online magazine Lady Clever. “If we believe men are wild at heart, then someone’s got to hold down the fort. If we admit women are also wild at heart, where does that leave us? In chaos.” At a time when the bestseller lists are topped by books about eroticism and the shifting roles of women, Rinaldi explores female sexuality, how it relates to maternal longing, and learning to walk the line between loving others and staying true to herself. Photo courtesy Rhonnel M. Adalin

Live on March 17 The project was simple: Robin Rinaldi, a successful magazine journalist, would move into a San Francisco apartment, join a dating site, and get laid.

During the week, she would live alone, seduce men (and women), attend erotic workshops, and have wall-banging sex. On the weekends, she would go home and be a wife. Her marriage provided safety and love, but she also needed passion, and she was willing to go outside her marriage to find it. And as she embarked on her experiment, she found herself drawing unexpected truths about often stereotyped sexuality. Women might be “too busy cleaning the house and raising children to act on their nonmonogamous urges, but to me, this ‘women want

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fiction ONLY THE STRONG

These titles earned the Kirkus Star:

Asim, Jabari Bolden/Agate (288 pp.) $15.00 paper | May 12, 2015 978-1-932841-94-7

ONLY THE STRONG by Jabari Asim.....................................................5 RED CAVALRY by Isaac Babel; trans. by Boris Dralyuk...................... 6 ORIENT by Christopher Bollen..............................................................8 HURRY PLEASE I WANT TO KNOW by Paul Griner........................18 MINNOW by James E. McTeer II....................................................... 26 DINNER WITH BUDDHA by Roland Merullo....................................27 THE WOMAN WHO READ TOO MUCH by Bahiyyih Nakhjavani..................................................................... 28 THE ROCKS by Peter Nichols.............................................................. 28 THE LAST BOOKANEER by Matthew Pearl...................................... 33 VALLEY OF THE SHADOW by Ralph Peters......................................34 DIETLAND by Sarai Walker.................................................................38 THE STORM MURDERS by John Farrow........................................... 40 THE RAVENS by Vidar Sundstøl; trans. by Tiina Nunnally...............43 WHEN THE HEAVENS FALL by Marc Turner................................... 46 DIETLAND

Walker, Sarai Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (320 pp.) $26.00 | May 26, 2015 978-0-544-37343-3

An epic saga of 1970s African-American life in a Midwestern city is neatly, deftly, and evocatively compressed into three tales with overlapping characters— and destinies. In the lingering aftermath of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968, there was among AfricanAmericans a sense of lost promise spiked with rage, anxiety, and drift. Yet by the early ’70s, there was also a burgeoning sense of pride, powered by a growing perception of the many possibilities King’s movement had helped to bring about. Asim’s novel, set in Gateway City, the same reimagined version of St. Louis he depicted in his short story collection, A Taste of Honey (2010), parses these seemingly disparate forces as they act upon characters whose fates overlap in three sections. In the first, Lorenzo “Guts” Tolliver, a reformed professional “leg breaker”–turned– cab-service proprietor, struggles to free himself of his violent past but still finds himself dodging trouble while doing favors for the local crime boss, Ananias Goode. In the second, Goode, who likewise seeks a quieter, gentler life, sees his own potential salvation in his secret, if peripatetic, romance with a socially prominent pediatrician, Artinces Noel. But the competing demands of their very different callings, along with those from within their volatile, at-risk neighborhood, keep getting in the way. The third section focuses on Charlotte Divine, raised a foster child on Gateway’s meaner streets, who is now making her way through college—and through a romance as challenging as those faced by the other major characters. This narrative suite covers a lot of psychic, cultural, and historic ground, and its nature can shift from crime and suspense to love and torment in a couple of pages. Yet Asim maintains impressive control of his sinewy style and elegiac tone while also remaining solicitous toward his hard-boiled but tender-souled characters. You will rarely find a historical novel that’s as panoramic yet also as lean, mean, and moving as this.

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a world of immigrants This year, I served as a judge for the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, and the first thing I noticed about the books under consideration was how many of their authors are immigrants. The winner, Ayelet Tsabari, was born in Israel but now lives in Toronto; the people in her collection, The Best Place on Earth, are soldiers, “cool New Age Orthodox Jews,” an Israeli woman visiting her Canadian-immigrant daughter, an undocumented Filipino caretaker for an elderly Israeli woman. They’re all trying to find their places in the world, even if it’s not “the best place on Earth.” Among the finalists, Kenneth Bonert was born in South Africa, the grandson of Lithuanian immigrants, and he also now lives in Toronto; his novel, The Lion Seeker, is an epic tale set in Lithuania and Johannesburg in the 1930s and ’40s. Yelena Akhtiorskaya was born in Odessa and raised in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn; the action Ayelet Tsabari of her novel, Panic in a Suitcase, begins in Brooklyn and ends in Odessa, showing that immigration is no longer a one-way street. Boris Fishman was born in Belarus and also grew up in Brighton Beach; the hero of his novel, A Replacement Life, is trying to shed his Brooklyn roots for Manhattan cool. Molly Antopol is the only finalist who was born in the U.S., but even the stories in her collection, The UnAmericans, concern immigrants. Tsabari comes from a family of Yemeni Jews, and she consciously set out to write about the Mizrahi community in Israel—Jews of Middle Eastern and North African descents. One of her characters, a teenage girl who’s moved back to Israel from Canada to live with her grandparents after her mother dies, tells her new friend that she’s an “Arab Jew.” Lana laughs. “No, that’s impossible. You’re either an Arab or a Jew.” Yeah, but you’re a Belarusian Jew. Why can’t there be Arab Jews? Tsabari’s stories are intense and raw, with a vivid voice made all the more remarkable for the fact that English is her second language. The book was published in Canada but hasn’t appeared yet in the U.S. or Israel; I hope this award changes that. —L.M. Laurie Muchnick is the fiction editor. 6

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RED CAVALRY

Babel, Isaac Translated by Dralyuk, Boris Pushkin Press (192 pp.) $18.00 paper | May 12, 2015 978-1-78227-093-5 A classic series of wartime sketches in a translation that emphasizes their lyricism and dark comedy. Babel (1894-1940) first published this collection in 1926, after serving as a journalist in the Russian army during the Polish-Soviet War of 1920. It is an unvarnished vision of the ugliness of war, and his anti-propagandistic candor as a writer would ultimately lead to his death in Stalin’s purges. If literary immortality is small consolation, there’s no denying these stories’ enduring power. The first story, “Crossing the Zbrucz,” features its soldier narrator looking for a moment’s rest in a house before realizing the man sleeping beside him is dead, “[h]is gullet...ripped out, his face...hacked in two.” “Salt,” one of the collection’s most emotionally brutalizing tales, is styled as a letter to the editor from a Cossack soldier, boastfully recalling how he cruelly dealt with a woman who pleaded for safety on their train by pretending the bag of salt in her arms was a baby; in little more than five pages Babel manages nuanced symbolism, a voice of callous inhumanity, and a grotesque vision of herd mentality. Translator Dralyuk writes in the foreword about his interest in emphasizing Babel’s poetic style, which emerges clearly in “My First Goose,” about a soldier effortfully trying to put Lenin’s words into a shallow act of violence, observing how “my heart, crimson with murder, creaked and bled.” Though the stories are brief and deliver a clear message about the frustrations of battle, Babel’s rhetoric is never plainly parable- or fablelike; he uses a blunt realism to sketch out scenes that can have a variety of resonances. Writing about war has changed with the times, but war hasn’t, and these stories from nearly a century ago remain grimly current. Short but emotionally deep studies of life during wartime.

SUMMERLONG

Bakopoulos, Dean Ecco/HarperCollins (352 pp.) $26.99 | $15.99 e-book | Jun. 16, 2015 978-0-06-232116-9 978-0-06-232118-3 e-book An Iowa college town is ground zero for a host of relationship dramas in this provocative, sultry tale. Don Lowry is a real estate agent who’s having trouble making sales in Great Recession–era Grinnell. His wife, Claire, is a writer who’s spent more than a decade blocked on her second book. The last thing their marriage needs is an interloper, but across the summer chronicled in this novel, they wind up with two.


Amelia Benitez-Coors, aka ABC, a young college grad mourning the death of her girlfriend and contemplating suicide, meets Don and cultivates a friendship thick with weed and flirtation. Charlie Gulliver, an actor, has returned to town to manage the affairs of his ailing father, an English professor with a lecherous past; he’s soon making eyes at both Claire and ABC. Bakopoulos (English/Grinnell College; My American Unhappiness, 2011, etc.) doesn’t labor too hard to establish the plausibility of this love trapezoid; he hastens through its early meet-cutes and meet-stoneds to address his main theme of how relationships survive (or don’t) in the face of the outside pressures that are placed upon them. To its credit, the novel stays light on its feet; its breezy chapters are laced with sex and humor, the latter most often in the form of Ruth Manetti, the pot-smoking owner of the manse that becomes the hub for the various machinations. Indeed, between the louche vibe and matriarchal presence, the novel often feels like Armistead Maupin’s San Francisco teleported to the Midwest. But Bakopoulos is forced to maintain a tricky balance between depicting his characters’ newfound libertinism and taking its potential consequences (divorce,

foreclosure) seriously; Don and Claire’s children are present but little more than stock complications. The story closes with a few plot threads unraveled and some well-formed characters a touch too clouded in pot smoke. A well-intentioned and provocative, if messy, attempt to mess with the stock themes of domesticity.

THE SCARLET GOSPELS

Barker, Clive St. Martin’s (368 pp.) $26.99 | $12.99 e-book | May 19, 2015 978-1-250-05580-4 978-1-4668-5955-5 e-book Horror master Barker (Absolute Midnight, 2011, etc.) brings down the lights on two of his most enduring creations: the Cenobite hell priest Pinhead and private eye Harry D’Amour.

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This long-awaited final chapter about characters that inspired the films of the Hellraiser series and Lord of Illusions may or may not satisfy the intense fan anticipation, but it’s still a hell of a spectacle. The novel opens as a group of magicians have resurrected one of their comrades from the dead. When Pinhead arrives to kill him again, he warns, “You are the last. After you, there’ll be no more games. Only war.” The survivors are massacred (except for one who becomes Pinhead’s slave), complete with gleefully gory descriptions of corporeal punishment. Meanwhile, Harry D’Amour is in New Orleans at the request of his blind friend, Norma Paine, who can speak to ghosts. While covering up a sex den for one of Norma’s deceased clients, Harry discovers a Lament Configuration—those would be the creepy puzzle boxes you might remember from Hellraiser or Barker’s novella The Hellbound Heart (1986). This attracts Pinhead, who has now been banished from his order. Pinhead declares that Harry must bear witness to his “sublime labor” and write in his gospels of all the carnage to follow. To trigger Harry’s role in his final play, Pinhead kidnaps Norma and drags her to hell, forcing Harry and three friends to follow the demon into the breach. Once in the inferno, the ragtag band must navigate monsters, deadly fog, and the scorched landscape to follow their quarry to his final conflagration. This is graphic horror on a gargantuan scale but with some great character beats, too. When Harry growls, “This is between me and Pinfuck,” it’s a fist-in-the-air moment for Barker’s patient and passionate fans. Perhaps not the best jumping-on point into Barker’s twisted universe, but a fun, gory roller-coaster ride for horror fans and a worthy ending for an iconic villain.

ORIENT

Bollen, Christopher Harper/HarperCollins (624 pp.) $26.99 | May 5, 2015 978-0-06-232995-0 Art, money, and ill intent collide in Interview magazine editor Bollen’s (Lightning People, 2011) sophomore novel. Mills Chevern (“You know by now that Mills Chevern isn’t my real name”) arrives in Orient, on the North Fork of Long Island, as an adolescent drifter. He leaves a somewhat more established figure in the community, both suspect and savior. What happens in between is the subject of all kinds of speculation in Bollen’s leisurely yarn, for his arrival coincides with a rash of murders in the placid community, a haven for the well-to-do and a slew of real estate agents, developers, and artists (“the sex was miserable, but they were artists who craved misery”) who depend on those richies for their livelihoods. One, Beth, a native of the place with an intimate knowledge of where all the previous bodies are buried, so to speak, takes Mills in, courting the bad temper of a memorable Romanian artist who serves as a kind of Greek chorus to the later proceedings, growling and grumping. As the bodies mount, the huge pool of suspects begins to dwindle somewhat, for everyone, it seems, has a 8

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reason to kill; as Mills laments, “How can that detective suspect me when all these people had a motive?” Given all the possibilities, the identity of the real killer, in a nicely paced tale that unfolds deliberately over the course of 600 pages, is a nice surprise. Bollen could have chosen to sneer, scold, and satirize, for, he lets us know, at least some of the victims had it coming. But he mostly plays it straight—except, that is, for the moments of perilous same-sex entanglement, reminiscent of the best of Patricia Highsmith. And no one emerges unscathed from the gossipy tale, full of crossed storylines and small-town malice; Bollen has a real talent for summarizing character with zingers that nicely punctuate the story: “ ‘I love you too,’ she said, chain-rolling and chain-smoking her cigarettes, a one-woman factory, her mouth a purple waste-management vent.” Skillfully written, with delightful malice aforethought.

LITTLE BLACK LIES

Bolton, Sharon Minotaur (448 pp.) $25.99 | $12.99 e-book | May 19, 2015 978-1-250-02859-4 978-1-250-02860-0 e-book Bolton (A Dark and Twisted Tide, 2014, etc.) offers three different tellings of much the same tale, set in the stark beauty of the remote Falkland Islands. Catrin Quinn’s job at Falkland Conservation is to protect the sea life in the Falklands’ fragile ecology. Why would her goal, her passion, lie in nursing a plan to kill her former best friend, Rachel Grimwood? The answer unfolds in three strands. As Catrin glides among the fur seals and pilot whales, she reveals the unending source of her pain: her two young sons, Ned and Kit, left alone in a car parked on a cliff, fell to their deaths in the same sea whose wildlife she now protects. Her ex-husband, Ben, has moved on, remarried, and started a second family. Only her former lover Callum Murray, a Scottish soldier who came to defend the Falklands during the Argentine invasion, understands who Catrin has become. In his narrative, he tries to woo Catrin back into the world. In spite of his own struggles with PTSD, he tempts her into the hero’s role, searching for a toddler who’s gone missing from a tour-boat holiday. But trying to save another mother’s child provides scant relief for Catrin, who trains her sights ever more narrowly on Rachel, the woman who left Ned and Kit in the vehicle that became their coffin. Bolton leaves it to Catrin’s intended victim to bring her story home, but Rachel’s narrative lacks the bite of the earlier two. In the end, what might have been a searching look into the fine line between mishap and crime ends in a cascade of improbability.


Sympathetic, fully realized characters and good use of period details make this a winning work of historical fiction. the anchoress

THE CAVENDON WOMEN

Bradford, Barbara Taylor St. Martin’s (400 pp.) $27.99 | $14.99 e-book | Mar. 24, 2015 978-1-250-03238-6 978-1-250-03236-2 e-book Second installment of Bradford’s answer to Downton Abbey. Most of the major Downton characters, both downstairs and upstairs, have their counterparts in Bradford’s saga of the Inghams, who are striving to maintain their stately home after World War I, when, as Downton viewers know, the British government imposed punishing taxes on the aristocracy. Charles Ingham, the sixth Earl of Mowbray, has not lost the family fortune to foolish investments, but he has married his true love, Charlotte, matriarch of the Swann family, which has served the Inghams for more than 300 years. Most of the family greets the news with sanguinity, including the Earl’s heir, Miles, and his four daughters, whose given names all start with D, a move which is intended to charm but mostly confuses. Even Lady Gwendolyn, the book’s crusty clone of the dowager countess of Grantham, approves the match—although the Swanns are commoners, they are not just any commoners. Only Aunt Lavinia complains and is ostracized by the family until, many pages later, the tragic reason for her snark attack is discovered. There are other token attempts to introduce excitement. One of the D daughters is being slandered at work over a long-ago lesbian entanglement (a problem soon mooted by her respectable betrothal), and the Earl’s ex-wife, Felicity, has absconded with the family jewels. Cecily Swann, a successful fashion entrepreneur in the vein of Bradford’s Emma Harte series, has resumed her affair with Miles even though his estranged wife, Clarissa, won’t divorce him—her obesity has removed her from the remarriage market. However, as if Bradford had no real desire to deal with unpleasantness and would prefer to wax rhapsodic about her favorite subjects—décor, money, and beautiful people—every possibility of interesting conflict is quickly dispatched. The family fortune is only briefly threatened. A desultory murder mystery involving peripheral characters and another of the D’s comes too late to leaven the dullness. A novel that could have used more drama or even melodrama.

Early on in Australian writer Cadwallader’s narrative, we learn that young Sarah, still a teenager, has lost her sister in childbirth: “Emma didn’t speak, just looked at me, her eyes fading. Blood dripped, then ran.” The elegant understatement of that terrible moment speaks to Cadwallader’s approach throughout: the England of the mid-13th century is a place of rupture, oppression, intolerance, and violence outside, but within the tight-holding walls of the Midlands church and the “rough lodging” it offers, little of that outside world can enter. Even so, in time, Sarah, though seeking escape, engages with that world—and she must, for it presses in on all sides. And besides, she’s not quite cut out for the isolation. Cadwallader is a poet of loneliness; few writers have captured so completely the essential madness that accompanies hermitage, the grayness and sameness of each and every day: “The stones were faces that came out when my candle was alight, some laughing, some staring, some as sad as me.” She is also very good at describing the power relations that inhere in religious hierarchy (“Sister, I’m your confessor and guide. You are to obey me in all things, as your Rule says”) without resorting to too-easy anachronisms,

Raziel Reid WINNER

2014 Governor General’s Literary Award, Children’s Literature (Text)

An edgy and extravagant YA novel about a glamorous boy named Jude. “A powerful first book, an important book for young queer youth, and written like a burst of glitter gushing through an open wound.”

THE ANCHORESS

Cadwallader, Robyn Sarah Crichton/Farrar, Straus and Giroux (320 pp.) $26.00 | May 12, 2015 978-0-374-10425-2

—daniel zomparelli, Lemon Hound

978-1-55152-574-7 | 172 pp | $15.95 trade paperback

Quiet, assured debut novel set in medieval England, concerning a young woman’s entry into the religious life—one as tumultuous as anything on the outside.

arsenal pulp press arsenalpulp.com Distributed in the US by Consortium

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though Sarah does have her protofeminist moments. In a time when self-assertion was tantamount to sin, Cadwallader’s language and tone seem just right. Readers may wish there were a little more action to move the story along, but this is an appropriately contemplative piece that is kin less to Ellis Peters’ Cadfael mysteries than to Mary Sharratt’s Illuminations as imaginings of medieval faith and the faithful. Sympathetic, fully realized characters and good use of period details make this a winning work of historical fiction.

THE WELL

Chanter, Catherine Atria (400 pp.) $26.00 | $13.99 e-book | May 19, 2015 978-1-4767-7276-9 978-1-4767-7278-3 e-book An oasis in the midst of a countrywide drought sows more death than life in Chanter’s intriguing debut. At the center of Chanter’s fractured narrative is The Well, a farm seemingly impervious to drought. Narrated by the farm’s grudging yet reverent owner, Ruth Ardingly, the story shifts between her initial arrival from London with her husband, Mark, and her later release from prison to house arrest. The exact nature of her crime unfurls slowly and is inextricably linked to The Well. As the two timelines run parallel, we learn that Ruth and Mark left London not only to begin a new, less hectic life, but also to leave behind an allegedly unfounded child pornography complaint against Mark and reconnect with Mark’s farming roots. The couple, along with their young grandson, Lucien, encounter difficulties fitting in with the close-knit community in Lenford, particularly when what began as a troubling dry spell turns into a full-fledged U.K. drought everywhere except The Well; while their neighbors’ crops wither, rain continues to fall only on the Ardinglys’ farm. Yet The Well does not bring only good tidings, and as word of its supposed restorative powers spreads, people flock to the farm. The Sisters of the Rose of Jericho, a bizarre religious order of nuns who take up residence on the property, play a key role and are easily the most fascinating characters. Chanter’s poetry background is evident, as the beauty of her prose often outshines the strength of the plot, but the story is compelling if not wholly gripping.

PIRANHA

Cussler, Clive & Morrison, Boyd Putnam (432 pp.) $28.95 | May 26, 2015 978-0-399-16732-4 Cussler and Morrison open The Oregon Files and relate another actionadventure featuring Juan Cabrillo and his merry men. Oregon looks like tramp steamer, but the rust disguises a sophisticated terroristfighting ship. Ever poised to save the world, Cabrillo and crew are in Venezuela to intercept weapons marked for North Korea by a rogue admiral, Dayana Ruiz, “ready to sacrifice anyone or anything.” They’ll meet Ruiz again, but not before Cabrillo and crew escape attempted assassination in Jamaica, rescue the freighter Cuidad Bolívar from drone minisubs (the title piranhas) in the Caribbean, dodge C4 bombs in New York City, and survive a car-chase crashfest and shootout in Berlin. Cabrillo jets to Berlin to uncover an obscure physics paper written by a scientist killed in the 1902 eruption of Martinique’s Mount Pelée. The Einstein-plus smart, double-Ph.D. villain, Lawrence Kensit, “a mousy fellow with a stooped gait and an acne-scarred face,” is always two steps ahead, having constructed a see-anything-anywhere device, Sentinel, a “neutrino telescope.” The subatomic science is superficial, but Sentinel’s secreted in an impregnable Haitian cave filled with “selenium infused with copper impurities.” With Haitian Hector Bazin, once an abused restavec (child servant) and former French Foreign Legionnaire, as his enforcer, Kensit plans to install a corrupt politician in the American vice presidency as his first step in taking over the U.S. and then the world. From QF-16 drones directed to knock the vice president’s 747 into the Caribbean to the Exocet and 3M-54 Klub missile shootout between Ruiz and Cabrillo, the action is supercharged, exciting enough to dress up the sci-fi plot and drown out the clank of dialogue like “you’ll discover my retribution is swift and mighty.” One-dimensional characters but standard Cussler and Co. multidimensional action.

SOLITUDE CREEK

Deaver, Jeffery Grand Central Publishing (416 pp.) $28.00 | $14.99 e-book | May 12, 2015 978-1-4555-1715-2 978-1-4555-1716-9 e-book Someone yells fire in a crowded Monterey concert venue, setting off the latest cat-and-mouse game for kinesics expert Kathryn Dance and her elusive quarry. Dance, the human lie detector, wouldn’t have been pulled into the case at all if her failure to pick up the cues that marked landscaper Joaquin Serrano, a potential witness against the fearsome gangbanger Guzman, as a killer himself hadn’t gotten her kicked off the Guzman Connection task force and exiled to the Civil Division, which doesn’t allow her to carry

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a weapon or make arrests. Once settled into the Civ-Div, however unhappily, she gets her teeth into the fatal fire at aging hippie Sam Cohen’s popular concert site. Or rather, the fatal nonfire, since reports of a blaze were greatly exaggerated in order to induce the crowd to crush each other, sometimes fatally, as they swarmed the fire exits, which had been strategically blocked. The noncalamityturned-calamitous is only the first act for Antioch March, whose online nonprofit, Hand to Heart, conceals a dark secret. As Dance puts it: “He starts panics. And he’s real good at it.” As she sweats to anticipate the unknown terrorist’s next move, March naturally takes a personal interest in her interventions, becomes infatuated with her, and becomes more and more determined to show her his best stuff. Fans of Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme tales (The Skin Collector, 2014, etc.) will anticipate a long string of surprises, but this time Deaver takes the edge off his customary overgenerous elan, and most of his few lightning bolts land with a thud. Dance’s fourth appearance (XO, 2012, etc.) shows her still-creaky skill set—she can’t tell when her 12-year-old is lying to her—in search of a plot that can effectively harness her putative gifts.

LIFTED BY THE GREAT NOTHING

Dimechkie, Karim Bloomsbury (304 pp.) $26.00 | May 19, 2015 978-1-63286-058-3

Twelve-year-old Max’s father, Rasheed, is determined to give Max everything he longed for throughout his own childhood in Lebanon, but he can’t prevent their growing alienation as Max becomes a teenager and seeks out his Lebanese heritage. Growing up in New Jersey, Max has never heard his father talk about “old Lebanese friends or family or religion or politics.” Rasheed’s friends are Tim, Max’s basketball coach, and their neighbor Mr. Yang, a fellow immigrant. For Rasheed, spending time with Mr. Yang is a respite from his “foreignness in other social environments.” But after Max chokes on a glob of candy at a party and nearly dies—saved only by a deft use of

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the Heimlich maneuver—the shock finally prompts Rasheed to talk about Max’s mother and their extended family, who were all murdered in Lebanon. What Max needs, Rasheed realizes, is a mother. He immediately finds a 22-year-old co-worker named Kelly to become his girlfriend and moves her into their home. Kelly, however, is more interested in Max than in his father— cuddly and affectionate, she slips into bed with Max at night and shows him how to masturbate. When Kelly runs off with their neighbor Nadine’s boyfriend, Max, now in eighth grade, seeks comfort in Nadine, driving a wedge between himself and his father. This rift is cemented when, in an overused deus ex machina, Max finds out that his mother is still alive and heads to Beirut to find her. Despite the tired plot device, this promising debut offers a finely nuanced look at race, gender, and power in American society. Dimechkie is at his best when allowing his great development of character, rather than forced plot points, to propel the narrative. A promising debut penned in vivid, suspenseful prose that gives a new spin to the classic tale of fathers and sons.

THE GHOST NETWORK

Disabato, Catie Melville House (336 pp.) $16.95 paper | May 5, 2015 978-1-61219-434-9

A probing investigation into the disappearance of a rising pop star and the subsequent death of an obsessive fan goes awry in this thrilling debut novel. Journalist Cyrus Archer is in dogged pursuit of the connection among a 1960s anarchist political sect known as the Situationists, a map of a hypothetical transit system underneath Chicago named the Ghost Network, and the disappearances of singing sensation Molly Metropolis and her assistant’s lover, Caitlyn Taer. For 15 months, armed with a collage of newspaper articles, interviews, computer files, and journals, Archer attempts to reconstruct the months preceding Molly’s and Taer’s mysterious fates. He makes several interesting discoveries, but it’s hard to tell what he thinks: is he surprised? Is he fascinated or horrified? His voice feels monotonous for someone who’s trying to solve a mystery. Then he suddenly disappears himself, leaving his unfinished manuscript to “Catie Disabato,” his former writing student, who cleverly inserts herself into the text to verify his research, add her own footnotes, and, though she’s conflicted about it, finish his book: “I had begun to face the reality that putting my name on this book would be the end of something for me....What is my role in the narrative supposed to be?” Disabato’s engaging, robust voice, though scarce, revives the tale. Ultimately, the novel, with its intricate structure and agile pacing, adds up to a layered, well-executed story within an inventive story. Artistic ambition, cultural critique, and a revolutionary philosophy drive the mysteries underlying this complex, charismatic novel.

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GIRL IN THE MOONLIGHT

Dubow, Charles Morrow/HarperCollins (352 pp.) $25.99 | $14.99 e-book | May 12, 2015 978-0-06-235832-5 978-0-06-235834-9 e-book In Dubow’s second novel (Indiscretion, 2013)—pleasingly reminiscent of Maugham and Fitzgerald—our hero narrates a lifetime spent adoring one impossibly beautiful, out-of-reach woman. Wylie Rose’s obsession with Cesca Bonet begins at 9, the day he breaks his arm trying to impress her on her family’s East Hampton estate. The novel, set in the last half of the 20th century, spans decades of their lives as they pursue their dreams (in the glamorous way only the very rich can) and slip in and out of love affairs, always returning to each other. Cesca is one of four children born to a New York heiress and a Spanish artist; Wylie’s father warns him of the family: “They’re beautiful, talented, rich. It’s all very seductive. But they’re like spoiled children. They’ll take everything and give nothing in return.” But it’s too late—young Wylie is in their thrall. He befriends Cesca’s brother Aurelio, who even as a teenager is a talented painter and who nurtures Wylie’s dreams of painting and introduces him to the last of the area’s fabled abstract expressionists. Out of boredom, Cesca takes Wylie as a lover and casts a spell over him; no other woman can ever compare to her wild, slightly tragic allure. She moves to London, has affairs with rich young men who want to marry her, leaves them, has brief trysts with Wylie, and then moves on, breaking his heart, over and over again. Meanwhile, Wylie becomes an architect, moves to Paris, dates the daughter of a count (weekends at the chateau are lovely) until Cesca calls for him. The novel is a whirlwhind of impossibly chic settings and experiences; the characters know all the right people and do all the right things—Cesca is at Max’s Kansas City with Iggy Pop, Aurelio’s mentor was friends with Pollock—though to some extent the novel’s heavy reliance on character development through association is a weakness. Nevertheless, Dubow offers a heady, intoxicating tale, and young Wylie’s journey to manhood is a memorable one. A story of the most interesting people you will ever know, told with style and verve.

THE SWEETHEART DEAL

Dugan, Polly Little, Brown (320 pp.) $26.00 | $12.99 e-book | May 19, 2015 978-0-316-32035-1 978-0-316-32033-7 e-book In Dugan’s second book (So Much a Part of You, 2014), a deal made by two drunk friends leads unexpectedly to true romance.


Convinced that Zach may still be alive and with a growing sense that someone is watching her, Lizzie starts digging into her husband’s past. remember me this way

On New Year’s Eve 1999, Portland firefighter Leo McGeary gets his best friend, Garrett Reese, to sign a scribbled agreement. The agreement states that in the event of Leo’s death, Garrett will marry his widow. To Garrett, the agreement is a joke. He saves it as a keepsake, “an unlikely souvenir,” and goes on with his life on the other side of the country in Boston. Garrett, who has never committed to a long-term relationship, isn’t exactly husband material, but in 2012,when Leo is killed in a skiing accident, he quits his job, leaves his girlfriend, and rushes to Portland to help Audrey finish building an addition to the house that Leo started before his death. Against his own better judgment, Garrett moves into the house with Leo’s grieving wife and three sons, Brian, Christopher, and Andrew. It’s almost inevitable that he and Audrey become lovers, but in their complicated situation, they both have trouble figuring out their true feelings. Audrey, who knows nothing about the deal, can’t separate her desire for Garrett from her feelings of loss and loneliness. Garrett, on the other hand, doesn’t know if he’s keeping a promise he didn’t intend to make or if Audrey’s been the woman for him all along. Dugan doesn’t rush Garrett and Audrey into a relationship. Each character, including the three boys, gets to tell his or her own story of grief, loss, and hope. Although the adult voices are a little too similar, the reader gets a real sense of how awkward, tentative, and confusing these deepening relationships can be. There is tender romance here, but it’s more richly a story of an old family falling away and a new one beginning.

her question everything she has ever known about the man she married, including his true identity. Meanwhile, intermittent chapters are narrated by Zach; they’re dated over several years, leading up to the day of his accident. Durrant’s skill in creating a moody, menacing atmosphere shines in this tale, although likable, compliant Lizzie often comes across as both much too quick to trust people and way too slow to recognize when things are going sideways. Her low-key response in handling the very obviously disturbed teen who bullies her way into her life fits the character but also makes her seem like a bit of a dimwit rather than simply a milquetoast. Despite the book’s shortcomings, the author redeems herself in the end, displaying undeniable growth and sharpened literary skills since her first novel.

REMEMBER ME THIS WAY

Durrant, Sabine Emily Bestler/Atria (368 pp.) $25.00 | $12.99 e-book | May 26, 2015 978-1-4767-1632-9 978-1-4767-1632-9 e-book Durrant’s sophomore effort (Under Your Skin, 2014) tackles the complicated, dark, and disturbing mind of a manipulative and often abusive man who may—or may not—be dead. Lizzie, a somewhat ordinary but sweet and unassuming British school librarian, has scraped up the courage to visit the lonely stretch of highway where her handsome husband, Zach, died in a horrific one-car accident. But on Valentine’s Day 2013—one year to the day since he died—when she makes that pilgrimage to leave flowers at the site, Lizzie finds someone’s beaten her there: a bouquet addressed “For Zach” and signed “Xenia” has already been left. Distraught, she decides to drive up to Zach’s vacation cabin, where she expects to find a letter she had mailed there just before he died, telling him that she wanted a divorce. “Thank God he died before he read it,” she thinks, planning to burn it. But when she gets to the cabin, she finds the letter scrunched up at the bottom of the garbage can. Convinced that Zach may still be alive and with a growing sense that someone is watching her, Lizzie starts digging into her controlling husband’s past and finds discrepancies that make |

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INTERVIEWS & PROFILES

Kazuo Ishiguro

What lies beneath the surface of his deceptively simple new novel is just the beginning of a darker story By Gregory McNamee Photo courtesy Phil Weedon

An epic journey, a mysterious quest. The land is shrouded in mist. The people’s memories are similarly clouded, as if by design. There are ogres in the woods and dragons in the mountains—and enemies everywhere. In lesser hands, that scenario might have become another Tolkien knockoff. But as told by the eminently practiced, genrejumping storyteller Kazuo Ishiguro, it’s a grand allegory of human history. And more plainly than all that, Ishiguro says from his home in London, it’s “a Western of a kind.” Ishiguro’s latest novel, The Buried Giant, is set in gloomy, tumultuous fifth-century Britain. The Romans have been gone just long enough to leave some imposing ruins behind them, but now the native Britons have a new foreign presence to contend with: the Saxons. Against that setting, Ishiguro imagines an old couple, Axl and Beatrice, who live out on the edge of the troubled world. They have tucked themselves away deliberately, it seems, in a community of Britons who live, like prairie dogs, in burrows where they can spot trouble and hide from it quickly. It’s a strategy that promises to end badly, but Axl has other things on his mind: as old people will, he has been remembering better days gone by, his dreams punctuated by visions of a woman with flowing red hair. Or are they dreams after all? His fellow burrow people are of no help, for even if they could put a name on her, or on the other people who had slipped away from them, or on the events that had shaped their lives, they would not speak of them: “in this community,” Ishiguro writes with deceptive simplicity, “the past was rarely discussed.” 14

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With Beatrice, Axl sets off on a quest in search of that dream woman and the world he had once known, long receded in a mist both real and metaphorical. It soon becomes evident that Axl is more than just a philosophically minded old-timer, just as the boatman who turns up at points is—well, more than just a boatman. As the story unfolds, Axl finds himself in the company of a warrior named Wistan, who is himself given to say such things as “the trees and moorland here, the sky itself seems to tug at some lost memory,” and in time of Sir Gawain, late of the Round Table and the glorious age of King Arthur, who would not have been happy to see his country full of people speaking German. A she-dragon named Querig comes into the picture, and so do those ogres, more dreadful in the imagining than in the flesh. Indeed, the most dreadful aspects of the story come as warriors confront the things they have done—“I was but a young knight then,” one says, brushing away evidence of bad behavior, while another worries that a younger knight is not sufficiently full of hatred: “We’ve a duty,” he urges, “to hate every man, woman and child of their blood,” a duty fast forgotten in a time when peace seems at hand. Born in Japan but resident in England for more than half a century, Ishiguro knows a thing or two about what it means to be a stranger in that strange land. But something else was on his mind when he began writing his story in 2001, a year when horrible events were closer to hand than usual. You can look high and low for the words “ethnic cleansing,” “Bosnia,” “terrorism,” “the Middle East,” or “Rwanda” in The Buried Giant, and you’ll come up empty. Still, Ishiguro says, those matters of unfortunate historical fact were much on his mind. “How do people,” he wonders, “who live among each other, who babysit each other’s children, who share their lives suddenly turn on each other?” And just as important, how do they ever come to think that their behavior is right?


It took him many years to wrestle the story down. “This has been a long, long time in becoming a book,” he says. “I can date the beginning precisely.” In 2001, he was in Japan giving a talk and someone asked what he was working on next. “I described a novel very much like The Buried Giant—but I didn’t have the setting. I hadn’t placed it yet in ancient Britain. It took me a long while to find the proper venue for the story I wanted to tell.” And why ancient Britain? For a simple reason, Ishiguro says: namely, “there is no historical consensus about what happened between 410, when the Romans left, and about 500. There is a great gap in the historical record—the Romans were very careful chroniclers, but once they left, we have nothing except a generally shared opinion that some sort of genocide occurred involving the Saxons, the English, and the Britons.” That lack of historical consensus allowed Ishiguro free rein to imagine what might have happened without being accused of breaching known fact, aside from the dragons, that is. It also gave him room to write at length of not just the horror of war and the awfulness of battle in a time of broadswords and arrows, but also of what people would have done after the fact of genocide: then as now, they would have tried to forget what they had done and seen, would have whitewashed events to place the losers on the side of wrong, but mostly would simply have avoided speaking of late unpleasantries. The premise of a nation made up of forgetful people longing for meaning is beguiling, and it’s one that Ishiguro dwelled on for a long time. “I had to work it out,” he says. “I had to really think about how individuals struggle with memory—and then, in the larger view, how whole nations reconcile the past. As I told the audience in Japan, I’d already written a number of books about individuals struggling with memory, and so imagining how societies got to that same question seemed the right thing to do next.” Societies do so—as, Ishiguro points out, in the case of Americans and the Indian Wars or Britain and the acquisition of its empire—by romanticizing and mythmaking and by “burying really dark memories.” Just as often they do so by allowing a historical amnesia, that mist of which he writes, to obscure the view—our view. Much of the drama attendant in The Buried Giant comes as Ishiguro lets a detail slip out here and another there until we have a clear picture of what in fact did happen, horrible though that they may be; the mist retreats, in large part, because he has allowed in the air that drives it away.

And without that air, to mix an image, then no wound ever heals. “Take my other country, Japan,” he says, “where there seems to be a strange amnesia about the second world war. That continues to cause problems in the relations with China and the nations of Southeast Asia today. It’s a difficult question: should the country take a good look, or should it leave all that past behind? It’s the same with your country. It’s the same with any country. The mist is the propaganda, the slanted history books, popular culture, all the rest of it.” That’s a lot of meaning, a lot of vexing questions, to pack into what on the face seems a fairy tale for grownups—and small wonder it has taken Ishiguro so long to put it down on paper. But then, Ishiguro remarks wryly, it takes him years to write most of his books. His 2005 novel Never Let Me Go is one that “many people now classify as a dystopian novel, even a science fiction book. But it was very well along before I settled on the idea of putting the story in a world where there are clones,” he explains. “I had the idea long before of something that was killing people when they were very young, and I went quite some distance in telling a story about young people whose lives were shortened before I got to organ harvesting, instead of some other strange reason for why that was going to happen—perhaps a disease, perhaps contact with nuclear materials, or the like.” So post–Arthurian Britain it is, dragons and all. From a reader’s point of view, Ishiguro’s years of effort are wellmet, though what lies beneath the surface of his deceptively simple tale is just the beginning of a story that implicates all of humankind. Gregory McNamee is a contributing editor. The Buried Giant received a starred review in the Jan. 1, 2015, issue. The Buried Giant Ishiguro, Kazuo Knopf (320 pp.) $26.95 | Mar. 3, 2015 978-0-307-27103-7

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HUGO & ROSE

Foley, Bridget St. Martin’s (352 pp.) $25.99 | $12.99 e-book | May 5, 2015 978-1-250-05579-8 978-1-4668-5954-8 e-book A debut novel that uses the world of dreams to upend the life of an otherwise ordinary housewife. Since Rose was 6 years old she has dreamed every night of the same place: a magical island on which the only other person is a boy named Hugo. In her dreams, Hugo and Rose grow into adults at the same rate that Rose grows in real life, but everything else on the island stays much the same, and they adventure blissfully together each time she sleeps. But by the time Rose is a mother with three small children and a surgeon husband who is rarely home, she starts to resent her waking life. On the island, she’s still svelte, energetic, and happy—her best self. At home, she’s overweight, overworked, and overtired. On a particularly rough day, when nothing is going well, she chances upon Hugo in the real world. Like Rose, this version of Hugo bears the markings of real life—he is older, paunchy, and has glasses. But Rose knows it’s him and soon he knows it’s her, as well. The two discover that the dreams have been shared all along. A more pastoral-minded author might take this twist in its obvious, romantic direction, but Foley makes it clear that there will be no easy way out of this surprising clash of lives; both Rose’s dreams and her waking life take on dark, unsettling elements. None of the adults in this book—Hugo, Rose, or Rose’s husband, Josh—behave particularly thoughtfully or well, which contributes high drama but makes them difficult to root for. Rose, especially, is a character that things happen to, even on the island, and her lack of agency is frustrating. But the island itself is a strikingly believable dreamscape, and the passages that take place there have a satisfying flavor. Despite a tendency to dwell on emotional explanations, Foley delivers a compelling tale.

LOVE AND MISS COMMUNICATION

Friedland, Elyssa Morrow/HarperCollins (384 pp.) $14.99 paper | $10.99 e-book May 12, 2015 978-0-06-237984-9 978-0-06-237985-6 e-book An Internet-addicted New York City woman quits cold turkey and relearns how to exist in the world sans smartphone. Evie Rosen’s dependence on technology is starting to take a toll on her life. First, she humiliates herself at a friend’s wedding when her hidden BlackBerry tumbles out of her underwear. Then she loses her position as a corporate attorney seconds away 16

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from being made partner when her firm uncovers the staggering volume of personal emails that she’s sent on company time. By the time she discovers on Facebook that her unattainable and anti-marriage ex-boyfriend, the famous chef Jack Kipling, has just tied the knot, she’s certain that she needs to change the course of her life. After destroying her laptop by vomiting directly on it when she learns of Jack’s marriage, she dumps its remains in the Central Park Reservoir and decides to take a hiatus from the Internet. Leaving Facebook, Twitter, and her slew of dating profiles behind isn’t easy, but eventually Evie discovers a world beyond the computer, and she is determined to make connections, find a job, and hopefully snag a husband the old-fashioned way. Evie follows a thoroughly predictable course, yet she still manages to flail spectacularly along the way. The novel relies heavily on stock characters who stubbornly refuse to stray from their assigned roles: Grandma Bette, the meddling grandmother who reminds Evie of her pending mortality while questioning her about marriage prospects; Dr. Edward Gold, the handsome and brilliant doctor chosen by Bette to perform her lumpectomy and hopefully fall in love with her granddaughter; Aunt Susan, a sloppily dressed aging hippie with body odor and Birkenstock sandals; a plethora of friends who inhabit the various niche roles of Manhattan’s elite. A timely premise feels tired in Friedland’s debut.

THE LADIES OF MANAGUA

Gage, Eleni N. St. Martin’s (416 pp.) $26.99 | $12.99 e-book | May 5, 2015 978-1-250-05864-5 978-1-4668-6300-2 e-book An up-and-coming painter faces the collapse of her romantic life while repairing her neglected relationship with her mother. “Revolutionaries make bad husbands.” So says Isabela, mother of Ninexin (a former Sandinista–turnedpolitician shaping the new Nicaragua) and grandmother of Mariana (an aspiring artist). She should know. Although her own husband, Ignacio, contented himself with running a law practice and hiding his mistresses, her son-in-law, Manuel, lost his life to the revolution. But this is a story about the revolutionary lives women make for themselves out of necessity, out of commitment, out of passion. After Manuel’s death (in a shootout shrouded in mystery), living in Nicaragua becomes increasingly dangerous for Ninexin, so she sends their 7-year-old daughter, Mariana, to live in Miami with her parents. The cost: Mariana and Ninexin become estranged—Ninexin convinced that Mariana will judge her, Mariana convinced that Ninexin always loved Nicaragua more than her own daughter. But when Ignacio dies and his body is flown to Nicaragua to be buried, Mariana returns to Managua not only for the funeral, but also for a little time away from her boyfriend, Allen. Divorced, a successful painter, and quite a bit older than Mariana, Allen follows her to Managua, hoping to repair their fragile relationship. This


Vicious killer Harlan Lee’s out of prison, and all he has on his mind is revenge against the people who put him there. benefit of the doubt

novel fairly begs to be filmed. Chapter by chapter, Gage (Other Waters, 2012, etc.) shifts from Isabela’s to Ninexin’s to Mariana’s perspective, often retelling the same scene through another character’s eyes. These shifts reveal the emotional ties binding the women together as well as the secrets that have forced them to make painful choices. From the closely chaperoned lives of schoolgirls in 1950s New Orleans, where Isabela was a student, to the explosive insurrection of 1970s and ’80s Nicaragua to the sniping artistic world of 2010s New York, Gage carefully and thoughtfully explores the social demands placed on women and the repercussions of submitting to or defying them.

PEOPLE OF THE SONGTRAIL

Gear, W. Michael & Gear, Kathleen O’Neal Tor (336 pp.) $25.99 | $12.99 e-book | May 26, 2015 978-0-7653-3725-2 978-1-4668-3230-5 e-book

BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT

Griffin, Neal Forge (352 pp.) $25.99 | $12.99 e-book | May 12, 2015 978-0-7653-3850-1 978-1-4668-3902-1 e-book Griffin’s debut novel propels readers into the chilling worlds of big-money drugs, small-town corruption, and a murderer who strikes without conscience. Vicious killer Harlan Lee’s out of prison, but his plans don’t include leading a redemptive life: all Lee has on his mind is revenge against the people who put him there. First to suffer is William Petite, the district attorney who put him away. Afterward, Lee heads for Newberg, Wisconsin, to finish what he started by systematically going through the rest of the players involved in his case, including both a former sheriff, Lipinski, and Norgaard, Newberg’s retired police chief. But Norgaard’s institutionalized and almost not worth bothering

It’s the first millennium, and Viking ships sail to Helluland, Markland, Vinland, and Albania-Land in a never-ending quest of “landnám, the process of land taking...as the gods intended.” As the prolific Gears (People of the Morning Star, 2014, etc.) continue to chronicle settlement of the North American continent, captain Godi Gunnar and the crew of Thor’s Dragon leave behind a homeland embroiled in turmoil. There’s unrest and rebellion following King Aethelred’s massacre of Danish settlers in England’s “northern region known as the Danelaw.” Now the king’s son, Edmund, is moving to seize the throne, and Norse King Cnut waits “for the civil war in England to weaken both sides.” In Gunnar’s landnám expedition, there’s also the malignant seer, Thorlak the Lawspeaker, who searches for another Seidur seer, Vethild, the Darkness-Rider. Thorlak keeps Vethild’s daughter, Thyra, as a slave. Other than deft descriptions of ocean crossings and a murderous confrontation that destroys Whale Rib Village, conflict arises from the clash of seers, young Thyra’s testing her powers, and old Asson’s tossing lightning bolts for the aboriginal “People of the Songtrail.” Interaction between Norse and natives is facilitated by Kiran, an Anchorite “devotee of the Monk’s Tester,” who learned the language from “Skraeling thralls,” natives taken to Europe as slaves. Kiran’s love for Thyra provides a minor romantic thread. Thorlak—with “the inhuman gaze of a lion...the Lawspeaker could siphon off a soul and send it wailing into the dark abyss”—and rough-hewn Gunnar, called Skoggangur, meaning “forest-walking,” because he once was a thieving reject from civilized Icelandic society, are the most interesting characters, but there’s far more magick at play than immersion into a recreation of Viking or pre-Columbian aboriginal life. More historical fantasy than historical fiction.

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with until Lee discovers the elderly man’s family: Ben Sawyer, a disgraced Oakland officer now with the Newberg police; Alex, Ben’s wife and Norgaard’s daughter; and their son, Jake. Ben, a good cop with a career-changing mistake behind him, hated returning to Newberg, where he and Alex grew up, and longs for his old life. Now Lee, as well as Ben’s current chief of police, Jorgenson, and his thoroughly evil narcotics head, McKenzie, have it in for him, and there’s no limit to how far they’ll go. Griffin instinctively creates a compelling atmosphere, but the bad guys in this novel—who seemingly include every law enforcement officer in the state of Wisconsin—are so plentiful and consummately evil that readers won’t ever look the same way at the patrol cars they pass. And that’s the novel’s biggest issue: Griffin has created characters so vile and depraved that the book reads like a Hannibal Lector convention. As a plus, Griffin is a cop in real life, which adds authenticity and the patina of the real deal to his work. Over-the-top evil turns this otherwise excellent first novel into an exercise in extremes, but even at its worst, Griffin’s work proves superior to the unrealistic fare that often passes for a police thriller.

HURRY PLEASE I WANT TO KNOW

Griner, Paul Sarabande (168 pp.) $15.95 paper | May 15, 2015 978-1-936747-95-5

Twenty-two stories ranging in length from a few paragraphs to 20 or so pages and in style from the freakishly absurd to the heartbreakingly realistic. Griner excels in his longer stories, one of which—“On Board the SS Irresponsible”—borders on being a masterpiece. A father, Buddy (the narrator), comes to pick up his three children for a day’s adventure. His former wife, Clare, has custody, so this is a special time for the dad, and he wants to make it special for his children as well. They go out and, somewhat to the chagrin of the kids, do not much of anything—paint SS Irresponsible on the gunwale of his boat, picnic, and fish a little. These mundane activities are erased by a horrific tragedy that, at the end of the story, Buddy must explain to Clare. With great subtlety, Griner captures every nuance of Buddy’s emotional life, from his resentment of Clare to his awkward love for his children to his understandable dread of facing his own moral failure. Another realistic story is “Newbie Was Here,” which takes place among soldiers in Iraq. A private, the newbie of the title, is charged with going across some dangerous territory to milk a cow and bring back the milk for the captain for no discernible reason—but, after all, this is the Army. On the other end of the fictional spectrum is “The Caricaturist’s Daughter,” a surreal little tale in which whatever a caricaturist draws becomes real—so when his young daughter gets overly snoopy, for example, he draws her with a “big nose, long and pointed, like a sharpened broomstick” to remind her not to 18

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stick her nose in what doesn’t concern her. She grows up to be a cartoonist and exacts a predictable revenge. Although relatively simple in narrative structure, Griner’s stories shine a glaring light on the complexities of human personality and family relationships.

ONE MILE UNDER

Gross, Andrew Morrow/HarperCollins (352 pp.) $26.99 | $15.99 e-book | Apr. 7, 2015 978-0-06-165599-9 978-0-06-219638-5 e-book An enjoyable thriller that wades into Western water rights and deals with the devil. While whitewater rafting in Colorado, Dani Whalen finds a body in the river. Soon, five people perish in a fiery hot air balloon disaster. Can the incidents be related? Can they be crimes? Dani thinks so, but her stepfather, Wade Dunn, thinks she’s a troublemaker. “Dani better keep her trap shut,” he thinks. “Or he didn’t know what he’d be forced to do.” It’s clear he’s not going to be the guy wearing the white hat. That’s the role of Dani’s godfather, Ty Hauck, a security specialist who flies in from Florida to help her. A “huge energy conglomerate” named RMM has been spreading money around town on fancy stadium scoreboards and senior citizen centers to buy goodwill while they frack 1 mile under for oil and natural gas. For that they use lots of water at the expense of drought-stricken farmers. A lawsuit against RMM pits townspeople against each other and corrodes their character. “That slow creep of your principles washed away in the soil was now like a mudslide dragging everything down with it,” the police chief thinks. The novel’s extended action scenes are its best feature, in particular one involving a woman doing her breath-holding best not to drown in the well she’s been thrown into. There’s at least one clichéd scene involving The Bad Guy Who Talks Too Much instead of just killing the hero already, but thank goodness for logorrhea if it buys time for the good guy. And as Dani in distress tells a villain “You won’t get away with it,” the line feels—well, hardly new. But the pace is fast, the characters are engaging, and the issues are timely. A good tale that will have thriller readers looking for the next Ty Hauck adventure.


This isn’t a dark night of the soul but one filled with hope and with second chances. our souls at night

OUR SOULS AT NIGHT

Haruf, Kent Knopf (192 pp.) $24.00 | May 28, 2015 978-1-101-87589-6

A sweet love story about the twilight years. If Haruf (who died in November at age 71) hadn’t titled his previous book Benediction (2013), that might have been perfect for this one. It’s a slim novel of short chapters, and it would seem to bring the cycle of books about small-town Holt, Colorado, to a close. This isn’t a dark night of the soul but one filled with hope and with second chances. Here’s how it opens: “And then there was the day when Addie Moore made a call on Louis Waters.” Addie is 70, a widow, and she was close with Louis’ late wife. She and Louis don’t really know each other that well, other than as nodding acquaintances, but she has a novel proposition: she wants

him to sleep with her. Not to have sexual relations, but just to have someone with whom she can talk and share and make it through the night. He appreciates the risk she’s taken in making the request, and he agrees, though on their first night he’s filled with thoughts of “How strange this is. How new it is to be here. How uncertain I feel, and sort of nervous.” Word gets out, and those who will gossip do, assuming the salacious details. Addie and Louis both have adult children who aren’t enthusiastic about the arrangement. And they each have a back story about the sorts of disappointments and perseverance that mark any longstanding marriage. Through Addie’s initiative, she and Louis find an emotional intimacy beyond anything either has previously known, and both come to recognize that they “deserve to be happy,” no matter what friends and family think. The author even has a little metafictional fun with his premise, as the characters comment on those “made up” books about the (fictional) Holt and how they’d hate to be in one of them. Those who have been immersed in Holt since Plainsong (1999) will appreciate one last visit.

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THE CURSE OF ANNE BOLEYN

Humphreys, C.C. Sourcebooks (432 pp.) $14.99 paper | May 5, 2015 978-1-4022-8230-0

In this sequel to The French Executioner (2014), Humphreys mixes old world with new as the saga of Anne Boleyn’s severed hand—and the power that’s attributed to it—inspires court intrigue, star-crossed love, and witchcraft. When men with perfidy on their minds exhume the body of Henry VIII’s Protestant queen, Anne Boleyn, they’re surprised to find that her head wasn’t the only thing she lost when she died: she’s also missing one hand, and it’s not an ordinary one. Many believe the six-fingered hand has special powers, but for Renard the Fox, it represents an opportunity to control Princess Elizabeth’s ascension to the throne. Meanwhile, Jean Rombaud, the French executioner who took Anne’s head, then removed

and buried her hand at her request, is in besieged Siena standing alongside his lifelong friends, a Norseman named Haakon and the German they call The Fugger; he knows the siege means the end of his life in Siena. Rombaud’s son Gianni is a Catholic fanatic working for Renard, and he won’t let anything get in the way of his finding Anne’s hand and using it. In the series’ first book, Jean risked his life to ensure the dead queen’s hand was safely buried, and he has no desire to embark on another quest. But when Gianni brings the quest to him, Jean knows that he will, once again, take up Anne’s cause and do what he can to honor the dead queen’s memory. Divided into two parts, set in Europe and the New World, the author’s ambitious undertaking is detailed and sometimes fascinating, but the rambling storyline often goes off the rails—especially when it crosses the Atlantic—with a cast fleshed out by an embarrassment of characters who appear for a scene or two and then vanish, leaving behind very little literary value in their wakes. Overly long, too convoluted, and populated by fight scenes that prove tiresomely detailed, this novel progresses in a zigzag pattern that readers will find confusing.

LOVE IS RED

Jaff, Sophie Harper/HarperCollins (384 pp.) $25.99 | May 12, 2015 978-0-06-234626-1 A serial killer and the woman he covets play an elaborate game of cat and mouse in this over-the-top thriller. Jaff ’s disappointing debut follows the exploits of freelance art critic Katherine Emerson. It’s summer in New York, and a serial killer à la Son of Sam is terrorizing the city. Known as the Sickle Man for the intricate wound patterns he leaves in his victims—all female, all found bound in their apartments— the killer has everyone on edge. Katherine narrates her story in the first person, and in alternating chapters overflowing with meaningless metaphors—“addiction is metallic,” “pure relief is the color of a ripe peach”—the killer tells his own story in second person, an overused technique that’s notoriously difficult to pull off (Jaff does not succeed). Though Sickle Man is focused entirely on Katherine, her attention is split between two new men in her life, who happen to be best friends: sweet lawyer David and bad boy tech CEO Sael. Even an inattentive reader will make the connection between the pair and the killer on the loose. Also woven throughout are excerpts from a medieval manuscript that Katherine and David saw on their first date and that supposedly correlates to the story; in reality, it’s merely distracting. Jaff brings nothing new to the table, trotting out well-worn clichés and plugging in cookie-cutter characters. Katherine—and the police investigating the Sickle Man murders—could have saved time and solved the case much faster by consulting any number of stronger examples in the serial-killer subgenre.

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Kalfus draws on his long-established interests in history, science, and at least a few of the seven mortal sins. coup de foudre

COUP DE FOUDRE

Kalfus, Ken Bloomsbury (272 pp.) $25.00 | May 12, 2015 978-1-62040-085-2

A gathering of new stories by Kalfus (Equilateral, 2013, etc.), drawing on his longestablished interests in history, science, and at least a few of the seven mortal sins. A self-satisfied French financier “in the service of the public” luxuriates in the oversized bathroom of an oversized deluxe hotel in New York, reflecting on a pattern of sexual behavior that has landed him in the newspapers and in court—and on the legal and political radar of his home country as well, since “Sarkozy is another Nixon” keen to put evidence about his enemies, however gathered, to bad use. If the reader connects with a certain legal case much in the news of late involving a French financial wizard and an African hotel housekeeper, then it’s certainly no accident; the value Kalfus adds, so to

speak, often involves illuminating certain prurient details (“With her eyes closed and her skirt pulled up, she was intently fingering herself”) while examining the psychology of a man who blends an unhealthy dose of paranoia with a host of very real enemies. Whether those enemies are deserved or not is for the reader to judge, but Kalfus’ titular novella, detached and sometimes stilted, won’t do much to engage his or her moral compass, well-written though it is. The shorter stories tend to be less fraught than all that; one is a seemingly tossed-off vignette about a spell in the hygienist’s chair (“Given the long, bloody history of my gingivitis, I go in for a periodontal cleaning every three months”), another an obligatory homage to Borges, still others less obvious nods to Borges, some quite effective, as when Kalfus imagines the possibilities of resurrecting a language “that is not spoken by more than one other living person.” In one of the best pieces, human law meets quantum physics; in one of the least successful, a would-be writer laments how hard it is to be a would-be writer. A mixed bag: not as satisfying as Kalfus’ recent novels, though technically accomplished and often with great insight into the curious ways of people.

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In this whirlwind story, which reads not unlike a quickie engagement, the ultimate question is whether one can be both promiscuous and in love. i take you

I TAKE YOU

Kennedy, Eliza Crown (320 pp.) $24.00 | $11.99 e-book | May 5, 2015 978-0-553-41782-1 978-0-553-41783-8 e-book Lily Wilder is getting married in six days to a man who really lights her fire, but she still has one big decision to make: does she actually want to get married? Lily is a lawyer who loves her job, enough to be excited about working a huge environmental case the week of her wedding in Key West. But prepping a witness is only one of many distractions keeping Lily from figuring out her true feelings: “Do I want to call this off?...Do I love Will?” Is she capable of being faithful, and does she even want to be? Will is a sexy nerd who speaks multiple languages and works as a curator at the Met in New York. He’s essentially perfect. But as Lily’s mom reminds her, “You’re such a...a free spirit!” That’s putting it mildly. Lily’s comfortable downing vodka for breakfast. She gives her wedding planner—who is a special kind of kooky— hell just for her own amusement. And she’ll find a hot stranger to make out with within five minutes of being left alone. But, despite a difficult past and the judgment of her peers, she likes who she is. There are plenty of examples—say, The Good Wife or Susan Rieger’s The Divorce Papers—of female lawyers forging their own paths, but in Kennedy’s debut, career takes a back seat to exploring the benefits of an unconventional love life. At times, Lily’s carefree attitude goes from endearing to preachy: “there’s not always some ulterior motive....Sometimes, we just want sex.” In this whirlwind story, which reads not unlike a quickie engagement, the ultimate question is whether one can be both promiscuous and in love. Lily, basking in the glow of Key West’s free-love attitude, is guided toward yes. This book has the effect of three Bloody Marys at brunch: it’ll leave you flushed, giddy, and prepared to embrace your wild side.

DISCLAIMER

Knight, Renée Harper/HarperCollins (352 pp.) $25.99 | May 19, 2015 978-0-06-236225-4 When a mysterious novel appears on her bedside table, a successful documentary filmmaker finds herself face to face with a secret that threatens to unravel life as she knows it. Catherine Ravenscroft has built a dream life, or close to it: the devoted husband, the house in London, the award-winning career as a documentary filmmaker. And though she’s never quite bonded with her 25-year-old son the way she’d hoped, he’s doing fine—there are worse things than being an electronics salesman. But when she stumbles 22

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across a sinister novel called The Perfect Stranger—no one’s quite sure how it came into the house—Catherine sees herself in its pages, living out scenes from her past she’d hoped to forget. It’s a threat—but from whom? And why now, 20 years after the fact? Meanwhile, Stephen Brigstocke, a retired teacher, widowed and in pain, is desperate to exact revenge on Catherine and make her pay for what happened all those years ago. The story is told in alternating chapters, Catherine’s in the third-person and Stephen’s in the first, as the two orbit each other, predator and prey, and the novel moves between the past and the present to paint a portrait of two troubled families with trauma bubbling under the surface. As their lives become increasingly entangled, Stephen’s obsession grows, Catherine’s world crumbles, and it becomes clear that—in true thriller form—everything may not be as it seems. But how much destruction must be wrought before the truth comes out? And when it does, will there be anything left to salvage? While the long buildup to the big reveal begins to drag, Knight’s elegant plot and compelling (if not unexpected) characters keep the heart of the novel beating even when the pacing falters. Atmospheric and twisting and ripe for TV adaptation, this debut novel never strays far from convention, but that doesn’t make it any less of a page-turner. An addictive psychological thriller.

CONFESSIONS OF A CARNIVORE

Lefer, Diane Fomite (328 pp.) $15.00 paper | Apr. 27, 2015 978-1-937677-96-1 A year after 9/11, agitation and activism take center stage in Southern California in Lefer’s latest novel (The Fiery Alphabet, 2013, etc.). When a jittery security guard blows off her ear in a health-food store, Rae receives an auricular prosthesis, pays off her debts from her settlement, and decides to take a year off from teaching high school English to become a research volunteer at the Los Angeles Zoo. In this conversational novel, Rae often addresses the reader directly: “I’m throwing a lot at you all at once.” And she does: Rae, alongside her best friend, Jennie Kim, and the members of the street activist troupe known as the Gorilla Theater, protests everything from the treatment of baboons at the zoo to the war in Iraq to the requirement that Iranian-born men in the U.S. register with the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Rae admits: “We were fighting on too many fronts.” But Lefer never divulges the source or sources behind Rae’s fervent and frequent outrage. It’s only when Rae contemplates her failed marriage to her alcoholic husband that the author offers a poignant, more complex understanding of her character. “Toward the end and in the aftermath of my marriage, see, when you love someone who’s a drunk, all kinds of things happen to your life. It goes beyond the ravages of the disease, beyond the grief and shame over the terrible thing he’s done—which you surely feel more


keenly than he does....There’s the hurt and helplessness you feel all the time.” Glimpses of Rae’s inner turmoil, though sporadic, evince a far more compelling storyline than her quest to solve the problems of the world. A sometimes-tedious catalog of sociopolitical grievances.

THE MOUNTAIN CAN WAIT

Leipciger, Sarah Little, Brown (320 pp.) $26.00 | $12.99 e-book | May 19, 2015 978-0-316-38067-6 978-0-316-38070-6 e-book In Leipciger’s debut, a moody semitragedy set in Western Canada, the lives of a single father, who’s never been able to express the love he feels for his children, and his son, who’s made a catastrophic mistake and fears the consequences, circle around each other.

The novel begins with the mistake, a hit-and-run accident. Curtis is driving alone late at night when he hits a girl walking along the road and leaves the scene, not sure if she’s alive or dead. He leaves his job and hides out with a friend. When his father, Tom, stops by, Curtis screws up his courage to say, “I think I killed someone.” But Tom assumes Curtis is referring to a girlfriend’s abortion and goes back to his out-of-town job supervising a crew planting trees. Tom raised Curtis and his younger sister, Erin, after their mother, Elka, ran off shortly after Erin’s birth. Tom searched for Elka but couldn’t find her, and she died four years later. He has never totally recovered from the loss, and she remains throughout the novel a sad mystery, cherished in memory by Tom and her mother, Bobbie, who distrust each other. Tom, skilled at practical tasks, is clueless about human relationships. Neither his children nor the woman with whom he’s romantically involved realize how much he cares for them. While Tom deals with crew problems on and off the job, not to mention an unfortunate dalliance with the planters’ cook, Curtis goes on the run. Ending up on the isolated island where Elka was raised, he bonds with Bobbie, whom he’s never met

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used to running their country, the characters in barefoot dogs are now exiled from it

Photo courtesy Joel Salcido

While the United States’ approach to immigration from Mexico and Latin America has become one of the most hotly debated issues of our time, there is remarkably little understanding of actual immigrants and the diversity of their experiences. In the minds of many, there is a universal immigrant story: that of a disenfranchised laborer who risks life and limb in search of work in the U.S. In his new collection of stories, Barefoot Dogs (March 10), Antonio Ruiz-Camacho, a Mexican immigrant himself, explores an entirely different type of immigrant class: the wealthy and the elite who are forced into exile by the threat of death and violence. In his nine stories, he follows the members of a large family as they immigrate to California, Texas, and Spain after the murder and dismemberment of their patriarch. “The difference with the new wave of immigration is the violence,” Ruiz-Camacho explains. “They cannot go back. For a group of people who are used to running the country, this is quite unexpected.” The emotional cores of the stories, though, come once these characters leave Mexico and struggle to adapt to their new environments and their new selves. “They come here and they are like everyone else. They have to do their own laundry, they have to wash their own cars. That leads to a lot of questions about their own identity,” the author explains. This friction between their old identities and their new, unformed selves drives the best scenes of the work. There is Bernardo, the elementary school kid who urinates in a pool full of children as retaliation against his mother. There is Laura, a woman who begins an affair with a younger man in Austin as the city is surrounded by a tightening circle of wildfires. And there are Martin and Catalina, Antonio Ruiz-Camacho new parents whose malaise in the heat and misery of their new existence in Spain is consuming them and wearing them down. “I wanted to explore the emotional consequences of violence,” he says. “I wanted to see what happened to the victims of this violence every day, after the media has left them and their stories are no longer newsworthy.” —David Garza David Garza lives in New York City. 24

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before. By then his disappearance has made him a suspect, and the police involve a reluctant Tom, who realizes that he ignored Curtis’ cry for help early on. Written with painfully nuanced care that displays affection for nature and the laconic, working-class characters, the result is not a cheerful read but genuinely moving.

THE TRAVELS OF DANIEL ASCHER

Lévy-Bertherat, Déborah Translated by Hunter, Adriana Other Press (160 pp.) $22.95 | May 26, 2015 978-1-59051-707-9

Lévy-Bertherat’s debut novel is a story about storytelling—both historical and personal. Hélène arrives in Paris in 1999 to study archaeology. She befriends a group of students, including Guillaume, a whimsical man who adores the work of H.R. Sanders, a beloved author of young-adult adventures. “H.R. Sanders” is actually the pen name of Daniel Roche, Hélène’s great-uncle, in whose Paris apartment she happens to be staying. The plot becomes more tangled when Hélène and Guillaume begin investigating Daniel’s past, including the time before he was adopted into Hélène’s family, when he was a young Jewish man in Paris during the Nazi occupation. In examining her great-uncle’s history, Hélène finds herself rereading his books; she’d never before seen the magic in them, but soon she finds herself devouring them with renewed interest, even as she approaches the kind of adventure found in their pages. The best moments in Lévy-Bertherat’s short novel involve people falling into stories, whether it’s Hélène almost missing her train stop due to an engrossing chapter or characters constructing personal histories for themselves in order to hide— or perhaps to heal—past traumas. But for a novel that focuses on the excitement of storytelling, there’s little excitement here. Never does one get the sense that Hélène is in any sort of danger. She simply wanders from location to location, talking to people with ease, without the author ever developing a clear sense of the stakes. The writing is lovely, yes, but the novel suffers from not deciding what it wants to be: it neither excites enough to be great young-adult fiction nor digs deeply enough to be a compelling novel of ideas. Despite occasionally heavy subject matter, it’s a lightweight intellectual exercise.


THE GRACEKEEPERS

Logan, Kirsty Crown (320 pp.) $25.00 paper | $12.99 e-book May 19, 2015 978-0-553-44661-6 978-0-553-44663-0 e-book A beautifully strange debut novel that draws upon folklore of the Scottish west and the isles. In Scottish author Logan’s fictional world, the seas have risen and swallowed vast continents. Land, in its scarcity, has become a militarized commodity, populated by an aristocracy known as “landlockers” who have staked out their hereditary claim on the only land that remains, a series of archipelagos. The liquid world is left to the “damplings,” who are forbidden to trespass beyond the high-tide mark without wearing a bell, banished to carve out harsh livings at the mercy of the sea. Out of this starkly original setting, less Waterworld and more Water

for Elephants, come central characters Callanish and North. Dampling North and her pet bear are performers who live aboard the traveling circus boat the Excaliber, while Callanish is a landlocker who’s been sent away to work as a gracekeeper, living a solitary life administering watery burials for damplings and caring for her graces: caged birds set out in “graceyards” to starve, marking a human being’s suggested mourning period over the loss of a loved one. Logan is an award-winning short story writer and perhaps as a result never stays with one character long but shifts deftly between viewpoints, revealing her characters’ desires and longings, secrets and limitations. Each point-of-view shift delivers a deeper perspective on the lives of North and Callanish as Logan unhurriedly builds the narrative tension into a billowing storm. “After that night’s performance, the crew of the Excalibur felt the storm finally stirring to life....With glitter in their blood, coals in their chests, choking on their secrets, they sailed into the night. Soon they lost sight of land. The first drops of rain fell.” The storm that rocks the Excalibur is both literal and metaphorical, as it brings the lives of North and Callanish crashing together and stirs

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A young boy sets out on an almost mythical quest through a vividly imagined American South. minnow

THE UNFORTUNATES

up love, adventure, and a smoldering determination to find a sense of wholeness. Logan delivers a haunting, spare, and evocative debut.

McManus, Sophie Farrar, Straus and Giroux (368 pp.) $26.00 | Jun. 2, 2015 978-0-374-11450-3

REPTILE HOUSE

McLean, Robin BOA Editions (216 pp.) $16.00 paper | $9.99 e-book May 12, 2015 978-1-938160-65-3 978-1-938160-66-0 e-book Characters struggle to control slivers of their fates in the nine stories of McLean’s debut. McLean’s protagonists are stuck. Carl of “Reptile House” doesn’t love his wife or his newborn child. Lilibeth of “Cold Snap” is literally frozen as her town experiences record-low temperatures. On the heels of a divorce, she reads self-improvement books and attempts to fix up her home, all while actively denying the dire situation: “Don’t believe this empty town,” she reminds herself. “This coldest cold. This Death of the World.” In “No Name Creek” we meet Ben, cast in the shadow of his older brother, Boak. McLean has a knack for stunning sentences that resonate with her characters’ circumstances. While peeing “twin arcs” next to a tree, Ben hears Boak tease him and looks up at the mountains. Ben notes, “The peaks jabbed at the sky and the sky just sat there and took it.” The third-person narrators frequently zoom out, locating the present moment within a cosmic frame. The effect is tragicomic; we witness the immense futility of characters’ lives. When Lilibeth washes her hair, for instance, we follow the water “down her forehead to sink to drain through pipes to tank to leach field, then down, down through pebbles and rocks in layers, between faults toward magma, only to steam up again, spit out someday, maybe some geyser, some national park with buffalo romping and children. Anyway, her hair was clean.” McLean incorporates organizational structures in a few stories: a list of rules in “For Swimmers” and excerpts from handbooks and checklists in “Blue Nevus.” These structures clutter the narrative slightly, taking away from the prose, which shines on its own. McLean stages yearning and stasis with poignancy and wit.

The decline and fall of a wealthy family, including a clinical drug trial, insider trading, subprime mortgages, and a terrible opera. McManus is a talented prose stylist, but her first book might better be called The Unpleasants. Extremely wealthy, boorish, self-centered, emotionally handicapped people who behave awfully to each other, the mother and son at the center of this story are not appealing enough to sustain a novel. Cecilia Somner, the matriarch, spends most of the novel in a care facility, where she’s participating in the trial of a drug that will hopefully cure her Parkinson’s-like disease. The pills cause a murderous impatience: “This side effect’s most seductive feature is how it imitates the wicked pleasure she used to take in discovering the weakest edge of a person, the pleasure of saying something truthful and unkind. A part of herself she’d meant to protect her children from. Only, had she?” Based on the behavior of her son, George, and daughter, Patricia, one would think not. George is a mess of a man whose family fortune has fixed everything in his life, starting with a rape or near-rape he committed as an undergraduate at Yale. He’s since married a coatcheck girl he met on a golf vacation, and poor Iris will soon be stuck with far more than she can handle as her delusional husband writes a sexist, racist, and downright horrible opera and secretly finances its New York production with huge personal loans. Iris is supposed to be the sympathetic member of the clan, but she doesn’t quite gel. The book insists she didn’t marry George for his money but never makes any other reason plausible. She already has the affections of the only appealing character of the lot: a big red dog named 3D. The rich are not like you and me, but if they’re as awful as they are in this book, God help them.

MINNOW

McTeer II, James E. Hub City Press (230 pp.) $24.95 | May 1, 2015 978-1-938235-11-5 A young boy sets out on an almost mythical quest through a vividly imagined American South in this debut novel. Minnow’s father is dangerously ill and on the verge of dying, and the boy is sent to the drugstore to fetch a mysterious medicine. The pharmacist doesn’t have the medicine, so Minnow must set out on an increasingly strange and dangerous quest through the South Carolina Sea Islands to acquire the price of a cure: grave dust from the resting place of Sorry

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George, a legendary witch doctor and practitioner of black magic. Minnow’s journey weaves through the lush and wild landscape of the islands, a setting described with such obvious fondness and simple clarity that it fills the novel with a solid presence of its own and adds its weight of reality to the story’s supernatural elements. As one might expect of a fairy-tale quest, Minnow’s travels take him from one striking episode to another. He meets strangers, both good and bad; receives advice, both wise and deceptive; and is beset by dangers that grow ever more epic. Throughout the story he remains a stubbornly noble hero, saved from too much perfection by believable childish innocence and decisiveness. When he comes across the more fantastical elements of the novel—“hoodoo” magic, the hauntings of Sorry George, ghosts and spirits—he accepts them with the same belief and fear that he gives to the more likely horrors of human cruelty and natural disaster, allowing the reader to also experience both the magical and realistic with equal vividness. An evocative novel that brings to life an intensely realized portrait of the South Carolina Lowcountry and sends its appealing young hero on a journey full of the strangeness of childhood and the difficult choices that come with growing up.

encountered on the way and occasional references to current events (it’s August 2013) keep the narrative from floating away in spiritual self-absorption. It closes in Las Vegas (Rinpoche’s love of gambling is a running joke), where Otto takes one more step along the path of accepting a new way of being and looking at the world. Clearly there’s more to come. With six unconventionally religious novels to date, this brave, meditative author has carved a unique niche in American literature.

DINNER WITH BUDDHA

Merullo, Roland Algonquin (320 pp.) $24.95 | Jun. 2, 2015 978-1-56512-928-3

Merullo (Vatican Waltz, 2013, etc.) offers a third installment in the spiritual adventures of Otto Ringling. Otto is in a slightly better place than he was after his cherished wife, Jeannie, died (Lunch With Buddha, 2012), but he’s still resisting the assurances of his brother-in-law, noted Buddhist guru Volya Rinpoche, that suffering is merely a stage in his spiritual journey. Nor, visiting the North Dakota retreat center run by Rinpoche and Otto’s sister, Seese, does he want to hear about Seese’s dream vision proclaiming that Otto and his brother-in-law must travel “to the mountains” to facilitate the meeting of his 7-year-old niece, Shelsa—who her parents believe is “a great spiritual being who’d been born...to save the world from cataclysm”—with another great spirit who will help her change the world. Merullo doesn’t make it easy for skeptical readers with this setup, but that’s the point: on their road trip south, through some of America’s most spectacular national parks as well as several grim Indian reservations and New-Age hotspots like Boulder, we, like Otto, find our cynicism worn away by Rinpoche’s gentle instruction in the simple but terribly difficult art of letting go, living each moment to the fullest, seeing the sacred in the everyday. Merullo never forgets how at odds this wisdom is with frenetic, plugged-in contemporary life, which makes all the more moving those times when Otto is able to surrender to it and see the world “as if the disguise had been yanked away.” Sharp character sketches of people |

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THE UNDERWRITING

Miller, Michelle Putnam (384 pp.) $26.95 | May 26, 2015 978-0-399-17485-8

A bunch of emotionally and morally stunted millennials run into trouble when they try to take a questionable dating app public. Full of insider details and industry jargon from Silicon Valley and Wall Street, Miller’s debut novel is a seductive romp through the complicated $14 billion IPO of a startup called Hook, a dating app in which users give each other ratings and are evaluated according to a “cumulative Hook score.” The app has more than 500 million users, and ambitious CFO Nick Winthrop thinks a public offering could put him “on the precipice of becoming one of the world’s great leaders,” but first he has to convince CEO Josh Hart, a computer science nerd who hates Wall Street. Josh agrees but asks Nick’s Stanford nemesis, Todd Kent, an associate at the investment bank L. Cecil, to oversee the deal. Todd assembles a team at L. Cecil that includes Tara Taylor, an old crush from Stanford and one of the youngest vice presidents in Equity Capital Markets, frumpy analyst Neha Patel, and the lazy but well-connected Beau Buckley. The plot takes a surprising and absorbing turn when Stanford senior, Hook user, and former L. Cecil intern Kelly Jacobson dies of a drug overdose under mysterious circumstances. As Hook programmer Juan Ramirez discovers incriminating user data from the night she died, the team may have to make some tough moral choices. Told from many different points of view, the book is somewhat overpopulated with major characters. While some of the scenes and characters feel clichéd, others are intelligently observed, with fresh, well-paced dialogue in which characters deliver lines like, “There’s a difference between unemotional sex that’s respectful and transactional sex that’s orchestrated by an app.” The central mystery and the fun of watching the deal unravel drive the narrative forward, allowing just the right number of characters to develop a conscience. A more intricate Devil Wears Prada for the tech generation.

THE WOMAN WHO READ TOO MUCH

Nakhjavani, Bahiyyih Redwood Press (336 pp.) $24.00 | Apr. 15, 2015 978-0-804-79325-4

A mid-19th-century Persian poetess clashes against old-world gender expectations, religious orthodoxy, and politics in this exquisite tale, based on the actual life of poet and theologian Tahirih Qurratu’l-Ayn. 28

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Four haunting, first-person narrators—the Mother of the Shah, the Wife of the Mayor, the sister of the Shah, and the daughter of the poetess of Qazvin—recall how the poetess emancipated Tehran’s citizens with literacy, predicted the fates of a Mullah and a high-ranking government official, and scandalously displayed her naked face to some four score of men. The poetess of Qazvin “knew too much, thought too much, read far too much, and finally said too much, too...she had always been a rebel....A heretic from the start.” Under orders of the Shah, the Mayor holds her captive for three years, and though the Shah promises her release, the poetess is put to death. Nakhjavani (Paper, 2005, etc.) leaps nimbly back and forth through time, connecting events from the first attempt on the Shah’s life to public executions, the city’s widespread famine and bread riots, betrayal, and exile. And when the Shah is assassinated, palace rumors trace his demise to the poetess’s influence on the kingdom. The author’s language mesmerizes. About the cunning Mayor’s wife, she writes: “Her words drifted over the walls and down the alleys, like the sizzling of kebabs and the smell of fried onion. Her opinions even penetrated through the palace gates at times, and lingered in the royal anderoun with the persistence of fenugreek.” Nakhjavani deftly transforms an incomplete history into legend. An ambitious effort produces an expertly crafted epic.

THE ROCKS

Nichols, Peter Riverhead (432 pp.) $27.95 | May 26, 2015 978-1-59463-331-7 The lives and loves of expatriates on Mallorca, shaped by a 60-year-old misunderstanding. Nichols’ novel opens in 2005 with a chance meeting between Lulu Davenport and Gerald Rutledge on a cliff-top road near The Rocks, Lulu’s seaside hotel. Though they live in the same small town on an island, the couple has managed to avoid each other since their very brief marriage in the 1940s, and this encounter immediately becomes a confrontation. In its course, the pair of 80-somethings accidentally tumble to their deaths. The remaining sections of the novel—set in 1995, 1983, 1970, 1966, 1956, 1951, and 1948—trace backward through the ripple effects of their falling-out to the incident that started it all, sweeping into the vortex their children by other spouses, and the generation after that as well. As intoxicating as a long afternoon sitting at the bar at The Rocks, the book features complications that include a book deal, a real estate swindle, a shipwreck, a drug bust, and many sexual affairs, including a couple of statutory rapes. All of it is absolutely riveting, leaving the reader desperate to depart immediately for swoony Mallorca, depicted from the time no one knew where it was (one wouldbe visitor goes to Monaco by mistake) to its present-day popularity. Nichols’ expertise on everything from the Odyssey to olive oil to classic movies enriches the story, as does his profound


When love and art collide in Sophie Stark’s life, art always wins. the life and death of sophie stark

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF SOPHIE STARK

understanding of his screwed-up cast of characters. “They were self-employed professionals, artists, writers, nonviolent sweetnatured criminals, mysteriously self-supporting or genteelly impoverished,....occasionally sleeping with one another in a manner that disturbed no one. In unspoken ways, they recognized one another, and everything they did made perfect sense to them, though they often arrived on the island as pariahs of the outside world, but were soothed and taken in by their steady, tolerant, and nonjudgmental friends and lovers on Mallorca.” A literary island vacation with a worldly, wonderfully salacious storyteller.

North, Anna Blue Rider Press (288 pp.) $26.95 | May 19, 2015 978-0-399-17339-4

When love and art collide in Sophie Stark’s life, art always wins. Sophie, a filmmaker, is elusive in the way we’re told only true geniuses can be. From a precocious age, she flits in and out of people’s lives, as her career moves from that of a cult favorite to the highest levels of fame. Though she’s the book’s focal point, her voice is never part of the story; instead, the reader only comes to know her from the perspectives of those who love and watch her, one person and one chapter at a time. Tragedy haunts each section as Sophie keeps choosing to put her art ahead of everybody she loves, whether it’s her college girlfriend, her ex-husband, or the people she crashes

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with in between relationships. With every betrayal, Sophie’s art improves, and her mental health crumbles further. The novel builds slowly, and, though its denouement is promised by the book’s title, it unfolds with a surprising depth of feeling. Articles by journalist Benjamin Martin appear between most of the chapters; his growth lends a quiet parallel to the growth of Sophie’s career, which fleshes out the book nicely. North’s writing is assured and engrossing, though the voices of those who love Sophie are fairly similar, creating the effect of a Greek chorus rather than separate narrators. If we’re to accept the cliché that human kindness is the price of great art, it’s a welcome change to see a woman play the role of tortured artist and to hear instead from those who are left behind in her pursuit. An engaging exploration of what it takes to make art and, more importantly, what it takes to love those who make it.

GIRL AT WAR

Nović, Sara Random House (336 pp.) $26.00 | $12.99 e-book | May 12, 2015 978-0-8129-9634-0 978-0-8129-9635-7 e-book Understated, self-assured roman à clef of a young girl’s coming of age in wartorn Croatia. In this promising debut, Nović tells the story of 10-year-old Ana, for whom “the war in Zagreb began over a pack of cigarettes”: sent to fetch smokes for an indulgent godfather, she returns puzzling over the shopkeeper’s query whether she wants Serbian or Croatian. A cigarette is a cigarette is a cigarette, until it’s not. Then, like everything else, a packet of Filter 160s takes on the powers of shibboleth, something Ana and her best friend, Luka, have to learn, these distinctions not being inborn no matter what the nationalists insist. And imagine what happens, as Ana does, in neighboring Bosnia, “a confusing third category,” where people used both the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets and probably smoked a third kind of tobacco. The war moves from abstraction to bitter reality soon enough, and Ana finds herself in a swirl of rumor (“Have you heard? The president exploded right at his desk!”) and motion, whisked across the continent and thence to America, where time passes and Ana finds herself explaining the world to uncomprehending young people: “I told him about Rahela’s illness and MediMission and Sarajevo. About the roadblock and the forest and how I’d escaped....When I finished, Brian was still holding my hand, but he didn’t say anything.” The tutelary spirits of W.G. Sebald (whom the aforementioned Brian deems “a bit of a German apologist”) and Rebecca West hover over the proceedings, and just as West once lamented that everyone she knew in the Balkans of the 1930s was dead by the 1950s, Ana assigns herself the scarifying task of sorting through the rubble of her homeland and reclaiming what can be saved of it—and of herself. 30

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Elegiac, and understandably if unrelievedly so, with a matter-of-factness about death and uprootedness. A promising start.

JACK OF SPADES

Oates, Joyce Carol Mysterious Press (208 pp.) $24.00 | May 5, 2015 978-0-8021-2394-7

A mystery writer slowly becomes subsumed by his dark alter ego in Oates’ tale of literary madness. Andrew J. Rush has made a name for himself and more than a comfortable living as a successful mystery writer. He’s published 28 novels, and an early review even called him “the gentleman’s Stephen King.” But behind the happily married family man with three grown children who’s the favorite son of his small New Jersey town lies a secret, ultraviolent series of noir thrillers Rush writes under the pseudonym “Jack of Spades.” No one—not even his doting wife, Irina—knows about Jack: Rush dashes the books off in secret and sends them to a separate agent and publisher. Despite its grisly content, the series sells modestly well. Rush’s two worlds seem to coexist in parallel harmony until the day his daughter, Julia, finds a copy of Jack’s A Kiss Before Killing in Rush’s office and decides to read it. Soon after, Rush is hit with a bizarre plagiarism lawsuit from C.W. Haider, a local woman claiming he not only copied her ideas, but physically stole her work. In an enjoyable bit of metafiction, Oates (The Sacrifice, 2015, etc.) depicts Haider as particularly litigious when it comes to the literary set: she’s sued Stephen King, John Updike, and Peter Straub, among others. While the mild-mannered Rush is merely indignant at being accused, Jack of Spades wants revenge, and so begins his slow descent into madness. With its homages to Poe, from “The Black Cat” to “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and the horror masters Jack of Spades so admires, this latest unsettling and chilling thriller from Oates does not disappoint.

SECRETS OF STATE

Palmer, Matthew Putnam (432 pp.) $27.95 | May 26, 2015 978-0-399-16571-9

A rogue nuclear weapon and a ticking clock lie at the heart of this engaging thriller by the author of The American Mission (2014). Terrorists plan to explode a small nuclear bomb in Mumbai, India. But, of course, “there really is no such thing as a small nuclear bomb,” as Palmer writes. The disaster would likely trigger a fourth war


Great Books

FOR EVERY READER

Through the Trials Just Believe Nitza Hollinger www.xlibris.com 978-1-4990-1820-2 | Hardback | $24.99 978-1-4990-1821-9 | Paperback | $15.99 978-1-4990-1819-6 | E-book | $3.99 Inspired by her faith in God, author Nitza Hollinger encourages those going through life’s difficult moments with her book, Through the Trials Just Believe. She conveys her own arduous journey wherein she strived to achieve her dream while battling cancer to show readers that they are not alone in their struggles for they too can persevere. Hollinger begins her memoir by recollecting her early years, facing the dangers and difficulties of life in Manhattan’s Spanish Harlem and how she escaped by pursuing her dreams and taking an educational path that would lead her to Alaska. It then continues by chronicling her fight against breast cancer, offering hope to those facing unexpected life-changing circumstances, which require strength and the support of others to endure. Hollinger also delivers a message of faith and testifies to her belief in God, his love for everyone and his promise to be there no matter what happens. A compelling and inspiring read, Through the Trials Just Believe was written to inspire and encourage people through the dark days in their lives. Hollinger uses her own experiences as examples, showing readers how they can confront challenges with a positive outlook, focusing on the problems at hand without giving way to fear. Its message is that: “This too shall pass.”

Retire Wealthy

Collective Bargaining

The Tools You Need to Help Build Lasting Wealth - On Your Own or With Your Financial Advisor

Taking Control Away From the Players!

Kelly Wilken

Eric D. Brotman, CFP®

www.authorhouse.com

www.authorhouse.com

978-1-4343-8221-4 | Paperback | $14.49 978-1-4520-3097-5 | E-book | $9.99

978-1-4969-1123-0 | Hardback | $27.99 978-1-4969-1124-7 | Paperback | $16.95 978-1-4969-1125-4 | E-book | $3.99

Have you ever wondered why National Basketball Association owners pay a 21 year-old college student twenty million dollars to play professional basketball? James Mitchum IV, owner of the Houston Tornadoes, wondered about that very same thing. The answer to his dilemma is buried somewhere between the pages of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Find out more about it here.

In this highly informative and in-depth expose, Eric Brotman aims to demystify retirement planning and to arm readers with the tools they need to maintain independence and dignity for their entire lives. It breaks down investment principles and vehicles in simple language to take the fear out of fi nancial planning and motivate readers to begin the journey to fi nancial independence.

The General Theory of Eco-Social Science

Love Life

The Theory and Road Map for Comprehensive Reform

Ruth Logie

Jianfang Jin

www.authorhouse.com

www.authorhouse.com

978-1-4918-8455-3 | Paperback | $18.24 978-1-4918-8456-0 | E-book | $3.99

Adam and Eve all over again!

978-1-4969-4881-6 | Hardback | $31.99 978-1-4969-4763-5 | Paperback | $23.95 978-1-4969-4764-2 | E-book | $3.99

In the year 2022, life on earth is headed for extinction. As annihilation draws closer one man and one woman defy despair and risk their hearts on a passionate affair. Their choice will have consequences beyond your imagining. Join a new Adam and a new Eve in a joyous romp through a new Eden – because this time nothing goes wrong!

The General Theory of Eco-Social Science is a highly informative, insightful and in-depth study introduces five new theories to the field of humanities and social science: Eco-Entity, Eco-Resources, Ecological Society, EcoEconomics and Eco-Currency. Eye-opening and comprehensive, this book serves as a guiding tool that reveals how these theories play a pivotal role in improving the current situation society is facing.

REMARKABLE BOOKS TO ENJOY AGAIN AND AGAIN. ORDER YOURS TODAY!

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between India and Pakistan and ultimately give the U.S. a pretext to destroy all Pakistani nukes. Former U.S. diplomat Sam Trainor discovers the elaborate plot. He’d been too outspoken for government work and is now employed by Argus Systems, a Virginia-based consulting firm providing foreign intelligence and analysis to the CIA; Argus’ Cassandra Project creates computer models to predict possible nuclear terrorist attacks. Sam, a widower with a beautiful daughter, Lena, is secretly having an affair with a married woman who works for the Indian Embassy in Washington. Argus sends him from Virginia to Mumbai, where he finds plenty of vivid settings and action. Shadowy terrorists linked to Argus apparently have placed the nuclear device near where Lena works among the Dalit—formerly the untouchables—in Mumbai’s malodorous slums. The bomb might kill a hundred thousand Dalit in that city of 20 million, serving a greater good in the eyes of some. The characters are not always what they seem, and tricky twists result. A red-digit timer in a Mumbai slum counts down the seconds to the feared holocaust, so Sam and friends mustn’t tarry. One might wonder what purpose those timers serve for the terrorists, but they’re surely a useful cliché for thrillers. And they reinforce tension even if the overall outcome is eminently guessable. Meanwhile, a few chapters wander back to the battleship Maine, the days before Pearl Harbor, the JFK assassination, and other digressions that slow the story’s momentum but hold the reader’s interest. A well-written imagining of how India and Pakistan could be pushed to the brink of nuclear disaster.

THE BOOK OF STONE

Papernick, Jonathan Fig Tree Books (400 pp.) $15.95 paper | May 12, 2015 978-1-94149-304-5

Following the death of his father, a disgraced judge, psychologically disheveled Matthew Stone is drawn into a pre9/11 terrorist plot by Jewish extremists in Brooklyn. Stone, an only child whose grandfather was a notorious gangster, clings to the belief that his father was clean—that he didn’t, among other alleged misdeeds, rig a jury to let off the Jewish killer of a Palestinian shopkeeper. The substance-abusing, self-mutilating Matthew’s greatest source of comfort is wearing the judge’s robes and reading his vast collection of books, viewing the underlined passages as clues to his distant old man’s true identity. But Stone’s misery and confusion intensify with the sudden appearance of his Israeli “Uncle Zal,” an old friend of his father’s, who, beneath his expressions of caring and religiosity, is mainly interested in gaining access to the vast amount of money the judge left behind; Matthew’s mother, an acclaimed painter who left the family when he was 12, who now warns him to stay away from Zal; and an FBI agent who wants Stone to be his confidential informant on the terrorist plot. At its best, the book is a gripping and timely look 32

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into a subculture that’s bonded by loyalty but driven by hate to avenge anti-Jewish crimes. Papernick, a Boston-based Toronto native who’s spent time in Israel, does a good job of sketching the historical context of his characters’ actions. But Stone is so self-loathing that he never earns our sympathy, and he’s such a bundle of unresolved conflict and doubt that even the author seems unsure of who he is in the end. His ill-fated romances, with a Palestinian girl in Jerusalem and a Jewish girl with hidden motives in Brooklyn, are the least successful parts of the novel. Papernick (The Ascent of Eli Israel, 2002, etc.) plows fresh ground in this terrorist thriller, but for all the book’s strong background elements, the young protagonist is such a mess that he loses the reader’s interest.

RE JANE

Park, Patricia Viking (352 pp.) $27.95 | May 5, 2015 978-0-525-42740-7 A young Korean-American woman grapples with issues of identity, family, and love in Park’s debut novel, a sweet and savvy bildungsroman. Jane Re is a recent college graduate whose high-finance job offer evaporated when the dot-com bubble burst. Now she’s stuck restocking shelves and serving irritable customers at Food, her disapproving aunt and uncle’s grocery store. It doesn’t help that everyone in her Korean immigrant neighborhood knows she’s an orphan, and honhyol (mixed-blood) to boot. While her friends from school are off to impressive professional jobs, Jane is stuck in unfashionable Queens, wrestling with the broken door of the walk-in freezer, the constant criticism of her appearance (“Koreanish”) and behavior, and the uncomfortable rigidity of family life. When her geeky friend Eunice Oh suggests she apply for an au pair job in Brooklyn, Jane finds herself plunged into a bewilderingly different cultural context that turns out to be a brave new world. The book is, in its own way, both a historical novel and a novel of place. Park’s lovingly detailed descriptions reveal Brooklyn, Queens, and Seoul as seen by an intelligent 20-something in the first years of the 21st century. A varied cast of characters—women’s-studies professors, a Chinese adoptee, an Italian immigrant babysitter with a talent for home renovation—is drawn with affectionate respect. Park does a lovely job of tracing Jane’s growing maturity and self-knowledge. Her experiences facing her family history and complex identity when she visits South Korea to see her dying grandfather nicely mirror those among Korean immigrants and others in the U.S. Park is a fine writer with an eye for the effects of class and ethnic identity, a sense of humor, and a compassionate view of human weakness who nevertheless doesn’t make the rookie error of letting her characters off easy. An enjoyable book offering a portrait of a young woman struggling to come into her own in the increasingly complicated opening years of a new century.


An entertaining adventure tale steeped in literary history. the last bookaneer

THE LAST BOOKANEER

Pearl, Matthew Penguin Press (400 pp.) $27.95 | Apr. 28, 2015 978-1-59420-492-0

An entertaining adventure tale steeped in literary history tells of rival book pirates seeking their biggest prize, the last novel of Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-94). Pearl (The Technologists, 2012, etc.) extrapolates from a scrap of history about the illicit 19th-century trade in books before the international copyright law of 1891 to imagine a busy demimonde of bookaneers (he says in an afterword he found the term used as early as 1837) working in New York and London. He brings in the characters Whiskey Bill and Kitten from his 2009 novel, The Last Dickens, both central to subplots in the present novel. The main plot has the two leading bookaneers, Davenport and Belial, vying for the Stevenson prize by voyaging to Samoa, where the author of Treasure Island has established himself as a sort of philosopher-king. Davenport has a sidekick named Fergins, a former bookseller, who plays Watson to his companion’s Holmes. As usual with Pearl, sleuthing helps drive the story, especially when Davenport uses his keen eye and deductive skills to investigate Kitten’s death after her great coup, finding a Mary Shelley manuscript. Mostly the story dawdles on Samoa, waiting for the great author to finish his masterpiece and for a chance to outwit the devilish Belial. Pearl has fun with cannibals, a native beauty, an amorous dwarf, myriad literary references and allusions, and not one but two neat twists as the tale winds down. He also plays with narrative voices, delivering most of the story through Fergins’ memories of it but as told to Clover, a black railway porter befriended by the bookseller and a key figure in the final twist. The narrative device adds another layer of 19th-century literary atmosphere. Pearl is a smooth writer whose adoption of the ambling pace, digressions, and melodrama of an earlier literary era may not suit today’s instant gratifiers, but he offers many of the charms and unrushed distractions of a favorite old bookstore.

THINGS YOU WON’T SAY

Pekkanen, Sarah Washington Square/Pocket (352 pp.) $16.00 | $11.99 e-book | May 26, 2015 978-1-4516-7355-5 978-1-4516-7356-2 e-book A timely topic—the police shooting of a Hispanic youth—from a bestselling writer better known for domestic dramas. As the novel opens, Washington, D.C., police officer Mike Anderson has already experienced a tragic jolt—a crazed gunman shot his partner, Ritchie, as the two men were leaving the station. Ritchie survived, but with brain trauma

that will likely prevent him from ever re-entering the force. Mike is wracked with guilt and is probably suffering from PTSD. His wife, Jamie, is concerned, but with three young children and Mike’s teen son, Henry, to care for, a rift grows between them borne out of long silences. And then there’s another shooting: Mike is called to a gang-ridden neighborhood, a scuffle ensues, Mike sees a gun and shoots a teenage boy. But when no gun is found on the teen, cries of racism and police brutality are the bywords that lead to charges against Mike. Mike and Jamie’s relationship deteriorates further as Jamie assumes the shooting was an accident borne of Mike’s PTSD, while Mike insists he saw the gun. Mike finds an unlikely ally in Christie, Henry’s mother, with whom he had only a casual relationship; the two are amicable co-parents. She believes Mike without hesitation and even enlists her boss, Elroy, a private detective, to help. Mike moves out when he can no longer bear Jamie’s version of events—she goes to the dead boy’s mother to beg forgiveness— and Jamie is afraid she has pushed Mike into Christie’s waiting arms. Though rife with possibilities, the novel has problems: a disconnected subplot involving Jamie’s sister, Lou, a zookeeper intensely attached to a pregnant elephant; an unsophisticated perspective on race and policing in America; and an ending that works out so remarkably well for the principal players that the death of a young boy simply becomes grist for a marital drama. Pekkanen reliably builds strong, interesting characters, but here, a plot too important for melodrama fails them.

THE JESUS COW

Perry, Michael Harper/HarperCollins (288 pp.) $25.99 | May 19, 2015 978-0-06-228991-9 In Swivel, Wisconsin, a cow named Tina Turner has birthed a calf with Jesus’ image on its flank, “the standard doe-eye Lutheran hippie iteration.” Drawing small-town characters out of central casting, Perry’s tale ripples with simple-life nostalgia. Tina Turner’s owner, Harley Jackson, says, “Well, that’s trouble” after seeing the calf ’s “above average stencil of the Son of God.” Forty-something Harley lives alone on the remnants of his parents’ farm. Most of the land was gobbled up by an interstate highway and the machinations of developer Klute Sorenson, who learns business strategy from audiobooks like Stomp Your Way to Success: A Clodhopper Walks All Over Wall Street. Harley’s best friend, supersized Billy Tripp, a trailer-living, clog-wearing cat fancier, wisely knows there’s money to be made when folks begin “assigning meaning to coincidence.” At a staff meeting over bottles of Foamy Viking beer, Billy urges reluctant Harley to cash in and finance “undevelopment” of Klute’s tacky McMansions. Then the calf is seen by Harley’s mail carrier. Believing it miraculous, she calls the Rev. Gary at the Church of the Roaring Lamb. Soon, Sloan Knight of International Talent Management jets in, because there’s “a hard horizon on long-term marketability thematics.” Another fly in |

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the ointment is Carolyn Sawchuck, former professor and current environmentalist, who survives on EarthHug tea and Little Debbie Zebra Cakes while secreting used motor oil in Swivel’s abandoned water tower. Add a tow-truck–driving, junkyardowning widow; a techno-gadget–entranced fire chief; a Barney Fife constable; and town newcomer Mindy, a sculptwelder who breaks Harley’s heart, and it’s sure to end with a bang. Good fun abounds when JCOW Enterprises sets up business and Harley’s life becomes “a rough approximation of things hoped for.”

VALLEY OF THE SHADOW

Peters, Ralph Forge (512 pp.) $26.99 | $12.99 e-book | May 5, 2015 978-0-7653-7403-5 978-1-4668-3981-6 e-book Those who enjoy Bruce Catton’s and Shelby Foote’s Civil War histories will find a fictional equal in Peters’ retelling of the 1864 Shenandoah Valley campaign. Combining character study, strategy, and battle scenes, Peters (Cain at Gettysburg, 2012, etc.) focuses on the great, small, and those in history’s shadows, like U.S. Gen. Emory Upton, “an enigma, a hardened Christian, mean as a Turk...a brilliant, intolerant merciless young man.” Famous names also appear: Union Army Gen. Philip Sheridan, all pugnacious Irish temper; tobacco-chewing Confederate Gen. Jubal Early, “a spitting, crook-back man and harsh-mouthed as a heathen”; and future president Rutherford Hayes, who learned “War made it hard to credit a merciful God.” Peters draws from contemporary sources, including writings of the 61st Georgia Volunteer Infantry’s George Nichols, country boy and confused Christian: “Nichols had gotten himself a new pair of shoes, assured by Elder Woodfin it was not theft to remove them from the dead Yankee.” His writing vivid with cannon smoke and screams, clashes between generals and brigades, Peters begins with disgraced Gen. Lew Wallace—pilloried for supposed errors at Shiloh— rallying rear-echelon ragtags to prevent Early’s capture of Washington. There at Mononacy Junction, Peters introduces another patriot, grizzled Army Gen. James Ricketts, key in denying Rebels the Shenandoah’s easy passage north and its fertile farms. Peters details the battle at Winchester, the rout at Fisher’s Hill, and the decisive confrontation at Cedar Creek. With alluringly literary language—describing a warrior’s newborn child as “the promise that a man’s blood would go on, a swaddled, mewling hint of resurrection”—Peters is deft with dialogue and setting, but it’s his characterizations (“Custer was a bloody-handed instrument”) and battle scenes (“without a muchness of guns to give things a shake”) that make this a must-read for Civil War history fans. A superlative novel.

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EAT MY HEART OUT

Pilger, Zoe Feminist (352 pp.) $17.95 paper | May 12, 2015 978-1-55861-885-5 Gleeful weirdness and vicious satire come together in a debut novel that follows an awful yet surprisingly likable young woman as she attempts to navigate the painful confusions of love, herself, and other people. Ann-Marie is 23 and discontent with everything. Tormented by the end of a long-term relationship and at loose ends after leaving the rarefied world of Cambridge, she lives in London, working haphazardly at a fancy restaurant and staying with her friend Freddie in a lavish apartment that belongs to his uncle. She’s frequently ridiculous, to the point of seeming both unhinged and unbelievable—she pounces on strange men, acting seductive and then killing the mood with mad gestures like extinguishing a cigarette on his chest—but her desperate search for substance and creeping terror that she won’t find it, or will fail to recognize it if she does, give the novel an attractive feeling of dark reality. Pilger’s vivid depiction of Anne-Marie’s selfconscious dissatisfaction pulls the reader along as the character is plunged into ever more absurd situations. She meets a celebrated feminist author, Stephanie Haight, and falls into the role of ill-behaved disciple to her provocative and abusive teachings. She runs to and from a social circle of spoiled, drug-addled, hipster youth, giving Pilger an opportunity for biting depictions of the silliest excesses of artistic and academic posturing. The novel bangs on the theme of the dangers of obsession with romantic love; the characters are aware of this obsession, dissect it, and fall prey to it. Pilger’s efforts to skewer that obsession are funny but bleak, offering little to alleviate the nastiness and discomfort except for breezily conversational writing occasionally interrupted by strikingly grotesque imagery. A darkly funny, outrageous, and unromantic novel about a young woman obsessed with love.

THE GUILD OF SAINT COOPER

Scanlon, Shya Dzanc (416 pp.) $14.95 paper | May 12, 2015 978-1-936873-61-6

In a near-future Seattle undergoing a slow apocalypse, a writer is convinced to undertake a heroic mission to save the city by rewriting its history. For some time now, poet and essayist Scanlon (Border Run, 2013, etc.) has been curating The Twin Peaks Project, which invites writers to portray their experiences with the early-1990s television show through personal essays, criticism, poetry, etc., which are then published on a variety of websites. Here, he combines a portrayal


of a post-apocalyptic American Northwest similar to that in his novel Forecast (2012) with aspects of the television show in a long, rambling thriller that seems more interested in its own metafictional nature than in telling a proper story. The book’s narrator is Blake Williams, the author of a bestselling book (also called Forecast) who’s moved back to Seattle to care for his dying mother. His wife, confusingly also named Blake, has long since left him, and neighbors are moving out of the city to escape some dire circumstances that are hinted at but not explained. Eventually, Blake is recruited by an underground group, The Guild of St. Cooper, which wants him to change the city’s fate by writing a version of its history in which Dale Cooper, the fictional FBI agent in Twin Peaks, saves the day. There is a conspiracy Blake must unravel, but it’s obscenely complicated and unbelievable. If you dig this exchange between Cooper and Blake, this is the story for you: “It was you who discovered what Weyerhaeuser was up to with our extraterrestrial visitors, and you whose first experience with transpositional epiphany led us to the discovery of Existencelastic Macrobial Foreshortening,” says Cooper. Everyone else merely needs to know that it’s pretty weird and includes aliens and mind control and Dale Cooper–isms and flashbacks and ruminations on the nature of writing. An inventive but baffling literary experiment that makes just as much sense as the end of Twin Peaks.

PARIS, HE SAID

Sneed, Christine Bloomsbury (336 pp.) $26.00 | May 5, 2015 978-1-62040-692-2 A mild meditation on art and relationships by the author of Little Known Facts (2013). A talented painter, Jayne Marks lacks the confidence to pursue her art and has instead been slogging through two unfulfilling jobs in the years since college to pay rent on her crappy Manhattan apartment, prompting the question: why not move to an outer borough like all the other young people and artists? She seems resigned to her fate until she starts a romance with Laurent Moller, an older French man and the successful owner of art galleries in Paris and New York, who, after dating Jayne for five months, invites her to move to Paris to be his live-in girlfriend and benefactee. She accepts. Paris, of course, presents a host of social hurdles in the form of Laurent’s lecherous business partner, his judgmental ex-wife, and his chilly grown daughter. Jayne is insecure and wishy-washy about all her relationships and confused about Laurent’s insistence that they retain privacy about what they’re doing when they’re not together. Is that where her own infidelity starts, or is it her natural reluctance to say what she wants, combined with the small flame she keeps burning for an ex? Laurent, in a passage written from his perspective, adds gusto to the proceedings but not much in the way of illumination. Bigger questions about being kept, mixing business and pleasure, and the creative process

go mostly unexamined. Oft-mentioned details that should add depth to the characters—that Laurent’s family is in the wine business or that Jayne spent time in Washington D.C., before moving to New York—have little apparent importance to their personalities or lives. Sneed should be applauded for not diving headlong into salaciousness, which her subject matter could invite. But her touch is so light that the issues at stake feel inconsequential.

ABSOLUTELY TRUE LIES

Stuhler, Rachel Touchstone/Simon & Schuster (352 pp.) $15.99 paper | May 12, 2015 978-1-4767-6302-6 A struggling writer suddenly finds herself at the center of a young starlet’s world. Life in Los Angeles has taken a turn for the worse for entertainment writer Holly Gracin. After losing her job at Westside Weekly when the magazine suddenly folds, she briefly dedicates her life to self-pity and binge eating. She’s just about ready to pack up and move home to upstate New York when she’s offered an exciting and somewhat terrifying opportunity: the chance to ghostwrite the memoir of Nickelodeon teen star Daisy Mae Dixson. Though Holly questions her qualifications for this task, which is well outside her comfort zone, she’s easily persuaded by the promise of a payday that would dwarf her yearly income. Daisy Mae is famous for her squeaky-clean good-girl image, but the façade quickly begins to fall away as Holly is swept into her world. While it might seem great to live like the Hollywood elite, Holly begins to see the real Daisy Mae, who is struggling with overbearing management and impossible standards and has an attitude that would horrify most of her young fans. Still, Holly is supposed to write a cheery and vapid memoir, a job that becomes increasingly difficult the more she gets to know the Dixson family and staff. Soon, Holly, who couldn’t get past security with her press credentials for Westside Weekly, finds herself in the tabloids as part of Daisy Mae’s entourage. When Daisy Mae’s outrageous behavior creates a scandal poised to destroy her career, the memoir gains new weight as part of her packaged atonement. While Daisy Mae feels like a composite of some familiar Hollywood starlets, the novel, with its frequent twists and turns, still feels fresh. Stuhler uses her own experience as a ghostwriter for the Hollywood elite in this fun and satisfying behind-thescenes debut novel.

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THE SHORE

Taylor, Sara Hogarth/Crown (352 pp.) $25.00 | $12.99 e-book | May 26, 2015 978-0-553-41773-9 978-0-553-41774-6 e-book An isolated stretch of coastal Virginia provides the eerie backdrop for a series of interconnecting tales of entrapment and escape. Debut author Taylor focuses both a microscope and a telescope on a remote area of Eastern Virginia and its longtime residents in this novel made up of an array of linked stories. Set—primarily—on “The Shore,” a string of islands in the Chesapeake Bay that includes Assateague and the legendary Chincoteague, Taylor’s tales relate the lives of several of the area’s denizens over a two-and-a-half century span. Reaching into a dystopic future from a rural but far-from-idyllic past, Taylor weaves together accounts of misogyny, patricide, other garden-variety murders, and racism. The resulting collage of stories contains shifting narrators and perspectives as well as hints of family mystery. Few of the assembled tales lack a reference to pharmaceuticals of one sort or another, ranging from Native American plant lore to post-plague survival and the customs of the methamphetamine trade. Permeating each part of the work is a deep-rooted sense of place, from the endless marshes to the stink of the poultry farms. When one disaffected woman briefly escapes (with a drug-dealing boyfriend) to a farmhouse in the Blue Ridge Mountains, she discovers an antique bird cage in the attic—and it’s hard not to think the residents of The Shore aren’t trapped in a much bigger, creepier bird cage. The closed ecosystem of The Shore provides Taylor with an ideal setting for illuminating the course of Life over Time.

THE GUEST COTTAGE

Thayer, Nancy Ballantine (336 pp.) $27.00 | $13.99 e-book | May 12, 2015 978-0-345-54551-0 978-0-345-54571-8 e-book Everything is better at the beach— even divorce—in the bestselling author’s (Nantucket Sisters, 2014, etc.) latest love story set in Nantucket. When Sophie’s husband announces that he’s leaving her for a younger colleague at his architecture firm, Sophie packs up their two children and heads to her friend Susie’s sprawling guest cottage for the summer. What she doesn’t know is that Susie’s cousin Sven has simultaneously rented the house to his friend Trevor and Trevor’s son, Leo. With no contracts to settle the dispute, Sophie and Trevor amicably decide to share the space. Though their chemistry is 36

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palpable, Sophie isn’t prepared for a fling with a younger man. Trevor’s wife, Tallulah, was a self-absorbed actress who died of a drug overdose, but he doesn’t portray her as a villain. Though she wasn’t a traditional mother, Leo adored her. Skipping ahead to the happy ending, the two broken families fall into a pleasant routine of beachcombing and sharing meals against the beautiful backdrop of the East Coast. Sophie’s emotional maturity is her greatest asset as she reconciles her feelings of relief with the hurt she expected to feel about her divorce. When her friend Angie seduces Trevor one night, Sophie takes it in stride, and she’s not offended when Trevor’s vegetarian friend, Candace, scolds her for serving meat. Instead, Sophie takes up the piano after years of silence and grows out her hair. She is so detached from her crush on Trevor that when the more age-appropriate Hristo offers her a ride on his yacht, she accepts without worrying about Trevor’s feelings. Trevor, however, has other plans for her future. It’s a pleasant escape to a state of mind in which rebuilding a life is as simple as pitching an umbrella and spreading out a towel.

THE ICE TWINS

Tremayne, S.K. Grand Central Publishing (320 pp.) $26.00 paper | May 19, 2015 978-1-4555-8605-9 Still reeling from tragedy, the Moorcroft family leaves London for a remote Scottish island only to find their problems increase tenfold. Thirteen months earlier, one of Sarah and Angus’ identical twin daughters, 6-yearold Lydia, died following a freak accident. Tremayne explores the circumstances of Lydia’s death in retrospect as the novel alternates between Sarah’s first-person perspective and less-effective thirdperson chapters focused on Angus. No longer the picture-perfect family, all of the Moorcrofts buckle under the strain of grief: Angus’ increased drinking leads to a blowup at work and the subsequent loss of his job; Kirstie, Lydia’s twin, is withdrawn and friendless; and Sarah is barely hanging on to her sanity. Then Kirstie tells Sarah something shocking and, for readers, requiring a healthy suspension of disbelief: “It was Kirstie that died. I’m Lydia.” The revelation causes Sarah—she doesn’t share Kirstie’s secret with Angus—to reevaluate everything she thought she knew about the accident and its aftermath. Looking for a fresh start, Angus and Sarah decide to leave London and start anew in a dilapidated lighthouse cottage on Eilean Torrran, a tiny Scottish island accessible only by boat. This is wise only in that it furthers the increasingly audacious plot—for the characters’ mental health, it’s a terrible idea. Tremayne ably spins numerous variations of the whichtwin-is-really-dead idea, playing into the inherent creepiness of wholly identical twins like Kirstie and Lydia, indistinguishable even on a DNA level.


MAYUMI AND THE SEA OF HAPPINESS

Tseng, Jennifer Europa Editions (272 pp.) $17.00 paper | May 26, 2015 978-1-60945-269-8

A sense of longing suffuses Tseng’s sexy, sad debut novel about a 41-year-old librarian who embarks on an affair with a shy, handsome high school student. Readers of literary fiction might be turned off by the premise of award-winning poet Tseng’s (Red Flower, White Flower, 2013, etc.) debut novel, which sounds suspiciously like a bodice-ripper: Mayumi, a librarian living on an island off the New England coast that empties in the offseason—emotionally marooned in a loveless marriage, clinging for warmth to her 4-year-old daughter, and drifting toward middle age—finds unlikely, forbidden love and gasp-inducing passion in the arms of an alluring 17-year-old just leaving the safe harbor

of his boyhood. Aware of the dangers and abashed at the Nabokov-ian overtones, Mayumi nevertheless handily introduces the young man, whom she never names, to the pleasures of sex and literature. He buoys her with his youth and beauty, saving her from sinking deeper into isolation. And then there’s the young man’s mother, to whom Mayumi also finds herself drawn and with whom she forges a relationship. The slow, inevitable tectonic intersection of these three lives leads, ultimately, to calamity, though not in the way you might predict. Yet, in other regards, the interconnection also holds the key to their survival, providing pockets of pure joy that keep them afloat amid despair. So, sure, this does at times read like a romance with particular middle-aged–mom appeal; its love scenes don’t lack for erotic description and detail, and Mayumi’s obsessive admiration for the young man swings between coolly perceptive and discomfitingly overheated. But the precision and poetry of Tseng’s writing keep the book from meandering too far in that direction, and the emotional and physical landscapes she conjures—the snow-covered vistas, cozy hidden cottages, and jewellike spring-fed ponds—make it worth the visit.

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Part Fight Club, part feminist manifesto, an offbeat and genre-bending novel that aims high—and delivers. dietland

Tseng explores time and place, isolation and connection, and veers more toward the lyrical than the lurid.

THE DIVER’S CLOTHES LIE EMPTY

Vida, Vendela Ecco/HarperCollins (320 pp.) $25.99 | Jun. 2, 2015 978-0-06-211091-6

A stolen backpack in Casablanca prompts a host of more psychological losses for the heroine of this high-tension narrative. Every novel by Vida explores what distance from home can do to an American woman’s perception of herself, whether the locale is the Philippines (And Now You Can Go, 2003), Lapland (Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name, 2007), or Turkey (The Lovers, 2010). Here, the unnamed narrator has arrived in Morocco for a solitary getaway—the details as to why aren’t disclosed till the ending—but the backpack containing her laptop, camera, credit cards, and passport is taken from her just as she’s checking into her hotel. The Kafkaesque plot turns that ensue serve to further erase her from the map; she claims another woman’s papers from a backpack the police wrongly believe is hers; a police report she needs to recover her identity goes missing; and, in a turn that occupies the heart of the novel, she takes a job as a stand-in for a famous actress who’s filming a movie in the city. The novel’s secondperson voice is a not-so-subtle prompt for the reader to think about how he or she might act in these predicaments and a more slippery prompt to think about what identity is: who are “you” when your family, sense of place, and skills are expunged? Vida’s plainspoken, sometimes ice-cold minimalist style serves the question well, though the novel struggles to arrive at a clean conclusion, even a cleanly ambiguous one. Juggling the heroine’s Casablanca predicament with an increasingly wrenching recollection of the emotional messes she left back in the States, Vida works in unlikely coincidences and fits of flightiness to sell the character’s sense of dispossession. But the novel still packs a wallop, taking the themes of Camus and Kierkegaard and transplanting them into a story with the pace and intrigue of a page-turner. A speedy and suspenseful fish-out-of-water tale with a slyly philosophical bent.

LIFE #6

Wagman, Diana Ig Publishing (294 pp.) $24.95 | May 15, 2015 978-1-63246-005-9 In Wagman’s latest (The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets, 2012, etc.), a cancer diagnosis and faltering marriage cause a middle-aged woman to contact the lover she hasn’t seen in years. Fiona, who works as an art educator at the Getty Villa in LA, learns she has breast cancer in the fall of 2009. Instead of sharing the diagnosis with her husband, Harry, a bitter out-of-work journalist, or her remarkably innocent collegestudent son, Fiona fixates on memories of Luc, her lover when she was 19 and trying to be a dancer in New York City. A gifted dancer, Luc was handsome, charismatic, and addicted to drugs and sexual dalliances. The last time Fiona saw him, 22 years earlier, he was strung out on heroin, but according to Google, he’s become a psychologist in Orlando. After a brief email exchange, they agree to meet for a weekend in Newport, where they began a terrible sailboat trip bound for Bermuda almost exactly 30 years earlier. As 50-year-old Fiona struggles, in a first-person narrative, with her guilt about Harry—she’s told him she’s attending a conference—and her excitement at seeing Luc again, 19-year-old Fiona’s experience at sea spins out in the third person. The boat’s owner, Nathan, a doctor, hired Luc and Fiona, along with a former patient and a supposedly experienced Dutch sailor. After they embarked, despite storm warnings that grew into an actual hurricane, it quickly became apparent that Nathan had trapped them in a deranged psychological experiment. For the last three decades, Fiona has been weighted down by guilt over her behavior on the boat as well as regret at leaving Luc—expect a lot of navel-gazing. Now, faced with still-handsome middle-aged Luc and his version of events, she must confront who she really was then and is now. Although Wagman follows the contours of conventional midlife-crisis fiction with a too-easy ending, thoughtful references to Greek myth and musings on the nature of survival give the tale a darker, deeper hue.

DIETLAND

Walker, Sarai Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (320 pp.) $26.00 | May 26, 2015 978-0-544-37343-3 Hilarious, surreal, and bracingly original, Walker’s ambitious debut avoids moralistic traps to achieve something rarer: a genuinely subversive novel that’s also serious fun. At just over 300 pounds, Plum Kettle is waiting for her real life to start: she’ll be a writer. She’ll be loved. She’ll be thin. In the meantime, she spends her days ghostwriting advice to

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distraught teenage girls on behalf of a popular teen magazine (“Dear Kitty, I have stretch marks on my boobs, please help”), meticulously counting calories (“turkey lasagna (230)”), and fantasizing about life after weight-loss surgery. But when a mysterious young woman in Technicolor tights starts following her, Plum finds herself drawn into an underground feminist community of radical women who refuse to bow to oppressive societal standards. Under the tutelage of Verena Baptist, antidiet crusader and heiress to the Baptist diet fortune (a diet with which Plum is intimately familiar), Plum undertakes a far more daring—and more dangerous—five-step plan: to live as her true self now. Meanwhile, a violent guerrilla group, known only as “Jennifer,” has emerged, committing acts of vigilante justice against misogynists. As her surgery date nears and Jennifer’s acts grow increasingly drastic, Plum finds she’s at the center of what can only be described as a literal feminist conspiracy— and she’s transforming into a version of herself she never knew existed. But while it would be easy for the book to devolve into a tired parable about the virtues of loving yourself just the way you are, Walker’s sharp eye and dry humor push it away from empty platitudes and toward deeper and more challenging turf. Ultimately, for all the unsettling pleasure of Walker’s splashier scenarios—and there are many—it’s Plum’s achingly real inner life that gives the novel its arresting emotional weight. Part Fight Club, part feminist manifesto, an offbeat and genre-bending novel that aims high—and delivers.

MADAM PRESIDENT

Wallace, Nicole Emily Bestler/Atria (352 pp.) $25.00 | $12.99 e-book | Apr. 28, 2015 978-1-4767-5689-9 978-1-4767-5691-2 e-book In this sequel to Eighteen Acres (2010) and It’s Classified (2011), her political romps about America’s fictional first woman president, political insider and The View co-host Wallace goes darker but not deeper, centering her story on the White House reaction to a major terrorist attack on American soil. The novel opens shortly after bombs have been detonated in five American cities, including Washington D.C., causing an unknown but probably high number of casualties. Moderate Republican Charlotte Kramer faces this crisis well into her second term as the country’s 45th president. She and husband Peter have reconciled. She has even hired his former mistress, Dale, as her press secretary. Charlotte’s former chief of staff, Melanie, is now secretary of defense; she’s on a visit to still–war-torn Iraq. Once the bombings are confirmed, meetings follow press statements that follow meetings on how to handle the press and how to address the public. There are arguments by Melanie (seemingly as a stand-in for the author) for military readiness, revenge, and “enhanced interrogation,” as well as a behind-the-scenes look at internal White House politics, all clearly drawn from the author’s experience as communications director for President

George W. Bush. Meanwhile, despite the crisis, Charlotte, Dale, and Melanie each deal with their own personal issues. Charlotte obsesses about the flaws in her marriage. Secretly 20 weeks pregnant, Melanie wonders how she’ll balance motherhood with her career and worries about being cut from Charlotte’s inner circle. Dale is in a new relationship with Melanie’s close friend Warren, a saintly war veteran now serving as a political consultant to Charlotte, but she worries that he’s more committed than she is, partly because she’s not completely over Peter; word of the bombings interrupts their attempt to rendezvous. The balance is off here, Wallace’s comic gifts wasted. What felt frothy and fun in the first books turn leaden when a national tragedy is less important than who slept with or back-stabbed whom.

VANISHING

Woodward, Gerard Pegasus (512 pp.) $24.95 | May 15, 2015 978-1-60598-782-8 Woodward (A Curious Earth, 2008, etc.) extracts black comedy from the bumbling life of Kenneth Brill, a young artist of confused sexuality. All English wit and writerly turn of phrase—“a brow ploughed with parallel wrinkles,” “little coy nymphs rising from fairy pools”—Woodward’s first-person narrative begins late in World War II as protagonist Brill relates his life to a military attorney, Davies, an archetypal upper-class twit. Groin-shot and invalided home after a misconstrued homosexual seduction—“his spittle was sweetness in my mouth”—Lt. Brill’s being court-martialed not for that, but for painting landscapes around his family home, Swan’s Rest; he’s charged with encoding his paintings to inform the Nazis about a planned airfield. Brill’s father, a former vaudevillian, grew prosperous selling human waste sludge as fertilizer, but the government now “will brush us aside like human dust.” Brill offers childhood memories, then moves on to his studies at the Slade School of Art. There, he ironically faints at the sight of a nude male model—“All my artistic life I had wanted nothing more than to tackle the human form”—and then is expelled for hiring prostitutes to pose. A Slade instructor, half-Italian, half-Spanish Arturo Somarco—a flamboyant, duplicitous character—attempts seduction. Somarco later helps a drunken and politically ignorant Brill dry out at Hillmead Farm, a Fascist hotbed. Meanwhile, April Card, once Brill’s fellow instructor at prestigious Berryman’s Academy, “by some semi-conscious manipulation of my deeper internal divisions “ends up pregnant, a state reached after farce-filled sexual misadventures that begin with birdwatching in flagrante delicto. Woodward’s settings—time and place—are artfully rendered in England and during Brill’s Camouflage Corp North African desert service. An erudite yet melancholy meditation on an artist’s life, Woodward’s tale, often a comedy of the absurd, is peopled by an abundance of colorful characters. |

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m ys t e r y ROBERT B. PARKER’S KICKBACK

Atkins, Ace Putnam (304 pp.) $26.95 | May 19, 2015 978-0-399-17084-3

Spenser heads back to the Boston suburbs to help a mother whose son has been arrested for—wait for it—setting up a fake Twitter account. When you’re the sort of kid who steps out of line in Blackburn, Judge Joe Scali knows what to do with you. Just ask Jake Cotner, who got nine months at the barbaric juvenile camp on Fortune Island for breaking windows in an old warehouse, or Ryan Bell, who did six months for throwing a steak at his crazy stepmother. But Sheila Yates, whose son Dillon has just drawn nine months for “stalking and terrorism” after posting humiliating tweets on an account he set up in the name of Blackburn High Vice Principal Luke Waters, isn’t about to take Dillon’s sentence lying down. She hires Spenser, who assures her, “I would’ve paid you to take this on,” and he goes into overdrive. So does the hanging juvie judge, along with his patron, district judge Gavin Callahan, every cop in Blackburn, and—once Spenser, as foretold by the imprudently spoiler title, has tied the rash of imprisoned kids to a for-profit corporation working hand in hand with the mob—a bunch of hard cases who clearly aren’t impressed by Spenser’s resume (Robert B. Parker’s Cheap Shot, 2014, etc.). Interpolated scenes at Fortune Island don’t intensify the suspense but simply break up the momentum. The ritualistic series of face-offs will be red meat for franchise fans, and it’s great to see Spenser tackle a social evil with its roots in real life, even though his rescue of Dillon predictably fails to put much of a dent in even little Blackburn’s prison-for-profit scheme.

DEATH OF A BRIDE AND GROOM

Emerson, Allan J. Five Star (264 pp.) $25.95 | May 20, 2015 978-1-4328-3069-4

In a place marketing itself as a honeymoon paradise, a murder staged as a wedding makes citizens fear for the town’s reputation and their own livelihoods. Silly as the conceit may be, the town of Honeymoon Falls believes the way to capitalize on its natural beauty is to advertise itself as the perfect honeymoon destination. It’s a sweet idea until you get down to the nuts and bolts. With street names like “Lovers’ Lane” and wedding bells 40

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decorating town signs, Honeymoon Falls can be a little much for the residents, many of whom seem to have trouble keeping their own wedding vows. Chief among these is Iris Morland, a woman well-known and well-hated for the many times she’s neglected her husband, Kenneth, for callous dalliances with other men, married and single. When Police Chief Capt. William Halsey gets word that there’s been an arrest at a large plywood wedding cake, he imagines it as another of the town’s peculiar quirks. Unfortunately, the arrest makes more sense when he sees that Iris and her former and/or present (who can keep track?) lover Connor Tarlech are now dead, posed as a bride and groom inside the cake. Halsey must bring order to a place with more characters than anyone could reasonably track. Readers might wish he’d share his list of suspects so they could have a chance to follow along, though it’s safe to assume everyone in town has been done wrong by Iris. Who didn’t do it? Emerson’s kickoff to the Honeymoon Falls series is both surfeit and famine, providing altogether too many characters with allegedly charming quirks and not nearly enough development of people or plot.

THE STORM MURDERS

Farrow, John Minotaur (320 pp.) $25.99 | $12.99 e-book | May 26, 2015 978-1-250-05768-6 978-1-4668-7383-4 e-book After a farm couple is murdered in Montreal in the wake of a blizzard, newly retired DS Émile Cinq-Mars is asked by an FBI agent to look into possible connections with similar killings in New Orleans. Though there’s one major difference—the two cops who first arrived at the Montreal murder scene were killed as well— the FBI agent thinks the crimes are the work of a serial killer who strikes after natural disasters. The killer’s signature is cutting off a finger from each victim. Partly to placate his wife, Sandra, who wants him to stay retired, Cinq-Mars agrees to go to New Orleans, where he can mix business and pleasure. But shortly after they arrive, Sandra is kidnapped under odd circumstances. Émile sees everyone—the New Orleans cops, FBI agents, an ambitious hotel security guard—as a suspect. More people are killed. Ransom instructions are issued. The minivacation is off. Farrow, the pen name of Trevor Ferguson, an acclaimed Canadian literary novelist, honors the traditions of the genre while adding enjoyable wrinkles. The slow-moving but fast-thinking Cinq-Mars can be counted on for plenty of frumpy humor, but when things get cold and sinister, he’s no pushover, even when making words his weapon. Because he’s so good at it, a long scene that would be talky in another novel is gripping in this one. One of the best mysteries from Canada in some time, this fourth book in a strong series is equally good at capturing the atmosphere of New Orleans and the distinctive qualities of Montreal.


THE HARVEST MAN

character who subdues his victims, always husband and wife, with ether and removes the skin from their faces in order to find his own lost parents beneath the “masks” they wear. This seemingly macabre premise feels a step removed, the horror never really taking hold. The Harvest Man only provides background noise to the real villain lurking somewhere in the shadows of these pages. Yet when Jack reappears, stalking Detective Day and targeting his family in order to draw Day into the twisted game he plays, Jack too seems diluted, toned down. He remains mysterious, a supreme manipulator, a murderer who stalks not in bloodlust but as an intellectual exercise, but feels here like filler—a way to bridge the previous books in the series to the next one. Grecian has the chops to create a novel that engages and disturbs and has proved it before. Not here.

Grecian, Alex Putnam (400 pp.) $26.95 | May 19, 2015 978-0-399-16644-0

The fourth in a series of historical thrillers about the squad of detectives formed to rid London of Jack the Ripper. Detective Walter Day is still recovering from injuries inflicted on him by Saucy Jack—Jack the Ripper—in the previous book, The Devil’s Workshop (2014). His wife has given birth to twin girls and his in-laws have moved in to help with the household. Day’s home is used as a staging ground for the novel, as one by one the characters we’ve met previously in the series appear to check on Walter or help with the babies. On the streets of London, the Harvest Man is now the scourge of Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad; Jack the Ripper is either dead or has gone quiet. The Harvest Man is a thoroughly disturbing

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SKIES OF ASH

Hall, Rachel Howzell Forge (320 pp.) $24.99 | $11.99 e-book | May 19, 2015 978-0-7653-3636-1 978-1-4668-2882-7 e-book When a house goes up in flames in the dead of the night with a woman and her two children inside, is it accident or murder? Good thing that African-American homicide detective Elouise “Lou” Norton is a very clever cop with deep ties in her community that will serve her well in her new case. It’s up to her and her annoying white LAPD partner, Colin Taggert, to determine whether the fire that killed Juliet Chatman and her children, Cody and Chloe, was meant to cover up a murder. The fire was definitely arson. Hostile, troubled Cody had been setting a lot of fires lately, but autopsies revealed that both Juliet and the children had Valium in their systems, and Juliet had advanced ovarian cancer. Why did Juliet have a gun clutched in her hand and a car packed with suitcases for her and the children? And what to make of her garbled 911 call about someone killing her? Juliet’s husband, Christopher, a commodities broker who works odd hours, left for work, returned during the fire, and had to be tackled by the firemen to keep him outside. Lou recently took back her own cheating husband, Greg— handsome, wealthy, and deeply untrustworthy—after the body of her sister, murdered long ago, was finally found (Land of Shadows, 2014). Her partner and her boss wonder if her marital problems are coloring her perception of Christopher, an inveterate liar. Christopher’s neighbor and best friend, Ben Oliver, an insurance lawyer whom Christopher recently tapped for a loan, is immediately on the scene. Even if Juliet and Christopher have been big spenders, she can’t imagine how they went through the $3 million his parents left him. Every day brings unsettling discoveries, more questions, and further complications that force Lou to confront her own worst fears. Hall outdoes her stellar debut in an exploration of vile secrets that pays homage to that earlier master of complex California homicide, Raymond Chandler.

DISENGAGED

Hiller, Mischa Severn House (192 pp.) $27.95 | May 1, 2015 978-0-7278-8473-2 Buried secrets resurface to threaten the lives and careers of four Londoners whose interlocking relationships are strained to the breaking point. Back in the 1980s, Julian Fisher was a spy working in Moscow. Now he runs Hadfish Systems, a software development company, with his pal Rami and lives with his longtime lover, Sheila, a real estate 42

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agent who knows no more than Rami of his past. Is it this intense sense of personal privacy that triggers Julian’s numerous unexplained illnesses? Rami’s new girlfriend, Cassie, takes an instant liking to Sheila and urges her to be more aggressive in shaking Julian’s complacency. She even recommends that Sheila engage Rupert, a private detective, to spy on him. Maneuvering in the background is Mojgan, an elusive Iranian woman who, the reader eventually learns, is targeting Hadfish. New client Boris, Julian’s former handler, proves even more of a threat to his secrecy than he first understands. Meanwhile, Mojgan targets Rami and Julian’s middle-aged assistant, Naomi. When a temp shows up at the office to fill in for the devoted Naomi, Julian gets suspicious and goes to Naomi’s flat, where she tearfully describes personal problems, and he comforts her. When the decidedly odd Rupert reports this incident to Sheila, it triggers a heated confrontation and her angry departure. But Sheila harbors a secret as well: a past fling with Rami. Boris’ kidnapping of Sheila sets off a final and potentially deadly confrontation between the two former comrades. Hiller’s third thriller (Shake Off, 2012, etc.), written with quiet authority, simmers with unexpected twists until the final chapter.

BITE THE BISCUIT

Johnston, Linda O. Midnight Ink/Llewellyn (312 pp.) $14.99 paper | May 8, 2015 978-0-7387-4503-9 A pet lover’s expansion of her bakery to feature dog-friendly treats sparks the ire of her small California town’s wealthiest family. Longtime pet lover Carrie Kennersly’s dreams come true when she turns her Icing on the Cake bakery into two shops: Icing, specializing in the bakery’s traditional fare, and The Barkery, a bakery just for dogs. Though Carrie has been a longtime veterinary technician for the local clinic in Knobcone Heights, opening the dual bake shops means putting her tech work on a very part-time basis. Luckily, former bakery owner Brenda has left Carrie with two experienced and capable sidekicks to help run the shop, and Carrie can depend on her brother and roommate, Neal, to put in extra time taking care of her own pooch, Biscuit. Come opening day, Carrie feels the support from her long-standing vet clients but is surprised when Myra Ethman and her husband, Harris, show up engorged with bad blood. Sure, the two of them own the Knob Hill Pet Emporium, but that’s not the same type of store as the Barkery, and the old-money couple is hardly threatened by Carrie’s potential success. Carrie can’t help but be drawn into arguing with Myra. That’s unfortunate not because mean-tempered Myra doesn’t deserve it but because Myra later turns up dead next to one of Carrie’s specialized dog biscuits. To clear her own name, Carrie has to figure out who might have had reason to kill Myra, even though the deeper she digs, the more enemies she uncovers.


Forest Service ranger Lance Hansen’s life has been hell since he discovered the badly beaten corpse of a Norwegian tourist. the ravens

Kicking off a cozy new series, prolific Johnston (Lost Under a Ladder, 2014, etc.) blends mystery and romantic intrigue. Though the violence that occurs is brief, its abruptness may put off some readers.

his wife, Hildegard. In “The Forgiveness of Sins,” the principal violinist of a string quartet walks into the church after his wife’s death by stabbing and claims sanctuary, an ancient law that no longer applies in 1964. In “Nothing to Worry About,” Sidney’s concern about an unhappy wife teaches him a painful lesson about the unintended consequences of intervention. Death by falling piano is the subject of “Fugue,” and in “A Following,” Sidney, newly elevated to Archdeacon of Ely, helps his former flame Amanda Kendall discover who’s sending the letters threatening to kill her if she goes ahead with marriage plans. In “Prize Day,” Sidney, agreeing to umpire a cricket match at a boys’ school, is on hand to witness a deadly explosion, and “Florence” casts him as suspect rather than detective. Throughout his adventures, Sidney is sustained by the help and blunt advice of his friend Inspector Geordie Keating and the love of his much-suffering Hildegard. However far he strays from his avowed intent, he always returns to preach with humility and compassion about what his sideline as a detective has taught him. Runcie (Sidney Chambers and the Problem of Evil, 2014, etc.) gives his genial hero just enough love of a good pint, a pretty woman, and a complex puzzle to save him from blandness or buffoonery in these gently humorous and sometimespoignant stories.

FARMED AND DANGEROUS

Maxwell, Edith Kensington (304 pp.) $25.00 | May 26, 2015 978-0-7582-8467-9

An organic farmer is a magnet for murder. Cameron Flaherty has worked hard to make a success of her farm. Her newest scheme is selling winter shares of the root crops she’s stored and the fresh greens she’s growing in her greenhouse. Cam delivers enough for a dinner to Moran Manor Assisted Living, where her beloved great-uncle Albert St. Pierre is a resident. When her former neighbor, cantankerous resident Bev Montgomery, dies after eating a meal made with Cam’s veggies, her past dealings with Bev (’Til Dirt Do Us Part, 2014, etc.) make her a suspect. As if that’s not bad enough, Cam’s boyfriend, state police detective Pete Pappas, catches the case and must distance himself from Cam just when she most needs his support. After another resident dies and she finds her uncle unconscious on the floor, Cam just has to investigate, even though Pete’s warned her that it’s dangerous. Bev, Cam knows, was involved with a militia group and was anything but popular, even within her family. Her determination to preserve her farm puts her at odds with her daughter, who wanted to develop the land, and her sons, who wanted to sell it. Once Cam gets locked in her own root cellar, she and Pete realize that she’s getting too close, but by now she’s unable to give up. So she continues to follow clues she hopes will lead to the killer. Quirky characters, lots of organic farming tips, and a well-developed mystery make this Cam’s best outing yet.

THE RAVENS

Sundstøl, Vidar Translated by Nunnally, Tiina Univ. of Minnesota (272 pp.) $24.95 | Apr. 15, 2015 978-0-8166-8944-6 A man’s life crumbles as he desperately seeks a solution to his problems. U.S. Forest Service ranger Lance Hansen’s life has been hell since he discovered the badly beaten corpse of a Norwegian tourist (The Land of Dreams, 2013). Although Ojibwe Lenny Diver was arrested for the crime, Lance is almost sure his own brother, Andy, is the real killer. After a near-fatal incident on a deer hunt (Only the Dead, 2014), when Lance’s gun accidentally fired but Andy thought Lance tried to kill him, Lance runs away. He arranges with a friend in Norway, where he’s supposed to be vacationing and looking up relatives, to send postcards home while he spends two months in a Canadian motel paralyzed by his dilemma. Back home, wracked with guilt over the possible conviction of an innocent man, he begins again to investigate the case. Blood that could only have come from a Native American was found at the scene. But since Lance has discovered an Ojibwe family ancestor, Andy could still be the killer. Lance starts spending time with Andy’s daughter, Chrissy, a bright young girl who’s taken to dressing like a goth. Her relationship with her parents has deteriorated so much that Andy is violent with her, and Lance suspects she’s using drugs. Although Lance has been unable to dream for years, he’s had visions of an Ojibwe trapper another of his ancestors may have murdered. Pushed to the limit, he finally has a dream that may reveal the truth.

SIDNEY CHAMBERS AND THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS

Runcie, James Bloomsbury (416 pp.) $18.00 paper | May 19, 2015 978-1-63286-103-0

Sidney Chambers is back for a fourth round of crimes to solve when his religious duties allow him time—or is it the other way around? Canon Chambers, the vicar of the church in Grantchester, is curiously ambivalent for a man of faith. He tries to be a conscientious cleric, husband, and father, but in these six loosely connected stories, a good mystery can always send him haring across the countryside, to the exasperation of |

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THE HANGED MAN

The last in Sundstøl’s Minnesota Trilogy is the most like a traditional mystery while continuing the mystical images and stunning descriptions that make for a superb reading experience.

Elrod, P.N. Tor (336 pp.) $24.99 | $11.99 e-book | May 19, 2015 978-0-7653-2971-4 978-1-4299-4664-3 e-book

science fiction and fantasy CORSAIR

Cambias, James L. Tor (336 pp.) $25.99 | $12.99 e-book | May 5, 2015 978-0-7653-7910-8 978-1-4668-6612-6 e-book Near-future science-fiction thriller from the author of A Darkling Sea (2014). With nuclear fusion a reality, Westinghouse has set up a base on the moon to mine helium from the lunar regolith. Each shipment is worth 2 billion Swiss francs, and cybercriminal David Schwartz, who calls himself Captain Black the Space Pirate, specializes in hijacking them. Air Force Capt. Elizabeth Santiago, mission director for monitoring the hijackers, suspects Captain Black is Schwartz (they had a brief affair while she attended MIT) but can’t prove it. While trying to prevent a hijacking, she exceeds her orders and is reassigned to an Air Force–sponsored private company in Florida that is developing new mobile satellites and needs a mission director. Again she oversteps her orders and tries to weaponize a satellite. The mysterious Col. Ghavami contacts Schwartz, meanwhile, and hires him to hijack a shipment. Schwartz finds himself in Pakistan, patrolled by a gang of thugs and chafing under what he considers Ghavami’s unnecessary restrictions. Schwartz escapes from Pakistan—his location is immaterial; he can hack into systems and pull off the hijack from anywhere—only to find that his carefully constructed cover is beginning to unravel. Eventually a chance encounter will bring Schwartz and Santiago in contact. Unfortunately, Cambias has to wrench and hammer his thin plot to fit all this. Neither do the main characters convince: Schwartz, with an annoyingly adolescent mentality, often seems amazingly dim, while it’s hard to understand how even the Air Force could tolerate Santiago’s chronic insubordination. And savvy readers will see where it’s all going about halfway through. Still, the action is brisk against colorful international locations, the hijacks well-handled and exciting. A potboiler that fans of Cambias’ previous excellent work will wish to investigate.

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Seers and psychics rule Victorian London in this sharp-witted gaslamp fantasy novel from veteran writer Elrod (The Vampire Files, Volume 5, 2012, etc.). Alex Pendlebury saw the world with her adored adventurer father, receiving psychic empathy training as he schemed on behalf of the British Empire. Sent back home at 15 to her stuffy, aristocratic Pendlebury relatives, Alex found purpose as a Reader in the queen’s newly organized Psychic Service but never heard from her father again. As the novel opens, Alex is called to investigate a suspicious death in Harley Street, only to discover the dead body is all that remains of her long-lost father. Moments later, as the head of the Psychic Service, Lord Richard Desmond, escorts Alex from the scene, he is killed by assassins wielding the newest in deadly 19thcentury technology: silent yet powerful air guns. Alex throws herself into pursuing the truth behind these two murders with help from her effervescent and slightly unhinged cousin (on her mother’s side), James, and her new driver, the stalwart Lt. Brook, who always appears right where he’s about to be needed. The emotional charge of these relationships adds resonance to a thrilling tale. As she penetrates the darkness at the heart of England’s ruling class—her class—Alex also learns how many secrets the Psychic Service is keeping, even from its own agents. Despite some predictable villainous speechifying at the climax, the story grips. With gasp-inducing twists and turns, Alex’s adventures in alt-London artfully combine the mysteries of Arthur Conan Doyle with the strange delights of H.G. Wells. A robust and clever breakout novel.

TRIAL OF INTENTIONS

Orullian, Peter Tor (720 pp.) $27.99 | $14.99 e-book | May 26, 2015 978-0-7653-2572-3 978-1-4299-4961-3 e-book Second installment of an overstuffed fantasy series following The Unremembered (2015). A magical Veil keeps the evil Quiet trapped in the Bourne. A sect of magical singers maintains the Veil by singing the Song of Suffering. But as the singers falter, the Veil weakens, so the defenders need a grand alliance to fight the invading Quiet, whose ranks include evil wizards, giants, and numerous quasi-human species. A catastrophic defeat leaves each of our heroes with a problem or two to solve. Vendanj, a Sheason, or wizard, must


Two hundred and fifty years ago, the Dutch created a mechanical army of “Clakkers”—thinking clockwork beings—and now rule the world. the mechanical

persuade a pacifistic faction of the order to join him in battle. Bowman Tahn Junell will travel to Aubade Grove to rejoin a colony of scientists, hoping to find a means to strengthen the Veil. Braethen, a warrior-scholar sworn to protect the Sheason, carries the magical Blade of Seasons but doesn’t know how it works. Root-digger Sutter will take his Sedagin glove, blade, and magic sigil to Alon’Itol and attempt to persuade smith king Jaales Relothian to join the alliance. And magical singer Wendra travels to Descant Cathedral in order to learn from Maesteri Belamae how to control her powerful song. A couple of other narratives weave in and out, one about a seeming good-guy faction within the Bourne and another, particularly annoying, thread in which manipulative League of Civility leader Roth Staned hatches despotic plots while his opponents stand around wringing their hands. Once again it’s a case of intriguing ideas drowned in details; characters who prefer talking to doing, even in the middle of a battle; and an author seemingly convinced that more is better. In sum, more of the same, at even greater length.

of civilization, and though the setup is an old one, he brings a fresh vision based on the latest science to the task. Meanwhile, all those exploding planetoids make a good argument for more STEM funding. Wise, witty, utterly well-crafted science fiction.

THE MECHANICAL

Tregillis, Ian Orbit/Little, Brown (480 pp.) $17.00 paper | Mar. 10, 2015 978-0-316-24800-6 First of a new fantasy trilogy from the author of the splendid Something More Than Night (2013, etc.). Two hundred and fifty years ago, the Dutch created a mechanical army of “Clakkers”—thinking clockwork beings powered and enslaved by alchemical magic—and now rule the world. Only the French government in exile still resists, from their fortress at Marseilles-in-the-West (Montreal). The powerful Schoonraad family is about to relocate to New Amsterdam (New York) and send their servitor Clakker, Jax, to Pastor Luuk Visser to collect a letter of introduction. Visser, however, secretly a Papist and a French spy whose network has been broken, expects to be arrested momentarily. He gives Jax an antique telescope with instructions to deliver it to an address in New Amsterdam. But during the voyage, the telescope breaks, a peculiar glass bead falls out—and Jax discovers he is no longer a slave. To the north, meanwhile, Vicomtesse Bernice de Laval, the French Talleyrand (spy chief), suspects that one of the king’s closest advisers is a traitor. While secretly studying a captured battle Clakker, which the terms of the current uneasy cease-fire specifically prohibit, the thing gets away, killing her husband and slaughtering dozens. The traitor escapes. Exiled, Bernice makes her way to New Amsterdam, where eventually she will collide with Jax—with profound consequences for both the French and the Dutch. Perhaps holding back for later entries, Tregillis gives few details of the Clakkers’ construction or operation, and the story is curiously slow to get going. But his characters are as convincing as ever, the plotting is beautifully articulated, the tone relentlessly grim and sometimes horrifying. And while the action rarely flags, Tregillis manages to pack in a good deal of philosophical probing. Not quite yet peak Tregillis, but his fans—and other readers with an interest in dark, intelligent fantasy—will find much to admire here.

SEVENEVES

Stephenson, Neal Morrow/HarperCollins (1056 pp.) $35.00 | May 19, 2015 978-0-06-219037-6 No slim fables or nerdy novellas for Stephenson (Anathem, 2008, etc.): his visions are epic, and he requires whole worlds—and, in this case, solar systems— to accommodate them. His latest opens with a literal bang as the moon explodes “without warning and for no apparent reason.” When the reason finally does become apparent, it’s cause to enlist steely-jawed action hero Dubois Jerome Xavier Harris, Ph.D., a scientist who makes fat bread as a TV science popularizer and sucker-up to the rich and powerful. Easy street gives way to a very rocky galactic road as Doob has to figure out why the heavens are suddenly hurling mountains of space debris at Earth in a time already fraught with human-caused difficulty. Ever the optimist, Doob puts it this way: “The good news is that the Earth is one day going to have a beautiful system of rings, just like Saturn. The bad news is that it’s going to be messy.” The solution? Get off the planet fast, set up space colonies, perpetuate the human race using turkey basters—well, a “DNA sequence stored on a thumb drive,” anyway—and multiple moms, whence the title. Stephenson takes his time doing so, layering on a perhaps not entirely necessary game of intrigue involving a sly-boots “dusky blonde” of a president. When the yarn moves into deep space thousands of years from now, however, it picks up both speed and depth, for while humans are more diverse than ever (“Each of the seven new races had embodied more than one Strain”), the gap between the haves and have-nots has widened, piles of gold and golden eyes and all. Stephenson does a fine job, à la H.G. Wells, of imaging a future in which troglodytes live just outside the titanium walls |

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WHEN THE HEAVENS FALL

Turner, Marc Tor (544 pp.) $27.99 | $14.99 e-book | May 19, 2015 978-0-7653-3712-2 978-1-4668-3120-9 e-book Series: Chronicle of the Exile, 1 Gods, zombies, kings, wizards, and death-magic battle to the, well, death in a story that’s sparked more by its denizens and their deeds than its standard fantasy backdrop. For centuries the mages of the Black Tower kept a dangerous artifact owned by Shroud, the Lord of the Dead, hidden and quiescent. But with the Black Tower now a spent force, ambitious mage Mayot Mencada steals the Book of Lost Souls, though he lacks the ability to unlock the book’s protective wards. A meddlesome goddess, the Spider, Shroud’s rival, removes the wards, whereupon Mencada unleashes the book’s power to create a vast army of the dead. The tide of deathmagic draws other interested parties whose motives only gradually reveal themselves. Guardian Luker Essendar, a warrior with Will-powered magic, constrained to serve an emperor he despises, agrees to investigate only because Kanon, his old mentor, was dispatched earlier and has not been heard from since. As Mencada’s zombie warriors threaten to overrun Galitia, its prince, Ebon Calidar, realizes he must quell the source of the death-magic. A mysterious and seemingly immortal necromancer, Parolla Morivan, has overwhelming personal reasons for wanting to confront Shroud. And the Spider sends Romany Elivar, her hedonistic high priestess, to pick off the agents Shroud directs to retrieve his book. None of the players can afford to trust any of the others. This basic, satisfying plot displays enough original elements to make it intriguing. The characters, whose personalities drive the narrative as much as the clash of magics, battle through page after relentless page of grim, desperate, surprising, and often enthralling action. Equally satisfying, the ending wraps things up without annoying and taunting cliffhangers. A splendid launch. Turner’s unquestionably a newcomer to watch.

POSITIVE

Wellington, David Harper Voyager (416 pp.) $26.99 | $15.99 e-book | Apr. 21, 2015 978-0-06-231537-3 978-0-06-231538-0 e-book A young survivor of the zombie pandemic finds himself thrust outside the comfort and safety of post-apocalyptic Manhattan and into the wastelands of America in this coming-of-age novel from Wellington (The Hydra Protocol, 2014, etc.) 46

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Nineteen-year-old Finnegan has been living what’s left of the good life in what’s left of Manhattan, protected from the occasional zombie living in the outer boroughs by polluted rivers and the lack of transportation in post-crisis America. He’s grown up, with no memory of the pandemic, in a survivor’s settlement in Times Square, raised by his parents, fishing in the old subway tunnels and scavenging food from abandoned apartments, listening to the radio for reports from the Army and the bits of the old government that are still viable. That is, until the day his mother turns into a zombie, a result of the virus’s 20-year gestation period. Finn is now suspected of harboring the virus as well. He’s given a plus-sign tattoo—proof of his positive status—and a ride to a medical camp in Ohio. But when he finds his government-issued driver murdered at the far end of the George Washington Bridge, Finn has to set out on his own. He quickly makes an enemy of a looter named Red Kate and just as quickly makes friends with a survivor named Adare, a big man with a big car and a harem of young girls he uses both for sex and for looting abandoned buildings for swag to trade to the Army for gas and food. Among the harem is Kylie, a teen girl whose deadened personality Finn somehow finds irresistible. Finn’s halfhearted attempts at rabble-rousing to free Kylie and her sisters ends badly for Adare and—when the ragtag group of misfits ends up at the Akron medical camps at last—for the girls as well. All except Kylie, of course. Finn’s principled attempts at an old-fashioned strike are laughable at best. (“My life was less important than what was happening here. Than what could happen, if the cards played out right,” Finn says, nobly.) In Akron he’s reunited with his old Manhattan buddy Ike (the kid who killed Finn’s mother when she zombied out) when Ike helps the positives break out of camp, and Finn and Kylie lead him and the rest into the brave new world they’ll make together—if they can survive Red Kate and the deadly warload named Anubis. Lacking the storytelling virtuosity of World War Z or the emotional impact of The Passage, the novel suffers from a woefully underdeveloped and naïve hero, a love story without an ounce of heat, and a carload of ancient zombie tropes just begging to be put out of their misery.


nonfiction WRITING ON THE WALL Selected Prison Writings of Mumia Abu-Jamal

These titles earned the Kirkus Star: BELIEVER by David Axelrod.............................................................. 48

Abu-Jamal, Mumia Fernández, Johanna—Ed. City Lights (340 pp.) $16.95 paper | May 15, 2015 978-0-87286-675-1

IRREPRESSIBLE by Emily Bingham...................................................52 THE DAEMON KNOWS by Harold Bloom.......................................... 53 LEAVING ORBIT by Margaret Lazarus Dean....................................56

Anthology of prison writing by a radical icon. A divisive figure, Abu-Jamal (Jailhouse Lawyers, 2009, etc.) was sentenced to death for the 1981 murder of a Philadelphia policeman, a charge he and his supporters have ever since attributed to official misconduct. (In 2011, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.) As prominent fan Cornel West observes in his fiery foreword, “Mumia AbuJamal’s voice is always on the side of those who are fighting against domination, and that is one of the highest functions of Black prophetic activity.” Abu-Jamal’s writing tends to be forceful, outraged, and humorous, but he also engages in the bombastic approaches of another era. Early columns focus on his admiration for the cultish radical group MOVE, notoriously bombed by Philadelphia authorities in 1985 following years of conflict between police and blacks. From his captive perspective, the author offers powerful columns on diverse subjects ranging from the plight of black farmers to the crushing of dissent after 9/11. Some remain all too relevant—e.g., those decrying systemic police brutality as seen in flashpoints from Rodney King to Ferguson or the rise of racial disparities in drug sentencing. Abu-Jamal meditates on central figures in the black political narrative, ranging from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Trayvon Martin. Yet some columns indulge in radical-left gamesmanship, as when he dismisses the salutary effects of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling: “Let the bourgeoisie and the Black middle class celebrate Brown. Meanwhile, let the rest of us ignore it.” As a collection that spans from 1982 to 2014, these topical essays testify to the effects of incarceration on mind and spirit. While his prose has sharpened over time, Abu-Jamal remains enraged and pessimistic about an America that, in his view, remains wholly corrupt: “[Blacks] know from bitter experience that while Americans may say one thing, they mean something quite different.” Bracing polemics that will appeal primarily to the Occupy demographic.

YOUR BAND SUCKS by Fine, Jon........................................................59 THE HILLARY DOCTRINE by Valerie M. Hudson & Patricia Leidl....................................................................................... 64 DO NO HARM by Henry Marsh..........................................................72 MEN OF WAR by Alexander Rose........................................................ 77 BUCKLEY AND MAILER by Kevin M. Schultz..................................79 THE COLONEL AND HUG by Steve Steinberg & Lyle Spatz.............81 MY GENERATION by William Styron.................................................81 STALIN’S DAUGHTER by Rosemary Sullivan................................... 82 BILLIE HOLIDAY by John Szwed........................................................ 82 your band sucks What I Saw at Indie Rock’s Failed Revolution (But Can No Longer Hear)

Fine, Jon Viking (320 pp.) $27.95 | May 19, 2015 978-0-670-02659-3

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booyah!: a life in sports—but much more TWISTED My Dreadlock Chronicles

When sportscaster Stuart Scott passed away after a long, tenacious battle with cancer, we lost one of the brightest stars in the ESPN world, a realm in which I have spent a lot of time during my life. Scott climbed the ranks at ESPN in the mid-to-late 1990s, just when I was beginning to pay closer attention to a wider variety of sports—and not just who won and lost and how the games were played, but also how they were announced, highlighted, discussed, analyzed, framed, and reframed. Scott was an integral part of the rise of ESPN to dominance in the sports broadcasting world, and he, along with Dan Patrick, Keith Olbermann, and others, helped to expand the conversation beyond just the box score. Yes, he was always prepared with all the necessary statistics for each telecast, but it was his enlightening anecdotes and digressions, often referencing pop culture, that further illuminated each event, team, or player he covered. In his memoir, Every Day I Fight (March 10), Scott chronicles his life and career and demonstrates the tough-as-nails spirit that rocketed him into the spotlight in a white-dominated industry and allowed him to fight back against cancer for so many years. However, the book is far more than just a how-I-got-here memoir. In a starred review, our critic wrote, “though Scott was once mainly known for his ‘Booyah!’ catchphrase…this memoir shows what a mistake it would be to underestimate the man or his cultural influence.” Sports fans will relish his discussions of such legends as Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and Charles Barkley, but what is most impressive is Scott’s absolute dedication to both his craft and his family. Not a page goes by without the author mentioning his love for his daughters, and he pulls it off without overly sappy sentimentality. Throughout, there’s no question about his diligence toward his work and his sincerity in all his endeavors—just another admirable attribute in a courageous, inspiring man who will be missed. —E.L.

Ashe, Bert Agate (250 pp.) $15.00 paper | Jun. 9, 2015 978-1-932841-96-1

Much ado about dreadlocks. Ashe (English and American Studies/ Univ. of Richmond) sustains an engaging tone as he obsesses on his decision to grow dreads, the significance and implications. His adoption of the style seems to coincide with the cultural shift in dreads away from a feared symbol of rebellion. “Dreads have, alas, become a cliché,” he writes, and then later elaborates, “I’m to blame. It’s all on me. If only I hadn’t attempted to use dreadlocks to explore the hyphenated space between un- and conventional, I have to believe dreads would still be the cutting edge hairstyle it once was.” As an academic who developed a course titled “Hair, Hoops and Jazz: Explorations in African-American Expressive Culture,” Ashe refuses to be stifled by typical academic strictures, and his attitude throughout seems playfully serious (or seriously playful), as he details more about dreads—their origin, their rise to popularity, their co-option, their care and upkeep— than most readers will think they would want to know. He confesses that he was never much of a reggae fan as he obsessively explores why he was nonetheless drawn to dreads and why it took him so long (years, decades) to act on that impulse. Even after he becomes dreadlocked, he seems far more interested in the reactions his hair elicits from others than in whatever it says about him. He’s very funny on what he calls the “B.H.P.D.— the Black Hair Police Department,” but most of the responses seemed to be that the dreads made the professor look even more professorial. “I’ve always admired nonconformists,” he writes. “Admired them from a distance. In my early years, I was not only a conformist, I was a hyper-conformist. Conformity, after all, is just a form of willing invisibility, a way to blend in, to exist and yet remain unseen.” Sometimes hair is just hair, though the dreadlocked professor rarely leaves it at that.

BELIEVER My Forty Years in Politics

Axelrod, David Penguin Press (512 pp.) $35.00 | Feb. 10, 2015 978-1-59420-587-3

Longtime political adviser Axelrod, late of the White House, tells most of what he’s seen in the cloakroom. Barack Obama is intensely competitive, a fighter. He drinks a little and swears a lot, sometimes exultantly, and he’s disappointed: he thought he could do

Eric Liebetrau is the nonfiction and managing editor. 48

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An admirable addition to the growing genre maintaining that global warming may not lead to Armageddon. the burning answer

business with John Boehner, but no—and if you think racism has nothing to do with it, as Axelrod resignedly writes, “some folks simply refuse to accept the legitimacy of the first black president and are seriously discomforted by the growing diversity of our country.” Though the comedians Key and Peele have hilariously imagined an angry black alter ego for the president, Axelrod assures us that Obama remains above the racial fray, always rational and calm, “welcome qualities after the bombast and bluster of the Bush-Cheney era.” Partisan zingers are comparatively and surprisingly few for so renowned a street fighter. Instead, Axelrod concentrates on spinning yarns about how things get done in the day-to-day tumble of politics and, of course, on his former boss, whom he obviously admires while wishing, perhaps, that the gloves would come off a bit more often. The author writes that he was introduced to Obama in 1992 with the assurance, from a Democratic activist, that here “could be the first black president,” but the actual mechanics of how that happened are of greater interest in the telling, with Axelrod tracing deep connections to the political enterprise of another Illinoisan—not Lincoln but Paul Simon, the nerdy but powerful scholar who managed to get a lot done in his years in Washington. Axelrod’s careful connection of the dots provides an illuminating study in how political power moves from generation to generation. The book-closing call to remake politics would sound like so much cheerleading in other hands, but Axelrod’s connecting of Obama to JFK makes it work. Obama has been profiled many times but seldom with so practical an outlook. An excellent view of politics from the inside.

impractical will be surprised by Barnham’s extensive evidence of how well other nations are doing. Germany and Denmark aim to provide all electricity through renewables in 2050; many smaller nations are doing even better. “Their work is further evidence confirming one important message of this book: an all-renewable electricity supply is achievable quickly, cheaply, and safely,” writes the author. “What is missing is the political will.” Nuclear power remains exorbitantly expensive; the industry would vanish without massive government support. Oil, coal, and gas producers receive generous tax breaks and subsidies, and they show their gratitude. Barnham concludes with a cheerful prophecy of progress over the next decades, as well as not-entirely-convincing advice on how British and American readers can persuade their leaders to sacrifice selfish interests and join the revolution. An admirable addition to the growing genre maintaining that global warming may not lead to Armageddon.

THE BURNING ANSWER The Solar Revolution: A Quest for Sustainable Power Barnham, Keith Pegasus (400 pp.) $27.95 | May 15, 2015 978-1-60598-776-7

Humans once obtained all energy directly from the sun and will do so again, writes Barnham (Emeritus, Physics/Imperial Coll. London) in an optimistic, heavily science-based polemic. The author begins with a dense, not always relevant history of 20th-century nuclear physics, but he also includes a primer on quantum theory that explains the solar cell and the closely related transistor invented following World War II. Aware of the transistor’s possibilities, the American military massively supported research that led to the digital revolution that continues to expand at an astonishing rate today. The military and government showed less interest in solar cells, so development lagged, but Barnham maintains that an energy revolution began around 2000—mostly in Europe. In the second part of the book, the author describes how this is playing out with the necessary inclusion of wind and biogas electricity generators. Americans who assume that solar and renewable energy are laudable but |

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THE STORY OF SCIENCE From the Writings of Aristotle to the Big Bang Theory

FIVE NIGHTS IN PARIS After Dark in the City of Light Baxter, John Perennial/HarperCollins (352 pp.) $14.99 paper | Apr. 14, 2015 978-0-06-229625-2

Bauer, Susan Wise Norton (320 pp.) $26.95 | May 11, 2015 978-0-393-24326-0

Having lived in Paris for more than 20 years, Baxter (The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: A Pedestrian in Paris, 2011, etc.), a guide to literary walks through the city, won’t show you exactly which streets to follow; rather, he’ll teach you how to know Paris and truly feel the enjoyment of flanerie. The activity of flanerie encompasses wandering aimlessly, going with the wind, and observing life as you go. One day, a customer asked the author if he did night walks, and the author decided that the five senses should be his guides. The joy of his writing is to realize that, even after living there for two decades, Paris still provides him with new avenues to explore. He divides the book into itineraries guided by the senses, but readers will need to dig deep to appreciate the connections. Readers who love Paris will likely love this book. No one can successfully write about Paris unless they truly love every nuance, oddity, and secret of her life; here, the author shines. Baxter’s knowledge of those who have written about Paris—for years, he has collected such work—will lead readers to all sorts of corners that do not show up in any tourist guides. The author cites surrealist Philippe Soupault’s Last Nights of Paris (1929) to show that in Paris at night, there may not be as much to see as many believe. Rather, the nighttime is a perfect canvas for thinking, a blank page on which to exercise the imagination, developing ideas in the dark. In closing, Baxter writes, “each of us must, in our own way, as with a new lover, seduce, or allow ourselves to be seduced by the Paris night.” This is not a walking guide to Paris, but it is most certainly a guide to seeing and knowing Paris, one no Francophile should be without. (25 b/w photos)

The prolific author of the Story of the World series explores the history of science through the prism of key scien-

tific texts. Bauer (Writing and American Literature/Coll. of William and Mary; The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had, 2003, etc.) explains that her intention is to trace “the development of great science writing— the essays and books that have most directly affected and changed the course of scientific investigation.” The author divides the book in five parts, and she provides a historical context for the texts she recommends and explains the reasons for her choices. Part I, “The Beginnings,” looks at the seminal writings on medicine by Hippocrates, as well as Plato, Aristotle, Archimedes, and Copernicus, who wrote his groundbreaking Commentariolus in 1514. Bauer compares different translations of the original text and explains their respective merits. In the second part, “The Birth of the Method,” the author introduces Newtonian physics, and parts III (“Reading the Earth”) and IV (“Reading Life”) deal with geology and biology, from earth science to Darwin’s theory of natural selection and Crick and Watson’s groundbreaking discovery of the structure of DNA. Bauer’s recommendations include Watson’s The Double Helix and Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene. In the final section, “Reading the Cosmos,” the author begins with Einstein’s theory of relativity and covers works on quantum theory, cosmology, and chaos theory. In addition to guiding inquisitive readers to the original texts that record landmark discoveries, Bauer also seeks to explain “the why” of scientific discovery. The scope of the book makes it susceptible to a certain amount of superficiality—e.g., Bauer’s discussion of determinism in the context of chaos theory—but that does not detract from its value. A bright, informative resource for readers seeking to understand science through the eyes of the men and women who shaped its history. (13 illustrations)

THE PRINCE OF MINOR WRITERS The Selected Essays of Max Beerbohm

Beerbohm, Max Lopate, Phillip—Ed. New York Review Books (448 pp.) $18.95 paper | Jun. 2, 2015 978-1-59017-828-7

Elegant essays by a self-described dilettante. Known for “his light ironic touch,” deft parodies and caricatures, and sly observations about literature, art, and, simply, taste, Max Beerbohm (1872-1956) was among the most prominent English essayists. Though praised as a gifted stylist, he considered himself a minor figure, “what 50

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obituary notices call ‘an interesting link with the past.’ ” Editor Lopate (Director, Nonfiction Writing/Columbia Univ.; Portrait Inside My Head, 2013, etc.), however, sees in the precision and cadence of Beerbohm’s prose much to be admired, amply exemplified by the pieces he gathers, representing Beerbohm’s observations of British character and culture from 1896 to 1946. In an essay on the disappointing quality of oratory at the House of Commons, for example, Beerbohm remarks laconically that among 670 men elected by the British public, no one should expect “a very high average of mental capacity.” He recalls his contemporaries: Aubrey Beardsley; the “legendary” Swinburne, “sole kin to the phoenix”; and his older half brother, Herbert, a flamboyant actor. Accompanying him on an American tour, he noted that Herbert loved traveling, “instantly responsive” to “the magic of New York....He was not the kind of tourist who takes a homemade tuning-fork about with him and condemns the discords.” Beerbohm was not as social, never a perfect guest, but “slightly to the churlish side....And, though I always liked to be invited anywhere, I very often preferred to stay at home.” Overcome with envy of another writer, he threw her novel into

“the yawning crimson jaws” of a fireplace, frustrated by how slowly it burned. He also comments dryly on hero worship: “It is a wholesome exercise which we ought to all take, now and again. Only, let us not strain ourselves by overdoing it.” Urbane, witty pieces by a writer worth reviving.

ALL YOU CAN PAY How Companies Use Our Data to Empty Our Wallets

Bernasek, Anna & Mongan, D.T. Nation Books/Perseus (256 pp.) $25.99 | May 26, 2015 978-1-56858-474-4

There have been plenty of warnings about corporations profiting from data and compromising privacy, but this straightforward analysis never succumbs to alarmism while letting the facts speak for themselves.

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Deeply researched, Bingham’s engrossing biography brings her glamorous, tormented ancestor vividly to life. irrepressible

New York Times “Datapoints” columnist Bernasek (The Economics of Integrity, 2010, etc.) and finance lawyer Mongan are plainly well-versed in their topic, but once they get past some macroeconomic table setting, they build a case that will hit home with the personal finances of any reader who has ever done anything online. The authors understand how to write about specialized topics for a general readership, and they deliver their most frightening news in the most understated, straightforward manner: “Virtually everything about us is known and collected by someone,” they write. And if that weren’t enough: “The most detailed report prepared by analysts working for the Stasi or the KGB...doesn’t begin to compare with the comprehensive data wake shed by each consumer. Every minute of the day we shed data in profusion.” As our devices reveal what we want, what we buy, where we are, and who we are, we are caught in “the trend from mass markets to mass customization,” one for which we pay a cost in loss of privacy and often in actual dollars. Those who benefit are the Big Ten of corporations that collect data (Amazon, Google, Facebook et al.), engaging in what the authors term a “world-wide data war, ‘World War D.’ ” The problem is that the book does such an effective job of stating the significance, depth, and expanse of the threat that the solutions seem like closing the barn door after the horse is gone. Hope lies in what the authors call “Data Environmentalism,” raising the consciousness about this threat the way Silent Spring sparked the environmental movement. Well informed and useful. The authors stress that the ultimate answer is “you,” but will you read all the fine print to educate yourself?

her attention....With one lover after another Henrietta acted skittish and immature, ambivalent and distant.” Her behavior was likely shaped by her relationship with her wealthy and powerful father, emotionally, but not physically incestuous, characterized by “mutual obsession and dependency.” He repeatedly offered her careers that would have ensconced her in her native Kentucky, and she repeatedly refused. Yet when he was made Franklin Roosevelt’s ambassador to England, Henrietta reveled in aristocratic life and often served as his hostess. The “seductiveness and ambivalence” Henrietta felt toward her father contributed to a lifetime of neuroses, which she sought to alleviate through treatment with Freudian psychoanalyst Ernest Jones, who became her mentor and confidant and who freely shared details of Henrietta with Mina, also his analysand. As she aged, Henrietta succumbed to drink and assorted pharmaceuticals, suffering more than a dozen breakdowns in the decades before her death. Throughout, the author ably illuminates the character of her great-aunt, who “took freedom as far as she could.” Deeply researched, Bingham’s engrossing biography brings her glamorous, tormented ancestor vividly to life.

A BONE TO PICK The Good and Bad News About Food, Along With Wisdom and Advice On Diets, Food Safety, GMOs, Farming, and More Bittman, Mark Pam Krauss Books (304 pp.) $26.00 | May 5, 2015 978-0-8041-8654-4

IRREPRESSIBLE The Jazz Age Life of Henrietta Bingham

When a book begins with an essay titled “A Food Manifesto for the Future,” you know the author is on a mission. Food writer Bittman’s (How to Cook Everything Fast, 2014, etc.) collection of previously published New York Times articles deftly deconstructs how America’s reliance on fossil fuels, the cruel mass production of animals, and an overuse of hyperprocessed junk foods have created a food system in tatters and left many Americans sick. Regular readers of the Times will know Bittman’s work. However, by gathering the articles into a complete narrative, the compilation provides an all-inclusive look at the author’s findings across a range of topics. For those readers unfamiliar with Bittman’s knowledge of the issues, it makes grasping a multifaceted subject less daunting. Moreover, if at times the author repeats some points, it matters little compared to the importance of the information. Written between 2008 and 2014, the articles are arranged topically rather than chronologically. This structure allows readers to grasp the evolution of issues such as the sustainability (or not) of big agriculture; the issues surrounding the production and consumption of meat; what constitutes real food; dieting; the various ways America’s food chain fails its citizens; and how legislation and labeling affect what we eat. Bittman bolsters his conclusions with the voices of numerous scientists, and he calls out big

Bingham, Emily Farrar, Straus and Giroux (384 pp.) $28.00 | Jun. 16, 2015 978-0-8090-9464-6

A colorful portrait of a daring woman. F. Scott Fitzgerald never invented a Jazz-Age seductress as bold, brash, and devastating as Henrietta Bingham (19011968), the author’s great-aunt. A biographer and historian, Bingham (Mordecai: An Early American Family, 2003, etc.) discovered a cache of love letters sent to Henrietta by two ardent suitors. One was John Houseman, not yet a noted director and producer. Most of Henrietta’s lovers, though, were women: Mina Kirstein (sister of ballet impresario Lincoln and lover of Clive Bell), who had been her teacher at Smith College; Bloomsbury artist Dora Carrington, who experienced “ecstasy” in Henrietta’s arms; Wimbledon tennis champion Helen Jacobs, with whom Henrietta had an affair lasting several years; actress Beatrix Lehmann, sister of novelist Rosamund and Hogarth Press editor John; and many others. Henrietta was, apparently, irresistible; she “could beguile brilliant and creative people,” the author notes, but her affairs, which “began passionately...rarely held 52

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THE PINE TAR GAME The Kansas City Royals, the New York Yankees, and Baseball’s Most Absurd and Entertaining Controversy

pharma and industrialized agriculture for the use of antibiotics in meat. He also scolds the food industry for its workers’ low wages. The author’s keen analysis of the weakness of the Food and Drug Administration and its failures regarding food safety proves especially informative and enraging. Bittman successfully links a sound food system not just to the tastes of foodies (a word the author dislikes), but also to larger public health issues. An intelligent rallying cry for anyone seeking a safe and healthy food supply, and all that entails.

Bondy, Filip Scribner (256 pp.) $25.00 | Jul. 21, 2015 978-1-4767-7717-7

New York Daily News sports columnist Bondy (Who’s on Worst?: The Lousiest Players, Biggest Cheaters, Saddest Goats and Other Antiheroes in Baseball History, 2013, etc.) builds an entire book around one controversial play during a game between the New York Yankees and Kansas City Royals on July 24, 1983. On that play, Royals superstar George Brett hit a home run to put his team ahead in the ninth inning. But the Yankees protested the home run, citing an obscure rule that Brett had placed more pine tar on the handle of his bat than the rules

THE DAEMON KNOWS Literary Greatness and the American Sublime

Bloom, Harold Spiegel & Grau (528 pp.) $35.00 | May 12, 2015 978-0-8129-9782-8

Elegiac, gracious literary ponderings that group and compare 12 giants of American literature. Pairing these seminal authors of the “American Sublime” sometimes by influence (Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry James) or because they are contemporaneous (Walt Whitman and Herman Melville) or populist and ironical (Mark Twain and Robert Frost), literary titan Bloom (Humanities/Yale Univ.; The Shadow of a Great Rock: A Literary Appreciation of the King James Bible, 2011, etc.) lends his enormous, shaggy erudition to their works. Now 84, the author examines the poems of Whitman or of Hart Crane (his avowed favorite), as well as such characters as Isabel Archer from James’ novel The Portrait of a Lady, Candace Compson from William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, and Hester Prynne from Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. Wildness might be another way of characterizing the “daemonic” elements in the works of these authors, a ferocious unbounded selfreliance, as espoused in Ralph Waldo Emerson, who was full of ambivalence, pageantry, and “heroic erotic vitality.” With each author, Bloom carefully considers his or her specific work (Emily Dickinson is the only female), cited in fairly robust extracts, in terms of “tricks, turns and tropes of poetic language,” which he delights in tossing up and playing with— e.g., Shakespearean influences and great American tropes such as the white blankness of Ahab’s whale. Yet as gossamer as Bloom’s pearls of literary wisdom are, his personal digressions seem most true, striking, and poignant. He characterizes himself as the “Yiddish-speaking Bronx proletarian” who arrived at Yale at age 21 and was not made to feel welcome. He brought with him a boundless enthusiasm for Hart Crane and uneasiness with the “genteel anti-Semitism” of T.S. Eliot (one of Bloom’s “Greats,” but grudgingly so). As always, Bloom conveys the intimate, urgent, compelling sense of why it matters that we read these canonical authors.

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A work of great historical interest that is also quite entertaining. the residence

allowed. The umpires upheld the protest and awarded the victory to the Yankees, enraging Brett and the Royals. The unusual ruling made the game briefly newsworthy, and the chief reason the game sticks in the minds of baseball fans (especially those watching the game) is Brett’s reaction. A highly competitive but otherwise normally polite man, he raced from the dugout with the apparent intent of attacking the umpires. One of those umpires put a headlock on Brett, releasing him only after his teammates promised to wrestle him back to the dugout. Brett’s outrage was caught on tape, and since that day 30 years ago, it has been replayed countless times. Bondy’s book might be difficult to fully appreciate unless readers have watched the video, since mere words cannot fully capture the extreme reaction. But the author masterfully offers context and a history of the Yankees-Royals’ complicated sports rivalry, presents minibiographies of chief participants, explains the appeal by the Royals, which was upheld by the commissioner of Major League Baseball, and provides a discussion of the aftermath of the momentous ruling. In terms of overarching significance, this is a slight book. It’s worthy, however, for devoted professional baseball fans and for its artfulness in creating a narrative focused primarily on just one pitch—like that achieved by Mike Sowell in The Pitch that Killed (1989).

most delicious stories involve President Lyndon Johnson and his extreme shower demands—it needed to have multiple nozzles shooting water at fire-hydrant intensity—while the most heartbreaking delineate Jackie Kennedy’s arrangements in the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination. There is also an affecting glimpse of Hillary Clinton attempting to enjoy a shred of privacy at the pool amid the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Brower is keen to sympathize with the plight of the hardworking help. For example, in her chapter “Race and the Residence,” the author reveals the first “revolt” by the largely African-American staff to push for salary equality in the late 1960s. A work of great historical interest that is also quite entertaining. (16-page color insert)

THE PHYSICIST & THE PHILOSOPHER Einstein, Bergson, and the Debate that Changed Our Understanding of Time

Canales, Jimena Princeton Univ. (464 pp.) $35.00 | Jun. 1, 2015 978-0-691-16534-9

In 1922, at a meeting of the French Society of Philosophy, Henri Bergson (1859-1941), “one of the most respected philosophers of his era,” expressed unhappiness with Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, which discarded the concept of absolute time and denied the reality of simultaneity. Present in the audience, Einstein disagreed. One consequence was that the Nobel committee changed its mind, awarding Einstein the 1922 prize for explaining the photoelectric effect on the grounds that relativity was still a matter of debate. Both reaffirmed their disagreement over the years, a matter that scholars have not considered of great importance. In this lucid if academic history of scientists’ efforts to measure time and the consequences of their success, Canales (Chair, History of Science/Univ. of Illinois; A Tenth of a Second: A History, 2010, etc.) makes a reasonable case that those scholars were wrong. Einstein did not invent the relativity of time and space, but his 1905 special theory proposed such a revolutionary view of the universe that even those who did (Henri Poincaré, Hendrik Lorentz) balked. Bergson, a brilliant thinker whose writing emphasizes intuition and perception, was also not convinced, “claiming that the sensational conclusions of the physicist’s theory were not so unlike the fantastical searches for the fountain of youth.” Canales dismisses the argument that Bergson, a polymath, didn’t understand the theory of relativity. He and his supporters’ objections stemmed from a “strong repugnance toward a philosophy that wants to explain all reality mechanically.” The author turns up a surprising number of philosophers and scientists who weighed in on an ongoing, if not world-shaking, debate that split the century “into two cultures pitting scientists against humanists, expert knowledge against lay wisdom.”

THE RESIDENCE Inside the Private World of the White House

Brower, Kate Andersen Harper/HarperCollins (320 pp.) $27.99 | Apr. 7, 2015 978-0-06-230519-0

Anecdotes both touching and hilarious about living and working in the White House, “the country’s most potent and enduring symbol of the presidency.” While journalist Brower moves by theme in presenting the memories of select long-running staff at the White House— “Controlled Chaos,” “Discretion,” “Extraordinary Demands,” “Dark Days,” etc.—there is an irresistible, charmingly pell-mell quality to the arrangement of these dishy stories. The author has managed to track down numerous former staffers—ushers, electricians, maids, butlers, chefs, and florists—to share their mostly loyal thoughts on the illustrious families they served. They (and the families themselves) often compare living in the White House to a prison, albeit a fancy one. The White House has six floors, 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, and 28 fireplaces, with “shops” in the basement housing departments such as housekeeping and floral. Here, the staffers do not have the freedom to leave, and the work demands mean that they often sacrifice their own social and personal lives. First and foremost, they are fiercely devoted, sworn to be apolitical, serving each family that arrives after Inauguration Day as evenly as the next, despite emotional attachments—for example, chef Walter Scheib spent a stint teaching 17-year-old Chelsea Clinton to cook. The 54

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A dense but accessible discussion of the metaphysical role of time in human affairs.

describes the difference between basic ingredients and things you can make with basic ingredients (e.g., marmalade). Math uses basic ingredients—axioms—that are assumed to be true and proofs that use hard logic to derive new truths. That’s what math is all about, writes the author; it is different from science, which gathers evidence to draw conclusions. By this time, Cheng has introduced readers to number systems, groups and sets, algebra, and topology. She also discusses internal vs. external motivation. In cooking, this is the difference between looking at what is on the shelves and figuring out how to use it in a recipe you invent (internal motivation) versus having a recipe in mind and gathering all the ingredients you need to make it (external). The author laments the way math is often taught, with the teacher providing a problem to solve and students finding the correct answer. She is strongly internally motivated in the pursuit of her specialty, category theory. She calls it the mathematics of mathematics, a field that seeks the most abstract generalizable concepts in relation to the worlds of mathematical objects. Cheng explains how category theory works by emphasizing contexts, relationships, structure, and

HOW TO BAKE PI An Edible Exploration of the Mathematics of Mathematics Cheng, Eugenia Basic (304 pp.) $27.99 | May 5, 2015 978-0-465-05171-7

An original book using recipes to explain sophisticated math concepts to students and even the math-phobic. In a chapter on generalization, Cheng (Mathematics/Univ. of Sheffield and Univ. of Chicago) begins with a recipe she adapted to produce a cake that was vegan as well as gluten-, sugar-, and dairy-free, thus extending the recipe’s usefulness to serve more people. A chapter on axiomatization

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One of those books you can’t put down, don’t want to finish, and won’t soon forget. leaving orbit

LEAVING ORBIT Notes from the Last Days of American Spaceflight

universal properties, giving examples. The reading is tougher going here, probably because readers are in a state she describes as believing what she is teaching but not fully understanding it. However, Cheng is such a gifted teacher, readers will want to dive in again. A sharp, witty book to press on students and even the teachers of math teachers. (illustrations throughout)

Dean, Margaret Lazarus Graywolf (320 pp.) $16.00 paper | May 19, 2015 978-1-55597-709-2

FAITH VERSUS FACT Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible

Beguiled at an early age by the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Dean (English/Univ. of Tennessee; The Time It Takes to Fall, 2007) deftly chronicles the history of American spaceflight and what the end of the space program means for American culture. The author structures her narrative around trips to the Kennedy Space Center in order to witness the final space shuttle launches. Seeking “to write about those places where the technical and emotional intersect,” Dean introduces readers to Florida’s Space Coast; the NASA technicians who work on the shuttles; and astronauts, avid space fans, and the locals whose livelihoods depend on the space agency. Like any great storyteller, the author weaves in numerous cultural, political, historical, literary, and personal threads, widening the story’s focus and enriching its texture. Dean notes that the style of writing known as creative nonfiction smoothly overlapped with the beginnings of American spaceflight in the 1960s. The author enlists the voices of such writers as Tom Wolfe, William Burrows, Norman Mailer and Oriana Fallaci for their insights into the saga of American space travel. Dean frequently reiterates her passion for the literature of spaceflight. “When I read all these books,” she writes, “I’m encountering other minds struggling with the same questions while walking the same landscape.” The author analyzes her struggles assembling her manuscript, providing useful insight into her creative process, and she includes her students’ remarkable ideas regarding the space program and its conclusion. Dean recounts the ruthless tactics of professional autograph seekers during a book signing by Buzz Aldrin and shows how Americans’ perceptions of space travel changed after the 1986 Challenger disaster. Throughout, the author’s stimulating prose enhances topics that at first glance might seem lacking in broad appeal—e.g., engineering issues or the politics of NASA’s perpetual underfunding. One of those books you can’t put down, don’t want to finish, and won’t soon forget.

Coyne, Jerry A. Viking (320 pp.) $28.95 | May 19, 2015 978-0-670-02653-1

A scientist assails superstition and irrationality. After evolutionary biologist Coyne (Ecology and Evolution/Univ. of Chicago; Why Evolution Is True, 2009, etc.) published a widely read book presenting evidence for evolution, he was astonished to find that “the proportion of creationists in America didn’t budge,” hovering between 40 and 46 percent. Faith, he concluded, “led them to discount and reject the facts right before their noses.” In his latest book, the author takes on the problem of faith directly, arguing that “understanding reality...is best achieved using the tools of science, and is never achieved using the methods of faith.” Although he makes a clear and cogent argument, he may find that, once again, he is preaching to his own choir. Coyne defines science “as a collection of methods” yielding knowledge that can be rejected or confirmed through testing. Religion derives its authority from belief in “a god, gods, or similar superhuman power.” Coyne focuses on religions “that make empirical claims about the existence of a deity, the nature of that deity, and how it interacts with the world,” in particular Judaism, Islam, and especially Christianity. Discounting the efforts of accommodationists, who strive to find common ground between science and religion, Coyne asserts that the two are incompatible “because they have different methods of getting knowledge about reality, different ways of assessing the reliability of that knowledge, and, in the end, arrive at conflicting conclusions about the universe.” He notes that evolutionary biology is a special focus of incredulity or outright attack by the faithful, but he sees that other areas as well—e.g., stem cell research, vaccination, euthanasia, homosexuality, and global warming—have been undermined by religious claims. Coyne celebrates a world without faith, claiming that there would be no loss of compassion and morality, only of pseudoscientific thought that can “do real damage to our species and our planet.” Deeply religious readers may not even pick it up, but this is an important book that deserves an open-minded readership.

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THE STORY OF ALICE Lewis Carroll and the Secret History of Wonderland

The author likens his decision to return with his wife and children to his home in the Louisiana parish of West Feliciana as the return of a prodigal son. Reading Dante, canto by canto, helped him find the way to reconnect. He never took to his father’s traditions of hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities; the author was bookish and lived in his own world. He left for a career in journalism far from home—New York, Texas, Washington, D.C.—but the visits home, short and cool, are his real story. His conversion to Catholicism and eventually Orthodox Christianity expanded the gulf (“the family has always been Methodist”). Dreher mostly avoids preaching or navel-gazing, but he seems to be butting his head against a wall trying to get his family to change. His description of the death of his sister is poignant, and that event prompted him and his wife to return home to help her children. Though their help was not wanted, it was accepted begrudgingly. His descriptions of Southerners’ deep attachment to the land and family are enlightening, and the author allows readers to see how his family felt he had forsaken them. The stress of homecoming caused chronic illness, and this book is his fight for resolution. A serendipitous

Douglas-Fairhurst, Robert Belknap/Harvard Univ. (496 pp.) $29.95 | May 11, 2015 978-0-674-96779-3

Douglas-Fairhurst (English Literature/ Magdalen Coll., Oxford; Becoming Dickens: The Invention of a Novelist, 2011, etc.) delivers a biography of Charles Dodgson (1832-1898), aka Lewis Carroll, that might be better described as a sociological study of Victorian England. As a stammering child who was first educated at home, Carroll developed his imagination inventing games for his siblings. Teaching mathematics at Christ Church in Oxford, he made friends with the daughters of the dean, and their friendship fed his creative fantasies and poetic missives. On a picnic in 1862, Carroll told them the story of a little girl’s adventures in the underworld. He was closest to Alice Liddell, who pestered him to write it out for her. He published the work in 1865, although his relationship with the dean’s children was suddenly curtailed, for no discernible reason. Carroll’s fascination with the newly emerging science of photography fed his imagination. He enjoyed young girls’ company, apparently with parental approval, and they posed for him in costume, and sometimes without. After a misplaced kiss, an angry mother put an end to his photography. Douglas-Fairhurst treats his subject’s lifelong obsession with young girls, particularly those named Alice, as curious but in no way threatening. When he sticks to the joys of Carroll’s Wonderland books and John Tenniel’s enhancing illustrations, the subtlety of the lessons, the wonderful puns and word generation, the author is in his element as Carroll’s greatest fan. Readers will rush to their childhood copies of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass to reread them. As Victorian society changed, Alice’s influence grew, but Douglas-Fairhurst devotes too much space to it, even down to minute mentions, borrowed lines, allusions to, retellings of, satires, adaptations, copies, and Wonderlands anew everywhere. The magic of the work is well-served here but with just a bit too much extraneous information. (42 halftones)

HOW DANTE CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE The Life-Changing Wisdom of History’s Greatest Poem Dreher, Rod Regan Arts (320 pp.) $26.95 | Apr. 14, 2015 978-1-941393-32-1

American Conservative senior editor Dreher (The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life, 2013) shares his search for his family’s acceptance, looking for answers from his church, his therapist, and Dante’s Divine Comedy. |

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GOD IS NOT HERE A Soldier’s Struggle with Torture, Trauma, and the Moral Injuries of War

selection of Dante in the bookshop and sessions with his therapist and priest began his reconciliation. As a well-written chronicle of choice between the “success” of big cities and life in the far simpler world of old traditions and deep family ties, the book is both heartwarming and frustrating—certainly more confessional memoir than guide to Dante (a fact the author readily admits).

Edmonds, Bill Russell Pegasus (300 pp.) $27.95 | May 15, 2015 978-1-60598-774-3

Sometimes-harrowing memoir of time spent on the battleground in Iraq and its psychic consequences. Most of the literature of the Iraq and Afghanistan misadventures has come from enlisted personnel, who bear the lion’s share of the fight. This memoir is unusual in that it comes from a high-ranking officer, just two grades down from general, deployed in the field in the dreadful year of 2005. It also comes from an officer who, since he was attached to an Iraqi unit as an adviser, did not have to observe all the niceties of war. Edmonds participated in numerous interrogation sessions, and the longer he did so, he writes, “the less certain and more conflicted I became about the right and wrong of everything.” The lessons he learned—some of which he imparts here—about how to grill a prisoner effectively are downright chilling. He recounts, for example, an Iraqi officer, late of Saddam Hussein’s army, telling him that the key is to be alternately frightening and friendly: “Going from comfort to terror to comfort, then terror, over and over again; soon even the strongest will give in.” Adding to his alienation was a girlfriend back home who wasn’t providing all the moral support she might. Adrift without an anchor and increasingly unsold on the mission—as he writes, “I hate it when Iraqis ask me to account for the shit that other Americans do”—Edmonds sank into the depression and emotional maelstrom of PTSD. Though he survived combat, the author leaves readers with the certainty that he will never again be who he once was. The narrative is a blend of rhetorical questions, staccato dialogue, and plaintive observations. Edmonds doesn’t reach the depth attained in recent books by Ben Fountain, Phil Klay, or Michael Pitre, but he does provide a useful adjunct to the work on PTSD done by Jonathan Shay and other writers and analysts. War is hell, and hell is other people. In this serviceable account, Edmonds assures us that both adages are true. (b/w images)

THE GREAT DETECTIVE The Amazing Rise and Immortal Life of Sherlock Holmes

Dundas, Zach Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (320 pp.) $26.00 | Jun. 2, 2015 978-0-544-21404-0

A lively look at the enduring detective. A Sherlock Holmes fan since childhood, Portland Monthly co-executive editor Dundas (The Renegade Sportsman, 2010) embarks on a cheerful romp through the conception, fame, and afterlife of Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous sleuth. The detective story was still in its literary infancy when Conan Doyle invented a character based on one of his medical school professors, “a hawknosed, gray-eyed wizard radiating an air of command.” Joseph Bell was a master diagnostician, making deductions from astute observations. “What if a detective did that?” Conan Doyle wondered. Dundas chronicles Holmes’ evolution as Conan Doyle fleshed out his personality and appearance, beginning with A Study in Scarlet (1887). In The Sign of the Four (1890), Holmes emerged as “a magnetic figure, coiled in his armchair, wreathed in smoke: a gray-eyed whipcord of skinny muscle wrapped in a dressing gown.” Watson, too, became deeper. Though “bluff and hearty,” he seemed to harbor “inner pain and loneliness.” Watson’s regard for Holmes, Dundas writes, is “one of literature’s great studies in devotion.” Readers found the Holmes stories irresistible, but by 1893, Conan Doyle was tired of producing them and summarily killed off his hero. Watson was not the only one bereft; readers called the author a brute. Years later, offered substantial money by a periodical, Conan Doyle revived Holmes with a barely believable tale accounting for his survival. Dundas offers attentive readings of Holmes stories; traverses the bleak landscape of The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902); investigates Conan Doyle’s homes, haunts, and obsession with spiritualism; chronicles his visit to the cheesy museum at 221b Baker St. and his meetings with the Baker Street Irregulars, a “mother ship of a small, dedicated subculture of Holmes enthusiasts”; and recounts the work of the actors who have played Holmes, including Basil Rathbone, who felt the role consumed him, and Benedict Cumberbatch. A bright read for Sherlock’s fans.

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The short shelf of great books on indie rock adds another— an unlikely memoir about an obscure band that somehow found demand for its reunion in the Internet age. your band sucks

YOUR BAND SUCKS What I Saw at Indie Rock’s Failed Revolution (But Can No Longer Hear)

The author, who has published often about the importance of our constitutional freedoms (The Irony of Free Speech, 1996, etc.), pulls no punches in these trenchant pieces, some of which are edited versions of speeches. Because they deal with related topics (the loss of protections), they often revisit the same ground and/or individuals: Guantánamo, court cases, politicians, and administration figures such as Dick Cheney and Eric Holder. Examining the issues of habeas corpus for terror suspects, extraordinary rendition, warrantless surveillance, and targeted killing of terror suspects (via drone or otherwise), the author continually lands on the side of more rather than less freedom. Although he recognizes the dangers of the new era of stateless terror, he firmly argues that it is better to protect our freedoms of speech, privacy, and due process than to surrender them—as we have been doing since the 9/11 attacks with the subsequent statutes (the Patriot Act et al.) and court rulings that empower the government to investigate us with relative impunity. Although Fiss places principal blame on President George W. Bush, he does not exonerate President Barack Obama; the author repeatedly chides our current president for his failures

Fine, Jon Viking (320 pp.) $27.95 | May 19, 2015 978-0-670-02659-3

The short shelf of great books on indie rock adds another—an unlikely memoir about an obscure band that somehow found demand for its reunion in the Internet age. Fine is the executive editor of Inc. and an award-winning journalist with a successful career—certainly more successful in terms of money and renown than he was as the guitarist of Bitch Magnet, a noisy band that never achieved the cult status of, say, Mission of Burma but attracted loyal partisans, a fan base that perhaps became larger and more passionate over the decades that the band was on hiatus. The author divides his memoir into three books: Book 1 is the standard proclamation of love for punk’s power and indie’s promise, of bonding with like-minded music nerds and forming a band, of living mostly out of a van but coming alive on stage. This was the only time that the three musicians really communicated, so Fine was surprised to learn he had been booted from the band (and later invited to rejoin). In Book 2, there are other bands and developments, as indie rock was expanding from a secret world of fanzines and college radio into a realm in which “what had started out as free and welcoming ended up becoming as rigid and rule-bound as everything I’d hoped it would replace.” The real revelation is Book 3, in which the Internet changes everything, challenging the major-label system far more effectively than indie rock ever had but also creating cybercommunities where the music and legacies of the likes of Bitch Magnet renewed themselves, resulting in reunions that Fine and other fans had never anticipated. So there’s a happy ending of sorts, as the author finds himself balancing life as a married man and prosperous journalist with the rigors of international touring as a middle-aged guitarist. “I don’t regret a thing,” writes Fine, and neither will readers who live vicariously through the author’s eyes and memory.

A WAR LIKE NO OTHER The Constitution in a Time of Terror Fiss, Owen New Press (352 pp.) $27.95 | Jun. 16, 2015 978-1-62097-097-3

Fiss (Emeritus, Law/Yale Univ. The Law As It Could Be, 2003, etc.) returns with a scholarly and cautionary collection of essays focusing on what he views as the post-9/11 debasements of key provisions of the Constitution. |

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VIRGINIA WOOLF A Portrait

to follow through on a number of his campaign promises about constitutional protections. Although the author seeks balance— see, for example, his strong final piece about targeted killings— he believes that our judges, legislators, and elected executives should err on the side of freedom, not restriction. In these extremely relevant pieces, Fiss once again emerges as a fierce defender of freedom.

Forrester, Viviane Translated by Gladding, Jody Columbia Univ. (240 pp.) $35.00 | May 19, 2015 978-0-231-15356-0

Exploring the palimpsest of a literary life. Forrester (The Economic Horror, 1999, etc.), a French journalist, novelist, critic, and translator who died in 2013, has created a nuanced, impassioned portrait of Woolf (1882-1941) refracted through her most intimate relationships: notably, with her parents, Julia Duckworth and Leslie Stephen; her husband, Leonard; and her sister, Vanessa. Noting that there are many detailed studies of Woolf, Forrester is interested not in reprising the trajectory of her subject’s life and work but rather in rescuing her from “countertruths” perpetuated by “all the entangled lives, the secrets, the lies, the dramatic misunderstandings” that emerged from memoirs, letters, diaries, and some of her biographers. She particularly excoriates Quentin Bell, Woolf’s nephew and first biographer, for his “condescending tone, speaking of his aunt while scotomizing the writing, whose work, as he was fond of admitting coyly, he did not know very well.” In the “quasi-official account of her life,” Bell portrayed Woolf as sexually frigid, emotionally fragile, and often mad. Forrester, however, reads wild sensuality in her work, and she blames Leonard for quashing her desires. As Forrester sees him, Leonard was obsessive and neurotic, projecting onto his wife “what worried him about himself.” He insisted that she was an invalid needing rest and isolation; he forced upon her a daily glass of milk, which Virginia despised. He also took her to many doctors, eliciting their opinions about whether she should have a child. There was no consensus, but he and Vanessa decided it would be better if she did not. Forrester convincingly argues that calling Woolf “mad” is “a dangerous simplification”; instead, the author sees her anguish and rage precipitated by “clearly definable causes” such as “the despotic brutality with which she has...been denied children.” An engrossing, intimate, and deeply empathetic portrayal of a brilliant and enigmatic woman. The book won the 2009 Prix Goncourt in France.

RISE OF THE ROBOTS Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future Ford, Martin Basic (336 pp.) $28.99 | May 5, 2015 978-0-465-05999-7

Noted technological maven and futurist Ford (The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future, 2009) returns with more reasons for working men and women to fear for their futures. Imagine a world in which the want ads, if they appear at all, simply read: “Humans Need Not Apply.” That nightmarish scenario might be enough to cause all but the idle rich to lay awake at night. The most terrifying thing about the author’s fearful forecast, however, is that this dystopian future—where shrewdly sophisticated and ruthlessly cost-effective robots eliminate the need for those anachronistic things once called “jobs”—sounds much more inevitable than incredible. For both scientific and economic reasons, which Ford outlines with a comprehensiveness that borders on chilling, there is simply no way in this relentlessly capitalist society to avoid being replaced by a robot. In the labor pyramid to come, even some of the lucky few occupying the white-collar pinnacle will not be safe. Ford’s argument is frightening because it does not offer even a whiff of alarm or hysteria. Instead, the author’s discourse feels as dispassionate and merciless as the circuitry silently running inside his subjects’ metallically whirring bodies. Humankind’s inescapable predicament appears so bleak that the only alternative to total societal collapse that Ford can identify is to fashion a system in which the great majority of the working class receives “a basic income guarantee.” Elected officials—from President Barack Obama all the way down to a small-town mayor—may steadfastly bang the drum for more education and training as the way out of the unemployment morass, but Ford clearly demonstrates that free market forces and consumer demand (already on display in Amazon’s increasingly automated warehouses) will soon make it nearly impossible to continue employing large numbers of human beings in the workplace. A careful and courageous examination of automation and its possible impact on society. (13 b/w illustrations)

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WHEN THE BALLS DROP

Garrett, Brad Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster (288 pp.) $25.00 | May 5, 2015 978-1-4767-7290-5 A clarion call to men pushing 50 from “an optimistic pessimist.” In this memoir/essay collection, threetime Emmy Award winner (Everybody Loves Raymond) and first-time author Garrett urges readers to embrace the second half of life. “If you |


An erudite exploration of the Bible’s first man. saving the original sinner

try to oversteer the inevitable course of life,” he writes, “you will ruin the journey.” In his characteristic anxiety-ridden and morose fashion, Garrett tells outrageous tales of his upbringing (at 15, he impersonated Jimmie Walker at a bar mitzvah, in blackface), his fledgling stand-up career, and reaching the pinnacle of success as a Las Vegas headliner and with a role on a long-running sitcom. Much of Garrett’s stage act consists of mocking others, which he defends as noninjurious and ultimately good-natured—what he admires most in renowned, veteran insult comic Don Rickles— since he is so self-deprecating. However, because he isn’t particularly clever or nearly as incisive as other aggressive comedians, such as George Carlin or Joan Rivers, he occasionally comes across as an angry jerk. A drastic tonal change emerges midway through when he describes the helplessness of men in romantic relationships. He isn’t sardonic or wise but rather resentful and sometimes mean-spirited. Eventually, though, Garrett’s anger dissipates and his unaffected humor emerges in his storytelling— e.g., when he recounts his preposterous attempt at folding his massive frame into the sports car that represented his midlife crisis. He also chronicles how he tried to break his Bernese mountain dog of a particularly nasty habit, and when describing his Jewish father’s religious conversion (an old lobster tank served as a baptismal font), his tone is exasperated yet warm. Garrett’s celebrity status and comic take on the second half of life will draw readers in, but his occasionally hateful diatribes might put some of them off.

evils were once blamed on demons or the devil, after Augustine they would be blamed on humankind’s sinful and broken nature. Even as science began to assert its position in Western thinking, Adam’s role remained unchanged and unchallenged. Discussing the Middle Ages, Giberson writes, “one listens in vain for a whisper that Adam may not have been a real, flesh-and-blood character.” Of course, the age of Darwin and of biblical criticism began to change the thinking. Nevertheless, Christianity enters the 21st century with a largely unbroken literal view of Adam and his role as cause of the fall of humankind. Giberson provides a well-constructed survey of books throughout Western history, some famous, others obscure, and his fascinating historical account is brief yet comprehensive. His contribution to the modern faith vs. science debate is less certain. An erudite exploration of the Bible’s first man.

THE EDGE BECOMES THE CENTER An Oral History of Gentrification in the 21st Century Gibson, DW Overlook (320 pp.) $27.95 | May 12, 2015 978-1-4683-0861-7

A New York journalist finds the vox populi of the metropolis in regard to the vexing problem of gentrification. Offered in the mode of Studs Terkel’s effective and affecting oral histories, these interviews are restricted to one subject. Gentrification seems to be a law of nature in the boroughs of New York City, as new skyscraping residential towers cast their long shadows and high-rise condos invade historic districts. In this natural follow-up to his previous book, Not Working: People Talk About Losing a Job and Finding Their Way in Today’s Changing Economy (2012), Gibson chronicles his interviews with typical New Yorkers about the sad effects. He follows the developers, the lawyers, and the wealthy usurpers, as well as the artists, the shopkeepers, and the community organizers. He visited the housing court, the projects, and the lofts, and he provides a voice for a variety of people, registering grievances about owners who refuse to maintain their buildings, hoping to drive their rent-controlled tenants out. Gibson also voices landlords’ complaints about slovenly tenants. The residents want respect, safety, and the coffee shops that are emblematic of decent neighborhoods; the owners want profits. “Community” is the most common noun in the conversations with these aggrieved victims of gentrification. Throughout, the wise women and the cool guys with significant street cred are verbose, articulate, and self-confident. They are, after all, New Yorkers. Gibson, their interlocutor, is unquestionably passionate about the causes of those whose neighborhoods are transmuted and become out of their reach and those whose flops, pads, and squats are transformed into unoccupied palatial apartments for plutocrats. The author’s tract is earnestly sincere, though it is diminished by its unrelieved specificity.

SAVING THE ORIGINAL SINNER How Christians Have Used the Bible’s First Man to Oppress, Inspire, and Make Sense of the World

Giberson, Karl W. Beacon (240 pp.) $27.95 | Jun. 9, 2015 978-0-8070-1251-2

An exploration of the portrayal of Adam throughout Christian history. Former evangelical Christian Giberson (Science and Religion/Stonehill Coll.; Seven Glorious Days: A Scientist Retells the Genesis Creation Story, 2012, etc.) takes readers on an intriguing journey through the role and importance of the biblical Adam since the inception of Christianity. The author begins by explaining his own abandonment of the classic creation story as literal history, and his work is made to stand, mildly, against evangelical or fundamentalist teachings in this area. He explains that the Christian writer Paul was the man responsible for changing Adam from a character in Jewish lore to a central figure in Christian theology. “Paul’s Adam wrecked the world,” writes Giberson. If Paul placed Adam center stage, however, it was Augustine of Hippo who defined him for the remainder of history. Augustine’s concept of original sin, laid squarely on Adam’s shoulders, would color the West’s understanding of humanity from the fourth century onward. Whereas the world’s |

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INTERVIEWS & PROFILES

Jean Findlay

The author uncovered a literary treasure by rifling through the family archives By Gregory McNamee From that detective work, a portrait emerges of Moncrieff as a true man of parts. A schoolmaster praised him as a boy who didn’t mind being ill in bed, so long as he had books to read—“only it must be literature,” he stressed. His mother read aloud to him, filling his mind with the great stories. He earned two degrees, one in law and the other in literature, at Edinburgh University. Then World War I came, and with it the death of a young man with whom he had fallen in love. At the Battle of Arras,

Photo courtesy Elizabeth Vickers

He was neurasthenic, anxious, isolated. He lived the last years of his life in a cork-lined room. He wrote brilliantly and endlessly, his masterwork comprising seven closely typeset volumes in 3,200 pages. Born just after the Franco-Prussian War, he died only a few years after World War I ended. If most of us do not know much about Marcel Proust, the great French novelist who wrote the classic series of novels collectively known as À la recherche du temps perdu, we know still less about the man who first translated his work into English—and who, for generations, was Proust as far as English-language readers were concerned. Charles Kenneth Scott Moncrieff was only 40 when he died of cancer, just short of finishing the last volume of what he called Remembrance of Things Past. He had packed enough tragedy—and adventure—for five lives into his years. Even so, he has largely been forgotten, now that Proust has found new translators. In her vigorous biography Chasing Lost Time: The Life of C.K. Scott Moncrief: Soldier, Spy, and Translator (March 10), his great-great niece Jean Findlay sets out to remember the translator, who did much more besides. Growing up, Findlay had heard only a little about her distinguished kin, usually over the dinner table. Complicating the view of Moncrieff at home was the fact that, like Proust, he was gay—which, in his time, was not just a source of scandal, but also criminal. For that reason, Moncrieff’s life was not often discussed, which meant that Findlay, a prizewinning playwright in her native Scotland, had to do a lot of literary sleuthing in order to turn up relatives who had firsthand, useful information about a man who died long before she was born. 62

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after more than two years on the front lines, Moncrieff was wounded so badly that he nearly lost a leg. He spent the rest of the war and the immediate postwar period working in intelligence at the War Office, where, as Findlay says, the man once characterized as “a masculine, muscular leader, and at the same time a great pansy” may have come into contact with another hero both military and literary, T.E. Lawrence. Moncrieff’s ambitions as a writer were never satisfied, and his life was cut short before he could finish Remembrance of Things Past. He also was not able to move forward with his translations of Stendhal and the Italian writer Luigi Pirandello. It is just one more sad note, if an accidental irony, that Pirandello in particular was much more to Moncrieff’s liking than Marcel Proust, the French novelist with whom he will forever be linked. Gregory McNamee is a contributing editor. Chasing Lost Time was reviewed in the Dec. 15, 2014, issue.

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WAGES OF REBELLION

Not quite Terkel or Jane Jacobs redux, but Gibson delivers adequate sociology about current urban life, with the edgy, pungent flavor of the Big Apple.

Hedges, Chris Nation Books/Perseus (304 pp.) $26.99 | May 12, 2015 978-1-56858-966-4

THE RIVAL QUEENS Catherine de’ Medici, Her Daughter Marguerite de Valois, and the Betrayal that Ignited a Kingdom

A call for a new American revolution. Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Hedges (The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress, 2011, etc.) continues his exhortation for nonviolent rebellion in eight feisty essays drawn from or expanding upon his weekly column for Truthdig. Without a revolution, he claims, we face a dire future, “the culmination of a 500-year global rampage of conquering, plundering, and polluting the earth” by economic and military elites. Among many incendiary claims, he asserts that climate change will lead to famine, the spread of deadly diseases, and “levels of human mortality that will dwarf those of the Black Death,” a plague, the author warns, that could re-emerge. As a scholarship student at an exclusive boarding school, Hedges confesses that he developed a virulent “hatred of authority [and] loathing for the pretensions, heartlessness, and sense of entitlement of the rich,” whom he sees as democracy’s enemies. He decries the nation’s history of violence not only in wars, slavery, and persecution of indigenous peoples, but also in an astonishingly high rate of incarceration, especially of black men; its refusal to enact gun control laws, even after tragic school shootings; and its vengeance against protestors, such as members of the Occupy movement, whom he repeatedly cites as models of moral courage. He celebrates whistleblowers Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden for raising awareness of the government’s duplicity and “wholesale surveillance,” which the author believes inevitably will be used to quash dissent: “This information waits like a dormant virus inside government vaults to be released against us.” Despite his ominous predictions, Hedges sees a popular revolt imminent because “ideas used to prop up ruling elites” are being discredited, and “the vision of a new society” is taking hold in the popular imagination. Like early-20th-century muckraking journalists and, more recently, I.F. Stone, Hedges makes a boisterous, outspoken contribution to revolutionizing the national conversation.

Goldstone, Nancy Little, Brown (448 pp.) $30.00 | $14.99 e-book | Jun. 23, 2015 978-0-316-40965-0 978-0-316-40967-4 e-book

Two Renaissance queens—who also happened to be mother and daughter—receive a thorough treatment. Goldstone certainly knows her queens (The Maid and the Queen: The Secret History of Joan of Arc, 2012, etc.). Through the story of this mother-daughter relationship of Catherine de’ Medici (1519-1589) and her daughter, Marguerite de Valois (1553-1615), the author spins a tangled tale of rivalry, ambition, and, especially—for the rare women leaders of the time—sheer self-preservation. Catherine is the more well-documented monarch: married at age 14 to the French prince who became Henri II, she grew from a docile pawn of her wealthy family into a formidable player in the Catholic-Huguenot wars by acting as regent to one son and éminence grise to another. Indeed, Goldstone reveals her to be “an able disciple of Machiavelli” in her eagerness to play her children off one another. Marguerite is less known, but she was an extremely important component to the religious animosities roiling Europe and Britain at the time, as she was forced to marry the leader of the Huguenot party, her cousin Henry of Navarre (future Henri IV), as a way for her mother to neutralize the pesky Protestant element threatening the stability of France. Her marriage to Henry in 1572 precipitated the horrific Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre five days later and caused the spiritual grief of her life. Catherine and Marguerite were often at odds, but Marguerite proved no shrinking violet. While her mother manipulated the interests of her spoiled favorite son, Henri III, Marguerite managed to conduct her own love affairs and championed to her advantage the political maneuvering of her younger brother. Throughout the book, Goldstone has a remarkable handle on these often Byzantine royal machinations. History brought to vivid life in the characters of these women of purpose. (8-page 4-color insert; 2 maps)

THE THIRTEENTH STEP Addiction in the Age of Brain Science Heilig, Markus Columbia Univ. (320 pp.) $29.95 | May 12, 2015 978-0-231-17236-3

Heilig sums up what he has learned during his 20 years as a physician and researcher in the treatment of alcohol and other addictive disorders. |

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A sound study that carries an urgent message. the hillary doctrine

The author is a specialist in the field of neuropsychopharmacology, and he has treated patients and directed research for two decades in the United States and Sweden. Heilig subscribes to the view that “addiction is inherently a chronic, relapsing disease, not much different from...hypertension, diabetes, or asthma,” which, while not curable, can be successfully managed so that sufferers can lead productive lives. Continued abuse of an addictive substance creates transformations in the brain that create a physiologically based need for the drug in order to avoid the pain of withdrawal as well as the necessity of taking a higher dose to experience pleasure. Environmental factors such as stress can trigger recurring drinking bouts, even in cases where patients have not ingested alcohol for a sustained period and no longer suffer from symptoms of withdrawal. The author also examines the genetic component of addiction. In the case of drinking, it is connected to the ability of alcoholics to get pleasurably drunk without experiencing immediate negative consequences such as nausea, dizziness, or blackout. While there is consensus within the medical community that alcoholism is a disease, its chronic nature is not yet sufficiently recognized and requires continued medical intervention. Heilig reports on his own research, which involves studying how the brain’s neural circuitry is hijacked by addictive substances that trigger the release of high doses of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which creates the perception of pleasure. His aim is to develop counteractive drugs that have minimal side effects. Heilig writes compassionately of the problems of patients caught in the grip of addiction whose lives often spiral out of control despite their struggle to remain sober. There are “two perspectives” he writes, “of science and humanism,” which “are inseparable in any area of medicine, but perhaps most so in psychiatry and addiction medicine.” An informative and compassionate chronicle of Heilig’s own growth as a physician and researcher.

immigrants who wished to see the same principles of Teutonic Lebensreform (“life reform”) gain a foothold in the U.S., which meant touting nudism as a healthy, therapeutic activity rather than an erotic or lewd physical pursuit. Springing directly from this health-conscious nudist ideology came photo magazines such as Sunshine and Health in the 1940s, with its “highly stylized representations” of the male physique; its envelope-pushing photo shoots featuring exposed male and female genitalia set the censors reeling, namely the U.S. Post Office, which refused to distribute such imagery to the public. In order to survive, the nudist movements in America would increasingly resort to camps and cults situated away from the prying eyes of Middle America; however, the struggle to separate nudism from pornography continued. Although written in mainly flat, academic prose, Hoffman’s book ably traces the ideological development of the American nudist movement from its health-andfitness beginnings to the more politically charged movement it became in the 1960s and 1970s, and on into the 1990s, when a quasi-mainstreaming of recreational nudity began to surface. An original, well-researched study that would have benefited from a livelier writing style.

THE HILLARY DOCTRINE Sex and American Foreign Policy

Hudson, Valerie M. & Leidl, Patricia Columbia Univ. (432 pp.) $29.95 | Jun. 30, 2015 978-0-231-16492-4 A compelling argument for women’s rights. At a TEDWomen conference in 2010, Hillary Clinton, at the time secretary of state, asserted a connection between women’s equality and international peace and stability. “Give women equal rights and entire nations are more stable and secure,” she said. “Deny women equal rights and the instability of nations is almost certain.” Hudson (Bush School of Government and Public Service/Texas A&M Univ.; Foreign Policy Analysis: Classic and Contemporary Theory, 2006, etc.) and Leidl (Journalism, Advertising and Public Relations/Michigan State Univ.) investigate what is known as the Hillary Doctrine, bringing to bear scholarly research, fieldwork, case studies, and interviews. They argue persuasively that in societies that permit and encourage violence against women, men develop “a willingness to harm, kill, and enslave others.” When male bonding intensifies as competing groups vie for power, men see women’s rights and freedoms as threats to their own legitimacy. The authors look at subjugation of women in Guatemala, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, examples of particularly abusive societies and also of “violent instability.” As one Saudi women’s rights activist said, her country is “the world’s largest prison for women.” As much as they endorse the Hillary Doctrine, the authors see problems in instituting change: establishing a legal and regulatory framework, making gender central to federal programs, and “the actual

NAKED A Cultural History of American Nudism Hoffman, Brian S. New York Univ. (336 pp.) $35.00 | May 5, 2015 978-0-8147-9053-3

A history professor’s sweeping sociolegal examination of the American nudist movement from its early-20thcentury beginnings. Hoffman exposes the beginnings of public nudity as a legitimate movement in the United States, beginning in New York City all the way back in 1929, when groups of men began peeling off their restrictive clothing and exercising in the nude at the New York Gymnasium. This simple act of doing calisthenics in the buff set off a significant legal debate and controversy in New York, one that would continue for years with few definitive answers as to the legality of public nudity. Hoffman traces the nudist movement in America back to the efforts of German 64

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NOT FROM HERE A Memoir

implementation of initiatives in-country.” They offer myriad, dismal examples of sexism among contractors and USAID workers; exclusion of women from conferences, planning, and positions of power; and a lack of accountability for programs that are enacted. The authors criticize the Obama administration for its failure to include women in Sudan–South Sudan negotiations and for allowing women to be marginalized during peace talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Leadership on women’s issues, they argue, must come from a deeply committed White House. A sound study that carries an urgent message.

Johnson, Allan G. Temple Univ. Press (176 pp.) $24.50 | Jun. 12, 2015 978-1-4399-1245-4

One man’s journey into his family’s past and a sociologist’s meditation on white America’s history of greed and genocide. When Johnson (The First Thing and the Last, 2010, etc.) asked his dying father where he wished his ashes to be placed, the response that it made no difference to him set the author on a journey to the Midwest to learn about his father and his Norwegian forefathers. His journal of that solo trip, often an hour-by-hour record of staying in bleak hotels and driving through disappearing towns, is steeped in his shame and grief for the injustice committed by white settlers who destroyed or exiled the people that occupied the land they wanted and claimed as their own. The kind relatives and friendly people he meets along the way seem oblivious to the history that torments Johnson, shrugging it off as a war over land that their side won. Finding the cemetery where his greatgrandfather was buried, he secretly dug a hole for his father’s ashes, doing, as he writes, “what I could with what I was given.” It was not a satisfactory moment. What it means to be white, what it means to be American, and what it means to be from a place and to belong to it are questions that Johnson raises throughout the book. He is painfully aware that as a descendant of those who took the land from others, dispossessing and displacing them, he is today the beneficiary of acts he did not perform. “It has been my destiny to go down into the cellars of this nation’s history and then return,” he writes. “In doing that, I have had to become familiar with dark nights of the soul, to grow accustomed to the belly of the whale.” Readers uncomfortable with the author’s message may wish that he did not repeat it so often, and those expecting a son’s gentle memoir will be in for a surprise. This is a difficult journey.

JACKSONLAND President Andrew Jackson, Cherokee Chief John Ross, and a Great American Land Grab Inskeep, Steve Penguin Press (480 pp.) $29.95 | May 19, 2015 978-1-59420-556-9

NPR’s Morning Edition co-host Inskeep (Instant City: Life and Death in Karachi, 2011) returns with a review of the forces and events leading to the expulsion of the Cherokees from their ancestral homelands. In this lively narrative aimed at general readers, the author carefully avoids demonizing or patronizing his main characters. He presents Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), the man who, “more than any other single person, was responsible for creating the region we call the Deep South,” as ruthless and prejudiced but sincerely convinced that removal was in the Indians’ best interests. His Cherokees were no backcountry innocents but rather “skilled political operators who played a bad hand long and well,” directed by their principal chief John Ross, who had fought under Jackson in the Red Stick War. Pursuing neither rebellion nor submission, Ross counseled “civil obedience, following the law while highlighting the rights he believed Indians already had” in the vain hope that the white man’s government would honor its legal and moral commitments, and holding out as long as possible for the best deal he could get for his people. However, the author ably shows how greed for land, sectional politics, heavy-handed action by the state of Georgia, and sincere moral concerns combined to bring about the forced mass migration that many Cherokees had found unthinkable. As Inskeep tells it, the story is a gradually cresting tragedy, helped along by an intransigent president but ultimately inevitable. The author knows how to hold an audience; his confident, lucid prose occasionally frolics with descriptions like that of Jackson’s army in 1814, “as undisciplined as a bear rug with the bear still in it.” His insights into the mechanics of land speculation on the frontier and on the effect of the Indian removal controversy on the nascent abolitionist movement are particularly noteworthy. Well-researched, -organized, and -presented, this is a sober, balanced examination of the origins of one of the more regrettable chapters in American history.

MOVE Putting America’s Infrastructure Back in the Lead

Kanter, Rosabeth Moss Norton (320 pp.) $26.95 | May 11, 2015 978-0-393-24680-3

Harvard Business School professor and prolific author Kanter (SuperCorp: How Vanguard Companies Create Innovation, Profits, Growth, and Social Good, 2009) examines the degrading conditions and increasing inefficiency of American transportation networks. |

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A poignant memoir that thoughtfully examines a set of difficult and unique family relationships. bastards

Following an exhaustive, 20-month survey of our nation’s stalled mobility provisions, the author’s results proved to expand beyond the widely known theory that America has “coasted on past successes, failed to fully confront mounting problems, lacked sufficient vision about future opportunities, and, in Congress, held essential funding hostage to partisan battles over taxes.” At this point, the United States is lagging behind other international hubs boasting fast-tracked advancements in rail engineering, solar power, automotive excellence, and aerospace innovation. Kanter admits that although her perspective is primarily rooted in the public interest, it’s also personal: on a local scale, transportation issues like bridge collapses, flight delays, and chronic rail and roadway gridlock affect most of the planet’s population to varying degrees. She draws reactions and creative solutions from an exhaustive array of engineers, business professionals, politicians, and innovators, all complemented by pages of often startling statistics and insightful interviews, many with women who have become distinguished leaders in the robotics, logistics, and public transportation fields. Kanter, whose previous books have addressed corporate competitiveness and digital culture, argues that the main issue hindering American innovation in public transit is a stifling combination of corporate underinvestment and a lack of “faith in government.” There is an urgent need to “allocate public money for public works at a national level” and to empower leadership at the grass-roots level. Her accessible solutions encompass sophisticated, futuristic tools and incremental changes toward increasing efficiency while boosting public enthusiasm and cooperation. Though some readers may find the sheer volume of ideas daunting, the author’s intent remains clear: to inspire and promote participation in the development of America’s mobility infrastructure and elevate it to the forefront of the global innovation marketplace. A busy yet passionately motivating call for action.

first to feel the effects of the famine, and the “dark energy” that sometimes emanated from her even during the best of times returned. Kim’s cheerful father also fell victim to despair, lingering illness, and eventually death. Desperate for money, Kim’s mother took his sister to China, where she made illegal deals and sold her into domestic slavery. Kim ended up on the street, a homeless boy fighting to survive on whatever he could beg or steal from others who were suffering almost as much as he was. Eventually, he was captured by authorities and placed in a detention center for homeless children that doubled as a forced labor camp. Constantly in search of stability and food, the nowteenage Kim left the camp and went in search of his mother and other relatives. Unable to endure his nightmarish existence, he crossed into China, where an elderly Christian woman helped him find the path that led him to a fresh start in the United States. Told with poise and dignity, Kim’s story, co-authored by Talty (Hangman, 2014, etc.), provides vivid documentation of a remarkable life. It also offers an important account of atrocities committed within North Korea that have been hidden from the West—and indeed, most of the rest of the world. A courageous and inspiring memoir.

BASTARDS A Memoir

King, Mary Anna Norton (256 pp.) $25.95 | Jun. 22, 2015 978-0-393-08861-8

A young woman’s account of how a dysfunctional family situation caused her to become separated from her six siblings but how all seven still managed to reconnect. New Jersey native King was the second-oldest child of working-class parents “whose passions burned like an incinerator and swung wildly from love to hate and back again.” By the time her fourth sibling was born, her father began actively disappearing. Strapped for cash, the author’s mother put her third child, Becky Jo, in the care of her parents in Oklahoma. From that moment on, life in the King household followed a predictable pattern: the father would return temporarily, then leave his wife pregnant with another child who would get adopted as soon as it was born. When King’s parents finally divorced, they decided to send both King and her elder brother to join Becky Jo in Oklahoma. A Yankee girl in a place where it seemed the natives thought “the Civil War [was] still going on,” King gradually—though uneasily—settled into the life thrust upon her. She eventually accepted a name change and became the family golden child. Yet she never forgot the brother whom her grandfather, in a fit of rage, sent back to New Jersey for misbehavior, nor could she forget about the siblings she had never met. King returned to New York for college, preparing for the day she would meet the siblings she knew would come looking for her. She desired to be “a person worth finding, worth keeping.” As King made peace with her parents, each of the children, all girls,

UNDER THE SAME SKY From Starvation in North Korea to Salvation in America

Kim, Joseph with Talty, Stephan Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (288 pp.) $28.00 | Jun. 2, 2015 978-0-544-37317-4 A college student tells the story of how he survived an unimaginably difficult childhood and adolescence growing

up in North Korea. Until he was 5 years old, Kim lived happily with his parents and beloved older sister, Bong Sook, in Hoeryong, a city famous for “its white apricots, its beautiful women, and for having the best pottery clay in North Korea.” But when a devastating famine arrived in 1995, everything changed. Kim’s family became one of millions reduced to abject poverty. Like so many others, they were forced to beg for food from strangers or from relatives who barely had enough for themselves. His mother was the 66

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DEAL My Three Decades of Drumming, Dreams, and Drugs with the Grateful Dead

who had been adopted found her. Working together, the author and her siblings then began the difficult task of reclaiming the familial ties that had been denied them. King not only explores the impact of disrupted relationships; she also eloquently probes the meaning of both love and human connectedness. A poignant memoir that thoughtfully examines a set of difficult and unique family relationships.

Kreutzmann, Bill with Eisen, Benjy St. Martin’s (416 pp.) $27.99 | May 5, 2015 978-1-250-03379-6

TOMORROWLAND Our Journey from Science Fiction to Science Fact

“[Jerry] Garcia got Captain Trips. I got Bill the Drummer.” Readers dropping into Grateful Dead drummer Kreutzmann’s stream of memory may be surprised by only one overriding theme: namely, the frequency of bitter episodes of discord, always roiling under the surface of a goodtime psychedelic jug band that slowly emerged as a stadium-filler. Kreutzmann himself isn’t shy of dishing and of sharing wounded feelings. Whereas the late, lamented, outwardly thuggish Pigpen “was the sweetest guy anybody had ever met,” the band tensions were sufficient that he didn’t bother attending keyboardist Keith Godchaux’s funeral (“Brent [Mydland] was our hot new keyboard player and we couldn’t have been happier about that”), and he was incensed when Mickey Hart, the more inventive percussionist of the ensemble, was slated to turn up for a farewell concert, a moment of enmity that Kreutzmann doesn’t sufficiently explain—just as some of the patently evident bad blood between him and bassist Phil Lesh goes without comment. Much of the bad behavior, especially once the band started earning real money, Kreutzmann ascribes to cocaine (“cocaine has its place...but it’s a detrimental drug, make no mistake”), painkillers, booze, and, in Garcia’s case, heroin. Drugs, the reader will not be surprised to learn, form another overriding theme: “So, for the record, the drummer from the Grateful Dead smokes weed and thinks it should be legal,” he writes. “Is that any surprise?” Not in the least, and the chief problem with this unenergetic memoir is that there are no surprises, just a kind of grandfatherly “let me tell you, kid, back in the day we...” approach to events, repetitive, fuzzy, full of dropped names (Dylan, Belushi, Joplin), and mostly goodnatured—though sometimes surprisingly peevish. Die-hard Deadheads will be curious though not richly rewarded for their troubles.

Kotler, Steven Little A/New Harvest (288 pp.) $14.95 paper | May 12, 2015 978-0-544-45621-1

An examination of the scientific and technologic developments that have transformed fantasy into reality. It’s not quite the age of flying cars and space colonies, but we are not that far off either. The dreams of yesteryear are becoming the reality of the present day with remarkable speed. Flow Genome Project director of research Kotler (The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance, 2014, etc.) first realized this paradigm shift in technological development during a pivotal meeting in the late 1990s, when he learned about new competitions and ventures into commercial space travel. From that moment onward, the author began cataloging the disruptive moments that would change how humanity interacts with and envisions technology. From the awe-inspiring wonders of bionics helping disabled veterans return to a life of normalcy to the unnerving possibility of inserting microchips into human brains to record and store memories, thoughts, and emotions for future downloading, the trends of the current technological revolution point to the seemingly inevitable moment when man and machine finally merge. That moment, known as the singularity, might even be achieved as quickly as 2029. Examples like the latter also raise serious ethical issues and question the very nature of ontology and epistemology. If a person’s thoughts can be replayed infinitely, can he live forever? The scale of Kotler’s entertaining investigation encapsulates the future of asteroid mining, the microscopic frontier of stem cells, the human world and the insect world, the natural environment, and the environment of the mind. More than just focusing on technology, the author studies the obsessive people behind the science. His portraits range from humane and gripping stories of redemption to indifferent research scientists unsure if their developments will even make the world a better place. An insightful overview of the many ways technology has caught, if not surpassed, our wildest dreams—and it shows no signs of stopping.

LUNCH WITH A BIGOT The Writer in the World Kumar, Amitava Duke Univ. (240 pp.) $23.95 | May 15, 2015 978-0-8223-5930-2

Kumar (English/Vassar Coll.; A Matter of Rats: A Short Biography of Patna, 2014, etc.) reflects on an eclectic array of personal, professional, and political topics. The 26 essays included in this collection represent what the author calls “memorial acts” dedicated to “examining the borders of the self ” in relation to the world. |

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a modern crusader against ancient injustices Dr. Paul Offit, chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and the director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania is, on the one hand, a genuine hero of modern medicine, an awardwinning scientist who spent a quarter-century developing a safe and effective vaccine against the rotovirus, a disease that kills tens of thousands of people annually, mostly children. On the flip side, Offit is widely considered to be the sworn enemy of the fringe movement popularly known as “anti-vaxxers,” extremists who rally behind the likes of Jenny McCarthy to claim that vaccines are responsible for conditions like autism. His latest book, Bad Faith, may not win over his critics, but it does offer a cleareyed, sometimes-terrifying look at how religious belief has been used, both historically and in contemporary contexts, to undermine modern medicine. “In short, when people put children in harm’s way in the name of religion, I don’t believe that to be a religious act,” Offit explains. “I don’t think those actions should be given the legal protections offered to religion.” One might think the book, which touches on Christian Science, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Orthodox Jews, and the Catholic Church, not to mention faith healing, cult doctrine, and a catalog of ungodly acts that have resulted in the deaths of children worldwide, Paul Offit would be a caustic dismissal of religious values. Instead, Dr. Offit found himself largely embracing the religious teachings he read. “When Jesus was alive, you could argue that child abuse was the crying vice of the Roman Empire,” Offit says. “Hippocrates never mentioned children because children didn’t matter. But that wasn’t Jesus. There is story after story of him standing up for children.” —Clayton Moore

Published over a period of 15 years, these pieces, which run the gamut from memoir to journalistic reportage to literary/ cultural criticism, chart Kumar’s evolution as a distinguished Indian-American thinker and writer. In the first of four sections that comprise the book, the author recounts his experiences growing up in a culture where paper was a near-sacred object and where books and libraries were considered the height of “worldliness.” His own intellectual coming of age began after he arrived in the West as a student and became exposed to the mischievously subversive work of such writers as Hanif Kureishi and, later, Salman Rushdie, both of whom offered Kumar new ways of conceptualizing South Asian selfhood. In the second section, he considers his own writing, exploring how his work has been influenced by everything from Bollywood cinema to his life as a husband and doting father. He also discusses the disciplined habits that shaped him as a writer. In the third section, Kumar meditates on the effects that travel, migration, and immigration have had on his ideas about the nature of being in a transnational world. Time and space become conflated so that a return to India means he becomes “a tourist in that country called the past.” In the final section, Kumar examines people, including his mother, New York taxi drivers, and a conservative Hindu extremist—the “bigot” to which the title refers—who denounced Kumar for marrying a Pakistani Muslim. Heterogeneous and complex, this book offers insight into Indian culture from a multitude of complex spaces between East and West. An exuberantly inquisitive collection of essays.

Photo courtesy April Saul

SHADOW WORK The Unpaid, Unseen Jobs that Fill Your Day Lambert, Craig Counterpoint (272 pp.) $26.00 | May 12, 2015 978-1-61902-525-7

Former Harvard Magazine deputy editor Lambert (Mind Over Water: Lessons on Life from the Art of Rowing, 1999) reviews the effects on the labor force of practices such as self-checkouts at grocery stores and how they are reducing the availability of entry-level jobs. The author profiles how such changes tend to eliminate these jobs and consumers’ own labor is used as a substitute for the lost employment. Lambert attributes the readiness to accept such increased burdens to a submissive “middle-class serfdom” produced from a work ethic of self-reliance. These days, shadow work “represents a major—and hidden—force shrinking the job market.” The shift, writes the author, is often based on consumers’ lack of awareness, since “to get millions of people doing shadow work, it’s imperative to avoid consumer choice in the matter.” Do-it-yourself types of labor, undertaken voluntarily—at the gas station, a food-dispensing kiosk, or online at home—eliminate services that have been taken for granted, and the DIY movement is attractive to consumers seeking to reinvigorate their lifestyles. Downsizing,

Clayton Moore is a freelance writer, journalist, book critic, and prolific interviewer of other writers based in Boulder, Colorado.

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Lauren’s writing is brave and honest, and she calls out hypocrisy wherever she sees it and shines a light on the challenges faced during the adoption process. everything you ever wanted

technological attrition through automation, and the outsourcing of the menial tasks of a business’s operations are some of the causes behind this global transformation for prospective employees and the unemployed—the author cites a World Economic Forum statistic that “young people aged 15 to 24 make up 17 percent of the global population but 40 percent of the unemployed.” Lambert examines a variety of industries, including retail trade, food service and restaurants, airlines and travel, highlighting ongoing changes and their effects. Many of the jobs that are being replaced by shadow work are entry level. Without the entry-level jobs—e.g., bank teller, office secretary—the author wonders whether anyone will be able to build the skills necessary to work his or her way up the pyramid of opportunity. An appealingly different view of employment based on what people actually do and not just statistics.

reveals how Elizabeth’s petition exploited the uneasy social conditions created by recent inflation and civil unrest. However, when one door closed, another opened—namely, Shakespeare’s legendary run at the new playhouse, the Globe. Intrepid research translates into a sometimes-intriguing narrative stuffed with mystifying detail. (16 pages of b/w illustrations)

EVERYTHING YOU EVER WANTED A Memoir

Lauren, Jillian Plume (272 pp.) $16.00 paper | May 5, 2015 978-0-14-218163-8

SHAKESPEARE AND THE COUNTESS The Battle that Gave Birth to the Globe

Exploring how we see identity through the process of adoption. Readers of Lauren’s Some Girls (2010) need no introduction to bring them up to speed for her second memoir. In her first book, she chronicled how, at age 18, she turned to stripping and prostitution when her efforts at acting weren’t moving forward. She learned of a unique audition, and that led to a “role” in the harem of a Brunei prince. The end of that book provided a tidy wrap-up of where she’d landed—married to the bass player from Weezer and the adoptive mother of a boy from Ethiopia—that suggested, perhaps inadvertently, smooth sailing from there forward. Not so, as we find in this second memoir, which rewinds the story a bit to pick up before her marriage and tell how their relationship started, their early time together, and their efforts to conceive a child. Lauren’s writing takes the shine off of the happily-everafter of conceiving. She writes of feeling convinced, over and over, that each month was going to be “the one,” only to sink deeper into disappointment. She also found herself filled with questions about her own fitness to serve the roles through which she came to identify herself: a wife, a mother, a daughter. She recalls trying to cover her tattoos, stop swearing, and maintain an endlessly cheerful attitude, expecting herself to be judged during the adoption process, only to uncover her own prejudices. The author also recounts the challenges of adopting a child who has suffered significant trauma, the family shunning that came as a result of her previous memoir, and the enormous struggle to get help for their son. Lauren’s writing is brave and honest, and she calls out hypocrisy wherever she sees it and shines a light on the challenges faced during the adoption process.

Laoutaris, Chris Pegasus (528 pp.) $29.95 | Jun. 15, 2015 978-1-60598-792-7

The dense story of the 1596 endeavor by a powerful, litigious countess to block the opening of Shakespeare’s Blackfriars

Theatre in London. A piece of choice London real estate sent Countess Elizabeth Russell (1528-1609), one of the most learned and fiercely Puritan women in late-16th-century Europe, to petition Queen Elizabeth I’s Privy Council to prevent the opening of the Blackfriars, commanded by the playwright, his troupe, the Chamberlain’s Men, and their patron, George Carey. British Shakespeare scholar and lecturer Laoutaris (Shakespearean Maternities: Crises of Conception in Early Modern England, 2008) gets swept up in the overwhelming detail concerning these characters and their connections—e.g., Elizabeth’s two deceased husbands, one the ambassador to France, Thomas Hoby, the author of the influential Book of the Courtier, which Shakespeare would draw on; the other, John Russell, also a radical nonconformist more than a decade her junior. It was Hoby’s family property in the Blackfriars (formerly a monastery campus) that Elizabeth inhabited from 1570 onward, next to the Office of the Queen’s Revels, the hub of London’s theatrical district and an area that drew immigrant refugees from the ongoing wars of religion. These residents would support Elizabeth’s cause, and there was also the matter that Shakespeare frequently waded into explosive political material in many of his plays—e.g., in his flattery of the queen’s former favorite–turned-traitor, the Earl of Essex, in Richard II. When Elizabeth presented her document to the Privy Council, warning of “all manner of vagrant and lewd persons” consorting with the playhouse, she managed to secure the signatures of Shakespeare’s patron and his publisher, Richard Field. Plodding painstakingly through the research, Laoutaris |

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WONDERING WHO YOU ARE A Memoir

is a fellow of the British Psychological Society and president and chair of the Child Development Society, and she has been a member of the curriculum board of Sesame Street. Suffice to say that she has the wide range of experience that justifies the label of “expert,” which makes this new book, on supporting children through parents’ separation and divorce, an important read for anyone interested in how to successfully navigate that rocky situation. Early on, the author notes that, were divorce a physical disease, the level of occurrence in the United States would warrant emergency research into vaccines and immunizations. Leach thoughtfully structures the book, beginning with a breakdown of how children perceive, and are affected by, their parents’ separation at various ages, from baby to young adult. This structure allows the parents to jump right in and begin finding answers. Other, less-immediate family members receive the same consideration, and Leach provides an overview of legal and practical considerations before turning to the second part of the book, “Separating Better—or Worse.” The author makes sure to maintain a child-centered approach, and she explores how to reinforce that approach in the face of alienation, partner conflict, and the processes of making a parenting plan and putting it into action. She also explores post-divorce difficulties and the constantly changing dynamics between parents and their children. Leach strikes the right balance between a hard-nosed examination of the data and a compassionate, let’s-makethis-work pragmatism. This will allow parents to shore up their children’s stability when it may feel like everything else is crumbling down.

Lea, Sonya Tin House (352 pp.) $15.95 paper | Jul. 3, 2015 978-1-941040-07-2

A wife’s tale of loss and recovery. In June 2000, diagnosed with an extremely rare appendix cancer, Lea’s husband chose to undergo an experimental surgery to excise cancerous growths filling his abdomen, followed by several days of hot chemotherapy. Post-surgery complications resulted in his suffering an “anoxic insult,” loss of oxygen to the brain. After the siege to his body, he emerged weak, disoriented, and unable to remember anything. In her candid, unsentimental debut memoir, Lea tells the story of two survivors—her husband, Richard, and herself—as they have confronted changes in their identity, relationship, and family as a result of his trauma. She interweaves a chronicle of Richard’s medical challenges with her account of a 23-year marriage that was often infused with anger: Richard’s erupted in violent attacks on their young son, Lea’s in rebellion against responsibilities as a wife and mother. Yearning to be wild, she turned to drink, often blacking out, sometimes for minutes; “other times, most of a night would go by and I wouldn’t know what had happened.” She was an alcoholic for years before she finally went to Alcoholics Anonymous; by the time of Richard’s operation, the marriage had improved. As Richard’s caregiver, though, anger surfaced again: she admits that she does not like “leaving the role of his lover to take on what feels like becoming his nurse, teacher, and mother.” But she is “determined to become the fiercest, most virtuous caregiver anyone has ever seen.” Their daughter accused Lea of controlling Richard’s story by publishing her version, and sometimes her assertions are troubling: Lea writes, for example, that “Richard isn’t experiencing grief for a lost self ” because he is “helpless to find that former being.” But readers will get little sense of what Richard truly feels, and grief seems a distinct possibility. A forthright memoir that narrates an engrossing journey of self-discovery and fierce devotion.

PROJECT FATHERHOOD A Story of Courage and Healing in One of America’s Toughest Communities Leap, Jorja Beacon (256 pp.) $24.95 | Jun. 9, 2015 978-0-8070-1452-3

A former gang leader and an academic researcher team up to bring about change in a struggling community. The project emerged from the efforts of “Big Mike” Cummings, a former drug dealer and gang member working to try to keep the peace in Watts, South Los Angeles. Seeking to create a support group for fathers living in the Jordan Downs housing project, Cummings reached out to gang expert and crisis interventionist Leap (Jumped In: What Gangs Taught Me about Violence, Drugs, Love, and Redemption, 2012). A self-described “anthropologist with a perpetual identity crisis,” her 20-plus years teaching at UCLA’s School of Public Affairs, along with her reputation for a willingness to get involved at the grass-roots level, made her indispensable for the project. This book combines sociology, tough-love prescriptions, evidence of genuine growth (and the growing pains that come with it) and an eyes-wide-open account of men struggling to be better. Despite years of experience

WHEN PARENTS PART How Mothers and Fathers Can Help Their Children Deal with Separation and Divorce

Leach, Penelope Knopf (288 pp.) $24.95 | May 13, 2015 978-1-101-87404-2

A guide to managing the fallout for children when parents choose to separate and divorce. British research psychologist Leach (The Essential First Year, 2010, etc.) has an impressive list of credentials in the child development sphere. In addition to countless other designations, she 70

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Cobb was indeed a bruised peach but, as the author shows convincingly, not a thoroughly rotten one. ty cobb

Cobb was indeed a bruised peach but, as the author shows convincingly, not a thoroughly rotten one. (8-page insert of 18 b/w photos)

researching gangs from a sociological perspective, Leap discovered that gang culture always has surprises in store. Her concern about a smart, gentle young man living in Jordan Downs proved to be off-base; since he is smart and attends school, the local gangbangers leave him alone. The author explores the mix of admiration and distrust that the men in the group have for Big Mike. She marvels at their gradual shift from using the group time as a sounding board for airing multiple grievances to beginning to collaborate on how to mentor younger men who are trying to make sense of their teenage lives. Repeatedly, the men have been challenged to see things differently while also showing Leap that some of her ideas about what constitutes “better” do not always match up with the hopes of the group. Provides unique insights into a community intent on moving forward.

IN A FRENCH KITCHEN Tales and Traditions of Everyday Home Cooking in France Loomis, Susan Herrmann Gotham Books (352 pp.) $26.95 | Jun. 15, 2015 978-1-59240-886-3

A warm invitation to the French table. Copper pots hanging over a stove, thyme and rosemary growing in the garden, a boulangerie open every day of the week: these are a few of the reasons Loomis (Nuts in the Kitchen, 2010, etc.) loves the French way with food. Her latest culinary offering is partly a charming account of daily life in Louviers, a small town northwest of Paris where Loomis has lived for 20 years; and partly advice for buying, preparing, and serving the fresh and bountiful food that she and her friends eat every day. Although Loomis buys some supplies at a supermarket, most of her shopping occurs at the butcher’s, baker’s, and farmers market in her neighborhood. “There is a charming intimacy about the interactions in these food shops,” she writes. “I never tire of it. For a minute, at least, while you’re discussing a cut of meat, a type of cheese, the very best clementine, you are part of the social fabric of the entire country.” Families connect over the meals they share three times per day, and there is no such thing as eating on the run; even breakfast is “a quick but rich moment to gently emerge into the day.” While most adults partake of coffee and toast, many families serve breakfast cereals for their children, all sweetened. The French have a sweet tooth, including desserts with each meal and “an emergency chocolate bar” for a pick-me-up during the day. The author provides a list of essential kitchen tools, a glossary of breads and cheeses, a chapter on cooking techniques (e.g., making mayonnaise, buerre blanc, confit, and pastry), and even a list of online sources for special French ingredients. Loomis also shares scores of recipes from her own repertoire and those of her friends, including a 12-month meal plan based on fresh, seasonal ingredients. A tempting and helpful guide to delectable food.

TY COBB A Terrible Beauty

Leerhsen, Charles Simon & Schuster (448 pp.) $27.50 | May 12, 2015 978-1-4516-4576-7

The former executive editor of Sports Illustrated explores the idea that Tyrus Raymond Cobb (1886-1961), perhaps the greatest player in baseball history, was also a violent, racist, roundly hated person. Leerhsen (Blood and Smoke: A True Tale of Mystery, Mayhem and the Birth of the Indy 500, 2011, etc.) began his journey through the life of Cobb accepting the conventional wisdom. The intentional spiking of opponents, the ugly accounts of racism, the overall dirty play—these and other conceptions have, as Leerhsen shows, infected much of the writing about the Hall of Fame player known as the Georgia Peach. But throughout his text, the author reveals that he found a very different Cobb, and he does not hesitate to slam those writers (principally biographer Al Stump, whom he brands a liar) who have created and passed along those odious tales. Leerhsen charts Cobb’s rise from his Georgia boyhood to the summit of professional baseball to his becoming a millionaire, through endorsements and investments. He praises his work ethic, study of the game, and inventiveness. And, yes, he finds plenty of evidence about fistfights and a fiery temper. However, Leerhsen does not accept either the intentional spiking stories or the racism, pointing out several times that Cobb was an outspoken advocate for integrating professional baseball. Although informed and often eloquent about Cobb’s hitting and spectacular base running, he seems less interested in Cobb’s defensive prowess, and he does seem to prefer the pro-Cobb interpretation in controversial incidents, like a late-career gambling charge. But why not? Others have assumed the worst; now Cobb has an advocate, one who’s actually read all the old newspaper clippings (some of which flatly contradict common “knowledge”), visited the terrain, and interviewed as many relevant people as he could find. |

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Beautifully written and deeply moving—one of the best physician memoirs in recent memory. do no harm

SEEING HOME The Ed Lucas Story: A Blind Broadcaster’s Story of Overcoming Life’s Greatest Obstacles

In 1992, MacFarlane-Barrow and his brother, raised in a devout Catholic family in Scotland, drove a truck filled with emergency supplies of food, clothing, and medicine to war-torn Bosnia. They were drawn there after visions of the Virgin Mary had reportedly delivered messages from God so powerful that his parents had converted their hunting lodge to a house of prayer. On their return to Scotland, the emergency relief effort expanded as donations continued to pour into their parents’ shed, and MacFarlane-Barrow was soon working full time managing a charity now registered as Scottish International Relief. Meeting with famine relief officials in Malawi in 2002, the author describes how he was struck by the words of a child who said his dream was to have enough to eat and to go to school. SIR began funding school feeding projects in places where poverty and hunger prevented children from going to school. As the author explains, the projects are community-run by volunteers and support the local economy, while the inducement of a free meal brings in children who would not otherwise get an education. In 2012, SIR changed its name to Mary’s Meals, naming it after the Virgin Mary. Writing with enthusiasm, humility, and seemingly bottomless optimism and goodwill, MacFarlane-Barrow shares credit generously with those who shaped his vision and helped him along the way. Quotations that open each chapter generally feature the words of religious figures, but Yeats and Lincoln also appear. Certain to be a successful fundraiser, this somewhat rambling account is jampacked with convincing details of the author’s experiences and portraits of people he admires.

Lucas, Ed & Lucas, Christopher Jeter Publishing/Gallery Books (288 pp.) $26.00 | Apr. 21, 2015 978-1-4767-8583-7 A memoir of faith and perseverance after a dramatically life-altering

circumstance. How New Jersey Sports Hall of Fame member Ed Lucas went from sandlot dreamer to blindness to broadcaster for the greatest team in baseball history is a marvel of a story. Cowritten with his son, Christopher, this book recounts the accident that left young Ed blind and struggling to adapt to a dark new reality. What he found in that unexpected darkness was a future populated by heroes, filled with love, and enlightened by indomitable faith. As Sister Rose Magdalene proclaimed to his father, “Mister Lucas, your son is just blind, he’s not handicapped....” As the author learned to thrive with his blindness, his mother began a letter-writing campaign to famous baseball personalities requesting their time and mentorship for her young son. To everyone’s surprise, it worked, encouraging what would become a lifetime love for the game and its legends. But how does a blind man become a major league baseball broadcaster? As he gradually made himself known in the world of MLB, Lucas “developed the ability to tell, just from the crack of the bat, how hard the ball was hit, where it was traveling, and the distance it would go.” Easy to read, this tender, occasionally sappy narrative shines most as an illustration of faith at work. For the Lucas family, faith is the cornerstone of purposefulness, hope, and the belief that one can achieve happiness and greatness despite traumatic circumstances. Most importantly, Lucas’ contributions to sports journalism are invaluable, and the book is a testament to the experiences of a man intimately tied to the game throughout the modern era. Filled with a life-affirming sincerity that challenges us to put our lives in greater perspective.

DO NO HARM Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery

Marsh, Henry Dunne/St. Martin’s (304 pp.) $25.99 | May 26, 2015 978-1-250-06581-0

A British neurosurgeon delivers fascinating, often harrowing stories of several dozen cases intermixed with compelling digressions into his travels, personal life,

and philosophy. In 25 chapters, each built around a neurosurgical operation (infections and strokes but mostly tumors), the author provides vivid accounts of patients before and after surgery as well as encounters with Britain’s National Health Service, which is far skimpier than America’s system (even hospital beds are in short supply). The quality of medicine, however, is first-class. American neurosurgical trainees serve in his hospital, and Marsh admires but does not share the gung-ho optimism of America’s “death is optional” surgeons. While happy to recount dramatic cures, he admits that these are not routine in a neurosurgeon’s practice and that aggressive surgery often leaves patients with catastrophic brain damage. Few American surgeons, worried about being sued (a legitimate concern), would dare write, “I am more experienced than in the past and more realistic

THE SHED THAT FED A MILLION CHILDREN The Extraordinary Story of Mary’s Meals MacFarlane-Barrow, Magnus HarperCollins 360 (320 pp.) $21.99 | May 26, 2015 978-0-00-813270-5

The founder and director of Mary’s Meals tells how that charity began and how it has grown into an organization that feeds hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren in countries around the world. 72

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about the limitations of surgery....I have become more willing to accept that it can be better to let someone die rather than operate when there is only a very small chance of the person returning to an independent life.” Far more than the average doctor-memoirist, Marsh does not conceal his feelings, whether dealing with patients, colleagues, assistants, or superiors, and he spares no one when matters turn out badly. Readers will share his emotions, including contempt for a penny-pinching, meddling government. Unlike American doctor/government haters, there is no sour right-wing ideology or any impression that he is defending an obscenely high income. Nor does he trumpet his compassion; that is never in doubt. Beautifully written and deeply moving—one of the best physician memoirs in recent memory.

some fascinatingly obscure) of his and wife’s substantial estate, and she honorably resurrects this affluent, rapacious eccentric who became wholly consumed with the acquisition of a priceless bonanza of Shakespeariana. A methodical opus comprising intensive memoir and inquisitive investigation.

THE WRIGHT BROTHERS

McCullough, David Simon & Schuster (336 pp.) $30.00 | May 5, 2015 978-1-4767-2874-2

A charmingly pared-down life of the “boys” that grounds their dream of flight in decent character and work ethic. There is a quiet, stoical awe to the accomplishments of these two unprepossessing Ohio brothers in this fluently rendered, skillfully focused study by two-time Pulitzer Prize– winning and two-time National Book Award–winning historian McCullough (The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, 2011, etc.). The author begins with a brief yet lively depiction of the Wright home dynamic: reeling from the death of their mother from tuberculosis in 1889, the three children at home, Wilbur, Orville, and Katharine, had to tend house, as their father, an itinerant preacher, was frequently absent. McCullough highlights the intellectual stimulation that fed these bookish, creative, close-knit siblings. Wilbur was the most gifted, yet his parents’ dreams of Yale fizzled after a hockey accident left the boy with a mangled jaw and broken teeth. The boys first exhibited their mechanical genius in their print shop and then in their bicycle shop, which allowed them the income and space upstairs for machine-shop invention. Dreams of flight were reawakened by reading accounts by Otto Lilienthal and other learned treatises and, specifically, watching how birds flew. Wilbur’s dogged writing to experts such as civil engineer Octave Chanute and the Smithsonian Institute provided advice and response, as others had long been preoccupied by controlled flight. Testing their first experimental glider took the Wrights over several seasons to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, to experiment with their “wing warping” methods. There, the strange, isolated locals marveled at these most “workingest boys,” and the brothers continually reworked and repaired at every step. McCullough marvels at their success despite a lack of college education, technical training, “friends in high places” or “financial backers”—they were just boys obsessed by a dream and determined to make it reality. An educational and inspiring biography of seminal American innovators. (50 b/w and 4-color images in inserts)

THE MILLIONAIRE AND THE BARD Henry Folger’s Obsessive Hunt for Shakespeare’s First Folio

Mays, Andrea Simon & Schuster (344 pp.) $27.00 | May 12, 2015 978-1-4391-1823-8

An exacting inquiry into Shakespeare’s First Folio and the art of extreme book collecting, demonstrated by the life of a pathological bibliophile. In her debut, lifelong Shakespeare enthusiast Mays (Economics/California State Univ., Long Beach) meticulously details the “curiously unexamined” life of millionaire businessman Henry Clay Folger (1857-1930), an obsessive, discriminating Bard collector who acquired an extremely rare, inaugural edition of dramatic works known as Shakespeare’s First Folio. He then went on to spend millions on other collectible tomes with the intent to amass as many Folio copies as possible and enact text comparisons with each—“to subject them to meticulous comparative analysis.” Mays begins with Shakespeare’s rise to prominence among London theater and literary circles. His death in 1616 left half of his oeuvre as yet unpublished until unauthorized attempts at collecting these works produced the much-pirated “Pavier Quarto” (False Folio), followed by a modest, laborious printing of the First Folio and subsequent editions thereafter. Mays describes this undertaking in vivid detail, and she confidently presents Folger as a driving force behind the eventual success of industrial giant Standard Oil, a position that would provide him with the wealth to pursue his obsessive passion. However, the impetus of Folger’s burgeoning interest in Shakespeare’s Folios remains a mystery even to Mays, whose scrupulous research is evident from her revealing closing notes and bibliography. Folger’s proliferating “Foliomania,” which endured throughout the early 1900s until his death, comprises the remainder of the book. Without becoming fiddly, the author assembles Folger’s “forgotten” lifetime through chapters brimming with biographical specifics (some known, |

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A VERY DANGEROUS WOMAN The Lives, Loves and Lies of Russia’s Most Seductive Spy

The prolific Mezrich (Seven Wonders, 2014, etc.), author of Bringing Down the House (2002) and The Accidental Billionaires (2009), takes a sprawling, episodic approach to portraying the brutally absurdist era spanning Boris Yeltsin’s and Vladimir Putin’s regimes, approximately 1994 through 2013. He focuses on Boris Berezovsky as the exemplar of a strange new oligarchic class. Once an obscure mathematician, he began his rise as a car dealer but soon obtained interests in oil, metals, and TV, purchasing a state-owned network that ultimately put him at odds with Putin. Introduced in the midst of an assassination attempt against him (typical of Mezrich’s focus on dramatic incident), Berezovsky seems a vulgar striver yet an oddly sympathetic protagonist, even though many around him came to bad ends. Following his brush with death, Berezovsky initially appeared unstoppable. He became a power within the struggle to keep the unhealthy Yeltsin in office, and he formed a lucrative partnership with Roman Abramovich, a youthful petroleum entrepreneur who initially seemed the ideal protégé. However, the oligarchs went astray in selecting the equally ambitious Putin to succeed Yeltsin: “Berezovsky firmly believed Putin to be [a] perfect cog; a strongman who could be controlled.” But Putin made his intentions clear from his presidency’s outset, “presenting himself as the man who would clean up the chaos and drive the Oligarchs out of politics.” Ultimately, Berezovsky’s resistance to Putin resulted in his exile. As in previous books, Mezrich has a glib, easily comprehensible style, producing an engrossing narrative that stays on the surface of things. The events leading to Berezovsky’s downfall become repetitive and blurry, while interesting side journeys, such as the disastrous 2000 sinking of the Kursk, are only briefly explored. The tale ends abruptly with Berezovsky’s apparent suicide, not really probed despite obvious unanswered questions. A fast-moving and readable yet unsurprising tale of wealth and power in the new Russia.

McDonald, Deborah & Dronfield, Jeremy Oneworld Publications (416 pp.) $27.99 | Jun. 9, 2015 978-1-78074-708-8

An attempt to introduce the world to a female spy far more successful than Mata Hari and just as captivating. Moura Zakrevskaya (1891-1974) was born in Ukraine to a family with land, wealth, and a connection to the czar. Despite her origins, her instinct for survival and a liberal political temperament led her to spy for the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution. After leaving Russia in 1921, though, evidence of her continued spy activity is largely circumstantial. She was often in the right place at the right time to engage in espionage; travel in and out of restricted areas was frequently easier than seemed legitimate; and both the general gossip and the files kept by European governments concluded that she was likely a spy for one entity or another for most of her life. For the most part, McDonald (The Prince, His Tutor and the Ripper: The Evidence Linking James Kenneth Stephen to the Whitechapel Murders, 2007, etc.) and Dronfield (The Locust Farm, 2013, etc.) craft a colorful tale, but they impart little of the urgency that makes spy stories so successful. Combined with the amount of historical and familial detail necessary to make sense of Zakrevskaya’s life, this makes for an informative but rarely thrilling read. The biography is thorough for a subject as careful and secretive as an assumed spy, and while the authors make an effective argument that their subject lived a double life, there is little payoff in terms of hard documentation. Prodigious research and endnotes prove mostly that Zakrevskaya was incredibly effective at survival, generally through her many relationships and affairs. The story retains an air of mystery, much like the woman herself, but in a work promising “the lives, loves and lies of Russia’s most seductive spy,” that mysterious nature is more disappointing than tantalizing. Intriguing but lacking the salacious detail and hard evidence necessary for true fascination. (8 b/w plates)

BOBBY WONDERFUL An Imperfect Son Buries His Parents Morris, Bob Twelve (192 pp.) $25.00 | Jun. 2, 2015 978-1-4555-5650-2

ONCE UPON A TIME IN RUSSIA The Rise of the Oligarchs— A True Story of Ambition, Wealth, Betrayal, and Murder

A journalist’s memoir of coming to terms with the aging and deaths of his parents. This book fits into what has become a genre unto itself, as baby boomers have reached the age where they are taking care of the parents who once took care of them, and advances of modern medicine have allowed some of those parents to live longer. By his own admission, Morris (Assisted Loving: True Tales of Double Dating with My Dad, 2008, etc.) was not a model caregiver, deferring much of that responsibility to his brother, and his parents weren’t what he would “have ordered from a parent catalogue.” The prelude to this “personal chronicle of ending” suggests that the book was inspired by the

Mezrich, Ben Atria (288 pp.) $28.00 | Jun. 2, 2015 978-1-4767-7189-2

The rise and fall of a single oligarch as a gaudy microcosm of post-communist Russia. 74

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A good choice for new insights into aspects of the war we never knew. the oxford illustrated history of world war two

example of an acquaintance whose doting on his elderly parents stood in stark contrast to the author’s self-centeredness toward unwanted responsibilities and distractions. A travel writer, he found his trip to Scotland to sample Scotch ruined by the pleas from his brother to return home because their mother was dying. He didn’t want to interrupt his trip, but he could no longer enjoy it. His brother, to whom the book is dedicated, was “the family’s morality meter,” while the author was “more the wicked one...prodigal, cynical, and irresponsible.” After his mother’s death, his father embarked on a romance that seemed to revitalize him (and provided material for a theatrical performance the author mounted), but then he declined again. As the author tried to help his father through his depression and suffered the trials of caregiving, he sometimes seemed to wish his father had succeeded with his suicide attempt. “I’m all for the simple solution, the easy exit,” he says. Even his father complained about his son’s lack of commitment and compassion. “Caring for parents has become the new normal for boomers,” writes Morris. Readers will likely find other books on the topic more illuminating and inspirational.

on Poverty, and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, Henry really blossomed. His entrepreneurial abilities, political acumen, and close connections helped secure funding for countless projects in his home state. His ability to compromise turned some against his leadership, but his successes vastly outweighed his failures. Henry not only changed the racial climate in Mississippi; he challenged the entire infrastructure. A sometimes slow-moving but mostly enlightening book about a fearless man that readers should know better. (15 photos)

THE OXFORD ILLUSTRATED HISTORY OF WORLD WAR TWO

Overy, Richard—Ed. Oxford Univ. (480 pp.) $45.00 | Jun. 1, 2015 978-0-19-960582-8

Distinguished historians explore developments in the study of World War II. To say that the contributors will change how we view the war might be overstating it, but their outlooks, with the benefit of new and broader information, will give many readers pause. Edited by European Academy of the Sciences and Arts member Overy (History/Univ. of Exeter; The Bombers and the Bombed: Allied Air War Over Europe 19401945, 2014, etc.), the book breaks apart facets of the war, first looking at the beginnings of the Italian, German, and Japanese aggressions. The Italian foray into Africa, the Second SinoJapanese War, and Germany’s use of President Woodrow Wilson’s self-determination principle all show how early the signs of war appeared. The contributors examine the commonly held belief that air and naval powers dictated the results—the English discovered that they could mitigate the U-boat threat by using convoys, something it took some time for the Americans to accept, at great cost—and they explore the Lend-Lease program, through which the United States supplied desperately needed materiel to both England and Russia. They also delve into the varied aspects of life in wartime, including economic considerations, the politics of food (e.g., imposed famine), the use of civilians and prisoners in war and production, the broad proliferation of propaganda, and the vast cultural differences among the war’s participants. Throughout, they bring out fascinating aspects of the war’s tactics, such as the use of one theater, especially Italy, to subordinate action by tying up armies needed elsewhere. In addition to Overy, other contributors include David French, Patricia Clavin, and Geoffrey Roberts. A good choice for new insights into aspects of the war we never knew, such as the “other” D-Day in the Marianas and the great significance of the Eastern front in the final outcome.

AARON HENRY OF MISSISSIPPI Inside Agitator

Morrison, Minion K.C. Univ. of Arkansas (400 pp.) $34.95 | Jun. 5, 2015 978-1-55728-759-5 Morrison (Political Science and Public Administration/Mississippi State Univ.; African Americans and Political Participation: A Reference Handbook, 2003) brings our belated attention to Aaron Henry (1922-1997), a man of immense talent devoted to establishing an integrated society. The author recounts Henry’s remarkable achievements, which could easily fill volumes. Born in the Mississippi Delta, he was raised learning the methods that would enable him to change the world as he knew it. Like so many others, Henry returned from service in the Army expecting certain rights. Upset with the continuing spread of prejudice and discrimination, he opened a pharmacy in Clarksdale, Mississippi, and commenced to work for social change. He set his sights first on enfranchising Negro voters, joined the NAACP, and perfected his networking and speaking skills. Soon, he developed a successful partnership with Medgar Evers, and he and Evers successfully pushed beyond the framework of the slow-moving NAACP parent organization. The author gives only minor insights into the man and his family, sticking to his many and varied accomplishments. Occasionally, the narrative gets bogged down in his professorial style and attempt to include everything. Henry organized multiple social movements in Clarksdale, sitins at railway and bus stations, a boycott of Clarksdale shops that lasted for years, and protests against all segregated establishments, including churches. He also participated in the Freedom Vote Campaign. With the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the War |

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THE CONSTITUTION An Introduction

YEAR OF THE DUNK A Modest Defiance of Gravity

Paulsen, Michael Stokes & Paulsen, Luke Basic (352 pp.) $28.99 | May 5, 2015 978-0-465-05372-8

Price, Asher Crown (288 pp.) $26.00 | May 12, 2015 978-0-8041-3803-1

A sharp, efficient guide to the creation, content, and construction of the supreme law of the land. Michael Stokes Paulsen (Law/Univ. of St. Thomas), author of casebooks and numerous articles, brings the legal chops, and son Luke, a Princeton graduate, contributes the sidebars. These thumbnail sketches of important constitutional players and capsule commentaries on important cases add color to the main text. Both authors are committed to jargon-free, comprehensible prose. They begin by setting out the document’s framework and comment incisively on the novel concept of a written constitution deriving its authority from the people, ensuring checks and balances by separating power among the federal branches, while at the same time preserving state prerogatives. They move on to a careful, Article-by-Article explication of the respective powers of the federal government’s three branches and a detailed treatment of the Bill of Rights, “practically a second Constitution.” For the most part, the Paulsens praise the framers’ handiwork, even as they acknowledge the morally deficient protections for slavery contained in various Constitutional provisions. They devote the bulk of their narrative to a compressed, evenhanded history of the Constitution’s interpretation and the ongoing struggle to wrestle meaning from the words at the heart of our democracy. No important case goes unmentioned, no significant crisis or controversy unexplored. Some readers will quarrel with the authors’ insistence on the immutability of the Constitution’s words or perhaps with their commentary on particular cases, especially Roe v. Wade, Marbury v. Madison, and United States v. Nixon. Many will be surprised at their insistence that constitutional interpretation is not solely the province of the courts. All will appreciate the modesty and clarity they bring to this hugely complex subject. The Paulsens urge readers on to further reading and study, but they accomplish precisely what they set out to do. A well-conceived, well-executed primer, ideal for a bright high schooler, a college student, or even the odd professor who requires a brush up on the Constitution. (36 b/w images)

Austin American-Statesman energy and environment reporter Price seeks to overcome his “genetic foibles” in pursuit of a singular and profound experience: dunking an NBA basketball. Before he began his yearlong exploration of whether dunking was “literally and metaphorically” unattainable for those with his specific genetics or increasing age (34), he was humbled when tests performed by doctors at a fitness lab diagnosed him as being in “completely average” condition. Through his efforts to increase his body’s upward kinetic force to enable him to dunk, Price examines the larger issue of whether humans can outwit their physical limits and asks if it is actually possible to “dream up a task” and force your body to follow. On his journey, the author consulted a variety of experts, including geneticists and other scientists (including a Cambridge professor who specializes in the nervous system of locusts), as well as brick-chopping karate black belts and children at basketball camps. By not dragging readers through the weeds of mathematical formulas—an appendix includes tips for “how to jump higher” and a microlesson in the physics of dunking—Price comes across as a nonintimidating science teacher with a dry, sometimes self-deprecating wit. In easyto-understand language, he explains such concepts as neuromuscular composition and the biomechanics of propulsion in humans and animals. During the course of his pursuit, Price faced down numerous psychological and physical obstacles, as well as dramatic setbacks off the hardwood, but his optimism, perseverance, and development are at the heart of this goodnatured chronicle of his efforts. “I was like a lot of people: athletic enough, with a thin desire to win, but never the best and never desperate to be the best,” he writes. In this briskly paced book, readers will recognize the courage and tenacity of everyday competitors and the power and awe-inspiring achievements of elite athletes.

AGNES MARTIN Her Life and Art

Princenthal, Nancy Thames & Hudson (320 pp.) $39.95 | Jun. 16, 2015 978-0-500-09390-0 Writing a biography of Agnes Martin (1912-2004) is a study in frustration, but former Art in America senior editor Princenthal (School of the Visual Arts; Hannah Wilke, 2010, etc.) manages to piece together a story while getting beyond her subject’s well-guarded privacy.

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A highly recommended addition to the literature of military history. men of war

Martin was born in rural Saskatchewan and bounced between the coasts as student and teacher, building the disciplinarian aspect of her character. Eventually, she spent 40 years on and off in Taos, New Mexico, punctuated by forays to New York. Throughout her life, she sought time to be alone, whether traveling or living on a lonely mesa outside of Santa Fe. When she began giving talks about art, she refused to speak to or meet any of the audience members. However, she wasn’t asocial; she had many artist friends when she lived in Coenties Slip in lower Manhattan. Among her influences were Zen Buddhism and Rothko, Cage and Klee. A contemporary of the abstract expressionists, Martin’s work was much more minimalist. When she finally stopped destroying her work, she settled on rectilinear grids on square canvases; she sought to upset the power of the square. She suffered a lifelong battle with schizophrenic paranoia, and she hoped to bring out what she felt were the only true feelings: happiness and helplessness. The author readily acknowledges that Martin is unknowable, citing contradictory biographical material from the artist. Martin prohibited catalogs for her exhibitions and swore her friends to secrecy regarding her life. She feared the deception of words. Princenthal carefully describes the artist’s works, but there is no way to appreciate her without seeing the originals; illustrations don’t fully convey the feeling in her work. The author’s deep research and personal correspondence with the artist will be enlightening to fans of Martin and will encourage others to seek out her work. (38 illustrations, 33 in color)

E. Lee’s army was almost obligated to assault the Union lines. At the same time, soldiers in a failed assault were allowed to surrender with honor, unlike their ancestors at Bunker Hill. Iwo Jima, the longest battle profiled here, produced a devastating body count on both sides. The U.S. Marines and their Japanese opponents gave no quarter; few Japanese survived the battle, and the Marines took losses that would have dissuaded almost any other body of men. Rose builds up a detailed picture of each of these battles, sparing few gritty details and romanticizing almost nothing. He writes vividly and memorably, with a good eye for the telling detail or anecdote as well as big-picture perspectives. It’s particularly enlightening to have his detailed examinations of Bunker Hill and Iwo Jima, which have received far less attention from military historians than Gettysburg— but even that account benefits from the larger context in which this book places it. A highly recommended addition to the literature of military history.

HOW CHAMPIONS THINK In Sports and in Life

Rotella, Bob Simon & Schuster (320 pp.) $26.00 | May 5, 2015 978-1-4767-8862-3

The author of a series of mindful golfing guides further explores how to think like a champion. Having counseled such sports stars as LeBron James and PGA great Hal Sutton, sports psychologist Rotella (The Unstoppable Golfer, 2012, etc.) extends his sportscentric guidance to those seeking to enhance their everyday acumen through the power of focused positive thinking. The author believes the driving idea behind the titlist attitude— both in the sports arena and society at large—lies in an optimistic thought process, and he credits his father with instilling in him the power of positivity at a young age (“I didn’t have to learn optimism. It was given to me”). Referencing his mental empowerment work (most notably with professional golfers), Rotella spotlights interlocking methodologies in visualization and the building and reinforcement of confidence, self-respect, and exemplary self-imagery. Pages of practical tips assist those plagued by a defeatist inner voice or chronic nervousness, and the author doesn’t mince words when it comes to getting married while striving for excellence: “You must make a happy marriage and a happy family part of your definition of success rather than seeing the marriage and the family as an obligation or encumbrance.” Some sections are repetitive, while others, such as a chapter on the demands and lessons to be gleaned from competing on the PGA Tour, are resonant and demonstrate the competitive and demandingly focused mindset of the true sports professional. Rotella’s liberal use of sports anecdotes and an effective piece on a coach’s perspective (Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari) further underscore the importance of the core set of philosophies and behaviors he promotes, although

MEN OF WAR The American Soldier in Combat at Bunker Hill, Gettysburg, and Iwo Jima Rose, Alexander Random House (496 pp.) $30.00 | Jun. 2, 2015 978-0-553-80518-5

A close look at three of the iconic battles in American history, as experienced by the men on the front lines. In the introduction, Rose (American Rifle: A Biography, 2008, etc.) writes that John Keegan’s The Face of Battle (1976) inspired him to write an American version of the same theme. The three battles chosen show the changing nature of warfare. Rose is skeptical of the concept that there is a universal experience of war, arguing that each era has its own ways of fighting and its own codes of military conduct. For each battle, the author draws on the accounts of ordinary soldiers to build the larger picture in mosaic fashion. At Bunker Hill, American militia went up against British regulars. Rose shows that the British were overconfident, while the militiamen had leaders experienced in the French and Indian War and plenty of time drilling. At Gettysburg, two seasoned armies were opposed. By the military doctrine of the day, emphasizing the frontal attack, Robert |

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KEEPERS The Greatest Films—and Personal Favorites—of a Moviegoing Lifetime

his frequent and distractive allusions to faith and religion as one of the linchpins to an athlete’s or a team’s success may not appeal to more secular readers. A solid motivational text for the sports-minded and those interested in the bridging of athletics and exceptionalism.

Schickel, Richard Knopf (320 pp.) $26.95 | Jun. 23, 2015 978-0-375-42459-5

ON THE MOVE A Life

A noted critic celebrates the pleasure of movies. By his own count, film critic Schickel (Conversations with Scorsese, 2011, etc.) has seen 22,590 movies. After a 40-year career as “a professional moviegoer,” he admits that he prefers popular movies to “art” films, although his eclectic list of keepers includes some decidedly arty directors, such as Wim Wenders and German expressionist F.W. Murnau. Beginning with the first two decades of the talkies, Schickel praises the exemplary Charlie Chaplin in a movie not well regarded by others, The Circus (1928). To the author, the climax, which “features Chaplin doing a high-wire act while beset by a troop of monkeys,” is “breathtaking in its intricacy, and its thrills.” Murnau’s Nosferatu (1922) seems to him “the greatest of the Dracula movies,” but he believes Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927) and M (1931) to be overrated. Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) was “a great act of modernism”; William Wellman’s The Public Enemy (1931), an iconic gangster picture. The author remarks on virtually every director, from D.W. Griffith to Rouben Mamoulian (a “half-forgotten genius”), Clint Eastwood to Steven Spielberg. He thinks Woody Allen is “trapped by his gift” of creating comedy. Annie Hall (1977), though a huge hit, is only a “charming movie, but scarcely an overpowering one,” and Radio Days (1987) seems to Schickel “one of Woody’s most accomplished films.” Although he concedes that Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972) “is not everyone’s dish of tea,” he deems it “an important film because there were not many before it that were essays in pure insanity.” A great admirer of Martin Scorsese, Schickel thought Mean Streets (1973) was clumsy, but Raging Bull (1980) and Taxi Driver (1976) were masterpieces. Schickel found writing this collection “a rather playful business”; readers will find it infused with his joy.

Sacks, Oliver Knopf (416 pp.) $27.95 | May 1, 2015 978-0-385-35254-3

The prolific physician’s adventurefilled life. Sacks (Neurology/NYU School of Medicine; Hallucinations, 2012, etc.) continues where he left off in Uncle Tungsten (2001), the story of his youthful fascination with chemistry. Describing himself as quiet, shy, and solitary, he nevertheless has become a man of many passions: science, medicine, motorbikes, and, for years, assorted drugs, including cannabis, LSD, amphetamines, and chloral hydrate. Sacks writes candidly of his mother’s rage when she learned he was homosexual, and he ruefully recalls several brief love affairs. Sent away from his family during World War II, he believes, caused him to feel inhibited in intimate relationships. But he celebrates many close friendships, notably with fellow physician (and entertainer) Jonathan Miller and poet Thom Gunn, and he offers a touching portrait of his brother Michael, who was schizophrenic. Sacks went to Oxford aiming to become a research scientist, but after one project failed dismally, he followed family tradition and studied medicine (both parents and two brothers were physicians). After working at Middlesex Hospital in England, he took an internship at Mount Zion Hospital in San Francisco, where he fell in love with the lifestyle and landscape, buying a motorcycle and taking to the road every chance he had. “By day I would be the genial, white-coated Dr. Oliver Sacks,” he recalls, “but at nightfall I would exchange my white coat for my motorbike leathers, and, anonymous, wolf-like...rove the streets or mount the sinuous curves of Mount Tamalpais.” By the time he left California in 1965, he had covered 100,000 miles. Sacks loved clinical medicine, vividly evoking his observations and investigations in Awakenings (1973), Seeing Voices (1989), and An Anthropologist on Mars (1995). The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (1985) made the New York Times bestseller list and, to his surprise, catapulted him to fame. Despite impressionistic chronology, which occasionally causes confusion and repetition, this is an engaging memoir by a consummate storyteller. (32 pages of color photos)

THE SIZE OF OTHERS’ BURDENS Barack Obama, Jane Addams, and the Politics of Helping Others Schneiderhan, Erik Stanford Univ. (232 pp.) $26.00 | Jun. 1, 2015 978-0-8047-8917-2

Schneiderhan’s (Sociology/Univ. of Toronto) biographical comparison of Jane Addams (1860-1935) and Barack Obama illustrates how little has changed regarding the difficulties of community building. 78

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In a book rich in anecdote and insight, Schultz assays their relationship splendidly. buckley and mailer

You wouldn’t think there would be many similarities between a wealthy Illinois woman and a young, mixed-race political activist, but their characters and the paths they followed bind them together. Both had traveled widely and could have enjoyed a comfortable life, but something drove them to the Chicago neighborhoods. Addams was educated only to a point, and she was independently wealthy but knew she had a calling to help the poor. Emulating Toynbee Hall social settlement in London’s East End, she learned the usefulness of living amid the poor and helping them as neighbors. Obama was lucky in securing a place at Hawaii’s most prestigious private school. His excellent education there and at Columbia and Harvard socialized him into the privileged world Addams knew. Both needed that education and socialization to mix with business and the elite to achieve their goals. Schneiderhan is wise to present these biographies back to back rather than point out commonalities one after another. He shows how these two illuminated the American dream even though race and gender loomed large to prevent them. They both saw communities where neighbors helped out in small ways, but neighbors often couldn’t help in securing jobs, education, child care, or a central gathering place. Addams’ Hull House led the way in the settlement movement, which directly addressed the problem. She fought against the stingy relief of charity organizations and helped neighbors help each other. Obama did likewise, convincing his community to speak up for themselves, getting voters registered, and, like Addams, believing in people. Schneiderhan leaves it to us to continue the journey these two began. His work, like theirs, is inspiring.

postwar America, with its devotion to consumerism, corporate capitalism, and stultifying rules of social behavior, though they addressed this malaise quite differently. Schultz exhibits a sense of irony and a knack for telling details. He neither glamorizes nor excuses, exposing the best and worst traits of his subjects, their brilliance and their limitations. As political theorists and activists, they could be vague and they were trenchant. Both feared a totalitarianism of the mind, though Buckley (the salesman), unlike Mailer (the philosopher), had no willingness to shift views if he could be convinced that “his understanding of human nature was wrong.” Where Mailer sought authenticity, Buckley required fealty to the virtues of tradition. From their first public debate in 1962, the loquacious darling of the right and the pugnacious bulldog of the left found they delighted in challenging each other. From that grew a regard that, despite their differences, endured for decades. In a book rich in anecdote and insight, Schultz assays their relationship splendidly. (8 pages of photos)

BROADCAST HYSTERIA Orson Welles’s War of the Worlds and the Art of Fake News

Schwartz, A. Brad Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux (352 pp.) $30.00 | May 5, 2015 978-0-8090-3161-0 A skeptical look at the panic that might have been. Just as literature was created the day a boy cried wolf when there was no wolf, the birth of fake news in the United States may have been Oct. 30, 1938, when a rising young radio celebrity cried Martian when there was no Martian. His name, of course, was Orson Welles (1915-1985), and he unleashed a radio production that convinced a number of people that space invaders had arrived in tiny Grover’s Mill, New Jersey, and were proceeding to burn a path of destruction along the East Coast that would shame Gen. Sherman. Listeners throughout the country fled their homes in terror—or did they? That’s the question raised in this book by Schwartz, who persuasively argues that Martian hysteria was largely a media invention. Drawing on both ratings and hundreds of archived original letters from listeners (both pro and con) addressed to the FCC and CBS, Schwartz easily dismantles the idea that Welles alarmed the nation, as most people were tuned to another station. Among actual listeners, many knew the program was fiction, either because they heard it announced as such at the beginning or because they saw through it—and loved it. Relatively few people lost their grips on reality, but the press saw them as the majority and never bothered to check if they actually were. “No journalist ever made a serious attempt to figure out how much of the country had even heard the broadcast,” writes the author, “much less how many in its audience were frightened.” Myth became hardened into fact by a popular academic study, which Schwartz reveals was largely

BUCKLEY AND MAILER The Difficult Friendship that Shaped the Sixties Schultz, Kevin M. Norton (400 pp.) $28.95 | Jun. 1, 2015 978-0-393-08871-7

A perceptive analysis of the evolution of political cultures that infuses a dissection of the contradictions within liberal and conservative thought with revealing character studies. At the core of this account of rivalry and friendship between William F. Buckley Jr. (1925-2008) and Norman Mailer (1923-2007) is the political excitement of an era gone by, when the radical Mailer and conservative Buckley could spar without allowing substance to be overwhelmed by theater. Schultz (20th Century American History/Univ. of Illinois at Chicago; Tri-Faith America: How Catholics and Jews Held Postwar America to Its Protestant Promise, 2011) demonstrates how the two men lived remarkably parallel lives as writers and public intellectuals of the 1960s, a confluence begun in 1955, with the birth of Buckley’s National Review and Mailer’s Village Voice. What they shared above all was an abiding love of America and a nagging fear of its imminent decay. Both abhorred the hollowness of |

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FREEDOM OF SPEECH Mightier Than the Sword

shaped to fit an unexamined hypothesis. The author credibly shows that the problem wasn’t the fake broadcast but the fake interpretation—“a newspaper exaggeration born of haste and misunderstanding”—that chilled creative expression. Advertisers, fearful of offending audiences, wanted shows that pandered to the lowest common denominator. Welles’ first great triumph also effectively killed the golden age of radio. An entertaining assessment of a watershed moment in American life and its lasting effect on popular culture. (8 pages of b/w illustrations)

Shipler, David K. Knopf (352 pp.) $28.95 | May 12, 2015 978-0-307-95732-0

A Pulitzer Prize winner surveys the American cultural and political landscape and asks if “the freedom to hear” remains intact. Near the end of his narrative, Shipler (Rights at Risk: The Limits of Liberty in Modern America, 2012, etc.) thanks one of his many interview subjects for her time, and she in turn thanks him for his attention: “The listener is everything in telling a story.” The remark serves as both apt praise for his alert reportorial skills and as a succinct expression of the focus of this odd-angle take on freedom of speech. The author features a wide variety of writers and speakers who inject ideas, information, disinformation, prejudice, and fear into the marketplace, but he also focuses on the marketplace itself, on those auditors who wish to hear no “evil,” no truth, nothing at all discomfiting to their own views. Shipler surveys the limits of what is legally, economically, and culturally permissible, looking, for example, at what happens when parents challenge the inclusion of controversial books in the high school curriculum; when government employees, and the reporters to whom they leak, expose classified information; when a Washington, D.C., theater stages performances about Arabs and Jews that address the historical narratives of both sides. The author explores the fallout from political speech corrupted by outright deceit and the connection between money and political expression. He discovers a pattern in “the cultural limits of bigotry” in which the innuendos of right-wing radio talkers go uncensored while the careless one-time remarks of a blue-collar worker or a small-town official become occasions for firing. Of course, no bigot identifies as one, any more than would-be censors identify as free speech opponents. Rather, they object to certain speech, citing a more important value, say, protecting children or national security or fairness. Shipler describes himself as the closest thing to an “absolutist on the First Amendment as possible without quite being one.” Good stories, great interviews, and a potent plea on behalf of vigilant listening.

IN DEFENSE OF SELFISHNESS Why the Code of SelfSacrifice Is Unjust and Destructive

Schwartz, Peter Palgrave Macmillan (256 pp.) $27.00 | Jun. 2, 2015 978-1-137-28016-9

Emphasizing the “I” in Selfishness. Ayn Rand Institute distinguished fellow Schwartz (The Foreign Policy of Self-Interest: A Moral Ideal for America, 2004, etc.) asserts loudly throughout this incendiary book that altruism “is ultimately a call for servitude,” requiring that individuals “subjugate” themselves to others, “shackled to their needs. It is the demand, not that you respect other people’s property—but that you become their property.” Selfishness, on the other hand, is a virtue to be celebrated. “To be selfish,” the author writes, “is to regard your life as something precious, as something to be passionately embraced, not self-effacingly surrendered. To be selfish is to strive to achieve the best that is possible to you. To be selfish is to remain loyal to your ideas.” Selfishness protects what an individual has achieved, notably wealth. Schwartz finds ludicrous the notion that “it takes a village to make a billionaire”; selfmade wealth, he insists, is no myth. “Public Interest,” though, is a myth, a ploy by politicians (never mind that they have been elected by citizens) to force people to pay for what they don’t want: national parks, arts funding, public housing, and even public schools. Value, in the author’s eyes, is determined by the market. Surely, a profitable Disneyland better fulfills the public interest than the government-funded Yellowstone National Park. Schwartz condemns progressive education for teaching “that there are no objectively right and wrong answers” and for training children “to value the crowd over the self, conformity over independence, emotional solidarity over rational judgment.” The author slyly uses the communism-tainted term “collective” rather than community, scorning collectivism that “takes the form of sacrificing 49 percent of the population to 51 percent.” The collectivist approach to government, he writes, “regards man as an ineffectual, perpetually needy entity.” For readers concerned with community, justice, and equality, this book is a real tear-jerker.

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A well-researched treasure of a book that not only chronicles the two men behind the game’s most iconic team, but the nation they helped shape as well. the colonel and hug

THE COLONEL AND HUG The Partnership that Transformed the New York Yankees

calling global attention to the ecological dangers of pumping oil from the pristine region. The protesters were quickly arrested by masked commandos and imprisoned on charges of piracy, facing a possible 15 years in prison. The incident sparked protests in cities worldwide. Stewart, who led the Greenpeace media team seeking release of the Arctic 30, conveys the passion and idealism of the activists—men and women from more than a dozen countries, including sailors and climbers, who spent months in prisons in Murmansk and St. Petersburg—and the determination of Vladimir Putin to make an example of them for attempting to disrupt the operation of his state-run oil company’s prized platform. For the Russians, the protesters were simply foreign agents “determined to undermine Russian economic development.” The book has revealing moments, as when one judge, in a hearing, accidentally started reading his predetermined judgment instead of the indictment. In time, the imprisoned activists were mired in uncertainty and squabbling; some questioned whether they were naïve to take on Putin in the Arctic. Perhaps in an effort to enliven his often lackluster, blow-by-blow narrative of imprisonment and court hearings, Stewart invents long stretches of dialogue among the key players, saying “it doesn’t much matter” that he has done so, since the quoted words convey the essence of situations he learned about in interviews. But it does matter. His many liberties undermine the credibility of his reporting and become a constant irritant to readers. The activists were eventually set free after paying fines. An uneven account of an intriguing environmental story.

Steinberg, Steve & Spatz, Lyle Univ. of Nebraska (520 pp.) $34.95 | May 1, 2015 978-0-8032-4865-6

Many baseball fans think it was Babe Ruth who elevated the fledgling (and flagging) New York Yankees team. In this authoritative new work, Steinberg and Spatz (1921: The Yankees, the Giants, and the Battle for Baseball Supremacy in New York, 2010) shine a light on the indispensable contributions of two behind-the-scenes magicians. Surely the Sultan of Swat has secured his place in the record books, but less is known about the owner and manager of those teams: Col. Jacob Ruppert Jr. and Miller Huggins, known colloquially as the “Colonel” and “Hug.” Ruppert inherited his father’s successful brewery and increased its profitability to become one of New York City’s wealthiest men, and in 1915, he bought the Yankees with partner Til Huston. Huggins was a diminutive ballplayer-turnedmanager tasked with the impossible job of managing the heavy-hitting egotism of the 1920s Yankees, led by Ruth. Despite leading his loaded team to unprecedented success, Huggins suffered through naysayers, negative press, temperamental players, and a nervous breakdown. Regardless, Ruppert regarded the hiring of Huggins as “the first and most important step we took toward making the Yankees champions.” This relationship between owner and manager is what shines throughout the narrative. Though they were from two different worlds, they combined their efforts to change the game of baseball. Every anecdote contributes to a better understanding of these two men and their importance to sports history. The book is not only a thorough dual biography; it is also a lucid, wellwritten reminder of why we love baseball. “Baseball never operates in a vacuum,” write the authors, and they assemble a well-researched treasure of a book that not only chronicles the two men behind the game’s most iconic team, but the nation they helped shape as well. A top-notch sports biography.

MY GENERATION Collected Nonfiction

Styron, William West III, James L.W.—Ed. Random House (656 pp.) $35.00 | Jun. 2, 2015 978-0-8129-9705-7

A rich collection by an estimable writer. In advance of a future collected edition of Styron’s (1925-2006) work, West (English/Pennsylvania State Univ.; Making the Archives Talk, 2012, etc.) has selected 92 pieces—essays, reviews, articles, speeches—including eight previously unpublished, which testify impressively to the power of Styron’s nonfiction. Winner of a Pulitzer Prize for the Confessions of Nat Turner (1968), a National Book Award for Sophie’s Choice (1979), and many other honors, Styron is acclaimed primarily as a novelist, but he contributed regularly to the New York Review of Books, the New York Times, the New Yorker, and many other venues, with pieces notable for their intelligence, verve, and crystalline prose. Born and raised in Virginia, the grandson of a slave owner, Styron devoted many essays to race, and one of his long essays follows “the stormy career” of his novel about the insurrectionist slave Nat Turner, which incited accusations that he was racist. Styron defined his generation—including writers such as Mailer, Baldwin, Salinger, Joseph Heller, and Walker Percy—as traumatized

DON’T TRUST, DON’T FEAR, DON’T BEG The Extraordinary Story of the Arctic 30 Stewart, Ben New Press (336 pp.) $26.95 | Jun. 9, 2015 978-1-62097-109-3 978-1-62097-110-9 e-book

A detailed account of a headlinemaking Arctic oil protest. In September 2013, 30 Greenpeace activists attempted to scale a Russian oil platform to peacefully protest drilling 180 miles north of the Arctic Circle. The plan was to unfurl a banner |

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Esteemed music scholar Szwed offers a portrait of Lady Day as artist and mythmaker rather than tragic victim. billie holiday

BILLIE HOLIDAY The Musician and the Myth

not only by their war experiences and the deployment of nuclear weapons, but by the chilling intimation of future conflicts. After the Korean War, “the cosmos seemed so unhinged as to be nearly insupportable,” and he, like others, became mistrustful of power, nationalism, and political hawks. More than a quarter of the collection reflects these views: several essays focus on the Holocaust; one hard-hitting essay profiles a “horribly maimed” Vietnam veteran. Styron marvels that Douglas MacArthur’s memoir is “almost totally free of self-doubt.” Several pieces reflect movingly on Styron’s experience with severe clinical depression. His literary debts emerge in elegies for Faulkner and Fitzgerald, Robert Penn Warren and James Baldwin, Peter Matthiessen and Truman Capote. Wide-ranging, lucid, and incisive.

Szwed, John Viking (240 pp.) $28.95 | Apr. 1, 2015 978-0-670-01472-9

Esteemed music scholar Szwed (Alan Lomax: The Man Who Recorded the World, 2010, etc.) offers a portrait of Lady Day as artist and mythmaker rather than

tragic victim. More than any other vocal artist of her era, Billie Holiday (19151959) continues to capture the attention of historians and critics. The grim details of her life are, by now, well-known: how she emerged from a background of poverty and prostitution and, for the remainder of her years, struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, abusive relationships, and racism. Szwed does not gloss over these facts, but neither does he dwell on them, instead centering his account on Holiday’s enigmatic persona and its relationship to her art. He calls the book a “meditation” on Holiday rather than a strict biography and assumes that readers will have some familiarity with her life story. The first part of the book, “The Myth,” is a fragmentary but detailed exploration of how Holiday’s persona developed outside of her recordings, focusing on her controversial autobiography Lady Sings the Blues (especially what was edited out of the manuscript) along with her film and TV appearances. The second part, “The Musician,” which takes up more than half the book, is an erudite blend of cultural history and musical insight that examines the historical context of Holiday’s career, placing her in a lineage of female singers that reaches back to the 19th century. Szwed also takes a close look at Holiday’s innovative vocal approach, reminding us that although she had no formal training, she possessed a remarkable gift for improvisation and interpretation, often reshaping melodies to the extent that she essentially rewrote them according to her own idiosyncratic visions. As with the best of Holiday’s music, this elegant and perceptive study is restrained, nuanced, and masterfully carried out.

STALIN’S DAUGHTER The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva

Sullivan, Rosemary Harper/HarperCollins (752 pp.) $35.00 | Jun. 2, 2015 978-0-06-220610-7 A biography of haunting fascination portrays its subject as a pawn of historical circumstance who tried valiantly to

create her own life. Canadian biographer Sullivan’s previous works (Villa Air-Bel: World War II, Escape, and a House in Marseille, 2006, etc.) often took her into the complicated lives of women artists, and in this sympathetic biography of Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva (19262011), the author has illuminated another challenging, mercurial subject. There is a parallel strangeness to the two halves of Svetlana’s life. In her early years, she grew up in the ideologically strenuous Soviet Union, with the run of the Kremlin and various dachas. She was the darling of her supreme dictator father, but before she turned 7, her mother killed herself—though suicide was not the “official” cause of death. Svetlana was also held somewhat apart in school, shadowed by bodyguards and agents, and she learned the shattering truth about her mother’s death from English-language magazines when she was 15. In the second half of her life, she walked into the American embassy in New Delhi in 1967, where she had been allowed to scatter her husband’s ashes, and defected, carrying a manuscript and abandoning her two older children in Moscow. Determined not to end up silenced as an artist, she enlisted the help of former U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union George Kennan and others. Svetlana had seen her family and artist friends disappear—executed or vanished into the gulags—and she had grown disillusioned and embittered by the Soviet system, to the skittishness of American officials, who were afraid of a Soviet political backlash. With great compassion, Sullivan reveals how both sides played her for their own purposes, yet she was a writer first and foremost, a passionate Russian soul who wanted a human connection yet could not quite find the way into the Western heart. The author manages suspense and intrigue at every turn.

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90 CHURCH Inside America’s Notorious First Narcotics Squad

Unkefer, Dean Picador (432 pp.) $28.00 | Jun. 2, 2015 978-1-250-06733-3

A grim, fevered memoir of pre–Drug Enforcement Administration anti-drug warriors raising havoc in New York City. Unkefer argues that the little-known Federal Bureau of Narcotics was crucial in staunching the flow of hard drugs into the country before it was merged with another department in 1968: “The bizarre and cunning way |


that they fought the Mafia to a standstill made them legendary.” However, because he builds the narrative around disguised characters and dramatic reconstruction, without clear discussion of actual cases, this feels more like pulpy fiction than the history it represents. The colorful first-person voice endeavors to portray a noirish group of rule-breaking tough guys, yet they come off as a strange combination of a drunken fraternity and Nixonian dirty-tricks squad. Unkefer paints the upper-level administrators as pompous and naïve and claims that the real power lay with two agents: Dewey, a goofy, Mickey Rooney type who was also a skilled assassin, and Michael, a master manipulator who observes, “Stop the drugs. That’s all anybody cares about. No one cares about the law, or us....They take all the credit. We do the dirty work.” They plunged the earnest but increasingly damaged (and eventually cocaine-addicted) young Unkefer into undercover work, where he repeatedly stumbled into horrific encounters with killers and junkies: “There was death, misery, and shooting every day. I had tried to ignore it since my first day on the job.” Following a series of increasingly labyrinthine cases against upper-echelon mobsters and their inner-city dealers (which inevitably ended in lethal shootouts), there was an investigation of the author’s squad for their malfeasance. Yet the tale abruptly ends with a cleaned-up Unkefer being offered a promotion prior to the DEA’s formation, which he refused. “Today there is little recorded history of 90 Church,” he concludes. “The agents did what had to be done.” Though entertainingly readable in a grimy sort of way, this is more a tangle of sex, violence, and betrayal than a serious true-crime narrative about this little-discussed era.

the main source of nourishment for much of the world’s population, removing wheat from the picture could cause famine. The author’s personal confrontation with the issue came when his wife returned from a weekend at a health spa, convinced that gluten was the cause of her muscular distress. An avid home baker as well an investigative journalist, Yafa was soon hot on the trail of the booming new industry of gluten-free products, many of which have less nutritional value than traditional versions. “Real nourishing and delicious bread did not seem to be getting a fair hearing,” he writes, and he delivers on his claim to “tell a more balanced, less sensational story about wheat.” He reports on his months of travel meeting with experts—microbiologists, organic farmers, artisan bakers, specialty chefs, and more—in order to deepen his understanding of the art and science of bread making and its history. An appealingly complex narrative of a successful quest, with recipes for the home baker.

DISSENT The History of an American Idea

Young, Ralph New York Univ. (640 pp.) $39.95 | May 1, 2015 978-1-4798-0665-2

A broad-ranging, evenhanded view of a tradition honed into an art form in America: the use of dissent as “a critique of governance.” Americans are very good at complaining about everything under the sun. The stock market may be booming, jobs may be plentiful, and gas may be cheap, but still it’s not enough. As Young (History/Temple Univ. Dissent in America: Voices that Shaped a Nation, 2009, etc.) observes, throughout most of our history, the intent of dissenters has been honorable, an expression of “lofty ideals” and loyal opposition. However, often—and increasingly more often, it seems—dissenters are bent on forcing their narrow interests on the larger polity, sometimes in the hope of escaping such burdens as paying taxes, sometimes in the hope that their worldview will be declared the worldview. As Young chronicles, dissent often comes with unintended consequences. In a particularly pointed episode, he notes that slavery entered the American tradition as a means of dismantling a system of white indenture that bred seething resentment wherever it was practiced, with occasionally fatal results. Slaves, it was hoped, would not be so given to dissent, though that premise, too, would be proven false. Young has a knack for finding obscure but thoroughly revealing moments of history to illustrate his points; learning about Fries’ Rebellion and the QuasiWar with France is worth the price of admission alone, though his narrative offers much more besides. Of particular interest is the constant shift in American politics between the positions of dissenter and establishmentarian—not just as when, countering secession, West Virginia itself seceded to form a state, but also as when tea party activists get elected to become part of the

GRAIN OF TRUTH The Real Case for and Against Wheat and Gluten Yafa, Stephen Hudson Street/Penguin (272 pp.) $25.95 | May 12, 2015 978-1-59463-249-5

Playwright and screenwriter Yafa (Cotton: The Biography of a Revolutionary Fiber, 2004) debunks the claim by “the anti-gluten medical contingent” that wheat is unhealthy because it contains gluten, a protein that supposedly contributes to “obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia and more.” The author suggests that store-bought bread and cereals have been stripped of their nutritional value in order to increase profitability—e.g., by replacing more labor-intensive stone grinding by roller mills and speeding the time of fermentation during baking. Furthermore, bread makers often deliberately remove fiber and wheat germ in order to create easily digestible, popular products such as hamburger buns. This process strips them of their nutritional value, leaving them heavy on starch. “Nobody wants to hear that humans, not nature’s gluten all on its own, might be the source of the problem with wheat,” writes the author. Moreover, he points out, since it is |

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Why Americans should continue to embrace a well-rounded education. in defense of a liberal education

THE FELLOWSHIP The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams

government they despise, at which point much cognitive dissonance ensues. Refreshingly democratic—solid supplemental reading to the likes of Terkel and Alinsky, insistent on upholding the rights of political minorities even when they’re wrong.

Zaleski, Philip & Zaleski, Carol Farrar, Straus and Giroux (656 pp.) $30.00 | Jun. 2, 2015 978-0-374-15409-7

IN DEFENSE OF A LIBERAL EDUCATION

Zakaria, Fareed Norton (208 pp.) $23.95 | Mar. 30, 2015 978-0-393-24768-8

How a “circle of instigators” thrived in mid-20th-century England. From 1930 until the 1950s, a small group of friends who dubbed themselves the Inklings met weekly, usually in the rooms of C.S. Lewis, at Magdalen College, Oxford, to talk, argue, cajole one another, and read their works-in-progress. Writers and painters, physicians and theologians, historians and actors, the men (no women allowed) shared “mythological, medieval, and monarchical” sympathies; “their great hope was to restore Western culture to its religious roots, to unleash the powers of the imagination, to reenchant the world through Christian faith and pagan beauty.” In this well-researched, consistently engaging group biography, the Zaleskis (Prayer: A History, 2005, etc.), who have written widely on religion and spirituality, follow the lives of the group’s major figures: Lewis (1898-1963), whose prolific output includes The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973), author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series; playwright and literary critic Owen Barfield (1898-1997); and poet, playwright, theologian, and novelist Charles Williams (1886-1945). The Inklings, the authors assert, were interested in theological issues, but they differed in their viewpoints, derived from a range of Christian affiliations. They most certainly identified common enemies: “atheists, totalitarians, modernists, and anyone with a shallow imagination.” Their own imaginations gravitated to mythology and especially to fantasy, “the sheer excitement of the genre, the intoxication of entering the unknown and fleeing from the everyday.” Fantasy, moreover, intimated the spiritual and a “higher, purer world or state of being.” The Inklings, the authors maintain throughout this richly detailed biography, revitalized “Christian intellectual and imaginative life” by producing literature that served as “a sanctuary for faith.” A bountiful literary history that maps the work of “an intellectual orchestra, a gathering of sparkling talents in a common cause, each participant the master of his own chosen field.” (16 pages of b/w illustrations)

Why Americans should continue to embrace a well-rounded education. After being accepted at Yale, Zakaria (The Post-American World: Release 2.0, 2011, etc.)—who emigrated from India, a country whose educational system is deeply rooted in the concept of learning a skill or trade rather than embracing a general education—had to decide on a course of study. Although fearful of what his Indian friends might think, he decided to major in history, a subject he was passionate about but one that was not necessarily considered useful. Zakaria implores all Americans to reconsider the idea of obtaining a liberal education, using solid evidence from Colonial days to the present to show that a liberal education is the ultimate element that separates the educational system of the United States from much of the rest of the world. America was founded on new ideas and people who didn’t want to be locked into the European method of learning via specific training and/or apprenticeships. Zakaria’s arguments are cohesive, and his accessible prose logically progresses as he builds his case for a type of education that opens doors that might otherwise never be discovered. “A good educational system must confront the realities of the world we live in and educate in a way that addresses them,” he writes, “rather than pretend that these challenges don’t exist.” A liberal education gives one the tools to be able to learn anything, whether it is science-based, technology-based, or something altogether different. It emphasizes methods of writing and speaking one’s thoughts through creative endeavors and the pursuit of interests that hold attention far beyond the classroom. Zakaria adroitly points out that thanks to the Internet and online classes, the opportunity to learn anything, just about anywhere in the world, is now available to the global population, so there’s no reason not to take advantage. A passionate appeal, for Americans in particular and the world at large, to rethink the benefits of a well-rounded, general education.

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children’s & teen DON’T THROW IT TO MO!

These titles earned the Kirkus Star:

Adler, David A. Illus. by Ricks, Sam Penguin Young Readers (32 pp.) $14.99 | May 5, 2015 978-0-670-01631-0

LIKE IT NEVER HAPPENED by Emily Adrian...................................85 ONE WORD FROM SOPHIA by Jim Averbeck; illus. by Yasmeen Ismail........................................................................ 88 STONEWALL by Ann Bausum............................................................ 89 CIRCUS MIRANDUS by Cassie Beasley.............................................. 90 SOMETHING EXTRAORDINARY by Ben Clanton.............................93 FELL OF DARK by Patrick Downes.................................................... 96 BULLDOZER’S BIG DAY by Candace Fleming; illus. by Eric Rohmann..........................................................................97 CONVICTION by Kelly Loy Gilbert................................................... 98 POEMS IN THE ATTIC by Nikki Grimes; illus. by Elizabeth Zunon..................................................................... 99 THE SIGN OF THE CAT by Lynne Jonell...........................................101 SHADOWSHAPER by Daniel José Older.......................................... 113 THE FOG DIVER by Joel Ross............................................................. 117 SMALL WONDERS by Matthew Clark Smith; illus. by Giuliano Ferri........................................................................119

Mo is one football-crazy little boy. Using a football for a pillow, waking up to his mom’s calls of football plays— Mo’s whole life revolves around the pigskin. Even though he is younger and smaller than the other kids on the team, he plays for the Robins. He mostly sits on the bench next to Coach Steve, but he still lives to play. One day during a game, Coach Steve butters the ball to teach Mo hand skills, and the opposing team sees him bobble the ball. The coach puts Mo in but tells the Robins not to throw to Mo, causing the other team’s players to mock the boy. Having cagily established Mo as no threat, the coach then engineers Mo’s capture of the game-winning throw. While the ample font, recognizable words, and amusing full-color cartoon illustrations make Mo’s story seem to be a good fit for new readers, the plot is confusing in parts. Most children know that butter does not easily wash off with cold water and that football teams do not include children of wildly varying ages. When Mo gives credit to his coach for the winning play, Coach Steve says something that no coach of a team sport ever says: “No....You won the game.” A diverse cast of football players, including a pigtailed girl and a proudly centered African-American protagonist, adds interest, but the plot’s flaws may put off even young football fanatics. (Early reader. 4- 7)

NIMONA by Noelle Stevenson............................................................119

LIKE IT NEVER HAPPENED

THREE DAY SUMMER by Sarvenaz Tash..........................................120

Adrian, Emily Dial (368 pp.) $17.99 | Jun. 2, 2015 978-0-5254-2823-7

STONEWALL Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights

Bausum, Ann Viking (128 pp.) $16.99 | May 5, 2015 978-0-670-01679-2

Budding actor Rebecca Rivers knows who she is and where she’s going; she’s also shadowed by an old, unearned middle school reputation that refuses to die. Getting the lead in every school play, the only actor exempt from the director’s caustic criticism, Rebecca knows she’s envied by some, but her theater cohort— the Essential Five —has her back, right? But as rumors based on |

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let’s hear it for live bugs Editing reviews of children’s and teen books can lead to some pretty strange diversions. Take fireflies—or more precisely, best practices in catching fireflies. In this issue we review Good Night, Firefly, by Gabriel Alborozo. It’s a strikingly illustrated nighttime adventure about little Nina, who is afraid of the dark. When the electricity goes out one summer evening, she catches a firefly in her backyard, putting it in a jar—no holes in its lid are visible—to act as a substitute night light. Of course its light dims, not even brightening when the child offers it chocolate. Happily for the firefly, Nina releases it, which prompts a spectacular aerial “Good night, Nina” from its compatriots. Our reviewer was beside herself: the bug is dying in that jar, she pointed out. Those stakes are deadly. Readers who have been lucky enough to spend time with bugs know that bugs in jars with no air holes end up curled into little crisp balls at the bottoms of those jars, she felt. These readers will not see a sweet parable about dawning empathy with another living creature; they will be so distressed on the insect’s behalf they won’t be able to enjoy the book. We felt the book was disingenuous and said so. Then I got a note from the publisher, along with a link to an eHow article: fireflies need humidity, and excessive aeration poses a greater risk than oxygen deprivation; therefore, air holes are ill-advised. This sent me on my own research quest to independently confirm or refute the eHow article. Multiple hours, numerous webpages, and several nearly incomprehensible scholarly papers (also useless; it appears most entomological studies aren’t interested in the impact of child predation on firefly populations) later, I had an answer, confirmed by an insect specialist at the University of Maine Cooperative Extension: Fireflies need both oxygen and humidity, so best practices demand holes in the jar’s lid and a moist paper towel at its bottom. (Also release before starvation.) It wasn’t the usual course of an editorial day, but now Kirkus has done its part to make the world a teeny bit safer for fireflies. What’s next?—V.S. Vicky Smith is the children’s & teen editor.

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her past resurface and affect her intensifying relationship with Charlie Lamb, she finds there’s a lot she doesn’t know about her fellow thespian overachievers. Tensions mount as floating rumors accrete to and harm a faculty member. Meanwhile, getting to know her estranged sister, Mary, prompts Rebecca to question her own assumptions and their provenance. In the standard-issue teen-lit template—present-tense narration, narrowly focused time span, text larded with brand names and cultural icons—the past is an afterthought, viewed in brief flashbacks. Here, time passes, opening up new narrative possibilities. Rebecca’s understanding of those around her and her place among them evolves over several years, giving both her and readers access to retrospective wisdom. Her world’s sculpted by contemporary culture’s relentless pace, lack of privacy, and unprecedented need—and ability—to label and respond to every transient permutation of human behavior. Theater’s the single constant in Rebecca’s life, a prism through which to interpret life for others and for herself. Original and intriguing; a powerful debut. (Fiction. 14-18)

THE WRATH AND THE DAWN

Ahdieh, Renée Putnam (400 pp.) $17.99 | May 12, 2015 978-0-399-17161-1

A lush, hypnotic, swoony re-imagining of the “Arabian Nights” framing story. Sixteen-year-old Shahrzad jilts her sweetheart to wed the “murderer, monster, madman” Khalid Ibn al-Rashid, Caliph of Khorasan, planning vengeance for his serial murders of his brides, including her beloved cousin. Clever, stubborn, and reckless, Shahrzad wields stories like weapons as she piques her new husband’s interest and maneuvers through palace intrigue. But she never envisaged that the cold, brilliant, tortured boy king could kindle her desire, nor that her spurned betrothed would raise a rebellion to rescue her. Redolent of perfumes and spices, luxuriant with jewels and silks, this debut pulls authentic details from across cultures and centuries and mixes them with magic and mysticism to concoct an exotic storybook world—albeit with violence and candid sensuality that take it well out of the realm of children’s books. While the steamy love triangle takes center stage, secondary characters add excitement with their treacherous schemes, murderous plots, and soapy melodrama. Witty, brash, and passionate, Shahrzad makes a good foil for both her impossibly valiant and infatuated first love and for the angry and self-loathing Khalid, cursed to make impossible choices. As the disparate plot threads intertwine to a heartbreaking climax, the conflagrant cliffhanger will leave those readers enthralled by the forbidden romance both yearning for and dreading the concluding volume. Dreamily romantic, deliciously angst-y, addictively thrilling. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

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Relying heavily on visual description and peppered with eccentric characters, this first book in a planned series plays out like a Disney pilot. gabby duran and the unsittables

GOOD NIGHT, FIREFLY

Alborozo, Gabriel Illus. by the author Henry Holt (32 pp.) $16.99 | Jun. 2, 2015 978-1-62779-222-6

Nina learns that a firefly is a great night light—initially. The illustrations are top-notch, with the appearance of black-and-white scratchboard, sparsely highlighted with a red shirt here, a yellow glow there. The text is both matter-of-fact and descriptive: “Nina was scared of the dark, so it was good she had a night-light, which made things better. Then one night... / the electricity went out. Nina watched as scary shadows crept across her walls. Every noise sounded like the whispering of monsters.” An exciting illustration that looks more like a fireworks display than a normal firefly-spangled night prefaces Nina’s trip to trap a firefly in a jar. Unfortunately, observant, bug-savvy readers will notice the lack of holes in the jar’s lid. (Those conversant with fireflies’ unique needs will also take alarm at the absence of a moist paper towel within.) This mars the humor of the following pages, in which Nina engages in many activities by the firefly’s light until the insect is almost dead. Nina tries showing the bug several things to “make his light stronger—a battery, a wind-up key, her favorite chocolate bar”—until she hits on the right solution and frees it. (Whew!) Children who regularly spend time with bugs may well be so distressed at the firefly’s peril that they will be unable to enjoy the story. The grand finale is lovely, but the story does a disservice by not acknowledging the firefly’s grave danger. Charming artwork and some funny moments, marred by disingenuousness. (Picture book. 3-6)

MONKEY AND THE LITTLE ONE

Alexander, Claire Illus. by the author Sterling (32 pp.) $14.95 | May 5, 2015 978-1-4549-1580-5

A mouse disturbs a monkey’s tranquility but soon turns from irksome to indispensable in Alexander’s tale of friendship’s often strange course. First, however, the artwork: a lovely combination of media creates landscapes and companionable characters in a broad range of sunny (if not particularly jungly) pastels. The story: Monkey lives alone in the jungle (“he liked it that way”), munching on bananas, reading in the crook of a tree limb, swimming in the cool, cool water of the lake. Little One (a mouse) appears, unbidden and unwanted. Monkey politely asks him to scram. Mouse is not conversant with “monkey-speak,” so he blithely settles in under Monkey’s hammock. Little One follows Monkey everywhere, innocently mimicking him (except for the bananas: “Yuck!”) and holding out peace offering after peace offering. Finally, Monkey erupts: “Leave me alone!”; and Little |

One does. Monkey finds himself discomfited. It’s not remorse or loneliness but something ineffable: “somehow it didn’t feel the same as before.” Monkey goes in search of Little One and welcomes him back. “The Little One still followed Monkey everywhere...but somehow Monkey didn’t mind anymore.” Somehow—but what changed Monkey’s mind? Sharing company can be a complicated, contradictory, confusing (dis)pleasure, but “somehow” doesn’t pass muster. There is nothing here for young readers to hang their hats on, no takeaway. The story looks beautiful, but the depths of the issue are never plumbed. (Picture book. 3-6)

GABBY DURAN AND THE UNSITTABLES

Allen, Elise & Conners, Daryle Disney-Hyperion (208 pp.) $16.99 | $9.99 e-book | May 12, 2015 978-1-4847-0935-1 978-1-4847-1942-8 e-book Twelve-year-old Gabby Duran’s reputation as babysitter to the stars is positively intergalactic. As if watching the children of Hollywood’s hottest action hero weren’t cool enough, now the Association Linking Intergalactics and Earthlings as Neighbors has come knocking. After a series of babysitting mishaps threatens to expose the secret of human-alien integration, they declare Gabby “Sitter to the Unsittables.” Though a bit onedimensional, Gabby is a conscientious and likable heroine who rises to the challenge of protecting a young, shape-shifting alien for an entire school day. It’s no easy feat, with a bounty on her head and undercover agents for the Group Eradicating Totally Objectionable Uninvited Trespassers hot on her trail. Sworn to secrecy and uncertain whom she can trust, Gabby risks everything to protect her new extraterrestrial charge. Middle-grade readers looking for an accessible and entertaining foray into science fiction will find plenty to enjoy here. Relying heavily on visual description and peppered with eccentric characters, this first book in a planned series plays out like a Disney pilot. What’s lacking is depth. Gabby’s complicated and intriguing family history is introduced in the very beginning of the novel and barely mentioned again. Surely the “trusted friends” who are invited to read Gabby’s first dossier deserve a real understanding of what makes her unique. (Science fiction. 7-12)

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Whether readers see this as a mixed-race family or a family of color with a broad spectrum of skin tones, this book offers a mirror for a wide variety of readers. one word from sophia

TWO FOR JOY

A whale’s tale that dives deep and surfaces with useful lessons about making, keeping, and helping friends. (Picture book. 2-6)

Amateau, Gigi Illus. by Marble, Abigail Candlewick (96 pp.) $14.99 | Jun. 9, 2015 978-0-7636-3010-2 When feisty great-aunt Britannia falls and hurts herself for the fourth time in two years, 8-year-old Jenna and her mom, a nurse, invite “Tannie” to come and live with them. But the strong-willed, widowed Tannie, an avid birder who once could fly an airplane and ride a motorcycle, isn’t quite ready to give up her Mississippi farm and move in with her beloved relatives in Virginia. Eventually Tannie relents. Although Jenna appreciates having her great-aunt’s inspiring spirit nearby, soon Tannie’s needs cut into the maternal attentiveness Jenna has come to expect. Learning to accept change and to ask for help become challenges for all of the characters, as transitioning into an intergenerational threesome is presented as an ongoing process. Amateau’s experiences with caregiving and her work in the world of aging and disability services inform this mildly generic, timeless story. Refreshing aspects include an adventurous older female character striving to remain vital and the mutually respectful relationship between Jenna and her mother, who is the primary parent after divorce. A deceptively simple, warmhearted tale, particularly apt for chapter-book readers with similar experiences or an interest in multigenerational stories. (Fiction. 7-9)

TO THE SEA

Atkinson, Cale Illus. by the author Disney-Hyperion (48 pp.) $16.99 | May 19, 2015 978-1-4847-0813-2 Tim finds a whale beached on a street adjacent to his school and vows to help his new friend get back to the sea. The amorphous, sluglike whale, Sam, is simply stuck and as shockingly invisible to others as Tim is. The whale’s hugeness captures the heft and burden of Tim’s own inexplicable loneliness. Readers first see Tim standing alone in pouring rain, his face obscured by a dripping hoodie and his need for a friend plain. Sam’s massive body, a murky emerald green, often entirely fills the page, making him difficult to discern. His round eyes, however, deliver remarkably acute information about his worry and salty homesickness. Tim’s earnest promise to get Sam back to the ocean brightens this book of dark double-page spreads, done in deep blues and greens from the very bottom of the sea. Beaming tangerines highlight all the words and people in this friendship tale, buoying every inky illustration. Children will cheer as Tim ties Sam to a rope behind his bike and pulls and pedals and huffs and puffs him all the way to a seaside cliff...and over! 88

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ONE WORD FROM SOPHIA

Averbeck, Jim Illus. by Ismail, Yasmeen Atheneum (40 pp.) $17.99 | $12.99 e-book | Jun. 16, 2015 978-1-4814-0514-0 978-1-4814-0515-7 e-book Tutu-wearing Sophia packs determination, whimsy, and a plethora of strategies to handle a passel of impressive words. One small, vivacious, loquacious little brown girl dreams of her One True Desire: a pet giraffe for her birthday. Sophia must first convince Mother, a judge; Father, a businessman; Uncle Conrad, a politician; and Grand-mamá, the strictest of them all. Sophia crafts consecutive speeches to build a case for the judge, a cost analysis for the businessman, and a poll (of her toys) for the politician. To counter accusations that her pleas are too “effusive,” “loquacious,” and “verbose,” Sophia pares down the language with each ask until Grand-mamá hears just one word. From the first page to the last, Sophia’s energy, creativity, and innovative critical thinking will entertain both adults and children. Whether readers see this as a mixed-race family or a family of color with a broad spectrum of skin tones, this book offers a mirror for a wide variety of readers. Starting with the endpapers, the watercolor-and–colored-pencil illustrations depict the closeness of the family, their expectations of Sophia’s intellectual prowess, and her adeptness at employing all of the wiles of childhood to persuade. A concluding glossary explicates the advanced vocabulary with wit and warmth. A must-read—for pet lovers and even for those not yet convinced. (Picture book. 4-8)

THE SKUNK

Barnett, Mac Illus. by McDonnell, Patrick Roaring Brook (40 pp.) $17.99 | Apr. 14, 2015 978-1-59643-966-5 When is a skunk not a skunk? When it’s a...skunk. A bespectacled man peers out his front door at a red-nosed skunk perched on his stoop, gazing back. The skunk does nothing overtly threatening, just looks at the man and then follows him down the street. The man sports tails and a cummerbund, his red bow tie visually connecting him to the skunk’s red nose; overall, McDonnell’s palette is muted, metropolitan blacks and grays occasionally accented by peach and red. The skunk is bipedal, his posture mimicking the narrator’s as he tails the man through

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the city on foot and by cab—yet, the narrator tells readers, “the skunk was a skunk.” To the opera, through cemetery, carnival— a brief sojourn on a Ferris wheel is particularly symbolic of existential futility—and sewers the man flees, finally finding himself in a completely different part of the city, where he buys a new house. Here the palette changes to primary colors; there is no skunk, but the man’s visiting friends take on the look of circus clowns. Something is missing; the man leaves his housewarming party to find “[his] skunk.” On doing so, the man begins to tail the skunk, to “make sure he does not follow me again.” Adults will turn themselves inside out trying to figure it out; kids will either find the whole idea hysterical or just plain befuddling. Peculiar, perplexing, and persistent—training wheels for Samuel Beckett. (Picture book. 6-10)

ATLANTIS IN PERIL

Barron, T.A. Philomel (272 pp.) $17.99 | May 5, 2015 978-0-399-16804-8 Series: Atlantis, 2

The evil spirit Narkazan, supposedly vanquished in Atlantis Rising (2013), is back. Reunited with his parents but bitter at their earlier abandonment of him, immortal hero Promi doesn’t heed his father’s warning that his trips to Atlantis to visit the beautiful Atlanta are damaging the veil that keeps the mortal world safe. Narkazan sends dreams to a mortal, Reocoles, who begins an industrial revolution in Atlantis after Promi saves his ship from disaster. These rapid-fire industrial advancements, engineered by Reocoles and his fellow Greek explorers, threaten environmental ruin in short order. Barron’s eco-friendly message is laudable but so didactic the book suffers. Readers may wonder why magical sea creature Kermi, sent to warn Promi not to save the ship, decides not to deliver his urgent message, for instance. As in the series opener, the characters’ dialogue is often stilted, and those who speak in dialect come across as terribly clichéd. Narkazan’s lack of empathy—and sometimes common sense—makes him unbelievable, and the lesser, mustache-twirling (in one case, literally) bad guys’ main purpose seems to be to fulfill archetypes. The ethnic targeting of the Greeks as eco-villains is just one more problematic element. Relative inaction and deus ex machina solutions mark this installment as a typical middle volume; here’s hoping the conclusion makes up for at least some of the failings of the first two books. (Fantasy. 10-14)

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RUBY ON THE OUTSIDE

Baskin, Nora Raleigh Simon & Schuster (176 pp.) $16.99 | $10.99 e-book | Jun. 16, 2015 978-1-4424-8503-7 978-1-4424-8505-1 e-book Having a mom in prison presents Ruby with complications and challenges. Ruby’s most prominent concern is her need to keep the truth about her mom secret. On the cusp of sixth grade, Ruby is becoming discontent with her situation. Until now, Ruby has kept her life compartmentalized, establishing a strong distinction between the “outside world” and her “inside world.” But with middle school looming, Ruby decides a best friend is a necessity. The arrival of new girl Margalit inspires Ruby to attempt a connection with someone from the outside, and she learns that Margalit also struggles in the wake of a family crisis. Despite their different circumstances, both girls cope with the repercussions of events far beyond their control. The joy Ruby expresses in her blossoming friendship with Margalit profoundly demonstrates the isolation she has endured as a result of keeping her inside and outside lives separate. When a startling coincidence compels Ruby to investigate her mother’s history, her discovery has the potential to unravel her fledgling friendship. Writing in Ruby’s voice, Baskin delves into her protagonist’s evolving perceptions as her awareness of her mother’s circumstances deepens. Ruby’s gradual revelation of the truth represents her determined, hopeful progress toward healing and acceptance. A deeply compassionate exploration of an experience underrepresented in children’s literature but overrepresented in the real world. (Fiction. 10-14)

STONEWALL Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights

Bausum, Ann Viking (128 pp.) $16.99 | May 5, 2015 978-0-670-01679-2

Pennies, glass bottles, a parking meter, and a kick line: how a police raid became a community’s symbol of freedom. June 28, 1969: the night the gay bar Stonewall was raided by the police for the second time in a week to stop a blackmail operation. What began as a supposedly routine police raid ended with over 2,000 angry, fed-up protesters fighting against the police in New York’s West Village. Bausum eloquently and thoughtfully recounts it all, from the violent arrest of a young lesbian by the police to an angry, mocking, Broadway-style kick line of young men protesting against New York’s Tactical Control Force. Bausum not only recounts the action of the evening

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in clear, blow-by-blow journalistic prose, she also is careful to point out assumptions and misunderstandings that might also have occurred during the hot summer night. Her narrative feels fueled by rage and empowerment and the urge to tell the truth. She doesn’t bat an eye when recounting the ways that the LGBT fought to find freedom, love, and the physical manifestations of those feelings, whether at the Stonewall Inn or inside the back of a meat truck parked along the Hudson River. Readers coming of age at a time when state after state is beginning to celebrate gay marriage will be astonished to return to a time when it was a crime for a man to wear a dress. Enlightening, inspiring, and moving. (Nonfiction. 13-16)

CIRCUS MIRANDUS

Beasley, Cassie Dial (304 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | Jun. 2, 2015 978-0-525-42843-5 978-0-698-18906-5 e-book One strange afternoon, 10-year-old Micah Tuttle finds out that magic is real. Micah always thought Grandpa Ephraim’s wild stories of the centuriesold Circus Mirandus were spun solely for his amusement. But when his dying grandfather writes a letter to the “Lightbender,” hoping to call in the miracle the magician had promised him as a boy, Micah learns the stories were true, and the appearance of Ms. Chintzy, the circus’ cantankerous parrot messenger, clinches the deal. Happily, Micah finds a loyal if somewhat challenging friend to help him track down the elusive light-bending magician: the magic-leery, science-minded Jenny Mendoza. Their budding rapport is nuanced and complex, a refreshing illustration of how absolute like-mindedness is not a prerequisite for friendship. On one level, the book is a fantastical circus romp, with fortunetelling vultures and “a wallaby that could burp the Greek alphabet.” On another, it’s both serious and thick with longing: Micah’s ache for the companionship of his once-vital guardian-grandfather; Grandpa Ephraim’s boyhood yearning for his absent father, as fleshed out in flashbacks; the circus founders’ desire to keep enchantment alive in a world where “faith is such a fragile thing.” A delicious confection and much more: it shows that the human heart is delicate, that it matters, and that it must be handled with care. (Fiction. 9-12)

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THE NOTORIOUS PAGAN JONES

Berry, Nina Harlequin Teen (400 pp.) $17.99 | May 26, 2015 978-0-373-21143-2 In 1961, a troubled but immensely clever starlet is roped into dangerous Cold War intrigue. Sixteen-year-old Pagan, an up-andcoming actress in 1950s and ’60s Hollywood, lost everything when she killed her father and baby sister with a drunken swerve of her Corvette. Now she’s just another inmate at the Lighthouse Reformatory for Wayward Girls, struggling with sobriety and self-loathing. Salvation comes from an unlikely source: her old studio sends a dashing young man to fetch her from jail. Devin Black is darkly handsome, irritatingly attentive, and an obvious liar. Why would he be so desperate to drag a jailbird actress off to West Berlin? How did he get so powerful, able to bend studio executives and judges to his will? In a divided Berlin, Pagan runs the risk of being swamped by geopolitical danger from Communist East Germans—and the ongoing temptation of alcohol. Her prodigious competence at everything she attempts, from acting to espionage, would make her unbelievable if Berry did not temper it so well with her struggles with addiction. Loving descriptions of early-’60s fashion and lustfully purple descriptions of Devin (with eyes like “shards of stained glass shaded from indigo to azure” or “turbulent seas on a blustery night”) don’t distract from the wellpaced historical thriller. Scary in all the right places, with a strong setup for the sequel. (Suspense. 13-15)

BLACKOUT

Black, Peter Jay Bloomsbury (320 pp.) $16.99 | $11.99 e-book | Jun. 2, 2015 978-1-61963-592-0 978-1-61963-593-7 e-book Series: Urban Outlaws, 2 Fighting enemies who wield guns is tough enough, but confronting a boy who could be either friend or foe is even more challenging. As the Urban Outlaws continue their quest to rein in the world’s worst computer virus, they come across Hector, who seems to be just like them. Practically an orphan, Hector has computer skills on par with Jack’s, and Jack doesn’t like that. But is he simply jealous of how the others turn to Hector for leadership, or are his bad feelings a sign that Hector isn’t to be trusted? He doesn’t have a lot of time to ponder the situation, since he and his gang are determined to stop both evil corporations and the government from gaining access to the virus, breaking into top-secret virtual worlds in the process. Black follows much the

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same formula he established in Urban Outlaws (2014), changing things up slightly with the introduction of Hector. The intense action and cool gadgets are very thrilling, though the larger story of these self-sufficient kids and their relationships with one another seems to be lost among the high-speed chases and technical difficulties. The best sequels are ones that travel more deeply into previously explored territory. This one does not venture far from the well-traveled path. An entertaining-enough sequel for fans happy to stay in one emotional place. (Adventure. 9-13)

STRAYS

Caloyeras, Jennifer Ashland Creek Press (232 pp.) $16.95 | May 15, 2015 978-1-61822-037-0 Sixteen-year-old Iris seems almost as much of a stray as Roman, the threelegged pit bull mix she’s tasked with training as community-service punishment for an outburst at school. When her mother died two years ago, her distracted father responded by moving them up the coast to Santa Cruz. Ever since, Iris has had trouble with her seething anger. Normally, she dissipates the fury by pounding her closet wall with a hammer. But after her boyfriend dumps her and her English teacher grabs the notebook in which she keeps a list of people she wishes she could kill—including that teacher—she gets in a tussle resulting in her arrest. The dog-training sessions with a group of other struggling teens are challenging. Iris is afraid of dogs, and Roman is unpredictably aggressive. After he scares a man and his son, Roman is sent to the pound, in serious danger of being euthanized. Accepting responsibility for his predicament, letting a discerning teacher understand her situation, and allowing Oak, a caring young man in the dog-training group, to help her all move Iris toward a better place. Ironically, for a wall smasher, she has ample insight, which she often tells rather than showing in her narration. An oft-repeated metaphor equating her anger to rising water grows old, and some plot elements are way too convenient. Entertaining if imperfect, but perhaps a source of comfort for angry teens. (Fiction. 11-16)

“COULD YOU LIFT UP YOUR BOTTOM?” Chang, Hee-jung Illus. by the author TanTan (34 pp.) $16.95 | May 1, 2015 978-1-939248-04-6

politely asks. This unusual premise leads to a rather surprising exploration of two-dimensional shapes, as Elephant requests various foods that are round, triangular, and rectangular, mendaciously promising that then he’ll allow Frog to retrieve her hat. Simple text peppered with plenty of dialogue provides straightforward description, while collage-style illustrations focus on the different shapes as Frog produces various choices for her hat’s captor. Ultimately, it’s up to Frog to find a way to trick Elephant into moving, and when the hefty pachyderm finally does, it’s a sight to behold. While children will have more than one giggle at the repeated references to the titular bottom, shape recognition is the true focus here; the best part of this selection lies in the final pages, which feature extension activities designed to help children gain enjoyment at seeing shapes in real life (in this case, food). An effective choice for developing shape recognition mixed with some salty fun. (Picture book. 3-6)

BEE DANCE

Chrustowski, Rick Illus. by the author Henry Holt (32 pp.) $17.99 | Jun. 16, 2015 978-0-8050-9919-5 A honeybee scout finds a nectarrich prairie and returns to the hive to tell her sisters. Brilliant colors capture readers right away, the morning sky honey yellow and the grass and foliage bright green. The prairie is a riot of color and variety—black-eyed Susans, purple coneflowers, bee balm, and more. The scout heads back to the hive for the titular dance, diagrammed against the comb. Chrustowski’s simple language, appropriate for preschoolers and early-elementary children, captures the basics of the waggle dance in broad gestures: it describes a figure eight; its length indicates distance. Further detail is provided in an author’s note. Cut-paper collage and colored pencils visually define bees, flowers, and hive boxes, both inside and out. The dance acts as the story’s hinge; afterward a whole squadron of forager bees heads back to the prairie to gather nectar and pollen in another glut of color. The use of the second person invites children to identify first with the scout bee and then the foragers, a device that’s reinforced by frequent close-ups. The tale is pleasingly beefocused despite the depiction of a man-made hive; the emphasis is on bee communication and behavior, not beekeeping or protection, though respect for the insects is implicit. A tiny but remarkable one-day adventure that may well ignite entomological excitement in its readers. (Informational picture book. 3-7)

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Scenes full of gentle humor and inventive play convey respect and affection for the audience. something extraordinary

SOMETHING EXTRAORDINARY

Clanton, Ben Illus. by the author Simon & Schuster (40 pp.) $17.99 | $12.99 e-book | Jun. 16, 2015 978-1-4814-0358-0 978-1-4814-0359-7 e-book Bored with the familiar, this young daydreamer imagines how life could be different. For starters, he’d liked to fly or have his drawings—in this case, a robot—come to life. The ideas become more creative as he continues; he would like it if “the rain came in seven different colors. And flavors!” His longings are depicted in watercolor-and-pencil compositions, rendered in a muted palette of browns and blue-greens. Ultimately, his puff of air on a dandelion carries the wish “that something would happen. / Something real!” In a quietly ironic twist, the boy notices a springtime scene (brighter, by subtle degrees) just across the gutter. The birds that had earlier accompanied him, chirping in small, musical speech bubbles, are seen tending their family in a branch of a tree. Organic pink and yellow shapes form the flowers that grace the cheery paradise. The protagonist’s earlier desire to talk to the animals is achieved as he bends toward a turtle and produces his own music bubble. In less-capable hands, the idea that the real is extraordinary (and by extrapolation, that enjoyment requires close observation) could have come across as clichéd and didactic. Instead, scenes full of gentle humor and inventive play convey respect and affection for the audience. The slowly dawning message will elicit excitement about spring, wishing, and the ability to decode a narrative. (Picture book. 4- 7)

SWIMMING, SWIMMING

Clement, Gary Illus. by the author Groundwood (48 pp.) $18.95 | May 12, 2015 978-1-55498-449-7

A quartet of friends—three boys and one girl—revel in the watery joys afforded by the local public pool. This book’s only text is the traditional children’s song “Swimming, Swimming,” but it communicates much more in its many additional, wordless spreads. The kids, apparently about 10 or 11, goof off as they walk, enacting crawl, breaststroke, backstroke, and butterfly on the pavement before changing and showering in the locker rooms. The pool is full of swimmers of many ages and skin tones; three of the four protagonists are pink-skinned, and the fourth is brown. As the kids enter the water, they begin to sing the song, joined by the other swimmers in happy unison. A giant speech bubble occupies a good half of the climactic doublepage spread, all the swimmers and a lifeguard belting out the final line: “Oh don’t you wish you never had anything else to do?” Indeed. |

Clement works in appropriately splashy watercolors, figures, scenery, and speech bubbles defined by thin, hand-drawn lines. The action nominally follows one of the three boys, opening and closing scenes establishing him as an enthusiastic competitive swimmer. Endpapers offer diagrams of the various strokes. Friendship and a pool: the perfect summer combination, here captured to a T. (Picture book. 4- 7)

NEARLY FOUND

Cosimano, Elle Kathy Dawson/Penguin (384 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | Jun. 2, 2015 978-0-8037-3927-7 978-0-698-18942-3 e-book A mysterious killer once again targets Nearly “Leigh” Boswell for sciencethemed murders and harassment. In Nearly Gone (2014), TJ Wiles murdered Leigh’s tutees to punish her for her father’s crimes. Now TJ is in prison, but his father, Reggie, has just been released. When a second series of violent acts begins—a set of threatening, physics-related notes left inside Leigh’s and others’ homes, a drug dealer’s girlfriend murdered, a local business burned to the ground—Leigh is certain they are Reggie’s doing. Interning at a forensic-science lab, Leigh gets a chance to learn how evidence is collected...and to give herself unauthorized access to fingerprint databases and more. Leigh’s stubbornness, recklessness, and willingness to bend rules to her own ends make her a compellingly flawed character. Tension runs high as Leigh keeps secrets, sneaks around physical and electronic security systems, and enlists allies with their own agendas. Some loose ends aren’t entirely tied up (readers never do learn, for instance, whether there are consequences for Leigh’s taking liberties at the forensics lab). The dramatic conclusion, however, answers the novel’s biggest questions—both plot-related and philosophical—with aplomb. A sequel every bit as nail-biting as its predecessor. (Mystery. 14-18)

THE STARS OF SUMMER

Dairman, Tara Putnam (352 pp.) $16.99 | May 5, 2015 978-0-399-17069-0

A 12-year-old girl who freelances as a restaurant reviewer (her employer doesn’t know her age) finds it increasingly difficult to keep her job secret from her parents while dealing with the problems of being a first-time camper and

counselor-in-training. In her first outing (All Four Stars, 2014), Gladys Gatsby, a dedicated cook and all-around foodie, landed her reviewing gig and made some friends. In this overlong, overpopulated sequel,

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Simple phrasing, sparse and easy to read, and charmingly spare watercolor art help create a feeling that is at once realistic and fantastical. sunday shopping

the intrepid heroine has to keep lots of balls in the air. But once again, despite some awkward plot machinations and various substantial credibility problems, by the end, readers should be cheering for Gladys’ success. In this story, a somewhat more confident Gladys is put in a difficult fish-out-of-water situation: her friend Charissa, whose parents own Camp Bentley, gives the unathletic girl an unwanted present of an all-expenses-paid summer at camp. In addition to having to learn how to swim, Gladys must deal with Charissa and her buddies, an obnoxious child novelist, and the demanding camp cook, all while figuring out how to get into the city for her professional reviewing assignment—finding the best hot dog in New York City. It’s a testament to Gladys’ characterization that her appeal rises above the credulity-straining plot. How Gladys rises to these and other challenges is the fun of the story, and despite the novel’s flaws, middle-grade girls should enjoy the ride. (Fiction. 8-12)

SIXTEENTH SUMMER

Dalton, Michelle Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster (320 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 paper | $8.99 e-book May 15, 2015 978-1-4814-3609-0 978-1-4814-3608-3 paper 978-1-4814-3610-6 e-book Series: Swept Away Love blossoms between a summer boy and a local girl in a chaste romance set on the foggy coast of Maine. Goofy out-of-towner Oliver sweeps the virginal, insecure Mandy off her feet with his warm smile and sketch pad. What follows is a whirlwind of blueberry hand pies, stolen kisses, and crafty high jinks to save the local lighthouse. Dalton’s light prose sidesteps the current vogue for overwrought darkness in teen fiction; the only shadow cast on the romance is the inevitability of summer’s end, and the dramatic tension in their innocent attachment centers on Oliver’s wish for Mandy to find her voice and use it. Employing simple tropes—the misunderstood loner, the anxious-harridan mom, the beauty-queen best friend—Dalton imparts simple wisdom about being true to oneself and seeing beyond surface impressions of other people. The mildness of the story harkens back to an earlier era of teen romance, belying the ubiquity of cellphones and Internet connections. Readers titillated by the butt-groping clinch on the front cover may well be disappointed by the innocence within. No new literary ground is broken here, but readers seeking a sweet story of first love will sigh appreciatively. (Romance. 11-14)

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I LOVE KISSES

de la Bédoyère, Camilla QEB Publishing (32 pp.) $12.95 | May 1, 2015 978-1-60992-720-2 Fifteen examples of animal affection, which looks not so different than the human kind. Each two-page spread features a high-resolution photo of same-species animals, often presumably parent and child, expressing affection and a two-part text. The first part reads almost like a message in a Valentine’s Day card: “I’m small and scared, but mom’s kisses make me feel big and brave,” says the grizzly bear cub as its mother gives it a nuzzle. This is supplemented by an interesting factlet, like the fact that a single giraffe mother takes care of a group of giraffe calves in a nursery while the other mothers forage. Koalas like to hug, one owl pecks another on the cheek, and the dolphins naturally touch snouts. There’s a fair amount of anthropomorphism on display in the primary text: cheetah cubs perk up their “sad or tired” mother by “kissing her”; a pair of rabbits “fight,” then “kiss and make up.” Though the secondary text sometimes explicates this, it is nevertheless both syrupy and misleading. The photos are bright and maximally adorable, occupying two-thirds of each spread, and the nuggets of animal fact are nice. Publishing simultaneously is the similarly themed and formatted I Love Hugs. Unfortunately, the Hallmark sentiments in the primary text make this book feel generic and just transitorily cute. (Picture book. 2-5) (I Love Hugs: 978-1-60992-719-6)

SUNDAY SHOPPING

Derby, Sally Illus. by Strickland, Shadra Lee & Low (32 pp.) $17.95 | May 15, 2015 978-1-60060-438-6

As comfortable as a Sunday afternoon with Grandma, Derby’s picture book sneaks a wee bit of financial literacy into her story of playtime and imagination. Evie’s weekly shopping trip with Grandma is something special. Right away, young readers will see that Evie and Grandma are preparing for no ordinary trip to the market. “On Sunday night, after we put on our nightgowns, Grandma and I go shopping,” says Evie. Grandma dons her spiffy blue hat with the feather, and Evie grabs Grandma’s big, black purse, and then it’s time to shop. But their trip begins not in a taxi or walking through a town square. It begins in the comfort of Grandma’s big, comfy bed. Evie and Grandma break open the Sunday paper, pull out the sales ads, and begin. Simple phrasing, sparse and easy to read, and charmingly spare watercolor art help create a feeling that is at once realistic and fantastical. The shopping duo plunge headlong into the sales ads, choosing items from marked-down hams and sweet cherries to mustard;

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these two don’t dream big—they dream thrifty. Evie has stuffed Grandma’s purse with colorful play money, and the two follow a “budget” as they wend their way through grocery stores, furniture stores and fashion outlets. Strickland’s playful mix of watercolor, paper cutouts, and collage both engages on its own and supports the story’s theme. Both old-fashioned and fresh-feeling, this book is thoroughly worthy of a shopping trip. (Picture book. 5-8)

THE BLUE WHALE

Desmond, Jenni Illus. by the author Enchanted Lion Books (48 pp.) $17.95 | May 27, 2015 978-1-59270-165-0 With playful observations and comparisons, Desmond presents a fount of information about “the largest living creature on our planet.” Its “heart is as big as a small car,” its average weight of 160 tons is “about the same as a heap of 55 hippopotami,” and because the krill it eats “are bright orange, so too is a whale’s poo.” Desmond doesn’t depict the poo but she does show the krill, along with a pile of hippos, the 50 ethnically diverse people who could fit into a blue whale’s mouth, 50 jugs of milk that represent a whale calf ’s daily consumption, and other vivid infographics. These illustrations are all done in a loose cartoon style with frequent views of huge, gracefully bowed cetaceans filtered through the imagination of a capering Caucasian lad capped with a red crown and clutching this very volume. The slightly elliptical narrative leaves actual young readers who might be hazy on what “frequency of their sound” means or just why capturing whales for scientific study is “unethical” to wonder. That opening reference to “largest living creature” may cause confusion too, as blue whales are the biggest animals but not the planet’s biggest living organisms (an honor that belongs to a colossal fungus). Still, whale lovers will breach with happiness over this rich, artful mix of fact and frolic. (map) (Informational picture book. 6-8)

SAINT ANYTHING

Dessen, Sarah Viking (432 pp.) $19.99 | May 5, 2015 978-0-451-47470-4

After her ne’er-do-well older brother, Peyton, is sent to prison, demure, obedient Sydney leaves her sheltered private school for a new start. Avoiding her family after her first day at Jackson High School, Sydney fortuitously stops for a snack at Seaside Pizza. There, she meets |

siblings Mac and Layla, who quickly befriend her. Sydney is drawn into the warm world of their family and the pizza business, and crisp, unusual details bring each character and set of relationships to life. At home, Sydney’s mother throws herself obsessively into “supporting” Peyton and pressures Sydney to become as involved in visiting Peyton and talking to him on the phone as she has, without respect to either Sydney’s or Peyton’s wishes. Although Sydney’s mother’s character sometimes feels one-note, Sydney’s frustration with her mother’s willful denial and relative neglect of her is palpable and poignant. This tension shows itself most unsettlingly when Sydney’s parents go out of town for a weekend and leave Sydney in the care of Peyton’s friend Ames, whose sinister interest in Sydney is clear to everyone who pays attention. Overall, the story moves slowly and subtly, creating a rich emotional landscape and letting small changes—Layla finds a boyfriend; Sydney’s mom and brother have a fight—ripple out gently. A many-layered story told with a light touch. (Fiction. 14-18)

THE SUMMER AFTER YOU AND ME

Doktorski, Jennifer Salvato Sourcebooks Fire (320 pp.) $9.99 paper | May 5, 2015 978-1-4926-1903-1

Teen romance ebbs and flows in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. Like its predecessors, New Jersey novelist Doktorski (Famous Last Words, 2013, etc.) sets her third teen romance “down the shore,” this time in storm-ravaged Seaside Park. As locals and seasonal residents rebuild their homes and lives in the spring following the storm, 16-year-old local Lucy Giordano and her family look forward to returning to the comfort of a normal Jersey summer. But relationship challenges await Lucy: Andrew, her best friend since childhood, wants to turn their platonic friendship into something more; meanwhile, Lucy flashes back to the hours before Sandy struck, when she and Connor Malloy, the dreamboat part-time resident next door, got together. When Connor doesn’t call as promised in the storm’s aftermath, brokenhearted Lucy moves on, beginning to explore the depth of her feelings for Andrew and slowly getting back into the routine of school, volunteering, and her summer job. But then Connor and his family return, and Lucy finds herself awash with conflict: pursue the handsome, irresistible summer boy, who seems to be a player, or settle for the easy familiarity of being with Andrew, whom her family adores. Doktorski’s intricate plot and intriguing character development smartly weave together revealing post-Sandy communal dynamics alongside the intimate fireworks and trappings of first love for Lucy. A thoughtful tale of forgiveness, growth, and the importance of learning to adapt to changes large and small. (Historical fiction. 14-18)

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NUTS IN SPACE

be trusted—from a psychic’s warning to the discovery of Lindsey’s body back at home—and yet she heads further into the wilderness with them. A deadly confrontation feels inevitable. It may be occasionally implausible, but the great pacing makes this a suspenseful romantic thriller. (Thriller. 13-18)

Dolan, Elys Illus. by the author Nosy Crow/Candlewick (32 pp.) $17.99 | May 1, 2015 978-0-7636-7609-4 A space-adventure picture book featuring anthropomorphic animals...and nuts. The story begins at the front endpapers—always a plus if it works, and this does. Readers are introduced to the main cast of characters in baseball-card–like illustrations (Owl: chief navigator, etc.) and are given a cross-sectional cutaway of the spaceship they inhabit. After the title page, floating words in space that increase in size à la Star Wars tell readers that the Lost Nuts of Legend have been found by the intrepid space crew, and now they are heading home. But, oh dear, the Star Nav is broken, and Beaver has eaten the paper map. The story continues with its Star Wars spoofs as the crew stops off to ask for directions at a cafe named Eat at Jim’s that resembles the iconic bar scene. Unsuccessful, their next stop is a planet that is inhabited by little critters that are allergic to nuts (which really shouldn’t be funny but is), and they get themselves into trouble when they board the evil Death Banana. The illustrations, mostly doublepage spreads with speech bubbles, brim with visual and narrative jokes, and readers will be rewarded for perusing thoroughly. Happily, the large trim size facilitates this. Light and playful, with busy action and energetic spoofs, this silly story is a good thing. (Picture book. 4-8)

THE DEVIL YOU KNOW

Doller, Trish Bloomsbury (256 pp.) $17.99 | Jun. 2, 2015 978-1-61963-416-9

Arcadia joins a weekend road trip with two handsome cousins she’s just met. But one or both may be hiding a troubling secret. Following her mother’s death, Arcadia has become the surrogate parent to her younger brother, and she’s ready for a well-deserved break. On the way to a party in a campground she spies hot stranger Matt in the parking lot, and she spontaneously invites him along. Soon Matt’s kissing her friend Lindsey, a situation Arcadia accepts when she finds herself swept into an intense sexual attraction with Matt’s cousin Noah. His handsome but scarred face suggests a troubled youth, and he admits to past violent incidents. However, Noah also thoughtfully listens to Arcadia in a way that no one has in a long time, making his invitation that she and Lindsey join the cousins’ road trip irresistible. Even when Lindsey backs out via text message, Arcadia still grabs a backpack and heads out for adventure but forgets her phone charger (cue the horror-movie music). Arcadia is quickly surrounded by obvious warning signs that the cousin(s) cannot 96

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FELL OF DARK

Downes, Patrick Philomel (208 pp.) $17.99 | May 12, 2015 978-0-399-17290-8 Teenagers Erik and Thorn are descending into madness on converging paths, heading toward a ruinous first encounter with each other. Both highly intelligent boys, their lives are filled with tragedy and abuse— real, imagined, or exaggerated. Erik was abducted as a child not long after his father died. Thorn’s parents have been abusing him since his sister died, and he’s bullied at school. Lengthy sections from each boy’s point of view at ages 14, 16, and 18 are prefaced by literary quotations, including one that the title is derived from: poet Gerard Manley Hopkins’ “I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day.” Erik’s narrative is addressed to the wife he feels he’s destined to meet. Well on his way to a height of 7 feet, Erik chooses a life of silence after he begins to perform miracles and display stigmata. He reads the Bible in Latin and considers himself “a martyr waiting for [his] holy death.” Hirsute Thorn is tormented by voices in his head: the “growls and grunts and whining saws” of Sawmen, Guardians, and the Architect who direct his actions and reactions. Downes brilliantly plays with language and metaphor, and he explores the dualities of sanity/insanity, beauty/ugliness, voice/voicelessness in a chilling echo of real incidents of school violence. A stunning debut novel that offers sophisticated readers a glimpse into the psychological disintegrations of two distinct characters. (Fiction. 14 & up)

THE NESTING QUILT

Falwell, Cathryn Illus. by the author Tilbury House (36 pp.) $16.95 | May 1, 2015 978-0-88448-418-9

The impending arrival of a new baby has Maya reflecting that she and her family are nesting, “just like the birds.” With everyone in the family busy getting ready, Maya needs a role. She has an idea: she’ll make a cozy nest of fabric. With Mama and Nana’s help, Maya turns her drawing into a quilt. In the primary story, the present-tense narrative is set in quilted scraps on each page, foreshadowing Maya’s quilting. An inner story about Maya’s close bond with her Nana and the birds’

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Action-packed pages and playful onomatopoeia will draw the construction-obsessed in, while the emotive little bulldozer, so perfectly personified, will capture the hearts and empathy of all. bulldozer’s big day

nests they’ve seen is presented as framed scrapbook pictures with inset information about the natural world. Mixed-media illustrations depict a warm home life brimming with crafts and creativity. The fabrics that make their way into the quilt (even Maya’s old pajamas) form the backgrounds of each spread as Maya learns to stitch the pieces together and the wonderfully diverse extended family waits for the baby. With a big smile on her face, Maya finally presents her new brother with the result of all of her effort, “a soft and cozy nest” just for him. This delightful book ends with clear instructions for any reader who might want to make a quilt, too, with an adult’s help. A charming, heartwarming story tailor-made for alleviating anxieties about becoming a big sister. (Picture book. 4- 7)

BULLDOZER’S BIG DAY

Fleming, Candace Illus. by Rohmann, Eric Atheneum (40 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | May 5, 2015 978-1-4814-0097-8 978-1-4814-0098-5 e-book Bulldozer feels forgotten on his birthday, until a surprise brightens his day. It’s Bulldozer’s big day, and he’s brimming with excitement. Bouncing across the construction site, the jubilant vehicle seeks out his friends. But Digger, Dump Truck, and the others seem too preoccupied to notice. (Participles are the order of the day: “scooping,” “sifting,” “mashing,” “lifting,” and more.) When the construction whistle blows, the deflated bulldozer starts to drag himself away, but then toots fill the air. Horns and engines resound as Crane hoists a giant cake up from a massive pit, much to Bulldozer’s delight. Action-packed pages and playful onomatopoeia will draw the construction-obsessed in, while the emotive little bulldozer, so perfectly personified, will capture the hearts and empathy of all. Fleming’s seemingly simple text is accessible, teachable, and loads of fun. As in Oh, No! (2012), she and Rohmann team up to great effect. Clever use of angles and perspective emphasize Bulldozer’s emotions of disappointment and joy, and the block prints have a warmth and authenticity that both entertain and endear Bulldozer to readers. Matte pages and an embossed cover add to its charm. A winning addition to the construction-vehicle shelf. (Picture book. 3-6)

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DINOTRUX DIG THE BEACH

Gall, Chris Illus. by the author Little, Brown (32 pp.) $17.00 | Jun. 2, 2015 978-0-316-37553-5 Series: Dinotrux

The third in Gall’s crashing, smashing series takes the hot and grumpy Dinotrux on a vacation to the beach. What mayhem will ensue? Anyone who has experienced the cooling relief of water in the hot summer will know exactly how these trucks feel cannonballing into the water, sinking beneath the waves, and squirting water out in a stream—the delight is plain in their headlights and grilles. And that’s not all that will be familiar: among other things, Digasaurus buries himself in the sand, Dumploducus unfortunately finds a nest of crabs, the Deliveradons have forgotten their sunscreen, and incontinent Cementosaurus gets bombed by sea gulls. The second half is taken up with the Dinotrux’s attempt at building a sand castle, a dismal failure until Tyrannosaurus Trux takes charge and gets everyone cooperating, each Dinotruck doing the job for which it was made (born?). In the process, the group saves tiny Scoopasaurus from a menacing threat and gives a cave couple some new digs. Gall’s penciled, digitally colored illustrations are sure to draw readers in, the Dinotrucks a masterful combination of childish enthusiasm and rough, tough machines. Pair this with Molly Idle’s Sea Rex for a prehistoric storytime sure to have listeners in stitches and looking for more dino fun. Readers won’t want to wait to find out where the Dinotrux will go next. (Picture book. 6-8)

THE NIGHT WE SAID YES

Gibaldi, Lauren HarperTeen (304 pp.) $17.99 | $9.99 e-book | Jun. 16, 2015 978-0-06-230219-9 978-0-06-230222-9 e-book A story of first love lost and possibly found again is told in chapters alternating between the present and a year in the past. Ella is swept off her feet the summer before her senior year of high school by an earnest, adorable new guy named Matt who’s the new bassist for her friend’s band and who has spent his life moving from place to place due to his father’s job. Over the course of the night they go from introductions to a series of adventures in which they play drinking games atop the rooftop of the high school, go skinny dipping, and make out on stage during the band’s performance. Matt quickly develops a closeness with Ella and her friends Meg and Jake, whose own romance can only be described as tumultuous. A year later, readers find Ella encountering Matt

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While the mystery is the driving force behind the narrative, it is Braden’s unfolding story that will captivate readers. conviction

again for the first time since he disappeared and broke her heart, just as she’s looking forward to going off to college. Many teens will identify with the abundance of relationship drama on offer here, even as it unfolds at length among all of the main characters. The dialogue-driven narrative’s straightforwardness serves the time-jump plot device well, helping to keep the audience grounded. In the end, there are few surprises in this coming-ofage novel, but readers looking for a light but meaningful summer romance will engage with it effortlessly. (Romance. 13-18)

THE FRUITS WE EAT

Gibbons, Gail Illus. by the author Holiday House (32 pp.) $17.95 | $17.95 e-book | May 1, 2015 978-0-8234-3204-2 978-0-8234-3348-3 e-book

Braden’s father is known for his aggressive stance on his evangelical radio show, but what plays well on the airwaves can be horribly destructive at home. The anger and abuse that drove Braden’s older brother, Trey, away have driven Braden to be the perfect son. But in spite of his stellar talent on the pitcher’s mound, his exemplary performance in school, and his strong faith in God, Braden fears he will never be enough. When Braden is called to testify on behalf of the defense, he must decide if the truth is worth risking his entire world. While the mystery of what really happened on the foggy stretch of highway is the driving force behind the narrative, it is Braden’s unfolding story that will captivate readers. His father’s incarceration forces Braden to admit that the father he loves is also the monster he fears. There are no easy answers. Love is both beautiful and cruel. God is both loving and mysterious. And family is both comforting and suffocating. Both hopeful and devastatingly real. (Fiction. 14 & up)

...AND NICK

The prolific Gibbons tackles fruits—how they grow, their parts, and what portions we eat. Beginning with facts about perennial and annual fruits and how many servings children should aim for each day, the book then looks at how fruits can grow on plants, bushes, vines, and trees. Good vocabulary is introduced and defined along the way— botanist, pollination, cultivated. The middle of the book is taken up by individual looks at 13 different kinds of fruits that show cutaway views labeled with parts, the whole plant/bush/vine/tree, and some of the popular varieties—for grapes, golden muscat, red flame, and concord. This is followed by a discussion of growing seasons and climates, large farms versus backyard ones, harvesting fruit and getting it to market, and some other fruits that were not featured in the text, including star fruits, apricots, and persimmons. A final page lists more fruit facts and two websites (one for the United States, one for Canada) about food guidelines. The text sometimes gets lost in Gibbons’ busy and full pages, and while her illustrations are detailed and specific for each type of fruit, the watercolors won’t make mouths water. This lacks the information of other nonfiction titles and the pizzazz of April Pulley Sayre’s Go, Go, Grapes! (2012), but it may be just the ticket before a school trip to a farm. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

CONVICTION

Gilbert, Kelly Loy Disney-Hyperion (352 pp.) $17.99 | $9.99 e-book | May 19, 2015 978-1-4231-9738-6 978-1-4847-1943-5 e-book

Gore, Emily Illus. by Gore, Leonid Atheneum (40 pp.) $17.99 | $12.99 e-book | Jun. 16, 2015 978-1-4169-5506-1 978-1-4814-2623-7 e-book In a mouse family of four nearly identical brothers, Nick always seems to be

trying to catch up. When Mommy gives them shirts of different colors so she can tell them apart, Mick, Vick, and Rick have very specific reasons for their color choices. Nick gets the one that’s left over. Nick also likes his brothers’ tasty food selections, but he alone is willing to try a plain green salad. Mick, Vick, and Rick all know what they want to be when they grow up, but Nick is keeping his options open. He rides his bike and runs as fast as he can, lagging behind the others in each activity. Even when they pick flowers for Mommy, he is left with a “small green sprout.” He has been cheerful about most things, but this time he is really disappointed and sad. The next day he finds that his sprout has developed into a beautiful, unusual flower. The father-daughter creative team’s little mouse family is warm and sweet. Nick’s brothers may lead him but they don’t tease him (much), and Mommy is loving, patient, and accepting. She understands that, like the flower, Nick is a late bloomer. The lively acrylic illustrations are rendered in soft, clear colors on a lightly textured background and move speedily across doublepage spreads. Treacle and honey are assiduously avoided, leaving gentle reassurance for self-doubting little readers. Charming, encouraging, and delightful. Go, Nick! (Picture book. 3-8)

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CHANTRESS FURY

Greenfield, Amy Butler McElderry (336 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | May 5, 2015 978-1-4424-5711-9 978-1-4424-5714-0 e-book Series: Chantress, 3 A final volume, accompanied by a romantic repackage for the whole series, closes out the modestly enjoyable Chantress trilogy. Lucy, Chantress and trusted adviser of King Henry, has spent months traveling nonstop, using her magic to support the kingdom (the quasi-historical novel opens with Lucy singing down an illegal enclosure, a nod to the actual historical conflicts of 17th-century England). She has avoided love interest Nat after his decision (in the previous volume) that he must make it on his own; she is weary and ready to rest when a new threat— embodied by mermaids and killer floods—appears. Soon Lucy finds herself defending the kingdom from an ancient threat closely tied to the Chantresses of the past and to Lucy’s own family in particular. Her indecision and lack of self-confidence, particularly in relation to Nat, continue to grate, but generally this is more of the enjoyable same that Greenfield has delivered twice already, and finally the happy ending romantic readers will have longed for manifests. There’s nothing new under the sun, but singing heroines, magic, and mermaids make for a formula that still appeals. (historical note) (Fantasy. 12-16)

POEMS IN THE ATTIC

Grimes, Nikki Illus. by Zunon, Elizabeth Lee & Low (48 pp.) $19.95 | May 15, 2015 978-1-62014-027-7

A girl discovers her mother’s childhood poems in her grandmother’s attic and embarks on a journey through family history that inspires her own poetic tribute to her mother. The mother’s poetry tells of a childhood of constant resettling as the daughter of a base-traveling Air Force captain. Grimes’ poems and Zunon’s paint-and-collage illustrations take readers through the lands and cultures surrounding global U.S Air Force bases, including stories of aurora borealis observed in Alaska, the cherry blossoms seen in Japan, the hills hiked in Germany, and the mountains climbed in Colorado. (The specific bases are identified in a note in the backmatter.) Poetic forms alternate between the free verse of the daughter and her mother’s tanka, an ancient five-line poetry form originating in Japan (and also further explained in the backmatter). Each spread presents one of her mother’s poems within a large, bright illustration and the narrator’s free-verse rumination on it, placed above a smaller, oval vignette. According to her author’s |

note, Grimes drew on the varied stories of friends who grew up as military brats to create this imagined intergenerational dialogue. The standout “Grandma Says” enlightens readers to the power of reflective writing: “My mama glued her memories with words / so they would last forever.” Succinct poetry shines in this impassioned celebration of history; the stories of this African-American family traveling the globe are rich with heart and color. (Picture book/poetry. 6-11)

SONG FOR A SUMMER NIGHT A Lullaby Heidbreder, Robert Illus. by Leng, Qin Groundwood (32 pp.) $17.95 | $14.95 e-book | May 12, 2015 978-1-55498-493-0 978-1-55498-494-7 e-book

A rhyming ode to the sights and sounds of a summer night. A small town or subdivision sits quietly by a hill, with farmland in the distance. Children poke their heads out of windows waiting for the evening’s performance. In rhyme, the sounds and sights of coming night arrive one at a time: leaves go “shhshh,” fireflies “glint-glint,” bellflowers “pring-pring,” and so on, each plant or animal adding to the twilight chorus. Children come out of their houses into the parkland, where birds and beasts and a rain of flowers gather and then disperse as dark comes. Ink, brush, and digital paint make a soft, blue landscape, and the warmth of the summer air is almost visible. The rhyme is a bit heavy, and a literalist might take issue with some of the cumulative sounds. Bellflowers really don’t ring, one does not hear the fireflies’ glint, and so on, but it all comes together in a refrain that sleepy children might murmur along with the readaloud. The cover image is a little misleading: the scampering children do not seem to herald a lullaby. Populated by pink, gold, and brown children, the story is a sweet evocation of the pleasures of nighttime. (Picture book. 4- 7)

STRANGE SKIES

Helvig, Kristi Egmont USA (272 pp.) $17.99 | $17.99 e-book | Apr. 28, 2015 978-1-60684-481-6 978-1-60684-482-3 e-book Series: Burn Out, 2 After a hasty exodus from a sun-ravaged Earth, a girl finds herself on a beautiful, lush planet only to discover she’s still fighting the same old fight. Jumping in where Burn Out (2014) left off, the novel finds gun-toting, smart-mouthed Tora Reynolds in a hospital bed, weak and dependent on medication. She is liberated from the

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hospital by her old gang, the Resistance, and reunited with James, whom she is still trying to forgive for shooting her back on Earth. Tora learns she’s been transported to Caelia, a verdant planet brimming with cool, potable water. However, the seeming peace of her surroundings is quickly shattered when she learns that her father’s legacy—a cache of dangerous weapons— has also made it to Caelia, and both the oppressive Consulate and defectors from the Resistance are out to find her and the arsenal. Tora has lost most of the edge she had in the previous book; the once-sassy fighter has dissolved into a starry-eyed cream puff who thinks more about boys than finding the people who murdered her family. In contrast to the scorched, burning Earth, bland Caelia doesn’t demand the same heart-pounding attention from readers. While the action is continuous, nothing much seems to happen until the last quarter of the novel, making for a frustrating experience. A tepid, disappointing sequel. (Science fiction. 13-18)

THE FLY

Horáček, Petr Illus. by the author Candlewick (32 pp.) $14.99 | May 12, 2015 978-0-7636-7480-9 What’s it like to be a fly? Well, it ain’t easy. “Two googly eyes, six hairy legs, two transparent wings....It’s ME! The housefly. But people don’t like me being in the house.” Poor fly. The fly stands on the ceiling looking down at a boy holding a fly swatter...and it’s only breakfast time. The Musca domestica exercises to stay fit (156 times around the light fixture) before the swish of the fly swatter sends the chatty pest outside. A visit to the cows for their lovely scent is in order, but the irritable flap of a tail ends that. The fly recollects nearly being eaten by a frog and a bird in the same day: “Why?” Back to the house for some lunch; “FLAP!” goes the fly swatter (the page is cut to the shape of the evil tool—a nice touch); the chase begins again. A brief respite on the boy’s forehead summons another “FLAP!” and another shaped page whacks the boy in the face. Poor fly. “I mean no harm to anyone. So, if you see me, please be kind. HEY, don’t close the book...HELP...HELP...Do you want to squash me?” Horáček’s fly’s-eye view of a misunderstood insect’s life will be a nifty read at storytime or one-on-one, particularly with a little practice to correctly time the two die-cut fly swatter pages. The attractive mixed-media illustrations are inviting. This apologium may not change minds about flies, but it’s definitely buzz-worthy. (Picture book. 3-6)

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THE FORGET-ME-NOT SUMMER

Howland, Leila Illus. by Kim, Ji-Hyuk Harper/HarperCollins (352 pp.) $16.99 | $9.99 e-book | May 5, 2015 978-0-06-231869-5 978-0-06-231871-8 e-book When job opportunities prevent their parents from staying in Los Angeles for the summer, Zinnia, Marigold, and Lily are sent, unhappily, across the country to great-aunt Sunny’s. Twelve-year-old Marigold aspires to a career in acting: she already has a bit television role and an agent. Eleven-year-old “Zinnie,” the middle sister, lives in Marigold’s shadow, wanting to be just like her. Lily, at 5, is cared for by a nanny. The culture shock of small coastal Pruet, Massachusetts—no television, no cellphone coverage, sharing one bedroom—lessens as the girls settle into its charm and ease, making friends, going to clambakes and dances, and even putting on a talent show. Beginning with its cover, the novel has an old-fashioned sweetness—a sweetness that avoids cloying by the quality of Howland’s writing and her character development, especially of Zinnie. For although Zinnie’s and Marigold’s voices alternate, this is more the middle sister’s story. Marigold grows, learning the shallowness of her favorite actress and the importance of family, but Zinnie is the one who steps out of the shadow of her sister, takes a risk, and discovers her own dream to follow. An old-fashioned story well-told, with engaging characters—a beach read for preteens that is as comfortable as the old tennis shoes worn on the Massachusetts shore. (Fiction. 9-12)

SEA REX

Idle, Molly Illus. by the author Viking (40 pp.) $16.99 | May 26, 2015 978-0-670-78574-2 Idle’s Cretaceous dinos, having learned tea etiquette and some important guidelines for camping trips (Tea Rex, 2013; Camp Rex, 2014), now tackle the beach. As in previous outings, the text seems lifted straight from a guidebook: “You never know what treasures you may find. / Even the smallest shell... // can contain the ocean’s mighty roar!” The tongue-in-cheek illustrations are the stars, though, this one showing the T. Rex (an overgrown tyke) yanking on a “shell” he’s found, which is really the nose horn of a triceratops. Other hysterical highlights include the T. Rex’s sunburn, the dramatic rescue of Cordelia’s brother’s beloved teddy bear (stolen by sea gulls), and the unlucky Cordelia’s many scrapes. Beachgoers can relate to almost every bit of advice here, from not swimming right after eating to jumping feet first, though their own beach adventures may pale in comparison to the ones depicted in

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Duncan’s naïve bewilderment plays well—rather than feeling frustration, readers will be sympathetic, rooting for him to realize the truth and fulfill his destiny. conviction

Idle’s Prismacolor pencil illustrations, which depict an expanse of sand devoid of other human beachgoers. Still, the sand castle– building and wave riding and pesky sea gulls will be very familiar, as will that wonderful feeling at the end of the day when calm settles as the sun sets. Captures a day at the beach in hysterical dino style. (Picture book. 4-8)

SKYSCRAPING

Jensen, Cordelia Philomel (336 pp.) $17.99 | Jun. 2, 2015 978-0-399-16771-3 A teenage girl grapples with her family’s growing pains. Set in early 1990s Manhattan as the AIDS crisis was hitting its peak, Jensen’s semiautobiographical debut novel in verse explores how shifting parental dynamics can affect a household. At the novel’s start, Miranda “Mira” Stewart has always been a dedicated student and engaged daughter, devoted to her academician father and younger sister and struggling to relate to her self-involved artist mother. Her biggest concerns are what theme to choose as she takes the editorial helm of her high school yearbook, how to negotiate the absence of her recently graduated boyfriend, and filling out college applications—all typical senior-year fare. “But the constellation of a family / can shift shape / in seconds.” When Mira discovers her father in a compromising position with his male teaching assistant, both her image of him and her understanding of her parents’ relationship collapse. Mira withdraws from her family and acts out at school, at first unwilling to forgive her parents for having kept a crucial part of their relationship hidden. Throughout, Jensen’s spare free-verse poems and accessible imagery realistically portray the fraught moments of adolescent identity formation with great empathy. Compelling snapshots of contemporary family drama and the AIDS epidemic as captured through a teen’s eyes. (Historical fiction/verse. 14 & up)

THE SIGN OF THE CAT

Jonell, Lynne Illus. by the author Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt (368 pp.) $16.99 | Jun. 16, 2015 978-0-8050-9683-5 The ability to communicate with cats allows young Duncan McKay to survive an abduction, rescue a lost princess, and triumph over a wily enemy. Jonell’s smooth writing style and clever plotting, along with the inclusion of talking cats, elevate and enliven this fantasy despite familiar tropes. Readers won’t |

be especially surprised to discover that fatherless Duncan, raised by an overprotective mother on a small, quiet island in the kingdom of Arvidia (it’s called Dulle and apparently lives up to its name), is actually second in line to the throne. Nor will the revelation that the accepted version of the princess’s disappearance is far from accurate be a big shock. Still, Duncan’s naïve bewilderment plays well—rather than feeling frustration, readers will be sympathetic, rooting for him to realize the truth and fulfill his destiny. Some may wish that more time was spent on Princess Lydia’s unlikely survival, which is only briefly limned, but that’s not because Duncan and his companions, Fia the kitten and Brig the tiger, aren’t sufficiently engaging. Although initially duped, once Duncan catches on he displays appropriately heroic behavior whether he’s building a raft, battling a storm or confronting the evil Earl of Merrick. Intriguing, well-drawn characters, evocatively described settings, plenty of action, and touches of humor combine to create an utterly satisfying adventure. (Fantasy. 9-13)

WHO WANTS BROCCOLI?

Jones, Val Illus. by the author Harper/HarperCollins (40 pp.) $17.99 | Jun. 16, 2015 978-0-06-230351-6

The tricks that make a dog unadoptable in some people’s eyes are just the ticket home for Broccoli. Broccoli’s lived at Beezley’s Animal Shelter for most of his life, alongside fluffy and adorable bunnies, hamsters, and kittens, all under the care of the kind, elderly Beezleys. Mrs. Beezley lovingly brushes each animal before opening, pronouncing, “There’s a lid for every pot and a pot for every lid.” But Mr. Beezley isn’t so sure about the lid for messy Broccoli’s pot. The dog’s tricks include tossing his water-filled dish in the air and catching it on his head, playing high-speed games of chase with his tail, and giving “warnings” with his deep and large bark. When he soaks the entire shop, Mr. Beezley puts him in the storeroom...but will the pot that is Broccoli and the lid that is the little boy longing for a dog miss each other because of this? The despondent dog finally rallies when he spies the little boy’s lost ball on a storeroom shelf. His antics get both him and the ball noticed, and Broccoli’s finally found his lid (in more ways than one). Jones nicely builds suspense, and readers will be rooting for the dog by the end. Everyone is round-headed and rosy-cheeked (and most are Caucasian) in her watercolor-and–colored-pencil illustrations. Readers longing for a lid to their own pots, or with similarly challenging behaviors, will find comfort in Broccoli’s tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

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INTERVIEWS & PROFILES

Lesléa Newman

This time around, Heather Has Two Mommies might not cause a firestorm By Alex Heimbach

When Lesléa Newman published Heather Has Two Mommies in 1989, her only goal was to offer the children of lesbian parents a story they could see themselves in. Unable to find a traditional publisher for the book, she worked with her friend Tzivia Gover to raise $4,000, and they put out Heather on their own. However, it wasn’t long before Heather became a magnet for controversy: in Oregon, anti-gay activists used it as evidence of “the militant homosexual agenda”; in New York, debate over the book contributed to the downfall of the chancellor of the nation’s largest school district; and in Texas, its presence in public libraries occasioned the creation of an adults-only checkout counter. Heather Has Two Mommies ultimately became the ninth most challenged book of the ’90s. Now, 25 years after it was first released, Newman is putting out an updated version of the seminal book. In the five years since the latest edition, Heather had gone out of print, but Newman was still receiving emails asking where to buy it. “People were clamoring,” she says. To meet that demand, Newman collaborated with Candlewick Press to put out a new edition, featuring revised text and full-color illustrations by Laura Cornell (March 24). Newman was excited to revisit her story. She tightened up the prose and made a few tweaks to the story, but the biggest change was the omission of a foreword or afterword. She felt, she says, that “the time for explaining was past. We just wanted to present it as a children’s book for children.” 102

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The story itself is so sweet that it’s actually a little hard to believe it was so controversial. Heather has a happy family with her two moms and two pets. When she starts school, she learns that each of her classmates has a family of his or her own, in configurations that range from a boy who lives with his mom, dad, and brother to a girl who lives with her grandmother and their two puppies. “Each family is special,” Heather’s teacher says. “The most important thing about a family is that all the people in it love each other.” As unobjectionable as that message may seem, Newman still believes deeply in its importance. “A book like Heather Has Two Mommies can really teach not tolerance— which is a word I really don’t like—but acceptance, appreciation and celebration,” she says. However, Heather’s story is really meant for the children who have two mommies. Growing up Jewish in the 1950s, Newman felt the pain of not seeing herself in the stories she loved, and she wants to ensure that children today can find books that represent their own experiences. Her anecdotes about children who felt a deep connection to the book—including a girl who wrote her a letter insisting that the book was written just for her and a boy who crossed out “Heather” and replaced it with his own name—just reinforce Newman’s conviction that it’s vital for children to see their own families represented in print. Given the social changes over the last few years, Newman is optimistic that Heather Has Two Mommies will have a less turbulent reception this time around. “Maybe,” she says, “Heather will have her day in the sun to shine and nobody will rain on her parade.” Alex Heimbach is a freelance writer in California. Heather Has Two Mommies was reviewed in the Jan. 15, 2015, issue.

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Beatrix’s irrepressible character stands out as brightly as her green and gold plumage. good morning to me!

GOOD MORNING TO ME!

Judge, Lita Illus. by the author Atheneum (40 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | May 5, 2015 978-1-4814-0369-6 978-1-4814-0370-2 e-book Unlike her snoozing friend Mouse, Beatrix is a morning person...er, parrot, who rises both in full voice and fully ready to torment the household cat. Beatrix knows she’s supposed to be quiet, but she loves everyone and sometimes just can’t keep it in. Poor Mouse—the slumbering rodent is blasted awake by the parrot’s hearty “GOOD MORNING, MOUSE!” and then must grab a fork and spring to the rescue when the feathered fiend proves a touch too slow making an escape after waking Kitty (a fat and wonderfully disgruntled-looking Siamese) with a doggy “Rrrruuff!” Nor is the morning rumpus over as, following a furniture-upsetting skitter through the house with Gracie the beagle, the pernicious parrot needs rescue again after falling into the goldfish bowl! Beatrix’s irrepressible character stands out as brightly as her green and gold plumage in the loosely drawn illustrations, which Judge has otherwise toned down with washes of pale color and sometimes indistinct background details. Mouse’s enraged response to Beatrix’s chipper “What should we play next?” results in an apology, a (brief) return to peace and quiet, and an affectionate closing nuzzle. Young children who share Beatrix’s morning hyperactivity, or even just her flexible relationship with the idea of an “indoor voice,” will certainly relate...as will, without doubt, their parents. A few hearty squawks and a brisk bit of exercise—what better way to start the day? (Picture book. 5- 7)

BURN

Jury, Walter & Fine, Sarah Putnam (352 pp.) $17.99 | May 12, 2015 978-0-399-16068-4 Series: Scan, 2 Extinction and survival are a zerosum game in the conclusion to the alieninvasion plot started in Scan (2014). The action picks up immediately. Tate and Christina are on the run from the H2 alien leadership, who have stolen the scanner that tells whether someone’s human or H2, invented by Tate’s dead father. They regroup, following clues left by Tate’s father to a second lab, where they’re joined by Leo who, like Tate, is the last member of one of The Fifty families known to be pure human. H2s draw the three out of hiding by threatening Christina’s family—while saving them, the trio’s caught. The H2 are desperate to access Tate’s father’s lab. When the natural enemies overcome their mutual distrust and hatred to exchange intelligence, they put together a terrifying |

puzzle—the parasitic, body-snatching beings who chased the H2 off of their own planet have arrived on Earth. Unless humans and H2 can figure out how to use Tate’s father’s plans and technology to defend Earth, both species face extinction. The pacing is tight and tense throughout, and the writing is always cinematic, whether describing action sequences or calm conversations. Unlikely alliances and paranoia about who’s been compromised will keep readers guessing as Tate races against the clock to unravel his father’s secrets, resulting in a conclusion that satisfies both the plot and the father-son themes. A cover-to-cover thrill ride. (Science fiction. 13 & up)

THE IMPROBABLE THEORY OF ANA AND ZAK

Katcher, Brian Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins (336 pp.) $17.99 | $9.99 e-book | May 19, 2015 978-0-06-227277-5 978-0-06-227279-9 e-book Two teens discover that their improbable chemistry is just what it takes for a probable relationship. Still adjusting to a new stepdad, slacker Zak has anxiously been awaiting Washingcon, a sciencefiction, fantasy, and comic-book convention in Seattle. But when his health teacher (and quiz-bowl sponsor) notices that he plagiarized his health paper, she offers him two options: fail health and not graduate or serve as an alternate on the quizbowl team for their big tournament. Who really fails health? So he begrudgingly chooses the latter, even though it conflicts with his con. Hyperfocused Ana, who must be perfect to show her parents she’s not like her older sister, who dropped out of high school to have a baby, has her doubts about Zak. After Ana’s younger brother and fellow quiz-bowl teammate, Clayton, sneaks out to attend Washingcon, Zak and Ana begin a humorously whirlwind night searching for him. Their alternating viewpoints narrate how they dodge and outwit parents, felons, and outlandish con characters. While Clayton constantly eludes them, Zak and Ana do find a connection through mutual loss, courage to stand up for themselves, and first love. The con provides fertile ground for humor, including but not limited to a “mixed” marriage ceremony of a Star Wars and a Star Trek enthusiast. Fans of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist will find con-tentment here. (Fiction. 13-18)

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The line-and-watercolor illustrations capture Francisco’s moods elegantly, from his bored sulking at the story’s start to his absolute pleasure smelling a hot plate of pupusas. francisco’s kites / las cometas de francisco

FRANCISCO’S KITES / LAS COMETAS DE FRANCISCO

Klepeis, Alicia Z. Illus. by Undercuffler, Gary Translated by Ventura, Gabriela Baeza Piñata Books/Arté Público (32 pp.) $17.95 | May 31, 2015 978-1-55885-804-6 A resourceful boy in a new town discovers a talent for giving old scraps flight in this immigrant’s story. Francisco misses his home in El Salvador and can’t get out of his funk as he waits out a summer in his new home in Chicago. Remembering the joy of flying kites with his friends back home, he collects discarded materials around the neighborhood, eventually making his own kite, though not without hesitation. The first thrilling flight leads to more ambitious designs, and before long, Francisco wins both friends and a bit of fame. He’s even offered a chance to build kites for money, allowing him to take his mother out to a Salvadoran restaurant. The sturdy (if sometimes stiff) text doesn’t skimp on chronicling Francisco’s ongoing doubts as well as his triumphs. The line-and-watercolor illustrations capture his moods elegantly, from his bored sulking at the story’s start to his determined builder’s face to his absolute pleasure smelling a hot plate of pupusas or watching his dragon kite take to the sky. The kites themselves, with their patchwork patterns, are gloriously rendered with depth and variety. All text in the book displayed in English is followed by its Spanish equivalent on the same page, separated by narrow, unobtrusive illustrations. Francisco’s transformation from pensive newcomer to entrepreneurial kite master is inspiring and well-detailed in this successful slice of life. (Picture book. 6-10)

CATERINA AND THE BEST BEACH DAY

Kono, Erin Eitter Illus. by the author Dial (32 pp.) $16.99 | May 19, 2015 978-0-8037-4131-7

In this variation on a well-trodden theme, mother barn owl Caterina takes her son Leo to the beach. They would both love to see a whale. But no one can plan to see a whale. Not even Caterina, in spite of, or perhaps because of, all her research. She brings a large cart stuffed with brochures, lists, articles, and information about whales, not forgetting the sunscreen, an elaborate lunch, craft supplies, and all the essentials for a day at the beach. She even researches castles in preparation for building a castle based on a Japanese temple. Leo, however, refuses to be distracted by the research and keeps his eye on the prize, leading his mother into the ocean, where their search is finally rewarded with a huge beautiful whale, closeup and personal. The message of the story will resonate with today’s busy and stressed parents: don’t let your obsessions get 104

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in the way of true experience, and allow yourself to be guided by the young. What distinguishes this book from similar-themed offerings is the engaging eclectic collage that nimbly mirrors Caterina’s parenting style. Fussy little lists, photos cut from magazines, drawings, textures, and other ephemera are strewn across the pages, giving young readers plenty of eye candy and adults some serious ideas to think about. Children will especially appreciate seeing their wisdom validated in this sweet mother-son outing. (Picture book. 2-4)

BRIGHT SKY, STARRY CITY

Krishnaswami, Uma Illus. by Sicuro, Aimée Groundwood (32 pp.) $17.95 | $14.95 e-book | May 12, 2015 978-1-55498-405-3 978-1-55498-406-0 e-book A nighttime power outage transforms a young urban sky watcher’s frus-

tration to joy. Outside her father’s telescope shop, Phoebe chalks the solar system on the sidewalk, looks up at the faint, paltry sky show, and wishes that just once all the bright city lights would go out. A sudden storm grants her wish, and the clouds clear to reveal stars in the hundreds, constellations that she “had only ever seen / in pictures,” a rare conjunction of Saturn and Mars, and the pale, gauzy Milky Way. “How deep the night was / and how endless!” Using a mix of pastels, chalks, and collage, Sicuro depicts Phoebe looking, usually, up and marveling at the spangled skies, the connected dots of constellations, and the two easily recognizable planets floating in the vasty deep. Puzzling choices include showing Phoebe peering through a telescope pointed down rather than up and lifting her arms in a final scene to a sky that looks more washed out than on previous pages. Still, views of her, her father, and wonderstruck passersby gazing up past crowded rooftops capture a strong sense of a special, shared moment. Along with a quixotic kvetch about light pollution, the author appends quick descriptions of the solar system, moons, planetary conjunctions, and optical telescopes. A mildly agenda-driven companion to the less-cosmic likes of John Rocco’s Blackout (2011) or Jonathan Bean’s intimate At Night (2007). (bibliography, glossary) (Picture book. 6-8)

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OVERTAKEN

Kruger, Mark H. Simon & Schuster (416 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | May 5, 2015 978-1-4424-3131-7 978-1-4424-3133-1 e-book Teens with superpowers battle an evil corporation and one another in this sequel to Overpowered (2014). Nica, 16, tries to resist the mental powers of fellow student Dana after the smug girl invades the minds of Nica’s best friend, Oliver, and heartthrob, Jackson. Dana has the power to make people believe anything she wishes, and she’s using that ability in full support of Bar Tech, the corporate laboratory run by Richard Cochran, who’s been making genetic modifications to some of the local high school students, giving them superpowers. These fortunate few include Nica and her friends. Nica can become invisible, Oliver can move at amazingly fast speeds, and Jackson can generate devastating electrical charges. Meanwhile, their telekinetic friend Maya has been missing for months. When Oliver and Jackson turn against Nica, she teams up instead with Chase, Cochran’s son, initiating a mild love triangle. As Dana takes over more students, Nica, Chase, and a new friend, astralprojector Topher, try to infiltrate Bar Tech’s facilities to discover the real purpose of their experiments, thereby encountering mortal danger. Screenwriter Kruger focuses on suspense but gives Nica plenty of time to ponder her turmoil of emotions, significantly padding the book. The author solves several of his conundrums rather easily but reveals a surprise at the end, paving the way for another sequel. Characters remain shallow but accessible. Strictly for techno-thriller fans. (Thriller. 12-18)

THE TWEEDLES GO ONLINE

Kulling, Monica Illus. by Lafrance, Marie Groundwood (32 pp.) $16.95 | $14.95 e-book | May 12, 2015 978-1-55498-353-7 978-1-55498-354-4 e-book Riding the cutting edge of change continues to bring mixed blessings for the Tweedles, a turn of the century—the 20th century—clan. This time it’s one of those newfangled “telephones,” installed after neighbor Gladys Hamm rushes in boasting “We are online!” Mama Tweedle is beguiled by the idea of just picking up an earpiece to order groceries, daughter Franny is outright jubilant, son Frankie is dismissive since it’s not like a car (see: The Tweedles Go Electric, 2014), and Papa frets about (wait for it) privacy issues. But soon there’s a new force in the household, with a loud Drriiing! Drriiing! that cuts off conversations, interrupts family games of crokinole, and keeps Franny up long past bedtime. Finally Franny disconnects the bells, but |

that prevents Gladys from calling to report seeing smoke (a false alarm, as it turns out, but still). By the end, the device has gone, in Mama’s view, from “extreme” to “our lifeline.” Lafrance’s neatly drawn scenes of figures sporting antique dress and hairstyles add further drollery to the thoroughly topical plotline. Readers will laugh at the juxtaposition, though they’re likely to think the Tweedles’ eventual ability to find cake and crokinole more compelling than the phone’s ringing a touch optimistic then as well as now. No spam, no robocalls, no fundraising appeals...those were the days. Maybe it’s time for a crokinole comeback, too. (Picture book. 6-8)

NOOKS & CRANNIES

Lawson, Jessica Illus. by Andrewson, Natalie Simon & Schuster (336 pp.) $16.99 | $10.99 e-book | Jun. 2, 2015 978-1-4814-1921-5 978-1-4814-1923-9 e-book When 11-year-old Tabitha Crum receives a mysterious invitation for a weekend visit with the reclusive Countess of Windermere at Hollingsworth Hall circa 1907, she uncovers a diabolical plot that changes her life. In the grand tradition of Roald Dahl, Tabitha’s despicable, neglectful parents force her to sleep in the attic and wear outgrown school uniforms. Her only friend’s a pet mouse. Before Tabitha departs for Hollingsworth, her parents announce they are leaving and sending her to an orphanage as soon as her visit is over. When Tabitha arrives at Hollingsworth, she meets five more clueless kids. Influenced by Inspector Pensive novels, Tabitha readily shifts into detective mode when the eccentric countess reveals she will be interviewing each child to determine which one is her missing grandchild, destined to inherit £100,000. During the isolation imposed by a freak snowstorm, an elderly maid dies under suspicious circumstances, ghostly groans echo behind walls, the countess becomes disturbingly nasty, and children disappear. Dauntlessly exploring nooks and crannies, Tabitha unravels the twisted, shocking truth and finds a real family and friends. Themes of friendship and family permeate this darkly humorous, melodramatic period thriller. Sketchy black-and-white illustrations add to the macabre mood. A plucky amateur detective, secret passages, exaggerated characters, concealed identities, and dastardly villains equal a swell mystery. (Mystery. 8-12)

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on the road and into the mysteries of mental illness

Photo courtesy Daniel Meigs

Road trip: two words summoning a cinematic optimism of emotive playlists, brilliant expanses of unforeseen mountain majesties, steady accumulations of coffee cups and cellophane wrappers, and a sense of adventure at the crank of a trusty ignition. In David Arnold’s Mosquitoland (March 3), 16-year-old Mim Malone’s road trip begins not so much as an optimistic adventure as a desperate pilgrimage from a life she no longer knows back to one she thought she loved. When I talk to Arnold, I’m calling from Brooklyn’s frigid winter. On the receiving end, he’s having a gorgeous day in Kentucky and sounds just as pleasant, warm, and inviting as the Southern climes (requisite lilt included). In Mosquitoland, Mim is intent on escaping from the stifling clutches of a new home in Mississippi with her father and stepmother in order to see her beloved mother in Ohio (a mother whose impending demise Mim is certain is being kept from her). Mim’s journey from Southern point A to Midwestern B isn’t a reasonably straight line. To say there are detours would be understating the depth and breadth of her journey—there’s a fatal wreck, a mysterious locked box, a haircut, a heartthrob, and other lifechanging occurrences. Mim is a strong personality, but like any protagonist, she isn’t without her struggles. With a history of familial mental illness, Mim has a fragility and vulnerability to her. Whatever the case with her mental health, her own father’s oppressive and obsessive concern for Mim’s mental well-being is at times worse than dealing with therapists, prescriptions, and chemiDavid Arnold cal ups and downs. But this layer of Mim doesn’t feel gimmicky, inauthentic, or set on making a statement. Mim speaks her mind from Mile 1, and by default, Arnold does too. “I’m fairly certain that there are going to be a few things in the novel that are offensive to certain people, but when presented with the opportunity to tell the truth or the opportunity to not offend somebody, I’m going to always tell the truth,” Arnold says. “And I believe that every word in that book is true to who Mim is.” —Gordon West Gordon West is a writer and illustrator living in Brooklyn. He is at work on his own picture book and teen novel. 106

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POOL

Lee, JiHyeon Illus. by the author Chronicle (56 pp.) $16.99 | May 5, 2015 978-1-4521-4294-4 Two children with phenomenal lung capacity have an astonishing adventure in the neighborhood pool. A slim child clad in bathing cap, goggles, and trunks stands poolside; the water is smooth, blue, and empty. Then a throng of grotesque, mostly obese adults with inner tubes and rubber rafts descends, choking the pool’s surface. The child enters the water anyway, diving below the paddling feet of the crowd, and is joined by another slender, capped, goggled child, this one sporting a skirted tank suit. Down the pair swim, past strange, birdlike fish to clusters of brightly colored tube worms. An uncluttered double-page spread suspends the two in an empty blue expanse; a turn of the page finds them eye to eye with a gentle, furred white whale. Readers will notice that Lee’s palette takes on increasing vibrancy as the children explore; the first child’s trunks, gray at the surface, are now bright blue, and the second child’s suit is scarlet. The children retain their brilliant hues upon ascending and exiting, while the splashing crowd is still rendered in shades of gray. The message is wordless but clear: don’t stay safely on the surface but dive deep to find friendship and wonder. While the contrast between the slender explorers and the fat intruders is unfortunate, Lee’s control of palette and pacing makes this Korean import otherwise a delight. (Picture book. 4-8)

JODIE’S SHABBAT SURPRISE Levine, Anna Illus. by Topaz, Ksenia Kar-Ben (32 pp.) $17.95 | $7.95 paper | $6.99 e-book May 1, 2015 978-1-4677-3465-3 978-1-4677-3466-0 paper 978-1-4677-6204-5 e-book

A dog makes an unexpected discovery just before Shabbat. When Jodie, who wants to be an archaeologist like her father, takes her dog for a walk, the animal accidentally falls down a hole. Searching for her pet, Jodie also tumbles into the shallow pit; happily, child and canine are unhurt and climb out. Curious, Jodie asks her dad to take a look. He explains that in biblical times, it was a wine press, in which people stomped on grapes with bare feet to squeeze out the liquid. Having pondered what to give her father for his upcoming birthday, she now has an idea and discusses it with his archaeologist friend, who approves: Jodie and her friends will clean out the pit and re-create the ancients’ juice-producing method, thus devising an “old” present. The bright, loose watercolors work with the text, depicting

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Bear’s supportive friends and family, along with Litten’s warm-hued, cozy illustrations, drape the story in comfort. bike on, bear!

modern-day scenes in full color and biblical re-creations in sepia tones. They are disappointingly static, and faces aren’t particularly well-defined. A point of logic may be missed by youngsters, but adults will find it hard to credit that a heretofore-undiscovered ancient site goes ignored and uninvestigated by scientists yet is allowed to be cleared of debris by children and then used for the playful squashing of grapes. Authenticity seems beside the point here—though the author’s note explains the story is based in fact—and Shabbat is irrelevant to the events. Kids probably wouldn’t want to drink juice produced by bare feet, but that prospect is more intriguing than this minor effort. (Picture book. 6-8)

HOW TO BABYSIT A LEOPARD and Other True Stories from Our Travels Across Six Continents

Lewin, Ted & Lewin, Betsy Illus. by the authors Neal Porter/Roaring Brook (144 pp.) $22.99 | Jun. 9, 2015 978-1-59643-616-9

A husband-and-wife team, seasoned travelers, artists, and children’s-book creators, offer readers a selection of highlights from 40 years of careful observation of the natural and human worlds in places near and far. Since the publication of Gorilla Walk in 1999, the Lewins have produced numerous titles reflecting specific adventures, but this is the first joint compilation of their travel experiences. Working continent by continent and beginning with their first safari to the Serengeti, they recount their adventures as if they were conversing with readers; sometimes one talks, sometimes the other. Some anecdotes are humorous and others sobering, especially as they note the effects of 30 years of civil war in Uganda or contrast the experience of a sloth bear in the wild with that of a captive dancing on the street near Delhi. There are scary encounters with lions, elephants, snakes, leeches, and a sharp-billed macaw—not to mention soldiers. There are curious foods—mopani worms and mushrooms the size of pizzas. They travel by horse cart and reindeer sledge and atop an elephant. They admire French bullfighters and Mongolian wrestlers and horses everywhere. They marvel, too, at spectacles close to home: a cattle roundup in Nevada, horseshoe crabs massed on the Delaware shore. These brief glimpses will whet the appetites of wannabe wanderers of all ages. (Nonfiction. 8 & up)

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BIKE ON, BEAR!

Liu, Cynthea Illus. by Litten, Kristyna Aladdin (32 pp.) $17.99 | $12.99 e-book | Jun. 2, 2015 978-1-4814-0506-5 978-1-4814-0507-2 e-book Bear can do anything he puts his mind to—except ride a bike. Bear is a whiz at facts and figures. He can do a backward pike somersault on the balance beam. But every time he tries to ride his bike, even with training wheels, he falls or crashes. Bear just can’t do it. The situation worsens when a park opens in town, and Bear can’t join his friends on the new bike path, which arbitrarily and unkindly bans training wheels. (This is helpful to the plot, though.) Everyone is having fun without him. So Bear does what any desperate, lumpy little fellow like him should do—he goes to the library in search of answers. A book tells him how to ride a bike in four easy steps. The last step is the most important: don’t think about it too much. But Bear can’t stop thinking about it. He mulls it over and worries until everything becomes a disaster, even his triple back-paw-spring. Luckily, a sudden meteorological disaster (sharp readers will spot a hint in Koala’s newspaper) helps Bear spring into action and overcome his fears—without stopping to think! Bear’s supportive friends and family, along with Litten’s warm-hued, cozy illustrations, drape the story in comfort, even during Bear’s many tumbles and spills. This pivotal childhood milestone is often defined by fear, but this variant is for young brooders everywhere. (Picture book. 4- 7)

A HANDFUL OF STARS

Lord, Cynthia Scholastic (192 pp.) $16.99 | $16.99 e-book | May 26, 2015 978-0-545-70027-6 978-0-545-70029-0 e-book Lily, an orphaned 12-year-old who lives in a small eastern Maine town, becomes fast friends with Salma, a Latina migrant worker who has come with her family to pick blueberries. At first glance the distance between the pair seems vast, but they share some common interests, including finding a way to help Lily’s elderly, blind dog, Lucky, regain his eyesight. Lily, who lives with her caring Franco-American grandparents, is plucky and determined; she’s painting special houses for native mason bees to sell to raise money for expensive though risky surgery for Lucky. She’s also dealing with the apparent unwinding of her BFF status with Hannah, reigning Downeast Blueberry Queen, a role that comes with a big monetary prize. Against all odds, including Lily’s own incipient prejudice, Salma decides to run for queen, and, unexpectedly, Hannah offers useful assistance. Lord tenderly explores Lily’s growing understanding of her own

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With both words and energetic, folk art–inspired illustrations, Lozano creates a likably stubborn protagonist and situates her in a vibrant, affectionate Latino family. little chanclas

emotional boundaries, defined by her frustration over never having known her mother, fear of expressing her individuality, and wariness of change—all aspects of her personality that Salma gently reveals to her. Lily’s likable voice believably discloses her maturing awareness of the limitations she’s built around herself while also offering an accurate and appreciative depiction of a unique setting: the blueberry barrens of Downeast Maine. This sensitive coming-of-age tale compassionately explores prejudice and multiculturalism. (Fiction. 9-12)

LITTLE CHANCLAS

Lozano, José Illus. by the author Translated by Crosthwaite, Luis Humberto Cinco Puntos (32 pp.) $16.95 | $7.95 paper | $7.95 e-book Apr. 15, 2015 978-1-935955-85-6 978-1-935955-86-3 paper 978-1-935955-87-0 e-book A little girl loves her flip-flops to death—literally—setting up a new-shoe dilemma. Lily Luján so loves her battered old flip-flops her family calls her Little Chanclas (or “Chanclitas,” in Crosthwaite’s parallel Spanish text). She wears them everywhere: to Chata’s Market, to Benny’s Burgerteria, and to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Tired of the constant slippity-slappety, her mother and big sister try to coax her into a different pair of shoes, but even red Mary Janes from Googie’s Boutique for Girls can’t part Lily from her beloved flip-flops. Lily loves parties even more than her flip-flops, though, and it’s dancing at a barbecue that spells doom for her battered footwear: the straps break, and one lands in the guacamole and the other right next to a hungry bulldog. Will Lily ever regain her slippity-slappety? Lozano displays a keenly sympathetic understanding of the sometimes-intense love a child bears for a favorite item of clothing. With both words and energetic, folk art–inspired illustrations, he creates a likably stubborn protagonist and situates her in a vibrant, affectionate Latino family. Skin colors modulate from pink to dark brown, reflecting a diverse community that embraces multiple Latino cultures as well as Lily’s favorite restaurant: Suki’s Sushiteria. Any child who’s loved a favorite pair of shoes will identify with this vigorous Latina heroine. (Bilingual picture book. 4-8)

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HIT COUNT

Lynch, Chris Algonquin (368 pp.) $17.95 | May 19, 2015 978-1-61620-250-7 A high school football player is relentless in his effort to become a ferocious linebacker, ignoring the damage his body may be experiencing. Arlo loves football and happily follows his brother, Lloyd, on the school team. His family is divided: his dad supports their playing, but their mother is so concerned about the sport’s dangers that she keeps her own file of information about concussions. The two brothers begin to move in opposite directions with the team, Lloyd quitting and Arlo becoming more determined to get faster and stronger. Lloyd enters a downward spiral, seemingly unable to stop it; meanwhile, Arlo becomes a nearly unstoppable star, but his fierce play begins to trouble his coaches and his girlfriend. Even when he is removed from the team due to his high “Hit Count,” he refuses to face what football may be doing to his brain and his body. The strength of this hard-hitting novel is Lynch’s portrayal of the drive and hunger of young football players. The action is authentic and captures the game’s speed and violence. The family dynamic and Arlo’s relationships with his girlfriend and friend add texture. These combine to counteract an uneven pace and relatively loose structure. This intense, timely story provides incredible insight into the reasons why knowledge of football’s potential danger is not enough to keep young players from taking the field. (Fiction. 14-18)

BUTTERFLY PARK

MacKay, Elly Illus. by the author Running Press Kids (40 pp.) $16.95 | May 26, 2015 978-0-7624-5339-9 A child newly arrived from the country is dismayed to discover that the pocket park next to her urban building is, despite its name, lacking butterflies. What to do? Even the butterflies that she, with help from neighboring children, captures and brings to the sterile-looking park flutter away immediately...except for one, which leads her and a growing group of city residents through the streets to a small patch of flowers. Of course! The next day everyone shows up at the park with “boots and gnomes and wagons”—and in time, as revealed in a climactic double gatefold bedizened with blooms as well as winged and human visitors, the butterflies come. Centered on the park’s elaborate art nouveau gateway, MacKay’s lyrical paper collage and diorama constructs feature layered details and out-of-focus backgrounds for a sense of depth. Brightly patterned butterflies, delicate flowers, and

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human figures pose like gracefully off-balance dancers. As the atmosphere is, overall, ethereal (underscored by occasional close-ups of the girl’s elfin features and abstracted gaze), this is more a visually poetic tale about bringing nature to the city than a practical blueprint for creating a crowd-sourced flower garden. Still, like Kevin Henkes’ My Garden (2010), it may spur young readers to green dreams of their own—and the jacket does offer a labeled gallery of butterfly-attracting blooms. Worthy of theme and equally pleasing to the eye and the spirit. (Picture book. 5-8)

BEST FRIEND NEXT DOOR

Mackler, Carolyn Scholastic (224 pp.) $16.99 | $16.99 e-book | May 26, 2015 978-0-545-70944-6 978-0-545-70947-7 e-book Ten-year-olds Hannah and Emme have a lot in common—but does that mean they have to be friends? Hannah’s best friend, Sophie, has just moved away. The new girl, Emme, who moves in with her two moms to Sophie’s house is oddly similar to Hannah. Both of their names are palindromes (which they love), they were both born on New Year’s Day, and they both hate pizza. That should make it easy to become friends, but Hannah has also just found out that her parents are having a new baby. So many changes at once throw her life into a tailspin. As for Emme, being the new kid is never easy. It sure would help to have a friend. Writing in alternating chapters from Hannah’s and Emme’s points of view, Mackler gives a spot-on portrayal of the ups and downs of young friendships in her middle-grade debut. Strong emotions and insecurities abound. But so does laughter, loyalty, and...palindromes. Oh, so many palindromes! Mackler deftly weaves the thread of her plot between the two girls’ tribulations and joys (at school and home) for a story that will resonate with any child who has ever struggled to parse the mysteries of friendship. (Fiction. 8-12)

TRACKED

Martin, Jenny Dial (400 pp.) $17.99 | May 5, 2015 978-0-8037-4012-9 A rebellious street urchin is coerced into driving a race car for an oppressive corporation that rules her planet. Racing’s in Phee’s blood—she’s the daughter of a legendary driver who mysteriously vanished. Her races are different from her father’s, though. He raced legitimately on the corporation circuit; she races illegally underground. When a race turns out to be a trap, she’s arrested and sentenced to life at a penal |

colony—unless she agrees to race for Benroyal, the most powerful of the oppressive corporations that maintain their rigid class system. As her best friend, foster brother, and—most importantly— race navigator (pacer), Bear, was also caught, Phee bargains for his sentence to be commuted by joining the team as well. Phee hates being a PR tool and distraction for the evil corporation— and she loathes the pretty dresses and press requirements—but must protect her foster family, especially as she discovers secrets about Benroyal that could get them all killed. The races make for some of the strongest, most compelling writing in the book, so it’s too bad that there are so few of them. They’re much more entertaining than the love triangle among Phee, Bear, and Phee’s new pacer: a handsome, bad-boy prince with secrets. The society and protagonist are standard-issue dystopian, but the intrigue builds into political conspiracies and action—debut author Martin’s strength—and a wild climax that begs for a sequel. Genre fans will find that the strong action helps to compensate for flaws. (Dystopian romance. 12 & up)

BRIDE OF SLUG MAN

Mata, Julie Disney-Hyperion (288 pp.) $16.99 | $9.99 e-book | May 26, 2015 978-1-4231-9460-6 978-1-4231-9590-0 e-book Series: Kate Walden Directs, 2 A preteen filmmaker mounts her second feature. Seventh-grader Kate Walden is the talk of the town. Her directorial debut, Night of the Zombie Chickens, premiered to positive notices at the local multiplex, and everyone in her class wants to be a part of her second feature. When a cool New York City boy named Tristan moves in and starts his own film project, Kate finds most of her talent pool drained by Tristan’s flashy premise. Can her slug-based sci-fi romance compete with his film-noir pastiche? Populating her novel with smart kids navigating tricky social situations, Mata crafts a nifty entertainment for the post–Mean Girls generation. Friendships are strengthened and crushes blossom as Kate completes her film, and readers will delight at the drama behind the scenes just as much as in the business involving Kate’s movie. Shining brightest of all is Kate herself, a character so often mistreated in books such as these. Kate isn’t a know-it-all film nerd or a clueless amateur with stars in her eyes. The author perfectly captures a girl who is young, ambitious, smart, but still willing to learn about her craft and how it affects the relationships she has with those around her. Unfortunately the book overstays its welcome by a few pages, supplying an emotional cliffhanger that practically demands that readers pick up the next installment. Hopefully the author can keep the good times rolling. Smart, funny, and slick. (Fiction. 10-14)

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VALIANT

McGuire, Sarah Egmont USA (384 pp.) $16.99 | $16.99 e-book | Apr. 28, 2015 978-1-60684-552-3 978-1-60684-553-0 e-book In this retelling of “The Brave Little Tailor,” a young woman comes to the rescue of a city that’s besieged by giants. Saville, a tailor’s daughter, picks up the ruined pieces of her family’s livelihood after her father suffers an apoplexy that leaves him unable to speak, let alone sew. She masquerades as a boy to secure a commission from the king. Nearby villages have suffered attacks by giants led by a duke who describes himself as “Heir to the Ancient Emperor’s crown, Holder of the Eternal Heart.” When two giants appear at the city’s gates, Saville sees Will, a waif she’s taken under her wing, dangling from their hands. Like the tailor in the Grimms’ folk tale, Saville outwits the giants and is declared champion by the king—who promises his sister’s hand in marriage to the champion before finding out who she is. Saville uses her ingenuity to get both self and city out of trouble, with the help of a handsome young nobleman and Will. McGuire uses familiar European folk-tale motifs as the bare-bones backdrop for a lively adventure story with some surprising twists. Characters are fully developed through Saville’s engaging first-person voice, but it’s clever Saville herself who wins the day—and the heart of the nobleman. A charming, satisfying first novel. (Fantasy. 10-14)

DANGER IN ANCIENT ROME

Messner, Kate Scholastic (160 pp.) $17.99 | $5.99 paper | $5.99 e-book Jun. 30, 2015 978-0-545-63918-7 978-0-545-63917-0 paper 978-0-545-63919-4 e-book Series: Ranger in Time, 2

Time-traveling golden retriever Ranger is back, this time saving the day in ancient Rome. Marcus Cassius is an 11-year-old who’s been a slave at the Ludus Magnus gladiator school in Rome since his parents died in a fire. Marcus dreams of becoming a gladiator and winning his freedom, but he can’t begin training until he’s 16. When new recruit Quintus becomes his bunkmate, Marcus gives him pointers he’s learned from watching gladiators for the past five years. Words and definitions for elements of gladiator and ancient Roman life are woven into the story naturally (though a glossary is provided for extra support) and help create a vibrant setting. Meanwhile, Ranger is enjoying life with his modern-day family when the magic first-aid box from Rescue on the Oregon Trail (2015) begins humming. Ranger knows this 110

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means someone needs his help and slips it on, transporting himself to the amphitheater Marcus is showing Quintus. The rest of the book is a series of well-paced adventures (interspersed with full-page illustrations) that end with Ranger helping both boys gain their freedom. The quality of the research behind these stories shines through: the setting is vivid, the characters are well-drawn, and the writing flows. A great choice for fans of the Magic Treehouse series, who will be looking forward to Ranger’s next adventure. (Adventure. 5-9)

SURVIVING SANTIAGO

Miller-Lachmann, Lyn Running Press Teens (368 pp.) $16.95 | Jun. 2, 2015 978-0-7624-5633-8

Tina, 16, travels from Madison, Wisconsin, to Santiago, Chile, to spend her summer visiting her father, whom she hasn’t seen in three years. Chile in 1989 is still under the rule of the Pinochet dictatorship, but the demand for democracy is growing. Tina’s father, Marcelo, is an important figure in the democracy movement. Considered a subversive by the government, Marcelo was imprisoned and tortured. He survived the experience but suffered debilitating injuries and became suicidal and an alcoholic. Tina knows her old papá is gone, but she finds it difficult to accept her new papá, who spends his days working and his nights drinking. She is bored and lonely until she meets Frankie. Their shared love of Metallica and understanding of what it is like to have an alcoholic father bonds them. As she falls in love with Frankie, Tina misses several warning signs that he may not be who he claims to be. The story ramps up to its crescendo when the true danger of the situation is revealed. Suddenly the novel is no longer about family drama and summer love but survival. Smooth dialogue, a quick pace, and palpable suspense combine to make a compelling read. Supporting characters are treated with compassion; violence brings suffering to those on all sides. A riveting story of love and acceptance amid a tumultuous political landscape. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 14 & up)

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Hogan’s lively, brightly colored pastel illustrations bring the distinctive island setting to life. island birthday

THE BIG PRINCESS

Miura, Taro Illus. by the author Candlewick (40 pp.) $14.99 | May 12, 2015 978-0-7636-7459-5

A geometric kaleidoscope of digital images and collage forms the bones of this winsome tale. The king and queen have no children, but they love and care for the flowers in their garden. One night, the king dreams of a white bird, who tells him he will find a princess in his garden but that she is under a wicked spell. The next day, the king finds a tiny, fully formed girl child, small enough to sleep on a feather. But the next day, she needs a ring box and the day after that, a teacup. She keeps growing and growing until she is too big for the castle! In the highest, biggest tower (it’s a foldout), she keeps growing until the tower itself begins to break apart. But the king sees a seed in her belly button through a (miraculously well-placed) tower window. He climbs the crumbling tower and pops the seed out, and his daughter is restored! (She is still quite tall indeed; her parents come only to her waist.) The figures are made of circles, triangles, and half moons; the princess is blonde, while her parents have black hair, and the many flowers are rendered in splashy patterns. And the seed? The king and queen plant it, and it becomes a field of sunflowers, which adorn the final page and the endpapers. Originally published in Japan, the story has an offbeat sensibility that may particularly appeal to lovers of anime, emoji, and that Japanese fondness for cuteness, kawaii. (Picture book. 4-8)

FLOAT

Miyares, Daniel Illus. by the author Simon & Schuster (40 pp.) $17.99 | $12.99 e-book | Jun. 9, 2015 978-1-4814-1524-8 978-1-4814-1525-5 e-book This wordless story, bookended by the creation of two iconic paper toys, follows a Latino boy through outdoor playtime. After his father folds a boat from a sheet of newspaper with a photo of sailboats on it, the boy sets off in head-to-toe yellow raingear. He shields his boat from a downpour, then floats it in puddles that reflect the tidy neighborhood’s houses and trees. After some joyous puddle-jumping, the boy sets the boat into a sluicing rivulet, pursuing it as it’s swept away. When the boat slips down a grate, the dramatic perspective is from the inky dark underground, the boy futilely stretching an arm through the bars. Washed from a drainage pipe into a stream, the erstwhile boat, now a sodden sheet, is fished out by the dejected lad. He walks home to the comfort of dad’s hug, dry clothes, |

and expertly blown-dry hair. There’s shared hot cocoa and more newspaper-folding. (This time, a jet’s photo appears.) Digitally rendered in grays accented in yellow, the pictures’ hyper-realistic style is softened by dry-brush effects and the boy’s captured emotions. The penultimate composition looks through the open doorway to the boy on the front porch. Now in shorts and T-shirt, clutching a paper airplane, he’s silhouetted against a square of brilliant yellow sky. That yellow dominates the final spread, celebrating housetops, as the boy readies for his first launch. Lovely and life-affirming. (Picture book. 4-8)

ISLAND BIRTHDAY

Murray, Eva Illus. by Hogan, Jamie Tilbury House (32 pp.) $16.95 | May 1, 2015 978-0-88448-425-7

Life on a remote Maine island can be frustrating for a typical kid who misses the conveniences that mainland residents take for granted. Riley has to eat dry cereal since the delivery plane bringing the milk is delayed due to bad weather, but even worse, his upcoming birthday will be a bust, as his birthday gifts and surprises will be late. He wishes he could have a “normal birthday, with a bunch of kids my age and presents from a toy store.” But island life, although unpredictable, has other compensations: wild, uncrowded beaches, sparkling ocean water for swimming, interesting wildlife, and a small community of friendly, unconventional people with plenty of leisure time and a willingness to share their lives and occupations with the boy. Finally the plane arrives, along with Riley’s birthday package, and the resulting impromptu birthday party, attended by the whole island, is well worth the wait. Writing directly from her own experiences as a longtime resident of Maine’s Matinicus Island, island pilot, and teacher in the island’s one-room schoolhouse, Murray speaks with the ring of authenticity. Hogan’s lively, brightly colored pastel illustrations bring the distinctive island setting to life. This book engagingly invites young readers to explore a different lifestyle from a child’s perspective. (Picture book. 5-8)

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THE LOST PRINCE

Myklusch, Matt Egmont USA (400 pp.) $16.99 | $16.99 e-book | Apr. 14, 2015 978-1-60684-525-7 978-1-60684-526-4 e-book Series: Seaborne, 1 Orphan, pirate, spy, and prince are just some of 13-year-old Dean Seaborne’s many titles. |

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Mita’s beautiful and delicate original watercolors offer readers’ eyes large and lovely resting places as they make their ways through this long tale. gon, the little fox

His surname indicates that he is an orphan born of the sea. His employment as spy for the ruthless pirate king One-Eyed Jack suggests a life full of duplicity and danger. The mark on his arm hints at a surprising destiny. Dean’s latest mission ends badly with a sunken ship, a missing captain, and a crew thrown into the sea. When his rescuer tells him that he is the lost prince of Zenhala, a mythical island full of treasure, Dean is more than a little suspicious. But when One-Eyed Jack decides to hold him personally responsible for the ship he lost, Dean’s only option is to leverage the situation to his benefit. However, not everyone in Zenhala, a real place after all, is happy to see him. Dangerous quests, a beautiful girl, and an epic battle force Dean to decide who he is and what he believes. Nonstop swashbuckling action is sure to entice even the most ardent landlubber, while courtly intrigue and well-crafted characters will satisfy readers looking for depth in their adventures. The proposed first in a series from the soon-to-be-shuttered Egmont USA, it will have readers hoping the rest of the series is picked up quickly by another publisher. High-seas adventure with surprising twists. (Adventure. 8-12)

HEXED

Nelson, Michael Alan Pyr/Prometheus Books (290 pp.) $14.99 paper | $9.99 e-book May 5, 2015 978-1-63388-056-6 978-1-63388-057-3 e-book Series: Sisters of Witchdown, 1 In this prose adaptation of a comicbook series, when a harmless game goes horribly wrong, a cursed young thief must risk everything to help a policeman rescue his daughter from the land of the dead. Brazilian orphan Luci Jenifer Inacio Das Neves—Lucifer for short—a teen master thief, specializes in keeping magical artifacts out of the hands of those who want to abuse them. A prior job against a powerful being named the Harlot left her cursed with a distinctive and indelible mark on her shoulder. Now commissioned by a police officer to retrieve his daughter from a coven of murderous witches, she’s thrust into a world completely foreign to her: teenagers. While she’s extremely knowledgeable about esoteric occult phenomena, she’s less well-versed about teenagers and their social mores. Not only does Lucifer need to battle demons, but now she must face her fears about love and death. Though he wrote the serialized comic on which this is based, Nelson’s adaptation to prose isn’t seamless. His worldbuilding is a bit flat and leaves too many questions unanswered; this can work well enough in a serial comic that builds relatively quickly on each issue, but it doesn’t do so well in prose. However, the book offers a cinematic blend of demonic possession, near-death experiences, and a dash of romance, and paranormal fans may be able to overlook its flaws. A bit stilted and ambitious, but an action-packed pageturner nonetheless. (Paranormal thriller. 13-17) 112

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GON, THE LITTLE FOX

Niimi, Nankichi Illus. by Mita, Genjirou Translated by Gharbi, Mariko Shii Museyon (36 pp.) $16.99 | May 1, 2015 978-1-940842-03-5 An animal tale from the “Hans Christian Andersen of Japan” is now published in an English edition. A lot of information about Japanese culture and custom is imparted in the course of this telling, which may appear rather strange to American eyes and ears. Gon is a fox who makes mischief. He empties the fishing basket of Hyoju and bites the head off the eel Hyoju had caught. Later, he finds the villagers making preparations for an event and discovers it is a funeral for Hyoju’s mother. Gon the fox thinks she must have desired the eel on her deathbed, so he resolves to make it up to Hyoju. Unfortunately, he does so by stealing sardines and gathering chestnuts and mushrooms and leaving them for Hyoju. The sardine seller gets angry with Hyoju, thinking he stole the fish, and a friend tells him the chestnuts and mushrooms must have come from God. Angered that Hyoju thanks God instead of him, Gon sneaks back to Hyoju’s house, where Hyoju recognizes him as the eel thief and shoots him. The story ends there. The sounds and sights of the natural world—bird song, water glistening on grass, the temple gong, a clover stuck to Hyoju’s cheek “as if it were a large mole”—form the texture of the tale. Mita’s beautiful and delicate original watercolors offer readers’ eyes large and lovely resting places as they make their ways through this long tale. The startling and violent ending may make it difficult to find an audience, but it is a valuable introduction to a non-Western storytelling aesthetic. (Picture book. 7-10)

MIGRATION NATION Animals on the Go from Coast to Coast O’Sullivan, Joanne Imagine Publishing (96 pp.) $15.95 | May 12, 2015 978-1-62354-050-0

O’Sullivan invites readers to join North American animals who regularly take to the “Herptile Highway,” the “Polar Bear Parkway,” “Bison Boulevard,” or “Salmon Street.” Whether driven by seasonal changes in food sources, the “need to breed,” or, like monarch butterflies, more mysterious urges, some animals travel hundreds or even thousands of miles over cyclical routes. The author highlights a dozen creatures and mentions others. She marvels at the seemingly miraculous navigation skills of salmon and gray whales and sounds ominous notes about rapidly declining populations of monarchs and polar bears; she describes efforts to create safer crossings over paved roads for migratory snakes and amphibians (“herptiles”)

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in Illinois’ Shawnee National Forest and migration corridors through fenced-in land for pronghorn antelopes in Wyoming and elsewhere. Along with maps and photos aplenty, she tucks in kid-friendly factual snippets about each creature, as well as specific locations where each can be observed on its habitual round. Though many of the photographs go uncaptioned and so add little beyond eye candy, this broad and breezy overview will stimulate young animal lovers’ “need to read” about one of the natural world’s behavioral wonders. Budding biologists who have taken first steps with the likes of Marianne Bertes’ Going Home: The Mysteries of Animal Migration, illustrated by Jennifer DiRubbio (2010), will find themselves drawn further down that road. (Nonfiction. 10-13)

THE SUMMER OF CHASING MERMAIDS

Ockler, Sarah Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster (416 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | Jun. 2, 2015 978-1-4814-0127-2 978-0-375-98347-4 e-book Beautiful and gifted with a lovely voice, Elyse was on the verge of launching a successful singing career in Tobago with her twin sister, Natalie, until an accident ended her dreams and career forever. Body healed, heart and soul still battered and torn, Elyse has fled to a tiny town on the Oregon coast, accepting an invitation to stay with Lemon, an old family friend, and her daughter, Kirby. Raw pain prevents Elyse from accepting Kirby’s overtures of friendship or socializing; then hot, charismatic Christian Kane arrives home from Stanford and offers Elyse a job: help him restore and race his battered sailboat in the annual regatta. The stakes rise when Christian’s dad and the mayor manipulate their sons, close friends, into competing against each other. If Christian wins, his father won’t sell his property—the Kane house and the adjacent house Lemon rents from him—to a developer as a looming voter initiative on development threatens to turn Atargatis Cove into another cookie-cutter resort town. Falling in love with Christian and their steamy romance awaken Elyse’s desire to find a way forward for herself, yet with each step, she’s flooded anew with regret for all she’s lost. While the plot follows category romance norms and occasionally dips into melodrama, Elyse’s journey and struggles to assimilate her disability—portrayed with compassion and insight—are compelling and original. A beach read with depth that will keep readers engaged. (Fiction. 14-18)

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SHADOWSHAPER

Older, Daniel José Levine/Scholastic (304 pp.) $17.99 | $17.99 e-book | Jun. 30, 2015 978-0-545-59161-4 978-0-545-59162-1 e-book When walking corpses—and worse— show up in the city, a teen discovers family secrets and ancestral powers. Sierra’s summer plan is to paint an enormous mural on an abandoned, unfinished five-story building. On an older mural nearby, unnervingly, a painted face changes expression and weeps a tear that glistens and drops. Grandpa Lázaro, mostly speechless from a stroke, grasps a lucid moment to warn Sierra, “They are coming for us....the shadowshapers.” Abuelo can’t or won’t explain further, and Sierra has no idea what shadowshapers are. Her regular world explodes into a “mystical Brooklyn labyrinth” shimmering with beauty but deadly dangerous. Walking corpses with icy grips and foul smells chase her, and a throng haint—a shadowy phantom with mouths all over—almost kills her. In Bed-Stuy, Prospect Park, and Coney Island in the middle of the night, Sierra fights to stay alive and to decipher her role in this chaos. This story about ancestors, ghosts, power, and community has art and music at its core; Sierra’s drawing and painting turn out to be tools for spirit work. Sierra’s Puerto Rican with African and Taíno ancestors; her community is black and brown, young and old, Latin and Caribbean and American. Sometimes funny and sometimes striking, Older’s comfortable prose seamlessly blends English and Spanish. Warm, strong, vernacular, dynamic—a must. (Urban fantasy. 14-18)

NINJA BUNNY

Olson, Jennifer Gray Illus. by the author Knopf (32 pp.) $16.99 | $19.99 PLB | Jun. 9, 2015 978-0-385-75493-4 978-0-385-75494-1 PLB A primer on how to be a ninja, especially if you are a bunny. This rabbit has a goal and so consults a book entitled How to Be a Super Awesome Ninja. In a blue, full-body ninja suit with mask, the bunny demonstrates each rule. “A super awesome ninja must always work alone,” says Rule 1, so the blue-clad rabbit deserts the other bunnies, who quirk eyebrows in a great range of emotion from skeptical and annoyed to concerned and sad. Pictures show the difference between each rule on paper and the rabbit’s success. There might have been “super sneaky” success in a nighttime carrot garden but for the danger of a waiting rake. A ninja must “achieve invisibility,” but the bunny ears sticking out of that bush are pretty identifiable. Pinned upside down to a branch, balancing on one foot at the top of a pointy pine, or plunging through the air—rather, “master[ing]

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EVERYDAY AMBASSADOR Make a Difference by Connecting in a Disconnected World

the ability to fly”—this child-shaped bunny is hilarious. Olson’s ink-and-watercolor illustrations make dramatic use of scale, white space, and the contrast between curved lines and straight, blocky lines. When an enormous enemy shows up and forces a re-evaluation of Rule 1, the suspense is simultaneously real and funny, and the bear’s sudden change in scale reveals the power of a group working together. Sure to inspire some new ninja bunnies. (Picture book. 3- 7)

SOFI AND THE MAGIC, MUSICAL MURAL / SOFI Y EL MÁGICO MURAL MUSICAL

Ortiz, Raquel M. Illus. by Dominguez, Maria Translated by Baeza Ventura, Gabriela Piñata Books/Arté Público (32 pp.) $17.95 | May 31, 2015 978-1-55885-803-9

Young Sofía walks to the bodega near her apartment to buy milk for her mom. From the sidewalk, she becomes entranced by a vibrant public mural that celebrates Puerto Rican culture. The dancers in the mural pull Sofía in, and she finds herself transported to Puerto Rico, listening to the island’s music, singing traditional songs, and dancing with new friends. Before long, the vejigante arrives—a masked trickster who scares Sofía at first. The others encourage her to keep dancing and not to feel afraid. Soon Sofía turns into the vejigante herself, flying high above the island and eventually returning to her spot on the sidewalk. Unfortunately, the blunt narration does not rise to the imaginative and whimsical nature of the plot. Information in the backmatter reveals that illustrator Dominguez actually designed the real mural in the Bronx that inspired this story, but like the narration, her images in this picture book don’t quite capture the magic of the mural they depict. Though the mural is described as full of movement, the illustrations are static and flat. Ventura’s Spanish translation appears below the English text on the verso, while Dominguez’s full-bleed paintings occupy the recto of every spread. Overall, this serves more as an overt endorsement for public art than a fully engaging and nuanced story for children. (glossary) (Bilingual picture book. 5-8)

Otto, Kate Beyond Words/Atria (224 pp.) $16.00 | $11.99 e-book | May 26, 2015 978-1-58270-523-1 978-1-4767-8677-3 e-book The founder and director of Everyday Ambassador, an organization to combat digital isolation, provides wisdom for those interested in making real and positive impacts. Otto, a longtime activist, begins by revealing a crucial epiphany that inspired her to write the book. Upon meeting a group of new volunteers in Indonesia, she saw her younger self; they harbored the same expectations that they could quickly “change the world” and that their help would be welcomed and appreciated. She explains how she came to realize that foreign volunteers sometimes make a negative impact due to poor language skills and cultural misunderstandings. Making positive societal change, Otto writes, requires meaningful personal interactions, and she bemoans the fact that this tech-savvy generation seems to have lost the ability to form strong in-person relationships. Though Otto is a true believer in the power of digital communication to foster greater understanding of disparate societies, she cautions that it also has given rise to impatient, narcissistic multitaskers. Four attributes are necessary, Otto writes, to become successful everyday ambassadors: focus, empathy, humility, and patience. She explains that EAs don’t need to set out to change the world; they can make positive impacts in their own neighborhoods by simply showing kindness and being polite. Otto provides encouragement by sharing compelling stories about what she and others have accomplished—both singly and as members of larger organizations. Wise, inspirational, and thoroughly readable. (Nonfiction. 12-18)

THE LIZARD WAR

Patton, Jack Illus. by Bean, Brett Scholastic (128 pp.) $4.99 paper | $4.99 e-book May 26, 2015 978-0-545-70741-1 978-1-545-70960-6 e-book Series: Battle Bugs, 1 Budding entomologist Max Darwin makes a wish—and finds himself on Bug Island, where the local insects are threatened by an invasion of hungry reptiles and amphibians. With little preliminary ado, Patton hands his young protagonist a fascinating old insect encyclopedia and a very special magnifying glass that shrinks him to proper size and plunks

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The future milieu that British author Powell imagines in this trilogy starter is interesting and has potential. spacejackers

him down amid Bug Island’s beleaguered arthropods. It seems a volcanic eruption has laid a land bridge between the island and the neighboring Reptilian Empire—allowing a horde of insecteating creatures led by roaring Gen. Komodo to cross over. Can Max use his big brain to find a way to save new friends Barton, a titan beetle, genial emperor scorpion Spike, shy trap-door spider Webster, and the rest of the island’s diverse cast of six- or eight-legged residents from becoming a buggy banquet? And will he be able to get back to his original size and home? That would be yes and yes—following plenty of furious but fatalityfree fighting and some ingenious further bridge building that puts a river between the bugs and their scaly nemeses. But the war’s not over yet; stay tuned for return visits in two planned sequels. Finished illustrations not seen, but in samples, Bean draws Max as a dark-skinned, black-haired boy. Furnished with a light wash of natural science, a buggy, action-oriented adventure that goes light on the gore and gross bits. (Fantasy. 8-10)

TOM GATES Excellent Excuses (and Other Good Stuff)

Pichon, L. Illus. by the author Candlewick (352 pp.) $12.99 | May 12, 2015 978-0-7636-7474-8 Series: Tom Gates, 2

That wimpy kid from across the pond returns in a sequel to The Brilliant World of Tom Gates (2014). The pleasure of a two-week school vacation is only somewhat blunted by Tom’s need to make up the homework so tragically “eaten” before the holiday. After a few mulligans, Tom is at liberty to go to his mate Derek’s and rehearse with the up-andcoming rock sensation DogZombies. Since they need a drummer for “Wild Thing,” the band mates decide to audition one as soon as school resumes. Cartoon-punctuated high jinks ensue. Tom must cope with an epic toothache (eating sweets occupies much of his narrative), his and Derek’s brief stint in the school band (the members of which play recycled instruments with great accomplishment, unlike the DogZombies), new trio DogZombies’ debut at Tom’s granddad’s retirement home, and his teacher’s irritating insistence that he do his homework properly. Also his nemeses, goth sister Delia and class suck-up Marcus Meldrew. Like his Yank counterpart, Tom’s narrative is episodic, rambling, and only unevenly funny. Tom’s doodles are appealing, though, particularly the unsmiling, sunglasses-clad face of sister Delia, repeated whenever her name appears throughout. An appended glossary unpacks such British mysteries as “biscuit” and “dodgy.” The only thing that materially distinguishes Tom Gates from Greg Heffley and his legions of pretenders is his accent; some readers may feel that’s good enough. (Graphic/ fiction hybrid. 8-12)

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TEMPLETON GETS HIS WISH

Pizzoli, Greg Illus. by the author Disney-Hyperion (48 pp.) $16.99 | May 5, 2015 978-1-4847-1274-0

Pizzoli’s young cat, Templeton, gets what he wishes for, with predictable results. Templeton is the eldest kitten in the house, so he is the beneficiary of all the usual stuff: demanding parents—“Scrub harder, Templeton!” “Clean up this mess!”—and a trio of brothers who take his favorite toys. He comes across an advertisement in a comic book for a magic diamond that grants wishes. “So he did something bad”—robbing a brother’s piggy bank—“and got something good in return.” That’s some rough philosophical ground, though it is also the most original—if disturbing—turf turned in this otherwise foreseeable tale. Templeton wishes his family gone; they disappear; he revels: playing, singing, lounging, making a mess of the house and himself. No more demands, no more sharing. Then things get boring, scary at night, stinky, and lonely. He wishes his family back, and back they come, same as they ever were, which is fine with Templeton: same demands, same sharing. Pizzoli brings extremely simple language to the task, and so too for the artwork, though here the complementary colors set eyeballs vibrating, and Templeton radiates a hepcat appeal. But the piggy-bank heist never gets revisited, ill wishes don’t get explored, and no twist gives the old story some fresh air. Moderately inspired but tired all the same. (Picture book. 3-5)

SPACEJACKERS

Powell, Huw Bloomsbury (320 pp.) $16.99 | Jun. 16, 2015 978-1-61963-515-9 Can an orphan hold the key to the location of a lost planet and a fortune in gems? Eleven years ago, Jake Cutler was left in the care of the cyber-monks on the remote planet Remota. Living near the space port, Jake’s always dreamed of visiting the stars. When space pirates attack the monastery, Jake escapes and joins forces with Callidus Stone, a fortune hunter, who thinks Jake is from the legendary hidden planet of Altus, rumored to have moons made of precious gems. When the cargo ship they book passage on turns out to be a pirate vessel run by Granny Leatherhead, they broker a deal to split the spoils of Altus. However, the vicious Interstellar Navy is hot on their heels. Can they and their new friends escape, discover the truth of Jake’s past, and find the fabled planet? The future milieu that British author Powell imagines in this trilogy starter is interesting

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and has potential: corrupt military in the pockets of nefarious corporations, technology-worshipping monks, and pirates who pirate for good reason. It’s not for seasoned genre readers; the characters are stock, and the storyline feels like a retread. Big reveals are telegraphed far too early, but there are thrills and a few laughs. Perhaps not totally “magnifty,” as Jake would say, but far from “garbish,” particularly for younger readers in need of a starter space opera. (Science fiction. 8-12)

I AM PRINCESS X

Priest, Cherie Illus. by Ciesemier, Kali Levine/Scholastic (256 pp.) $18.99 | May 26, 2015 978-0-545-62085-7 Cryptic clues in a Web comic put a Seattle teenager onto the trail of a deranged kidnapper and his victim. Three years after the (supposed) drowning of bosom friend Libby, 16-yearold May is shocked to see new stickers and other merch for “Princess X,” an intrepid swordswoman in a puff-sleeved dress and sneakers that she and Libby had privately invented in fifth grade. The princess’s recently posted online adventures tell a scary tale about escaping from a “Needle Man” years after being stolen as a replacement for his own dead daughter. They leave May convinced that Libby is still alive—hiding out from her clever, relentless captor and imbedding veiled messages in the comic that only May would catch. Said hints lead May and Trick, a hacker dude she goes to for help, on a quest through the city’s seedier and underground quarters to encounters with Jackdaw (a gay, goth Robin Hood) and a desperate scheme to steal proof of the Needle Man’s perfidy. Priest cranks the suspense somewhat by casting the kidnapper as both an IT expert and a killer, but because he mostly appears only in the emotionally charged, sparely drawn purple-and-black comics pages that Ciesemier scatters through the tale’s first two-thirds, he remains, at best, a shadowy bogeyman. Promising elements aplenty, but they never fully mesh or deliver more than a passing chill. (Thriller. 11-14)

THE TORTOISE AND THE HARE

Ritchie, Alison Illus. by Nój, Nahta Templar/Candlewick (32 pp.) $15.99 | May 12, 2015 978-0-7636-7601-8

Flat graphic images in pastel colors reinterpret the well-known tale. The drawback of choosing the ultrafamiliar Aesopian theme is that comparisons with other renditions of the tale are inevitable. The flat, abstract-leaning style of Nój’s illustrations 116

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seems at odds with the content of the gentle tale and is a far cry from the warmth, humor, and rich detail of other picture-book versions of the story. The hare is depicted as an odd-looking, round-headed, straight-legged creature; the tortoise is represented by a green and yellow round shape with another circle attached for his head. The shapes of the animals are so similar to the shapes of trees and foliage that some of the spreads are visually hard to decipher. When the hare snacks on some grass, he is taking a bite out of a green semicircle, as if the illustration has completely lost touch with what grass really is. Occasional circular die cuts add to the confusion; snail bodies are equated with the hare’s eyes, when seen through a small circular die cut. Other die cuts seem to have little purpose. The illustrations are too sparse and one-dimensional to provide more than superficial interest and perhaps would be better suited to an iPad app. The sophisticated graphics lack the warmth and variety needed to justify yet another rendering of this oft-told fable. (Picture book. 2-4)

THERE’S A LION IN MY CORNFLAKES

Robinson, Michelle Illus. by Field, Jim Bloomsbury (32 pp.) $16.99 | May 5, 2015 978-0-8027-3836-3

An all-too-successful cereal promotion leads to surprises, some of them unpleasant, for two lads who send in coupons for a free lion. As the British import starts out on a cautionary path, makes an abrupt turnabout, and then ends with what could be construed (on this side of the pond, anyway) as trademark infringement, it’s all rather a muddle. After urging readers to ignore cereal coupons, a young narrator describes how he and his brother spent a year’s allowance on 100 boxes of Mr. Flaky cornflakes only to see all their neighbors getting their lions first. Worse yet, they finally receive (because the company had run out of lions) a bad-tempered grizzly bear, a cranky crocodile, and finally a destructive gorilla. But then said animals are suddenly, inexplicably transformed from annoyances to assets (the croc, for instance, obligingly bites open cans). Furthermore, lions aren’t worth the trouble—“EVERYONE’S got one”— but check out the new prize offering: a genial, anthropomorphic tiger! Field’s lackadaisical scenes of tidy suburban chaos, swarms of mostly well-behaved (male) lions, and human figures with exaggerated expressions of dismay or irritation do little to boost the comedy or clarify the message, if any. This bland addition to the “unusual pets” genre misses most of the comedic possibilities and ends up a long way from “grrrrreat.” (Picture book. 5- 7)

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Loss, death, and sadness are each acknowledged as a powerful impetus to change. woundabout

WOUNDABOUT

Rosen, Lev Illus. by Rosen, Ellis Little, Brown (288 pp.) $17.00 | $9.99 e-book | Jun. 23, 2015 978-0-316-37078-3 978-0-316-37079-0 e-book A cliff-top river town, subterranean tunnels, and gearwork essentials figure in an intriguing steampunk fantasy. Connor and Cordelia King, ages 11 and 9, have been recently orphaned. Their parents, two men who raised bomb-sniffing capybaras on their ranch, were killed when a capybara training device exploded. Now the children and the only remaining capybara, Kip, have traveled to a small town to live with an aunt. The children quickly realize that Woundabout has a secret. It is curiously inert: there’s no Internet, matches won’t light, the river doesn’t flow, the park is grimly barren, construction sites are vacant, and the mayor regards the arrival of children with deep suspicion and concern. Connor, with his love of things structural and architectural, notices the odd way the town fits together. Cordelia, who loves photography, observes much of the world through the lens of her camera. The town’s name hints at its origin story, meshing gearwork and the four classical elements (earth, air, water, and fire), as well as at a more solemn theme: everyone in Woundabout has been injured in some way; each is looking for healing. Loss, death, and sadness are each acknowledged as a powerful impetus to change. Moments of humor include Aunt Marigold’s inability to remember Kip’s species name (“snappy llama,” “chatty ferret”), while abundant black-and-white illustrations add a friendly note. Appealing and pleasingly thoughtful. (Fiction. 9-12)

THE FOG DIVER

Ross, Joel Harper/HarperCollins (336 pp.) $16.99 | $9.99 e-book | May 26, 2015 978-0-06-235293-4 978-0-06-235296-5 e-book Adult novelist Ross (White Flag Down, 2007, etc.) makes his middle-grade debut with a boy’s desperate search to save himself and his crew from a horrible fate in a post-apocalyptic future. Scientists didn’t realize the nanites they invented to eat smog would decide humans were a sort of pollution too, pushing them to the mountaintops and covering the rest of the land with a white fog. After hundreds of years, the highest heights are now controlled by the Five Families, with everyone else consigned to the slums below. Chess and his scavenger crew patrol the margins of the Fog by airship, “diving” to retrieve anything of value within reach of his tether. They’ve managed to scrape by, but Lord Kadoc has heard about his abilities to dive into the Fog and wants to enslave Chess to scavenge only for him...for as long as Chess can last. Ross wastes no time with his worldbuilding, establishing Chess and his crew as |

a misfit found family working the Fog by day and sharing stories by night. Readers will chuckle at the garbled remnants of their times in such tales as “Skywalker Trek,” in which the Klingons battle the Jedi when they are not fighting Tribbles and Ewoks. It’s a fresh approach, convincingly delivered, with overtones reminiscent of Dickens...the only thing missing is a sequel, which readers will hope won’t be far behind. (Science fiction. 8-12)

A TALE OF TWO BESTIES

Rossi, Sophia Razorbill/Penguin (320 pp.) $17.99 | May 12, 2015 978-1-59514-8056

Separated by new high schools, two best friends dive into unfriendly social waters without each other as safety nets. Ever since fourth grade, Lily and Harper have been best friends. Blonde and popular, Harper adopts awkward, fairy-wing–wearing Lily as a friend, and the two become instantly inseparable. At 13, they face a harrowing prospect: entering their freshman year at different high schools. They make a pact to never change who they are and what they mean to one another, no matter what happens. While Harper continues public school at Beverly High, Lily moves on to Pathways Academy, a private school known for nurturing individuality. In a twist pulled from teen movies, Harper flounders and can’t find her social footing, while Lily becomes an instant star at Pathways, setting a fairywing trend blazing through the hallways and the blogosphere. As the girls swiftly change, can their friendship survive separation? The tale is weighed down by a barrage of pop-culture references— Rossi is a co-founder of the Internet community HelloGiggles along with Zooey Deschanel, who contributes an introduction— and it’s difficult to get a feel for who Lily and Harper really are, even as they ponder it themselves. Though there are requisite trials with bullies and boys, the spotlight on the girls’ friendship sustains an otherwise clichéd dramedy. A fluffy romp in familiar territory. (Fiction. 12-14)

GOOSEBERRY PARK AND THE MASTER PLAN

Rylant, Cynthia Illus. by Howard, Arthur Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster (128 pp.) $16.99 | Apr. 21, 2015 978-1-4814-0449-5 Twenty years after the publication of Gooseberry Park (1995), Rylant returns with a sequel. In the previous outing, the residents of Gooseberry Park coped with an ice storm; now, a drought threatens Stumpy the squirrel and her family, along with all

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the other animals. This spurs house pets chocolate Lab Kona and hermit crab Gwendolyn to devise the titular master plan to help their friends through the ecological disaster. Herman the crow—so smart that the rest of the crows have given up the annual chess match because they got sick of losing to him— works out a flowchart that involves a cat, a possum, a raccoon, 200 owls, and 20 packs of chewing gum. Murray the bat’s motivational-speaker brother puts his well-developed jaw muscles to work on the gum; Kona’s chocolate-Lab sincerity wins the unprecedented cooperation of 200 owls. Rylant writes with her customary restrained humor, creating with apparently no effort a full cast of three-dimensional furred and feathered characters. The story comes with lessons ranging from the overuse of fossil fuels to the peculiar magic of friendship, all applied with a gentle hand and a spirit of generous trust in the abilities of her readers to understand them. Her frequent collaborator Howard supplies lumpily humorous grayscale illustrations that augment the character development and give readers’ eyes places to rest. Readers new to Gooseberry Park will hope they don’t have to wait another 20 years for the next book. (Fantasy. 8-12)

HOLD ME LIKE A BREATH

Schmidt, Tiffany Bloomsbury (400 pp.) $17.99 | $12.99 e-book | May 19, 2015 978-0-80273-782-3 978-0-8027-3810-3 e-book Series: Once Upon a Crime Family, 1 Many parents are overprotective, but perhaps none more so than the Landlows with their daughter, Penelope, whom they forbid anyone even to touch. They do have good reason for this rule. Penelope suffers from idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, a disease that can result in horrific internal bleeding at even the lightest touch. Complicating matters, the family profession is human-organ trafficking, which, though it can help those in need (and who can pay), is highly illegal and dangerous. When this danger culminates in horrific tragedy, Penelope suddenly finds herself alone in a world she’s ill-equipped to deal with. Will she be able to handle real life and even save the man she loves from death? Schmidt offers a modern-day retelling of the “The Princess and the Pea” that attempts to cast the princess in a more proactive, less victimized role than is traditional. Penelope does manage to break free of her delicate-flower mode (with a little motivation from some bad guys), but she suffers so many setbacks and moments of doubt that readers will be forgiven for wanting to hurry up the process. The romance at the heart of the book is a sweet one, if slightly convenient, and offers a pleasant break from Penelope’s primary struggle between her past and present selves. A decent girl-power twist on an old fairy tale for thriller lovers. (Thriller. 13-18)

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THE ADVENTURES OF BLACK DOG Beached Whale

Schmidt, Tiffany Illus. by Theophilopoulos, Andrew Adaptive Studios (32 pp.) $18.99 | May 1, 2015 978-0-9960666-1-7 It’s Black Dog and the crew of the schooner Shenandoah to the rescue! In the harbor at Vineyard Haven there is adventure afoot. “It always starts in the same way / and ends when Black Dog saves the day.” A bottle washes against the dock, and Captain reads the note inside. Whale is in trouble! “Bark! Bark! Bark! ‘Let’s go and help!’ / Her message spreads from fish to kelp.” Kids Tess and Jack join Captain and Black Dog, and they sail off to help the whale. They pour seawater on the cetacean to keep him cool before pulling him back out to sea. Whale thanks them, and “With a last tail wave and a great big SPLISH, / Whale dives down to greet some fish.” Black Dog and the crew return home satisfied. “Black Dog, Captain and the schooner’s crew / Will go on other journeys too.” Employing doggerel that doesn’t always scan or even make total sense, teen author Schmidt (Hold Me Like a Breath, 2015, etc.) makes an inauspicious picture-book debut with this first of a projected series of adventures for Black Dog and company. Theophilopoulos’ animation-inspired illustrations are barely serviceable, not nearly accomplished enough to make up for the tortured rhyming text. Perhaps future outings of the Shenandoah will prove more seaworthy. (Picture book. 4- 7)

WHAT ABOUT MOOSE?

Schwartz, Corey Rosen & Gomez, Rebecca J. Illus. by Yamaguchi, Keika Atheneum (40 pp.) $17.99 | $12.99 e-book | Jun. 9, 2015 978-1-4814-0496-9 978-1-4814-0497-6 e-book Fox and friends have plans to build a treehouse, but bossy Moose keeps interfering Cooperation is the keyword for Fox and her hardworking cobuilders. Unfortunately, Moose thinks he is the most knowledgeable, and he is certainly the bossiest. With a megaphone, he shouts out orders but does not lend a hand. He criticizes, exhorts, advises, and then collapses from the sheer exhaustion of being in charge. Neither Skunk nor Porcupine nor Toad nor Fox measure up to his standards of Moose excellence. Then the walls are completed, and the roof is put in place—but where is Moose? Sharp-eyed readers will see what has happened: Moose is inside the newly completed treehouse and too big to exit through the door. The friends cleverly come to his rescue, and Moose happily learns his lesson. Schwartz and Gomez have crafted a pleasant tale in rhyming couplets about working together, pitching in, and planning ahead. The digitally rendered illustrations are colorful and full of activity as animals

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Fabre’s many original discoveries and insights won him renown, and his nose-to-nose approach to the natural world is well worth commemorating to modern readers. small wonders

clad in work clothes tote tool boxes, measure, lift beams, nail, caulk, drill, and construct. The almost perfectly round Toad alone, clad in pink overalls and safety goggles, with a tiny yellow hard hat perched atop, is practically worth the price of admission. Gentle humor successfully communicates the importance of teamwork to young readers. (Picture book. 4- 7)

THE TOTALLY SECRET SECRET

Shea, Bob Illus. by the author Disney-Hyperion (56 pp.) $9.99 | May 5, 2015 978-1-4847-1378-5 Series: Ballet Cat

A pink cat and a polka-dot horse join together in a light story of secrets and friendship. Ballet Cat and Sparkles the horse want to find something to do. At each page turn, Sparkles comes up with an idea that is quickly shot down by Ballet Cat, a dance-obsessed Debbie Downer, for whom ballet is all. Crafts? They can’t leap with scissors. Checkers? Their kicks would knock over the board. Sell lemonade? It would splash when they spun. When Sparkles suggests they might do something other than spin, Ballet Cat shoots that down, and Sparkles realizes they are going to play ballet. Again. With half-closed eyes and a resigned attitude, Sparkles plays ballet with reluctance. He ’fesses up his painful secret, “Sometimes I don’t want to play ballet.” With speech bubbles, deft cartoon strokes, and emotional close-ups, Shea lets young readers easily decode both the illustrations and the text. Though the mood is light, the reality—one friend calling all the shots—is not. Using easy words to set up a common situation, Shea dips his toes into the early-reader pool. The marriage of amusing story and expressive illustrations makes this one that new readers will enjoy over and over. Here’s hoping that Ballet Cat and Sparkles return soon to help new readers learn about friendship. This series will not be a secret for long. (Early reader. 4-8)

SMALL WONDERS Jean-Henri Fabre and His World of Insects Smith, Matthew Clark Illus. by Ferri, Giuliano Two Lions (48 pp.) $17.99 | May 12, 2015 978-1-4778-2632-4

The rewards of simply taking time to bend down for a closer look are celebrated in this tribute to the great French entomologist. Seeing as a lad that “every patch of dirt and tangle of weeds buzzed with insects: dazzling beetles, ferocious wasps, sweetsinging crickets, and more,” young Fabre went on to devote a long life to watching common insects rather than just collecting dead |

specimens as most of his contemporary colleagues did. The distinctive, enduring affection with which he regarded his diminutive subjects regardless of their often savage behavior comes through clearly here, both in Smith’s warm narrative and Ferri’s equally engaging views of the naturalist. He delightedly discovers a shimmering hoplia beetle beneath a leaf, smiles from his sickbed as a handful of hibernating bees revives after his son carries them indoors, and is wonderstruck by an account of how Cerceris wasps paralyze beetles as live food for offspring. (The illustrator has a little fun with viewers by adding a looming insectile shadow as well as close-up views of hovering wasps in this last scene.) Fabre’s many original discoveries and insights won him renown, and though he is largely unknown to nonspecialists today, his nose-to-nose approach to the natural world is well worth commemorating to modern readers. Long before Yogi Berra said, “You can observe a lot by watching,” Fabre proved it so. (historical note, timeline, author’s note, annotated source list) (Picture book/biography. 9-11)

NIMONA

Stevenson, Noelle Illus. by the author HarperTeen (272 pp.) $17.99 | $12.99 paper | $8.99 e-book May 19, 2015 978-0-06-227823-4 978-0-06-227822-7 paper 978-0-06-227824-1 e-book A not-so-bad villain fighting against a not-so-good hero teams up with a spunky shape-shifting heroine in a cleverly envisioned world. Nimona, a plucky, punk-tressed girl, is determined to be the sidekick of the nefarious (in name only) Ballister Blackheart, the sworn enemy of the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics and their sporran-sporting champion, Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin. Blackheart, intrigued by Nimona’s moxie and ability to shape-shift, takes her on, and the two decide they’re going to take down the Institution. Nimona and Blackheart learn that the supposedly benevolent Institution has been hoarding a great quantity of a poisonous plant, jaderoot. As they delve deeper into its inner workings, they soon find that the lines that separate good and evil aren’t simply black and white. Stevenson’s world is fascinating: an anachronistic marvel that skillfully juxtaposes modern conventions against a medieval backdrop. Imbued with humor, her characters are wonderfully quirky and play with many of the archetypes found in comics. The relationships among her characters are complex and compelling: for an antihero, Blackheart dislikes killing and mayhem, while Goldenloin is not averse to cheating and trickery. Stevenson’s portrayal of the relationship between good and evil is particularly ingenious, as is her attention to detail and adroit worldbuilding. If you’re going to read one graphic novel this year, make it this one. (Graphic fantasy. 13 & up)

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Woodstock remains a resonant cultural marker, documenting the brief triumph of hope over experience, and Tash takes ample advantage of the moment. three day summer

THE ENCHANTED CHARMS

Stilton, Geronimo Scholastic Paperbacks (320 pp.) $14.99 | May 26, 2015 978-0-545-74615-1 Series: Geronimo Stilton and the Kingdom of Fantasy, 7 The latest in the Kingdom of Fantasy series sends Geronimo Stilton on a scavenger hunt for magic items to stop an evil wizard. Plagued by his own success writing fantasy novels based on his wild dreams, Geronimo Stilton finds himself mobbed in public for autographs and then in private pressured by his friends and family to hurry up and write the next one. But before he can write, he needs to dream the next story, which leads to a comical series of events as his sleep is continually thwarted. Finally, after joining his nephew on a beach visit, he falls asleep and ends up in the Kingdom of Fantasy. While it’s a stand-alone story, there is also a concise rundown of his previous adventures. The fairy queen, Blossom, sends a crab messenger to deliver a mission to Geronimo. He must collect the seven enchanted charms from their guardians before an evil wizard can steal and use them to conquer the land. Although the plot makes good use of the various fantasy settings (resulting in lovely maps), it’s not terribly original or engaging on its own. The crab sidekick, Chatterclaw, is an entertaining mix of cheerful pessimism and questionable judgment, though his forgetful speech pattern wears thin. The art throughout goes beyond bolstering the story, offering a variety of interactive puzzles. Adequate for its audience. (Fantasy. 7-10)

HELLO, I LOVE YOU

Stout, Katie M. St. Martin’s Griffin (304 pp.) $18.99 | $9.99 e-book | Jun. 9, 2015 978-1-250-05259-9 978-1-4668-5459-8 e-book A white American teen transfers into a posh Korean boarding school and falls for a Korean pop heartthrob in this debut novel. Grace Wilde knows what it’s like to be music royalty. Her father’s a famous producer, and her brother’s a country-music star. What she doesn’t know is anything about Korea before she travels there to attend the Korean School of Foreign Studies: she chose her new school arbitrarily in a desperate attempt to escape her family. Fortunately, her friendly Korean roommate, Sophie, takes Grace under her wing, even introducing Grace to her twin brother, Jason, the hunky lead singer of a popular Korean band. Sparks fly between Grace and Jason, though Jason’s fame and drinking habits and Grace’s unresolved family issues complicate their romance. Stout’s depiction of Korea is often shockingly insensitive and 120

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riddled with errors and inconsistencies. Grace thinks crowds of Korean people smell like garlic, is nauseated by Korean food, and obsesses over the horrors of squat toilets. A Korean character incorrectly describes Hangul, Korean writing, as a syllabary rather than an alphabet. In the end, the plot is a variation on the classic “White Savior” story (think Dances with Wolves). It’s deeply unfortunate that a novel set in Korea with many characters of color is primarily about its white protagonist’s journey of self-discovery. Skip this embarrassing example of clueless cultural appropriation. (Romance. 13-18)

THREE DAY SUMMER

Tash, Sarvenaz Simon & Schuster (304 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | May 19, 2015 978-1-4814-3931-2 978-1-4814-3933-6 e-book Two teens find the 1969 Woodstock music festival a life-changing event. Michael, 18, knows what he doesn’t want—to go to college or be drafted to fight in Vietnam—it’s what he wants that confuses him, and would-be doctor Cora, 17, ponders transgressing cultural expectations for girls. Overcoming their inauspicious meeting in the medical tent, the two are drawn together—along with plenty of baggage. Michael drags his feet on breaking up with his hypercritical girlfriend. Cora longs to get over paternalistic Ned, who’s broken up with her. Michael’s passionate about music but feels like a slacker. Country girl Cora, unlike her brothers, has a nightly curfew and feels torn between her conservative father—proud veteran of two wars— and her anti-war siblings, one fighting in Vietnam. Not all that goes down is benign, but this is no cautionary fable. Sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll unapologetically prevail amid the muddy chaos, where strangers feed one another, concertgoers stand in line for hours to use the payphone, and iconic musicians play generational anthems. Against a turbulent backdrop of war, divisive social change, and awful weather, half a million people celebrated peace, love, and music together. Woodstock remains a resonant cultural marker, documenting the brief triumph of hope over experience, and Tash takes ample advantage of the moment. A positive portrait of a much-maligned era, this optimistic, exuberant tale is recommended for readers who’ve wondered why the ’60s were so great. (Historical fiction. 12-18)

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ABUKACHA’S SHOES

Tessler, Tamar Illus. by the author Groundwood (36 pp.) $18.95 | $16.95 e-book | May 12, 2015 978-1-55498-458-9 978-1-55498-459-6 e-book No matter how hard Abukacha tries to discard his old, worn-out shoes, they always find their way back to him. Abukacha has “the biggest shoes in the whole wide world,” making them instantly recognizable to everyone. When he has a new pair made, he throws the old ones in the trash. The garbage collector sees them, assumes a mistake has been made, and helpfully returns them. Throwing the shoes in the sea or down a deep well proves equally futile, as the shoes are returned each time. When he sends them aloft in a hot air balloon, it seems as if he might finally succeed. But lo and behold, they float back, and he recognizes that they really belong right there with him. The action-packed tale is told in breezy, accessible language. Employing mixed-media and collage in a palette of mostly earth tones, Tessler establishes the atmosphere of an old folk tale with tractors, trucks, and other modern elements added. All the characters appear in the form of cut photographs arranged with large heads placed on bodies in appropriate positions and stances. In an author’s note Tessler explains that this tale was told for generations in her family and the photos honor family members lost in the Holocaust. Young readers will smile and enjoy and keep the memories alive. Funny and charming. (Picture book. 4- 7)

BECAUSE YOU’LL NEVER MEET ME

Thomas, Leah Bloomsbury (352 pp.) $17.99 | Jun. 2, 2015 978-1-61963-590-6

Opposites attract—and repel—in Thomas’ epistolary debut novel. Ollie sees his new German pen pal, Moritz, as a potential lifeline. Ollie’s allergy to electricity has exiled him and his mother to a cabin in the Michigan woods with little company besides Auburn-Stache, his unconventional doctor, and Liz, a girl who brings him news from the world of TVs and humidifiers. Buzzing with awkward wisecracks and restless energy, he draws the aloof, sardonic Moritz into conversation. Rescued from a lab, Moritz requires a pacemaker and lacks eyes, but he insists he isn’t blind; he can acutely sense his surroundings by clicking his tongue. Unfortunately, superecholocation and sarcasm don’t help him fight a bully or approach Owen, the boy who treats him like a human. Ollie and Moritz need each other, even if they won’t admit it. Isolation and the intimacy afforded by distance sharply focus the characters’ developments; their personalities take shape quickly, and their relationship deepens as they |

play off each other’s anecdotes and insults. The humorous and increasingly emotional exchanges create cliffhangers, culminating in occasionally disturbing revelations about the boys’ origins. Their link is heavily foreshadowed, while other plotlines remain open enough to give the ending a sense of anticipation as well as satisfaction. A witty, unusual take on friendship and parlaying weakness into power. (Fiction. 14 & up)

MY DOG IS THE BEST

Thompson, Laurie Ann Illus. by Schmid, Paul Farrar, Straus and Giroux (40 pp.) $17.99 | Jun. 9, 2015 978-0-374-30051-7 A toddler plays with the family dog, describing their simple activities and extolling the virtues of the pup. The unnamed narrator is dressed in blue overalls and appears to be a very young child, perhaps 18 months old. The dog is an overweight, nondescript sort who is sleepy and desperately trying to take a nap, while the toddler wants to play. This premise is telegraphed clearly on the title page, as the dog yawns and the toddler hopefully holds out a ball. The child’s simple narration of the dog’s tricks deliberately don’t match the illustrations of the dog’s behavior, as the dog is really sleeping rather than engaging in the described activities. For example, when the child states, “He plays ball,” the dog is shown curled up like a ball. Eventually, the toddler tires of this one-sided game and falls asleep on top of the dog. In a clever conclusion, the dog wakes up ready to play, holding out the same ball with a hopeful “Woof!” The ironic juxtaposition sets up caregiver-child conversations that will introduce preschoolers to the nuances of humor. Minimalist illustrations in soft pastels, tan, and gray have a quiet appeal, but the short text set in tan on white pages suffers from low contrast. This simple, quiet story conveys the enduring bond between child and dog, with the added appeal of a joke that younger children just beginning to understand humor can enjoy. (Picture book. 3-5)

HERE COMES THE TOOTH FAIRY CAT

Underwood, Deborah Illus. by Rueda, Claudia Dial (96 pp.) $16.99 | May 19, 2015 978-0-525-42774-2 Series: Here Comes…

Mischievous Cat is back (Here Comes Santa Cat, 2014, etc.), this time determined to meet the Tooth Fairy. After losing a tooth, Cat is disappointed that he didn’t get to meet the Tooth Fairy when she left a coin under his pillow. Never at a loss for ideas, Cat concocts a plan to lure her back.

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Underwood and Rueda continue their playful repartee between the oh-so-patient narrator and silent Cat, bouncing the narrator’s understated questions off of Cat’s humorous expressions and handheld signs. Cat finds that it’s harder to trick a fairy than he expected. Two packages arrive with a note that suggests, “if you help me with a few deliveries, maybe we can meet. Love, Tooth Fairy.” But: “P.S. You’ll have some help.” When Mouse shows up as Cat’s assistant, Underwood plays the two off each other to great effect. Both animals are full of not-quite-helpful suggestions (“Cat! Mouse can climb into the hole perfectly well without your, uh, help”), and Rueda’s ink-and–colored-pencil illustrations heighten the humor with spot-on expressions and sight gags. Generous white space, expert timing, and minimalist illustrations focus attention on the plentiful, playful banter. Clever fun continues in this delightful series. (Picture book. 4-7)

WHAT THIS STORY NEEDS IS A PIG IN A WIG

Virján, Emma J. Illus. by the author Harper/HarperCollins (40 pp.) $9.99 | May 12, 2015 978-0-06-232724-6

One pig, one boat, and a lot of passengers add up to one hilarious voyage. The opening spread presents one pink pig under a spotlight. Her beady eyes look right at the reader as she says, “What this story needs is a pig.” Apparently a pig is not enough—the story needs a pig in a wig, an oversized red wig. So begins this over-the-top rhyming romp of a pig in a boat, in a moat, with a frog and a dog and a goat (on a log—in the boat!). Soon a rat, an elephant, a skunk, a house, a mouse, and a panda threaten to sink the little pink rowboat, forcing the pig to send some of the critters packing. Bright, saturated digital colors are the order of the day, adding extra humor to the tale. Easy rhymes make the story simple to predict and memorize for new readers, and the bright white typeface is clear on the dark backgrounds. Carefully chosen, easily decoded words ensure that beginning readers will find instant success here. The slowly filling boat and ridiculous situation add to the fun. Observant readers will enjoy finding the pig snouts drawn on the boat’s prow and hidden in many of the spreads. Even the endpapers are filled with them. There’s not much of a story here, but a boatload of giggles will keep children returning for more easy-to-read fun. (Early reader. 3-6)

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BEHOLD! A BABY

Watson, Stephanie Illus. by Ang, Joy Bloomsbury (32 pp.) $16.99 | Jun. 6, 2015 978-1-61963-452-7

Step right up, folks, and witness...a besotted dad touting the world’s most extraordinary phenomenon—a baby. While awestruck emcee Dad extols the baby’s amazing, never-before-witnessed talents before a live audience—accomplishments include smiling, eating a banana, and babbling— older brother grumbles “Big deal” from the cheap seats. Not to be outshone by a mere infant, he shows off what he can do: he eats two bananas simultaneously and trumps the baby talk with a song. The spectators are underwhelmed. Then the baby utters something incomprehensible, and even Dad and the audience take a breather from oohing and aahing. What can this new mouthful of gibberish mean? “Duh. So obvious,” says big brother—and translates to the wonderment of all. After that, guess who takes center stage and realizes the little tyke isn’t such a scene-stealing, attention-grabbing bore after all—plus has big plans for a new performance featuring “BROTHERS”? The story is mildly amusing with its obvious spoof of proud parents’ gushiness over everything a new baby does. Adults will get the stage shtick; little kids, not so much. This is a nice addition to the crowded field of titles about older kids cottoning to their new siblings, but except for the theater angle, it doesn’t really offer much that’s fresh. The flat, digital illustrations are lively and expressive; the characters’ large mouths will evoke smiles. Ecce yet another picture book that shines a spotlight on the older kid who decides that it’s OK for babies to be stars. (Picture book. 3-5)

SURVIVAL STRATEGIES OF THE ALMOST BRAVE

White, Jen Farrar, Straus and Giroux (320 pp.) $16.99 | Jun. 9, 2015 978-0-374-30084-5

Abandoned at a desert gas station by a mentally unbalanced parent, 12-yearold Liberty uses the animal-survival strategies she’s recorded in her notebook to protect her little sister, Billie, and

escape to safety. An obsessive watcher of National Geographic’s Hunter and Hunted, Liberty sees her world in terms of predators and prey. She and her 8-year-old sister are the prey. After her mother was hit by a car and died, the photographer father they barely knew took them with him. The plan was for a work-and-camping trip, but he turned out not to be up to the stress of caring for children. Stranded in the desert and knowing what every 21stcentury American child knows about stranger danger, they can’t

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Willis’ verse is bouncy without being overworked, and she puns with the best of them. the cow tripped over the moon

ask for help, and Liberty’s view of the people they encounter will encourage readers to share her fears. The desert with its searing heat, stony sand, and venomous inhabitants provides an appropriate setting. Using imagery from the natural world, Liberty describes their journey, fueled by junk food and her fears. It’s not until the end that she realizes that some of these scary people were wishing her well. Readers familiar with Cynthia Voigt’s Homecoming (1981) will recognize the gripping story arc, but for today’s middle graders, the world has sadly changed. (Fiction. 9-13)

YOU’RE A CRAB! A Moody Day Book

Whitehead, Jenny Illus. by the author Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt (32 pp.) $16.99 | Jun. 2, 2015 978-0-8050-9361-2 A marine-themed look at all kinds of moods. Some days you may feel as friendly as a dolphin or as silly as a jellyfish (doing a wiggle-jiggle dance), but on those days when things aren’t going right, you may feel downright crabby. And that’s OK! Whitehead delves deep into a tissue-paper–swirled ocean to find all kinds of creatures and the many emotions they may be feeling. In the good-mood passages, like the “frog that goes kissy-kissy-kissy” or the “puffer fish that will hold its breath and make silly faces at you,” the actions beg to be carried out (perhaps to a slightly cranky listener). But the bad ones—“when you feel MAD like an eel that ZAPS at whatever it sees”—are acknowledged as well. Readers are given permission to “go ahead and be a stinky anchovy for a while,” because moods always pass. Even the angry, red, crabby crab (furrowed brows and all) is smiling in the end. Certainly not new fare, but any opportunity to help children understand emotions is never a misstep. (Picture book. 3-6)

THE COW TRIPPED OVER THE MOON A Nursery Rhyme Emergency

Willis, Jeanne Illus. by Stewart, Joel Candlewick (32 pp.) $15.99 | May 12, 2015 978-0-7636-7402-1

Hey-diddle-diddle! Nursery-rhyme EMTs rescue stranded characters from “Mother Goose.” In verse! All the animals stop to watch the ambulance zoom by. “Who’s had an accident in Storyland today?” they wonder. Turns out it’s the farmer’s cow, who fell from a great height. A trio of paramedics patches her up, and she responds with a hearty “Moo!” The next day is even busier. They rescue Rock-a-Bye |

Baby, who fell from a bough. They bandage the nose of a poor washer maid who was bitten by a blackbird, a brother of the four and 20 that were baked into that pie. They race to the notorious wall to tend to the big egg Humpty Dumpty after his fall. The King’s Horses and Men arrive while the ambulance crew is using jam and bread to cover Humpty’s wounds. Next up is Little Boy Blue, whom they find beneath a haystack. He’s none the worse for wear, but his mangled horn needs emergency repair, with hammers and “trumpet tape.” Willis’ verse is bouncy without being overworked, and she puns with the best of them. Stewart’s illustrations are appropriately bright and busy, offering plenty of side business for cognoscenti. The EMTs are human, two Caucasian and one black, and two of them are comfortably well-padded. Children just graduating from nursery rhymes will find this a hoot. (Picture book. 3- 7)

HOW JELLY ROLL MORTON INVENTED JAZZ

Winter, Jonah Illus. by Mallett, Keith Neal Porter/Roaring Brook (32 pp.) $17.99 | Jun. 16, 2015 978-1-59643-963-4

Winter offers a speculative look at the life and musical career of jazz innovator Jelly Roll Morton. Weaving a quasi-poetic text in the second person, an adulatory narrator addresses readers: “Here’s what could’ve happened / if you were born a way down south / in New Orleans, in the Land of Dreams / a long, long time ago.” Talented Morton played piano in bars as a boy; his great-grandmother threw him out for being a “LOWLIFE MUSICIAN.” Regarding this trauma, the narrator contends: “just one thing in the world, / could make the crying stop: // And this is why / and this is how / a thing called JAZZ got invented / by a man named Jelly Roll Morton. / Leastwise, that’s what / I thought I heard Mister Jelly Roll say.” Winter intersperses italicized lyrics from several songs in Morton’s repertoire, adding an invented verse to one. While the text pivots on Morton’s self-promotion as the inventor of jazz (which music historians both debate and dispute), the choice of an unreliable narrator arguably muddies still waters. Mallett’s acrylic paintings use red-golds and blue-blacks to evoke sunset and twilit tableaux filigreed with musical notation. Morton is mostly shown from behind or in silhouette; the cover portrait and one interior one, painted from different decades without attribution, don’t cohere. Morton’s seminal role in jazz deserves both celebration and elucidation; this disjointed treatment mainly accomplishes the former. (author’s note, recommended listening, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 5-10)

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CAST OFF The Strange Adventures of Petra De Winter and Bram Broen Yohalem, Eve Dial (320 pp.) $16.99 | May 19, 2015 978-0-525-42856-5

Find out what happens when two 12-year-olds from vastly different worlds are thrown together in a high-seas adventure packed with action, secrets, and intrigue. The year is 1663. The place, Amsterdam. When her abusive father almost stabs her with a red-hot poker, Petra De Winter flees and stows away on a merchant ship bound for the East Indies. Bram Broen, the illegitimate, half-Dutch/half-Javanese son of the ship’s carpenter, finds her hiding place and agrees to help Petra disguise herself as a boy and keep her hidden in exchange for help with chores. The stakes are high, as Petra lives in constant fear of discovery (stowaways are often executed), and Bram risks the only family he’s ever known to help her. Halfway through the journey, Petra foolishly (or perhaps cannily) reveals herself to help the ship’s doctor save a grievously injured crew member. Now out in the open, Petra roams freely and becomes indispensable as the doctor’s assistant. But their troubles don’t end there. Yohalem throws a lot at them: superstitious crew members (a girl onboard is bad luck), a pirate attack, devastating illness, and mutiny—the friends must overcome very dire straits indeed. The story brims with luscious detail (urine shampoo and butt-brooms and more), the product of copious and enthusiastic research, engagingly summarized in an author’s note. This novel has all the required elements to appeal to zealous historical-adventure buffs. (map) (Historical fiction. 9-14)

WAKANABI BLUES

Zobel, Melissa Tantaquidgeon Poisoned Pencil (338 pp.) $10.95 paper | $7.99 e-book | Jun. 2, 2015 978-1-929345-12-0 978-1-929345-13-7 e-book Series: Wakanabi Trilogy, 1 Mona Lisa LaPierre’s academic parents are off to Russia for research, leaving the teen behind in a cabin deep in the woods of New England with her crotchety Mohegan Indian grandfather, whom she barely knows. There is no electricity, her grandfather seems able to communicate with bears, and the lines between this world and the world of spirits are blurry to say the least. Mona passes the time wailing the blues on her trusty guitar, Rosalita. As she gradually bonds with her grandfather, she also begins to connect more deeply with the natural world and with both sides of her Native American heritage, Mohegan and Abenaki. This would be more than enough to 124

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process, both for Mona and for readers, but this summer after high school is also filled with a cold-case murder mystery, budding romance, love triangles, dysfunctional parents, family secrets, death, and supernatural occurrences. Though ambitious and inclusive of voices tragically underrepresented in teen literature, this novel regrettably fails to strike the right chord. Rather than weaving together to form a cohesive story, the various plot points and surprise turns are heaped upon one another at an inconsistent pace, and the result feels cluttered and forced. Too many ideas and not enough focus unfortunately diminish what could have been a unique and much-needed novel exploring the lives of contemporary Native American teens. (author’s note) (Mystery. 13-17)

continuing series A NEST IS NOISY

Aston, Dianna Hutts Illus. by Long, Sylvia Chronicle (40 pp.) $16.99 | Apr. 14, 2015 978-1-4521-2713-2 Egg Is Quiet (Informational picture book. 5-8)

BLOODKIN

Atwater-Rhodes, Amelia Delacorte (224 pp.) $16.99 | $19.99 PLB | Apr. 14, 2015 978-0-385-74305-1 978-0-375-99092-2 PLB Ma’evra Trilogy, 2 (Paranormal romance. 12-16)

THE HIDDEN TREASURE

Burkhart, Jessica Illus. by Ying, Victoria Aladdin (112 pp.) $16.99 | $5.99 paper | Mar. 3, 2015 978-1-4814-1108-0 978-1-4424-9829-7 paper Unicorn Magic, 4 (Fantasy. 6-9)

CHIPS AND CHEESE AND GRANDMA’S KNEES What Is Alliteration?

Cleary, Brian P. Illus. by Goneau, Martin Millbrook/Lerner (32 pp.) $17.95 | Apr. 1, 2015 978-1-4677-2649-8 Words Are CATegorical (Picture book. 7-11)

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BENJAMIN BEAR IN BRAIN STORMS!

LOVE OR SOMETHING LIKE IT

Coudray, Philippe Illus. by the author TOON Books & Graphics (48 pp.) $12.95 | Apr. 28, 2015 978-1-935179-82-5 Benjamin Bear, 3 (Graphic early reader. 4-8)

Friedman, Laurie Darby Creek (184 pp.) $17.95 | Apr. 1, 2015 978-1-4677-0928-6 Mostly Miserable Life of April Sinclair, 4 (Fiction. 10-14)

PIZZA IS THE BEST BREAKFAST (And Other Lessons I’ve Learned)

FLURRY OF THE SNOMBIES

Gutknecht, Allison Illus. by Lewis, Stevie Aladdin (176 pp.) $16.99 | $6.99 paper | Mar. 3, 2015 978-1-4814-2962-7 978-1-4814-2961-0 paper (And Other Lessons I’ve Learned), 4 (Fiction. 7-10)

Cummings, Troy Illus. by the author Scholastic Branches (96 pp.) $15.99 | $4.99 paper | Mar. 31, 2015 978-0-545-79551-7 978-0-545-79550-0 paper Notebook of Doom, 7 (Horror. 6-8)

WILLIE & ME

MONSTER NEEDS A PARTY

Czajak, Paul Illus. by Grieb, Wendy Mighty Media Kids (32 pp.) $16.95 | Apr. 14, 2015 978-1-938063-55-8 Monster & Me (Picture book. 3-6)

Gutman, Dan Harper/HarperCollins (176 pp.) $15.99 | Mar. 3, 2015 978-0-06-170404-8 Baseball Card Adventures, 12 (Fantasy. 8-12)

DINOSAURS LIVE ON! And Other Fun Facts

Hale, Nathan Illus. by the author Amulet/Abrams (128 pp.) $12.95 | Apr. 21, 2015 978-1-4197-1536-5 Nathan Hale ‘s Hazardous Tales (Graphic nonfiction. 8-12)

THE UNDERGROUND ABDUCTOR

DiSiena, Laura Lyn & Elliot, Hannah Illus. by Spurgeon, Aaron Little Simon (32 pp.) $17.99 | $6.99 paper | Apr. 28,2015 978-1-4814-2425-7 978-1-4814-2424-0 paper Did You Know? (Informational picture book. 4-8)

AQUALICIOUS

Kann, Victoria Illus. by the author Harper/HarperCollins (40 pp.) $17.99 | Mar. 3, 2015 978-0-06-233016-1 Pinkalicious (Picture book. 4-8)

JACK AT THE HELM Doan, Lisa Illus. by Stevanovic, Ivica Darby Creek (152 pp.) $17.95 | Apr. 1, 2015 978-1-4677-1078-7 Berenson Schemes, 3 (Adventure. 9-12)

MELONHEAD AND THE LATER GATOR PLAN

Kelly, Katy Illus. by Johnson, Gillian Delacorte (256 pp.) $14.99 | $17.99 PLB | Mar. 10, 2015 978-0-385-74166-8 978-0-375-99017-5 PLB Melonhead, 6 (Fiction. 6-9)

CHARLIE PLAYS BALL

Drummond, Ree Illus. by deGroat, Diane Harper/HarperCollins (40 pp.) $17.99 | Mar. 24, 2015 978-0-06-229752-5 Charlie the Ranch Dog (Picture book. 4-8) |

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INSTINCT

CRYSTAL KEEPERS

Kenyon, Sherrilyn St. Martin’s Griffin (480 pp.) $19.99 | Mar. 31, 2015 978-1-250-06386-1 Chronicles of Nick, 6 (Paranormal suspense. 14-18)

Mull, Brandon Aladdin (496 pp.) $17.99 | Mar. 17, 2015 978-1-4424-9706-1 Five Kingdoms, 3 (Fantasy. 8-12)

POPPY THE PIRATE DOG AND THE MISSING TREASURE

AMULET KEEPERS

Northrop, Michael Scholastic (192 pp.) $12.99 | Apr. 28, 2015 978-0-545-72339-8 TombQuest, 2 (Adventure. 8-12)

Kessler, Liz Illus. by Phillips, Mike Candlewick (64 pp.) $14.99 | Apr. 14, 2015 978-0-7636-7497-7 Poppy the Pirate Dog, 3 (Early reader. 5-9)

SUPER SECRET SURPRISE PARTY

O’Connor, Jane Illus. by Erik, Ted Harper/HarperCollins (32 pp.) $16.99 | $3.99 paper | Apr. 21, 2015 978-0-06-226979-9 970-0-06-226978-2 paper Fancy Nancy (Early reader. 4-8)

GUARDIANS

Kim, Susan & Klavan, Laurence HarperTeen (432 pp.) $17.99 | Mar. 24, 2015 978-0-06-211857-8 Wasteland, 3 (Post-apocalyptic adventure. 14-18)

THE THIEF AND THE SWORD

LARRY GETS LOST UNDER THE SEA

Maihack, Mike Illus. by the author Graphix/Scholastic (192 pp.) $22.99 | $12.99 paper | Apr. 28, 2015 978-0-545-52844-3 978-0-545-52845-0 paper Cleopatra in Space, 2 (Graphic science fiction. 8-12)

Ode, Eric & Skewes, John Illus. by Skewes, John Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch (32 pp.) $16.99 | Apr. 14, 2015 978-1-57061-925-0 Larry Gets Lost (Picture book. 5-8)

GRACEFUL

Paige, Danielle Harper/HarperCollins (298 pp.) $17.99 | Mar. 31, 2015 978-0-06-228070-1 Dorothy Must Die, 2 (Dystopian fantasy. 14 & up)

THE WICKED WILL RISE

Mass, Wendy Scholastic (256 pp.) $16.99 | Apr. 28, 2015 978-0-545-77313-3 Willow Falls, 5 (Fiction. 8-12)

AMELIA BEDELIA IS FOR THE BIRDS

ELMER AND BUTTERFLY

Parish, Herman Illus. by Avril, Lynne Greenwillow (32 pp.) $16.99 | $3.99 paper | Apr. 21, 2015 978-0-06-233425-1 978-0-06-233424-4 paper Amelia Bedelia (Early reader. 4-8)

McKee, David Illus. by the author Andersen Press USA (32 pp.) $16.99 | Apr. 1, 2015 978-1-4677-6326-4 Elmer the Patchwork Elephant (Picture book. 4-9)

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DISNEY LANDS

MONKEY AND ELEPHANT AND A SECRET BIRTHDAY SURPRISE

Pearson, Ridley Disney Hyperion (352 pp.) $17.99 | Mar. 31, 2015 978-1-4231-8431-7 Kingdom Keepers: the Return, 1 (Fantasy. 10-14)

Schaefer, Carole Lexa Illus. by Bernstein, Galia Candlewick (48 pp.) $14.99 | Apr. 28, 2015 978-0-7636-6131-1 Monkey and Elephant (Early reader. 5-9)

BIG NATE LIVES IT UP

Peirce, Lincoln Illus. by the author Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins (224 pp.) $13.99 | Mar. 10, 2015 978-0-06-211108-1 Big Nate, 7 (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

I SCREAM FOR ICE CREAM

Scotton, Rob Illus. by the author Harper/HarperCollins (32 pp.) $16.99 | $3.99 paper | Apr. 21, 2015 978-0-06-229419-7 978-0-06-229418-0 paper Splat the Cat (Early reader. 4-8)

LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

Quinn, Jordan Illus. by McPhillips, Robert Little Simon (128 pp.) $16.99 | $5.99 paper | Mar. 10, 2015 978-1-4814-2380-9 978-1-4814-2379-3 paper Kingdom of Wrenly, 7 (Fantasy. 5-9)

HUNT FOR THE CURIOUS CHEESE

Stilton, Geronimo Scholastic Paperbacks (224 pp.) $14.99 | Mar. 31, 2015 978-0-545-79151-9 Geronimo Stilton Special Edition (Adventure. 7-10)

TAKING THE STAND

THE GALACTIC GOAL

Rich, Juliann Bold Strokes Books (192 pp.) $11.95 paper | Apr. 20, 2015 978-1-62639-408-7 paper Crossfire Trilogy, 3 (Thriller. 13-18)

Stilton, Geronimo Scholastic Paperbacks (128 pp.) $6.99 paper | Apr. 28, 2015 978-0-545-74620-5 paper Geronimo Stilton Spacemice, 4 (Adventure. 7-10)

OUT AT HOME

KRAKENS AND LIES

Ripken Jr., Cal with Cowherd, Kevin Disney Hyperion (208 pp.) $16.99 | Mar. 3, 2015 978-1-4231-7867-5 Cal Ripken, Jr.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s All-Stars, 5 (Fiction. 8-12)

Sutherland, Tui T. Harper/HarperCollins (368 pp.) $16.99 | Mar. 10, 2015 978-0-06-078067-8 Menagerie, 3 (Fantasy. 8-12)

I FEEL SICK!

Ross, Tony Illus. by the author Andersen Press USA (32 pp.) $16.99 | Apr. 1, 2015 978-1-4677-5797-3 Little Princess (Picture book. 4-9)

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Fo r e i g n Influence A survey of books first published overseas, before they arrive in America By Catherine Hickley

Photo © broaddaylight

The Illuminations O’Hagan, Andrew U.K.: Jan. 29, 2015 | Faber & Faber U.S.: Mar. 24, 2015 | FSG Once a gifted photographer, Anne is fighting the onset of dementia to keep hold of her memories while her grandson Luke, who served as a soldier in Afghanistan, is trying to suppress his own in The Illuminations, a new novel by the Scottish author O’Hagan. Published in the U.K. and Commonwealth (excluding Canada), the book has been showered with praise by British critics for its vivid portrayal of young men at war in the modern world, its fast-paced, realistic dialogue, the topicality of the subject matter, and O’Hagan’s sensitive handling of aging. One of O’Hagan’s previous novels, Our Fathers, was shortlisted for the prestigious Man Booker Prize in 1999; given the glowing reviews for The Illuminations, which took him five years to write, it is likely to be another candidate.

Emma Smith, Alexander McCall U.K.: Nov. 6, 2014 | The Borough Press U.S.: Apr. 7, 2015 | Pantheon Was it a good idea to ask contemporary British authors to rewrite Jane Austen’s novels and set them in modern times? The resounding response to the latest in the series commissioned by The Borough Press, Smith’s Emma, suggests that it wasn’t—at least not from a literary point of view (though possibly from a commercial one). Smith, best known for his much-loved No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, has Austen’s meddling heroine driving a Mini Cooper and studying decorative arts at Bath University. Unsurprisingly, comparisons with the original have been unfavorable to Smith and raised the question, Why do this? 128

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Watson, S.J. U.K.: Feb. 2, 2015 | Doubleday U.S.: Jun. 6, 2015 | HarperCollins

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Second Life

This is the launch of a feature we will publish on the 15th of each month to give you advance insight into books first published overseas. You’ll be hearing about these books when they arrive in America; now you know how the readers and critics who saw them first reacted to them. —Ed.

Echoes of the blockbusters Fifty Shades of Grey and Gone Girl reverberate in Second Life, Watson’s follow-up thriller to his huge hit Before I Go to Sleep, which was turned into a film with Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth. In his second book, a recovering drug addict, Julia, tries to track her sister’s killer using online dating sites and becomes embroiled in a sinister affair with a man named Lukas. While some British reviewers applauded the plot’s twists and turns, others described Second Life as workmanlike rather than brilliant, lacking the ingenious premise of Watson’s first book about a woman who lost her memory and woke up every day to find a man called Ben in her bed telling her he was her husband.

The Offering McCleen, Grace U.K.: Jan. 15, 2015 | Sceptre U.S.: none planned Amnesia and psychological illness are the themes of McCleen’s The Offering, a firstperson account from an unreliable narrator, a patient in a mental infirmary who has committed a violent crime. Madeline’s manipulative and ambitious doctor uses hypnotherapy to help her recall her childhood on a remote island with a dominant, fundamentalist Christian father and fragile mother and to reconstruct the events that led to her committal on her 14th birthday. McCleen, who grew up in an evangelical religious sect in Wales, has told reporters that she may not write any more novels. “Writing is really destructive to me,” she said in a 2013 interview with the Independent. Given her talent, it would be a pity if The Offering, her third, were also her last. Catherine Hickley is a Berlin-based arts journalist. Her first book, The Munich Art Hoard: Hitler’s Dealer and His Secret Legacy, will be published by Thames & Hudson (except in North America) this fall.

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indie Don’t Stick Sticks Up Your Nose! Don’t Stuff Stuff In Your Ears!

These titles earned the Kirkus Star: CARE GIVER by Richard Blanchard................................................. 131

Altman, Jerald S. & Jacobson, Richard ZonaBooks, LLC. (22 pp.) $12.50 | $2.99 e-book | May 15, 2013 978-0-9888861-0-0

THE NEWSPAPER BOY by Chervis Isom......................................... 135 REBUILDING A DREAM by Andre F. Shashaty................................145

CARE GIVER

Blanchard, Richard Livingston Press (164 pp.) $27.00 $16.95 paper $7.95 e-book May 20, 2013 978-1-60489-112-6

In their debut, co-authors Altman and Jacobson explain to young readers the appropriate uses for the nose, ears and mouth—and what should go in them and what should not. Breakfast foods, like bacon and fried eggs, do not go in the ears or nose. Neither do toy cars, bumblebees, chopsticks, stones, small animals, or art supplies—no matter how tempting it is to poke them up the nostril or through the ear canal. And why not? For one thing, “Ears have really small holes that lead into your head // Sounds should enter in them and never stuff like bread!” Plus, it scares doctors and parents and causes pain. Instead, the authors explain that the nose is just for smelling and the ears just for hearing. The short book turns to many examples to drive home its message, in both text and illustrations. Young children will find these examples familiar and comical—the perfect combination to emphasize a point to the age group most likely to squeeze a straw or crayon where they shouldn’t. A couple of the rhymes sound a bit forced— “Playing with your racecars? / Have fun...but this, I shout: / Toy cars up your nostrils / May never race right out.” But the kids won’t notice the slight stiltedness. They’ll be too distracted by the amusing illustrations on every page: bright colors, animals, and a diverse cast of goofy kids playing outside, painting, and exploring the world around them. Altman, an ear, nose, and throat specialist, and Jacobson do a great job speaking to their audience. They acknowledge that it may be enticing to put stuff where it shouldn’t go, but they don’t do it sternly. Instead they bring up the repercussions with simple language and pictures, always keeping the tone light and positive. A fun, practical book that will make kids laugh and learn.

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indieland explored Within Indieland, we love self-pubbed authors who tackle the underreported, but we also appreciate when writers reveal unexplored corners of welltraveled ground. Nonfiction accounts of political shenanigans and cronyism abound. In Liars and Lawyers, D. Gray Varnadore gives his own account of how his oncethriving landfill business in Arkansas was shuttered by politicized regulation when it threatened another well-connected local business. Varnadore’s “scrapbook,” which provides multiple articles and correspondence with lawyers and politicians, including with then-Gov. Bill Clinton, may appeal to those who like a good paper trail and/or fans of Sarah Koenig’s podcast Serial. Kirkus Reviews said its “microcosmic lessons about the often craven nature of politics are compelling and transcend Varnadore’s pitiable plight.” In Pride, Brett Jones’ contribution to the genre of military memoir, he chronicles growing up as an Army brat and enduring a Northern Illinois winter and much more to eventually become the first openly gay Navy SEAL. Jones writes, “I was going to prove to the world that this ‘faggot’ would accomplish what tens of thousands of straight men had failed to do.” Kirkus called Pride “an unflinchingly honest autobiography written with brevity, charm, passion, and immense patriotism.” Theater geeks have their pick of traditionally published standout titles: Moss Hart’s Act One, Stephen Sondheim’s Finishing the Hat. David Black— an actor, opera singer, Tony Award– winning producer, director, playwright, and author of The Actor’s Audition and The Magic of Theater (which has an introduction by Eli Wallach)—has worked on and off the stage. In his “quick, humorous” self-pubbed memoir, Falling Off Broadway, Black gives readers a multiangled view of a lifelong career on the Great White Way. —K.S. Karen Schechner is the senior Indie editor.

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THE WOMAN IN THE MOVIE STAR DRESS

Asthana, Praveen Doublewood Press (318 pp.) $8.99 paper | $3.99 e-book | Jan. 22, 2015 978-0-692-36744-5 Debut author Asthana offers a novel about a young woman’s peculiar journey of self-discovery. Los Angeles resident Genevieve is a lover of golden-age cinema and its stars, especially Montgomery Clift, Marlon Brando, and Humphrey Bogart. Her job only fuels her affection, as she works at the Hollywood Clothing Store, which specializes in selling clothing that’s been worn in the movies. It carries many curiosities and replicas, including Marilyn Monroe’s dress from Niagara (1953) and Jack Nicholson’s hat from Chinatown (1974). Genevieve has her share of personal problems, however. She’s unlucky in love—even sending herself flowers on Valentine’s Day—and carries the burden of a family tragedy. As she admires her store’s clothes, she often wonders if there’s something special in the fabric itself: “Could there be a transfer, due perhaps to some extraordinary quantum-electro-something...influence of the essence, the spirit, the chakra, the chi, of the former owner?” She decides to borrow different outfits for her own personal adventures and finds that her actions are, in fact, affected by the clothing she wears. She takes on different personas and helps others to do so, as well. Along the way, she investigates the bloody history of one of the store’s dresses, deals with her own troubled family, confronts a figure from her past, and searches for love. A summary of the plot may make its main idea seem a bit trite. However, Asthana executes the concept in subtle and unexpected ways. For example, when Genevieve attempts to help her friend Todd sort out his sexuality, she helps him into a leather jacket once worn by James Dean: “she had sought the clothing of a known bisexual....This way, she figured, Todd could decide what he really was, without being biased.” (Genevieve also gives Todd a dose of peyote to help him find himself.) Overall, the author manages to deftly mix aspects of suspenseful film noir, chick lit, and Hollywood nostalgia in this well-paced, concise tale. An entertaining ride with a troubled but sympathetic young woman.

NEVER WAS A GRUMP GRUMPIER

Bartlett, T.C. Over the Edge Studios

A curmudgeonly creature gets his comeuppance in this children’s picture book from writer/illustrator Bartlett (You Can’t Tickle Me, 2015, etc.). The author introduces his antagonistic protagonist with a tongue-in-cheek diagram titled “Anatomy of a Grump.” The Grump somewhat resembles Mr. Potato Head, with stubby limbs


poking out of an amorphous abdomen; small, buggy white eyes; a tiny tuft of hair; and an oversized nose. The narrator explains that The Grump has no family, friends, or allies to speak of. Based on this, it’s easy to understand his general displeasure with the world; however, young readers shouldn’t feel too badly for him, due to his insufferable, permanent sourness and his comically dour face. Bartlett uses scaled illustrations to show that The Grump, though wide, is a relatively small creature compared with humans, and the images throughout are clear and communicative. The Grump’s warm, burnt sienna coloring, for example, pops against the electric Turkish-blue sky and lime green grass. As he strolls along, he encounters anthropomorphic blades of grass, flowers, and trees, and Bartlett provides a dynamic and flowing layout to engage readers during the journey. Each visual composition is distinctive; even the author’s text moves and flows, musically guiding the reader’s eye. The author angles or enlarges key words to emphasize them, giving the story a unique look. Each time The Grump encounters another being, he stubbornly refuses to even slightly alter his own path; instead, he consumes his living obstacles, getting bigger and bigger. Ultimately, his stubbornness results in his demise, as his final obstacle turns out to be a part of himself—which he then eats. Bartlett aptly makes this act appear comical rather than violent: The Grump simply disappears into thin air. Young readers and their caregivers may be surprised or even disappointed that The Grump doesn’t learn the error of his ways or receive a second chance. However, the book itself offers a clear lesson and, ultimately, another kind of happy rebirth. This book’s goofy illustrations and rhythmic prose will likely delight young readers.

CARE GIVER

Blanchard, Richard Livingston Press (164 pp.) $27.00 | $16.95 paper | $7.95 e-book May 20, 2013 978-1-60489-112-6 In this deeply affecting short novel, a nursing home’s paperboy becomes intertwined with a dying old man and his memories of a lost love. As narrator John Fulton explains to the reader, he was 17 when he delivered newspapers and magazines to residents of the Spring Lake Home and discovered that an old man there, Bob Brown, left him an album and journal filled with unmailed letters. John presents these to the reader interspersed with his own comments, memories, and investigations. Bob’s letters are addressed to someone named Margo (whom John later cannot track down), admitting to her, “It’s hard for me to concentrate on one thing at a time....I’m every age I’ve ever been.” The sentences often seesaw between past and present, between memory and dream or nightmare, but always come back to rest on a set of images and phrases: a darkeyed girl, her white blouse, the mint tea her mother made, a high meadow in spring with a trail to snowfields. John becomes Bob’s helper and, in more ways than one, his heir. Blanchard (The High Traverse, 2000) works alchemy in these pages, achieving an almost

unbearable tenderness. Bob’s memories of the girl—so few!—are infinitely dear. His dreams are full of sorrow and anxiety. But much more is going on here than grappling with loss. The paperboy (at first so straightforward) seems spiritually linked to Bob, almost his living reincarnation, adopting the old man’s dreams. We are, it seems, in the realm of the numinous; the paperboy can be seen as a divine messenger, Bob’s psychopomp, as well as his heir. Yet Blanchard provides “evidence” that the account is real, with photos and news clippings. Paradoxically, the more Blanchard insists on authenticating his story, the more he underlines its fictiveness, but why? Maybe because Hermes is also a trickster. Blanchard’s work is the kind of literary fiction that rewards rereading and will keep readers thinking and feeling long after closing its covers. Beautiful, heartbreaking, and deceptive; this fine novel taps into real mystery.

COMPASS AND A CAMERA A Year in Vietnam Burchik, Steven Sharlin-K Press (286 pp.) $15.00 paper | $4.99 e-book Nov. 7, 2014 978-0-692-27629-7

First-time author Burchik recounts his 1968-1969 tour of duty during the Vietnam War—service he documented exhaustively with his photography talents. Many Vietnam War books, particularly memoirs, can be bitterly agenda-driven, determined to take an edgy political position while offering emotional catharsis of the Born on the Fourth of July (1976) kind. Veteran-turned-author Burchik’s plainly told ’Nam flashback is a breath of fresh air (as opposed to “the smell of Napalm in the morning”). Only in the epilogue do readers get an understanding of how this narrative came to be: Burchik, an avid photographer, made thousands of images on black-and-white and color film during his 12-month tour of duty, material he only recently finessed into slide-show presentations. The book’s easy-flowing, natural structure came out of his penning detailed, chronological captions for what his impassive lens captured, complemented by the regular letters he wrote home to his future wife. The book, though illustrated with Burchik’s snaps, is not a picture album but rather a solid record of the New Yorker’s volunteering for the military (growing up in a milieu of Catholic Eastern European refugees, he was strictly antiCommunist) and arriving in Vietnam in the summer of 1968 to find U.S. forces embroiled in a frustrating war of attrition. No ground was gained as Viet Cong and Americans nibbled away at each other in furtive ambushes and mortar attacks. The corruption of South Vietnamese forces led to regular looting of the villages they were supposed to be protecting, turning the countryside’s sympathies to the enemy. Meanwhile, the American public’s support was flagging (the author welcomed Nixon’s election, feeling that Tricky Dick had a plan). Burchik writes warmly of the Vietnamese people although sparingly about their history that led to this war. The most action Burchik saw seems to have come in the early months of 1969, as a VC-inflicted injury on the platoon leader got the author promoted |

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This book is a great place for potential Joe DiMaggios to start. nick ’s very first day of baseball

to acting sergeant; his biggest kill was dropping an angry water buffalo. Although complimented by a superior and offered, in desultory fashion, a chance to “re-up” and become a career officer, Burchik was glad to get out of Vietnam on schedule, feeling as though it was only through luck that his 12 months in country ended without injury. Some readers may wish for the Sturm und Drang that other war memoirs have made of death and battle, while others might appreciate the unfiltered, reasoned point of view of a humble foot soldier in an unpopular conflict. An evenhanded, tasteful, just-the-facts time capsule of one American soldier’s Vietnam experience.

Nick’s Very First Day of Baseball

Christofora, Kevin Illus. by Dale Tangeman $16.99 paper | $0.99 e-book Feb. 1, 2014 978-1-4921-2195-4

A young boy is thrilled to attend his first day of baseball practice in this colorful children’s book. Nick’s mom has just signed him up to play America’s pastime, and Nick couldn’t be more excited. In fact, he can barely wait for the first practice on Friday. His dad buys him a mitt and fits and molds it to Nick’s hand, and as the boy practices throwing by tossing crackers to his dog, Yogi, he’s consumed by thoughts of the game. When Friday finally arrives, all of Nick’s friends are on the field waiting for practice to start. Each player receives a new uniform, complete with a hat and their very own special number. (Most of the players can’t remember their numbers, though.) Coach explains the warm-up exercises that the team will do, such as jumping jacks and toe touches. He promises that they’ll start playing real baseball during the next practice, and then he sends each player home with a new baseball card. Christofora (The Hometown All Stars’ Magic Bat Day, 2013, etc.) is a Little League coach in real life, so he knows a thing or two about shaping young minds to play ball. This book is a great place for potential Joe DiMaggios to start. It would be a wonderful read for a child who, like Nick, is just about to begin playing baseball as it explains how practices are run, from donning uniforms to stretching to carousing with a team. In addition to portraying the sport as an exciting way to spend an afternoon, Christofora also focuses on the camaraderie and support that comes with being in a group. Team building is an important skill in baseball and in life, and this fact shines through in this work. The friendly cartoon baseballs in the corners of some pages are lovely additions, as well; they offer fun questions, riddles, tips, and explanations that will keep both young and old readers engaged with the story. There’s even a section at the end for children to write down their answers to questions, lest they forget. Tangeman’s illustrations, meanwhile, are splashy and vibrant, piquing readers’ interest and making the story feel even more alive. A fun-loving, age-appropriate look at America’s favorite pastime.

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NOTES TO THE NATIONS A Letter to Israel Clemans, Ernest G. Manuscript

An open letter to Israel that urges its leaders to meditate deeply on the country’s holy mission. In his debut, Clemans furnishes something rare, even for a more experienced writer: a mesmerizingly original, almost unclassifiable work. It’s addressed directly to the nation of Israel—an open letter that the author professes he was “compelled to write,” though he’s “neither a Jew nor an Israelite.” His message is both an admonition and a celebration of the historic purpose that he believes that God gave Israel. He provocatively considers the tension between the Jewish people’s “chosen” stature and the equality of all mankind. Although Israel biblically has a special relation to God, that designation is better understood as an obligation or mission, the author says, rather than a mark of privilege or superiority. The work is filled with timely reflections on the nature of biblical law, the relation between theology and evolutionary science, and the religious meaning of peace: “In spite of our past; in spite of what naysayers tell us today, and in spite of the uncertainties of tomorrow, world peace is possible to achieve,” Clemans writes. The book confronts head-on the challenge of modern Israel being surrounded by enemies, but Clemans exhorts the nation to respond with peace and love: “Acknowledge the hatred of those who hate you but do not stand against that hatred!” The book has a florid, sometimes poetic prose style that gives it a magnetic power but can also obscure the text’s overall clarity. And although the work is peppered with meticulously documented direct quotes from the Bible, its unsystematic consideration of the references’ contexts undermines its scholarly rigor. That said, the work remains a stirring appeal for Israel to ponder its role as a world leader as well as a reflection on the insuperable limitations of all worldly projects. An often powerful work that offers a fresh, scripturally grounded assessment of Israel’s purpose.

The Exact Unknown and Other Tales of Modern China

Cook, Isham Magic Theater Books (220 pp.) $9.95 paper | $2.99 e-book Mar. 13, 2014 978-0-9887445-3-0 An American author takes on China in this story collection. Cook (Massage and the Writer, 2014, etc.) offers a book of “tales,” which he distinguishes from short stories in that they occupy a space between fiction and fact. Each deals with modern China from a non-native perspective,


and they range from a strange, sexual Taoist fable (“Injaculation”) to a miniature sci-fi play about sex robots (“Reset”). Even stories that focus on China’s native inhabitants are touched by the author’s status as an outsider, which he highlights throughout the collection. “Writings by and about the East are borrowed instruments of Western pathos, indictments in the name of political correctness, disposal units for our sexual garbage—anything but an honest engagement with the Other,” Cook writes in his introduction. For this reason, he begins with his own lived experience of China, which serves as the base on which he builds his book. The tales handle China and Chinese people very intimately—particularly Chinese women. Many of the protagonists are men engaging sexually with women or women engaging sexually with men (or with themselves). But although a consistent thread of eroticism runs through the book, there are exceptions—notably, the Kafkaesque and weirdly tender “A Little Accident.” Another constant is a Chinese society in flux between communism and capitalism; it seems to have replaced a modular part of itself so that the fanatical devotion to the party of an earlier generation has given way to girls who will gladly trade virginity for the latest iPhone. Cook has a clear affection for the country and manages, for the most part, to avoid the traps of Orientalism, into which many other Westerners writing about China have fallen. He seems particularly entranced by China’s precarious position in the modern world: “The fact things could go either way and no one has the slightest clue what will happen makes China, I believe, the most exciting place to live in and write about today.” Although the tales often feature characters’ sexual proclivities and neuroses, they don’t overshadow the book’s overall point—to tell a few good stories about the way China is now. A surreal compilation of tales about sex, love, and money in the Far East.

FIVE DAYS DEAD

Davis, James L. Grayland Books (360 pp.) $13.95 paper | $0.99 e-book Aug. 8, 2014 978-0-692-26868-1 In Davis’ debut novel, a troubled Navajo drifter finds himself caught in the middle of a power struggle among dangerous factions as he traverses an apocalyptic landscape. In a futuristic society hailed as the New Age of Discovery, in which humanity’s most pressing problems seem to have been resolved and people have been encouraged by the overweening Federation to relocate from rural areas to self-contained metropolises, called “hubs,” Harley Nearwater is an outlier well able to defend himself with a pulse blaster. With a traumatic past and anti-social disposition, Harley prefers life as a loner on the outskirts of society, refusing to move to a hub or accept a neural implant called a “linktag” that would enable him to communicate mentally on the “Link”

and exist virtually. Harley is joined in his contempt for life in the hubs by the nostalgic pilgrims, the more radical neands, and the Wrynds—drug-addled cannibals who roam the rural areas. When he encounters a former legionnaire whose linktag has been forcibly removed by a strange and seemingly mythic being called the Gray Walker, Harley is intrigued by her dying words: “The end is coming.” After killing the Wrynd King Orrin’s new queen in a violent clash, Harley, now a marked man, travels to the Utah Hub to report the story of the missing legionnaire to the marshal, Jodi Tempest, and to ask a few questions himself. The marshal commissions him to track down the Gray Walker, but back in the wilds, increasingly supernatural encounters have Harley wondering about the legionnaire’s prophetic last words, even as he begins to question the role of the Wrynds and the ulterior motives of the Federation. In this sometimesconfusing, busy story, many characters are ambiguous, demonstrating unclear motivations and ever shifting alliances. Harley, however, is the exception; he’s the ultimate antihero, complete with a broken moral compass, a penchant for random violence, and an emotionally satisfying back story. A richly imagined and intriguing sci-fi debut.

ANNA A Doctor’s Quest into the Unknown

Derechin, Michael iUniverse (166 pp.) $22.95 | $12.95 paper | $3.99 e-book Jul. 21, 2014 978-1-4917-2790-4 In this novel set in 1973, a cancer doctor, who’s struggling with feelings of futility, reluctantly agrees to treat an

11-year-old girl. Oncologist Willie Mays “Bernie” Bernstein doesn’t take children as patients. He treats adult cancers with the tools and knowledge that are available, and it tests the limits of his hope and resilience. His temper flares, stress tightens his chest, and he drinks too much. “Most patients die. When they live, who knows why?” he muses. “Shit. It’s all a waste of time.” Still, when head nurse Jessica Coles—who took Bernie under her wing when he was just starting out—asks him to see her young granddaughter Anna Bing, who’s suffering from Hodgkin’s disease, he can’t say no. Sorting out the girl’s treatment will require him to think differently about cancer and break some rules. In this, he’s supported by his open, loving family. As he waits to see the effects of his risky, experimental regimen, he comes to see the importance of maintaining a realistic yet positive outlook. In his debut novel, Derechin—a retired physician whose specialties were oncology and hematology—nicely captures the frustrations of a doctor who’s keenly aware of his limitations. Bernie is a well-balanced character, neither Dr. Schweitzer nor Dr. House. His warm, chaotic little household zoo of family, pets, and friends mirrors his own nature; he’s a man who’s willing to ski through a snowstorm to get to his patients. Some of the book’s insights about |

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It’s hard to imagine an examination of Wesley’s thought that does greater justice to his subtlety as a thinker. john wesley and universalism

cancer treatment that were new in the 1970s are well-accepted today, such as prioritizing pain relief over the risk of addiction. Others are still controversial, for example the idea that patients’ attitudes make all the difference—a view reflected today in many positive-thinking approaches for cancer sufferers: “He’s just not a quitter,” says the wife of a prostate-cancer patient; “I feel people pick the time to die,” agrees Bernie. Readers who’ve seen determined people die of cancer, though, may strongly disagree. A compassionate portrait of a doctor’s quest to make a difference.

John Wesley and Universalism

Ellison, James A. CreateSpace (172 pp.) $12.95 paper | Dec. 6, 2014 978-1-4992-7056-3

A groundbreaking new study of John Wesley’s theology. Having over 30 years’ experience as a minister in the Methodist tradition as well as a slew of advanced degrees in divinity, psychology, and education, debut author Ellison is well-positioned to provide a fresh perspective on the ideological development of John Wesley, the 18th-century theologian and one of the founders of Methodism. Rather than focus narrowly on the doctrinal components of Wesley’s views, Ellison tackles his understanding of experimental religion and the way in which he slowly formulated his positions over time. Wesley, who was heavily influenced by Enlightenment philosophy, especially its empiricist strain, wanted to devise an approach to religion and faith closely hewn to lived human experience—a “theological set of ideas which can help individual persons to meaningfully interpret their experiences.” “Wesley’s methods were pragmatic, more like the scientists of the 19th century than his 18 century contemporaries,” Ellison writes. “Wesley was the one to identify the early Methodists as the spiritual descendants of that group of ancient physicians who were first described by the name.” This entailed developing a kind of psychology of faith that in many ways anticipated the historically significant writing of William James. However, this psychological rendering as Wesley saw it doesn’t simplistically reduce the experience of faith to a psychological phenomenon shorn of fundamentally spiritual elements. According to Ellison, the core of Wesley’s Universalism is a doctrine of atonement that argued for the “belief in the universal redemption of humankind and all of creation.” In the author’s reading, Wesley turns out to be a nimble philosopher whose thought underwent a revision in his more mature years, shifting his worldview closer to Arminianism than to Calvinism. While this book is likely too scholarly to appeal to a broad audience, the arguments are always presented in lucid, accessible prose. It’s hard to imagine an examination of Wesley’s thought that does greater justice to his subtlety as a thinker or better captures his extraordinary prescience. A deep meditation on Wesley’s accomplishments likely to inspire lively debate within the Methodist tradition. 134

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LOVER IN THE NOBODY

Harnisch, Jonathan CreateSpace (160 pp.) $9.99 paper | $9.99 e-book Dec. 15, 2014 978-1-5055-6246-0

A young man battling extreme mental illness brings his sadomasochistic fantasies to life in Harnisch’s (Sex, Drugs, and Schizophrenia, 2014, etc.) latest novel. As this riveting story opens, Georgie Gust, a suicidal Tourette’s syndrome patient, tells his doctor he wants to leave the mental institution where he’s been committed. When the doctor puts him off, Gust finds himself buffeted by violent fantasies of escape, and he even prepares to hang himself. The novel plunges readers into the mind of a man at war with his own urges, memories, and sexual obsessions. After a scene shift, Gust’s chauffeur, Ben, delivers him to his empty home, where Margaret, his only friend, visits to check on him. However, she annoys him because “she seems to care.” Later, Gust, a foot fetishist, gives a pedicure to his sexy neighbor, Claudia, in a scene lit with unexpected poetry and poignancy. As the narrative viewpoint flickers among Gust, Ben, and a quasiomniscient third-person perspective, Gust’s voracious appetite for pain prompts him to hire Claudia to torment him. (He has wealthy parents, so he spends cash liberally.) When Claudia’s house goes up in flames, she moves in with him, and their sadomasochistic bond descends into extraordinary, hallucinatory violence. In Claudia’s hands, Gust discovers new depths of masochism, and she finds joy in tormenting him. Despite the garishness, brutality, and squalor of many passages (which are not for the squeamish), more sophisticated readers will appreciate the extraordinary feat Harnisch has accomplished. He lucidly, poignantly conveys a mind riven with what are, after all, human vulnerabilities: mental pathologies, shameful fantasies, anguished doubts about the natures of reality, love, and memory. In the hands of a lesser writer, these themes would splinter the narrative. Fortunately, the author masters his material; readers will believe the voices that vivify it and compassionately wish them to find the healing that eludes them. An extraordinary, harrowing odyssey into an embattled self, full of humor, compassion, and a rare understanding of mental illness.


DEAD LETTER OFFICE

THE NEWSPAPER BOY Coming of Age in Birmingham, Alabama During the Civil Rights Era

Hue CreateSpace (542 pp.) $19.90 paper | $3.97 e-book Dec. 17, 2014 978-1-5056-1264-6

Hue, in his debut memoir, writes about family separation following the Vietnam War. Hue—or Five, as he’s known in the book—was the fifth child in a family that fled Vietnam for the United States shortly before the fall of Saigon. Left behind, however, was Hue’s mother; her uncommon independence and estrangement from his father meant she wasn’t included in the escape. For 20 years, Hue and his siblings pushed their mother’s ghost from their minds, treating her like any other war memory, as distant and uncomfortable as those of the Tet Offensive. “I erased the memories of my mother in a similar manner...deliberately or inadvertently,” he says. “I had purposely tried not to think of her. I lost other memories by not examining them for years.” Then, while Hue’s stern, silent father succumbed to cancer, the letters started to come out— letters written by his mother begging her children for assistance, unanswered and kept by Hue’s father in a pouch in his closet for years. Hue, in his 30s by this point, undertook the process of discovering who his unknown mother truly was and how his native land forever shaped the family’s fortune. His discoveries changed the way he saw his quiet father and the way he saw himself. Hue writes in direct, simple prose, eschewing most overt expressions of emotion for a more tempered, contemplative narrative style. He methodically doles out letters and photographs as evidence of his family’s unspoken history, weaving the different layers of past and present in an artful depiction of a group of lives. Though no earth-shattering mystery looms waiting to be solved by the right combination of documents, there is enough material here—threads of an absent mother, a distant father, a lost country, a future that feels somehow hollow without the past—to keep the reader engrossed. Though some sections would benefit from an edit for concision—the 500-plus pages could fit in 400—the reader can hardly blame Hue for being comprehensive in his search for his parents’ pasts. Indeed, perhaps the best method for combating the deathly silence of history may be to fill the present with pages and pages of words. A haunting, affecting memoir of what’s lost in emigration.

Isom, Chervis The Working Writers (359 pp.) 978-1-940524-03-0

A white Southerner describes his teenage journey to racial tolerance in this debut coming-of-age autobiography. Attorney Isom grew up and attended college during the 1950s and ’60s in Birmingham, Alabama—a city that was home to some of the most notorious racism of the civil rights era, peaking in 1963 with Commissioner of Public Safety Bull Connor’s violent enforcement of segregation and a church bombing that killed four black children. That backdrop makes Isom’s personal story even more remarkable. As a teenager, he was fired up by the racist views of his society, particularly those of famous segregationist and Klansman Asa Carter, after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954. However, he was slowly swayed the opposite way by the kindness and “question everything” philosophy of the Millers, two Yankee transplants on his paper route. It’s an iconic, real-life struggle, as Isom made a moral choice between the devil and the angel on his shoulders. His memoir also features an intriguing subplot regarding his father, Hewlett Chervis Isom Sr., a kind man who was once sickened by having to kill a chicken for dinner; he questioned his own prejudice, too, like his son, but he couldn’t quite make the leap that the author did. Some passages will flesh out readers’ understanding of bus segregation by detailing the elder Isom’s experiences as a Greyhound driver. One tends to think that Rosa Parks protested, African-Americans boycotted, and bus segregation ended—but readers soon learn that the reality was more complicated than that. Other childhood memories, unrelated to Isom’s internal struggles, will also keep readers’ attention, such as a time on his paper route when he encountered a customer that would make Blanche DuBois seem like a model subscriber. A touching, heartfelt, and amusing book that provides a wonderful personal perspective on a period of historical and cultural change.

Spoils of Olympus By the Sword

Kachel, Christian CreateSpace (368 pp.) $14.99 paper | $3.99 e-book Nov. 10, 2014 978-1-5027-0337-8 A hero comes into his own in Kachel’s debut work of historical fiction. Alexander the Great is dead, his empire in chaos. Following his death, former allies fight to gain control of Alexander’s realm, which is |

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Interviews & Profiles

T. C . Bartlett

A writer of many talents perseveres, just like his new character By Poornima Apte It was an idea that slowly wormed its way in. It was about two and a half years ago that T.C. Bartlett was invited to Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok to conduct a workshop about children’s literature. One of the challenges the young students had to meet: come up with a children’s book concept in an hour. Figuring he too would take a shot at the assignment, Bartlett came up with the beginnings of a picture book, one in which a worm tried to reach an apple high up in the tree using an assortment of household items—a washing machine, a typewriter, a chair. The idea percolated for many years until it gave birth to its final form, A Dog Named Zero and the Apple With No Name. In this whimsical picture book, charming doe-eyed animals work together to help Zero reach an “apple with no name” that seems forever out of reach. Zero “lived in Hawaii for almost 20 years—but doesn’t live there anymore,” and the “juicy red apple with no name lived in Indiana its entire life.” Bartlett also was a resident of the Aloha State for two decades and now lives close to his family in Nashville, Indiana. He says the parallels to his own life are subtly there. The book is dedicated to his older brother, John, whom Bartlett calls a “brilliant math theoretician.” One of the many lessons from A Dog Named Zero, that perseverance and patience pay off, is something that Bartlett has applied to his own life, keeping the focus on producing consistently high-quality stories that have appealed to many children, including his niece. While Bartlett has been traditionally published as well, some of his earlier picture books (including You Can’t Tickle Me and Birds Fly, a Cat Tries, and Never Was a Grump Grumpier, which is reviewed in this issue) have been self-published. “The advantage of self-publishing is that it is more personal, a way to hopefully find an avenue to show your creativity,” Bartlett says. While he would love to be taken on 136

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by a traditional publishing house again, Bartlett’s focus these days is harnessing his bursts of creativity and inspiration into more books. He often spends eight to 12 hours a day in his studio; the ideas come and go in snippets. “When you have those moments, you just need to grab them,” he says. Picture books are just one avenue for Bartlett’s talents. He was a figure skater for many years before coaching the sport in Hawaii, and later, he built his house in Indiana mostly by himself. He draws all his illustrations by hand. To maintain consistency in A Dog Named Zero, he used almost the same large-eyed face on each animal. Bartlett works with a variety of media, including basic graphite pencil, watercolors, ink, and vellum. The work takes months if not years, a process he thoroughly enjoys.

While A Dog Named Zero is filled with delightful animal characters, including a chicken named One and a pig named Two, Zero is Bartlett’s favorite: “I love how he keeps his eyes on the goal; he is going to get that apple no matter what.” In addition to the great counting lessons and the fun wordplay (“you can count on us”), there are subtle life lessons tucked into this delightful story. When the bee comes after the bear who stole honey, kids learn that every action has a consequence, as Bartlett points out. “It also emphasizes the value of team effort,” Bartlett says. “One person might not be able to reach a goal, but many of us working together can make big things happen,” whether it be something as all-encompassing as world peace or as simple as a delicious apple with no name. Poornima Apte is a Boston-area freelance writer and book reviewer.


divided among his heirs. Andrikos is a young man growing up in Ilandra during this time of violence and political turmoil. Though he admires the courage of Alexander’s military, Andrikos whiles away with ill-advised friendships and skirts the edge of a criminal existence. The young man is forced to leave his hometown following a violent encounter and the painful death of a friend. He seeks refuge with the army in hopes that he will grow into a strong, courageous man who can someday return home. His training and initiation are brutal, yet Andrikos proves himself to his colleagues and superiors. He’s recruited to assist a mysterious organization called the King’s Hand, a shadowy group dedicated to protecting Alexander’s rightful heirs. With the help of his mentor, Vettias, Andrikos soon learns the arts of coercion and espionage, skills requiring a kind of finesse far different from the brute force essential on the battlefront. Accompanied by the beautiful prostitute Mara, the two men travel on a far-flung mission to infiltrate the highest levels of a royal court and to ensure that the rightful heir to Alexander comes out victorious. Kachel’s novel, the first in a planned series, is a thoroughly researched addition to the genre. The accounts of daily life in the Greek army are far from glorified; rather, Kachel presents a realistic portrayal of the violence inherent to the life of a soldier. Though the plot drags at times—specifically during battle scenes—once Andrikos is engaged by Vettias and the King’s Hand, the narrative takes off. Kachel does a wonderful job portraying the development of Andrikos from awkward, immature youth to confident and skilled operative. Kachel brings to life a huge cast of characters and does an admirable job fleshing them out, particularly Andrikos and the complicated Vettias. Thanks to evocative writing and impressive research, the world of the ancient Greeks feels closer than ever. An educational yet adventurous novel that will leave readers eagerly anticipating the next installment.

LARRY THE LITTLE ORPHAN DOG A Happy Ending Story Kaladeen, Jean CreateSpace (36 pp.) $12.00 paper | Jun. 24, 2014 978-1-4928-1450-4

A neglected puppy finds a home in this picture book based on a true story. Taking the structure of a scrapbook, the book uses the voice of Larry, the titular pup, to describe how he is rescued, brought to a shelter and a veterinarian, and eventually adopted. Each page features a color photo of Larry (a Pomeranian mix, judging by the pictures) designed to look like a snapshot taped into the book, plus Larry’s description of what’s going on in the photo: “I was very weak, tired, and hungry. I was so afraid that I even lost my fur!” The book doesn’t dwell on Larry’s sad history but instead tells the story of his happier present and hopeful future, with many pictures of the photogenic protagonist playing outside, being carried about in backpacks and travel cases, and wearing different outfits: “I still

don’t have enough fur on my back, so I have to wear clothes most of the time.” Larry concludes his story with a plea to help his friends who remain at the shelter. Doubtless there are some readers with hearts of stone or deep-seated aversions to tiny dogs who will find this book unappealing; however, the remaining 99 percent of the world’s population will take one look at the picture of Larry in his pajamas and find that it alone is well worth the price of admission. The rest of the book is worthwhile, too, simply but effectively narrated in Larry’s voice and supporting a mission—animal rescue and adoption—few can fault. Kaladeen explains that this book, her first, was written in part to raise money for animal shelters, specifically “to pay for veterinary care that would otherwise be unavailable,” so readers can be assured that there is action behind the friendly words and cute pictures. Adoption isn’t for all families, she hastens to explain, especially when it comes to high-needs pets like Larry. Still, “most rescue animals just need love and a home,” both of which, by the end of the book, Larry has found. Cleverly designed and effectively told, this dog adoption story will be a welcome addition to school and child care libraries and for families who have undergone or are considering the adoption of a rescue animal.

AMERICA INVADES How We’ve Invaded or Been Militarily Involved with Almost Every Country on Earth Kelly, Christopher & Laycock, Stuart Book Publishers Network (396 pp.) $29.95 paper | $9.99 e-book Sep. 25, 2014 978-1-940598-42-0

In this extensive, whimsical volume, the authors posit what many have long suspected: the United States has invaded or been militarily involved with almost every country on the globe. Kelly, a longtime military-history buff, readily admits in his introduction that he drew inspiration for his first book from Laycock’s previous work (All the Countries We Invaded: And a Few We Never Got Round To, 2012), which covers Great Britain’s overseas excursions. The two got to talking and discovered that the U.S. offered even greater fodder for such a compilation. It has invaded 84 out of the 194 countries recognized by the United Nations and has been militarily involved with 191 of those. (The holdouts, the authors note, are Andorra, Bhutan, and Liechtenstein.) Military action is never too far away for America, as Kelly notes: “Americans are always hoping for peace but usually preparing for war. The American Eagle is an ambivalent bird holding arrows in the talons of one foot and an olive branch in the other.” A work such as this has the potential for being academically stodgy, but Kelly and Laycock deftly avoid that trap. Instead, they find colorful, obscure episodes from each country’s past. Take, for example, Panama’s Watermelon War of 1856: “It was really more of a Watermelon Riot, which was triggered |

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The book is funny in the best way: the humor propels the action rather than pausing it. dog training the american male

by an intoxicated American railroad traveler who took a slice of watermelon from a Panamanian fruit merchant and refused payment. Fifteen Americans were killed in Panama City, and we sent our troops in to restore order.” One drawback is that readers can get cast adrift on the sea of military and political acronyms in the book, but the authors do provide supporting materials, such as a glossary, maps, and a comprehensive index, at the back of the volume to provide perspective for those seeking clarification. Still, for a dedicated history fan, this is an invigorating travelogue, taking readers around the world and backward and forward through time. An intensive compendium of America’s interactions, both good and bad, with other countries that rightly leaves out the philosophizing.

THE APOSTLES OF SATAN

Kimmich, F. Scott CreateSpace (422 pp.) $14.78 paper | $4.99 e-book May 2, 2014 978-1-4959-1302-0

Kimmich brings fresh eyes to an oftstudied period of European history and offers the opening for what promises to be a strong sequence of historical fiction. The religious and political controversies of 13-century Europe have been an unexpectedly rich vein for recent novelists to mine. So it’s a testament to the quality of Kimmich’s volume—set in Europe during the early 1200s—that he offers an original contribution to an established niche. The book opens in Languedoc with its hero, Olivier de Mazan, ready to play witness as his mother is accepted as a priestess into a growing—and increasingly suspect—Christian sect. But that’s just the beginning of the book’s spiritual intrigue. Olivier learns of ancient scrolls that reveal Jesus married, had children, and produced a familial line—a concept that could rock the church to its foundations. After this revelation, Olivier is drawn into a maelstrom that will see his family threatened, his country imperiled, and his faith challenged. In preparing to set this drama in motion, Kimmich read widely among the histories of the era in both English and French, and his research pays off. His narrative not only brims with detail, but it also holds up under scrutiny; you could teach a class from this stuff. Yet the author’s thick descriptions of European lore are never overlong. His story moves nimbly, consistently enticing readers through every thrilling twist and turn. Perhaps only in one case does Kimmich’s devotion to authenticity lead him astray. Trying to fill his heroes’ mouths with period dialogue, Kimmich gives them lines that sound like a kind of faux Middle English. With all their “mayhaps,” “wots,” and “forsooths,” his characters too often seem like extras in a Monty Python sketch. Yet the admirable verisimilitude of the rest of his rendering means that these linguistic blips don’t distract much. An exciting, educational ride through medieval times.

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Dog Training the American Male

Knight, L.A. Taylor Trade Publishing (272 pp.) $17.95 paper | $9.99 e-book Oct. 8, 2014 978-1-63076-017-5 In Knight’s comic debut novel, a relationship expert turns to dog-training strategies in order to domesticate her incorrigible boyfriend and save her flagging career. Nancy is a psychologist and relationship specialist who hosts a radio talk show in West Palm Beach. After two failed engagements, she’s taken herself off the dating market. Unfortunately for her, this means no one is much interested in her advice. Her listenership is evaporating, and she’s been forced to move in with her sister and her sister’s bodybuilding girlfriend. Jacob is a recovering Wall Street software programmer undergoing a crisis of purpose. He works at a customer-service call center and lives in his brother’s guesthouse with a Yoko Ono–inspired blowup doll. After Nancy and Jacob meet on a blind date, their harried siblings prematurely encourage them to move into a place of their own. Their personalities clash, and the situation isn’t improved by the introduction of a poorly trained German shepherd to the household. The dog does give Nancy an idea, however. To increase her audience and save her relationship, she begins using canine training tactics on Jacob and then describing them on her radio show. Though initially effective, man proves to be a surprisingly complex animal, and Nancy’s inspired idea leads to complications that threaten to ruin her love life and livelihood. The book is funny in the best way: the humor propels the action rather than pausing it. Though Knight sometimes lacks subtlety when it comes to characterization (new characters’ ages, occupations, and ethnicities are rattled off as soon as they enter a scene), and the dialogue is sometimes overly expositional, the authorial hand is mostly well-hidden, and the prose flows like a jocular babbling brook. More impressively, the central characters transcend their stock roles and grow into legitimately compelling subjects. Incident by unlikely incident, we are pulled deeper into their lives until it is their fates (not merely their quips) that keep us turning the pages. Knight is a naturally comic writer; what is more, she is a talented storyteller. A lighthearted work with well-drawn characters and genuine laughs.


The Private Life of General Omar N. Bradley

Lavoie, Jeffrey D. McFarland Press (257 pp.) $29.95 paper | Jul. 1, 2015 978-0-7864-9839-0

This biography of Gen. Omar N. Bradley, one of Patton’s contemporaries, explores his personal life more thoroughly than any attempted before. Debut author Lavoie tackles enigmatic Bradley’s storied career, attempting to unearth his more personal side, oft ignored by other scholars. Bradley was more modest and unassuming than his limelight-seeking counterparts Eisenhower and Patton, and his achievements have been comparatively neglected, despite their impressive historical significance. Lavoie charts Bradley’s rise from his inauspicious youth in Missouri through his education at West Point and service during two world wars. However, what distinguishes this account of Bradley’s life is twofold: its emphasis upon his professional contributions following World War II and the little-known details of his romantic life. Bradley’s career continued to skyrocket in the Allied victory, and he served as a key architect of the ensuing peace and as the inaugural chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. While Lavoie concedes his work is not intended to be “an in-depth scholarly analysis,” he still provides well-researched insights into both Bradley and the war. “Omar later confessed that he privately considered evacuating the beachhead after getting scattered negative reports that made him rethink this decision,” Lavoie writes. “He agonized over the withdrawal decision, ‘praying that our men could hang on.’ ” Also, unlike previous biographers, Lavoie seriously examines the account of Bradley’s life penned by his mistress-turned-wife, Kitty Buhler, shedding light on his character and his inclinations to infidelity. What emerges is a portrait of a man torn between a deep sense of duty, ambition, and lust, laid out more clearly here than ever before. A rigorous yet accessible look at a misunderstood American hero.

SAVING GRAPES

Lundy, J.T. Emerald Book Company (282 pp.) $15.95 paper | May 5, 2015 978-1-937110-75-8 Lundy’s (Happy Utopia Day, Joe McCarthy, 2013) amusing tale of two hapless Illinoisans trying to raise quick cash in French wine country. Taunted by his cuckolding ex-wife and her girlfriends while he performs the going-nowhere job grudgingly provided by his hateful ex-stepbrother, Jason Barnes is going over the edge. With 30 days to

repay $60,000 in damages to his ex-stepbrother or face imprisonment, Jason, 32, thinks his problem is solved with his wealthy aunt Clara’s death. Unfortunately, she bequeaths her fortune to charity, leaving him only a vineyard in France, which he reasons he can sell. Two problems: no travel funds and no passport, his having been confiscated by his attorney. Jason’s lifelong friend, Neil “Stumpy” Hammond, agrees to advance cash in exchange for a share in the vineyard profits, and the two blunder into France, Jason carrying someone else’s passport. The friends are unprepared for what they find in Bordeaux—not just impediments to a quick sale, but romance and growing affection for the nuns who manage the vineyard. Realizing he cannot sell the vineyard, Jason focuses his attention on helping produce a profitable harvest, but when his share falls short, he’s forced to find another way to raise the remaining money he needs. His desperation causes him to risk everything he has won in France. Jason and Stumpy are two likable characters, ne’er-do-wells from Kankakee who, with decades of experience being the underdogs, are unfazed by the catastrophes they confront. Their genuine, mutual caring is heartwarming, although their ability to attract two beautiful, entrancing Frenchwomen is a bit of a stretch. What the friends lack in intelligence and cunning they make up for in chutzpah. Sisters Lucia and Claudette (not just nuns, but actual sisters) defy the nun stereotype, revealing family secrets that change Jason’s life forever. A memorable, unexpectedly heartwarming romp.

THE PURSUIT OF JUSTICE

Matthews, Ben Manuscript

Written with authority, Matthews’ auspicious debut courtroom drama finds an ethically compromised attorney taking a murder case nobody wants and a client nobody trusts. Raymond Jackson is a once-successful South Carolina real estate lawyer whose practice went bust with the housing market. He has an intriguing back story: his mother, a prominent divorce attorney, recently died, and after more than a decade, he is still haunted by his sister’s still-unsolved disappearance. Hit with ethics and malpractice complaints, Jackson is forced to take several unwanted cases off the public defender’s hands. One is a murder case, Jackson’s first, that involves a man charged with killing a pregnant stripper. Jackson is reunited with his ex-girlfriend Jennifer, the new treasurer at his church, when Gethsemane Gospel Baptist Church comes under investigation for unspecified suspicions about the operation of its bingo games, “the most successful in the state.” As the parallel storylines converge and the body count grows, Jackson finds himself framed for murder as the trial approaches. The story unfolds at a deliberate pace, which may frustrate more action-oriented readers. In particular, things bog down a bit in the climactic trial, in which the narrative repeats information covered earlier in the book. Two prominent characters will instantly raise red flags for readers primed |

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to suspect everyone, especially those considered pillars of the community, but Matthews does have a satisfying twist or two in store as he effectively doles out information that keeps the pages turning. Early on, Jackson flirts with contempt during an increasingly hostile cross-examination of a police officer. “We have a history,” Ray explains to his client. Shortly after, Jackson ruminates, “I know of two investigations he screwed up, this one and my sister’s.” Refreshingly, dialogue doesn’t strain while reaching a hard boil. A satisfying, well-plotted mystery that should please the court.

The Millionaire in the Next Cubicle A Corporate Everyman’s Blueprint to Financial Independence

Mendez, Chip CreateSpace (248 pp.) $9.55 paper | $5.99 e-book | May 8, 2014 978-1-4942-9676-6

A debut guide that offers sound advice on how to achieve financial independence. Mendez, the president of Eclipse Investments and the director of contracts for Fortune 500 company Automatic Data Processing, explains how to take maximum advantage of good corporate pay and benefits. In this account of how he, a corporate “everyman,” achieved financial independence, he covers how to maximize one’s contributions to a 401(k), invest in index funds, contribute to a health savings account, and more. You don’t need to be a corporate executive or entrepreneur to become a millionaire in America, Mendez writes. However, if you want financial security, which eludes even those with good jobs, you must learn to do a number of things, including how to take a “Personal Inventory,” manage your career, create a financial plan, choose the right investments and shield them from taxes, purchase essential insurance, and set up an estate plan to protect your assets. The book covers each of those topics in separate chapters, which often include written exercises and examples from the author’s own experience, as well as tips on how to make better financial decisions and lists of websites with additional information. However, the book doesn’t acknowledge the fact that many American corporations have embraced a winner-take-all culture, resulting in reduced benefits, stagnant wages, and job insecurity. Instead, it focuses in a practical way on the “fantastic benefits and wealth generation opportunities” that are still available to rank-and-file employees, who may share the author’s goal of financial independence by the age of 50. There are many good suggestions in this volume, such as the idea that young workers should put their career and financial goals in writing, including specific dates for reaching them. Think every day about your financial plan, Mendez writes, and once you achieve one milestone, replace it with another. If the author updates the book in the future, he might consider adding a section about keeping one’s financial information secure; 140

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in today’s world of mobile banking and online financial transactions, no book on financial literacy is complete without it. A practical personal-finance book that stands out in a crowded field.

THE COLLECTIVISTIC PREMISE Economics in a New Key

Merchant, Eli AuthorHouse (108 pp.) $13.95 paper | $3.99 e-book Apr. 18, 2013 978-1-4817-2146-2

Merchant offers a collectivistic approach to economics in his debut treatise. It’s long been held that self-interest is the elemental mechanism of the economy, but Merchant respectfully disagrees. He says that the capitalistic claim that humans are motivated by selfishness is just as false as the Marxist assumption that they’re motivated by utilitarianism. Instead, he argues for a third way of thinking that considers human communal tendencies that he terms “collectivistic.” He walks readers through various economic areas, demonstrating how behaviors that one might blithely describe as individualistic, such as dining out, actually have complex, communal dimensions that many economic models don’t consider. The implications of this view help explain why many representations of the economy appear insufficient, he says; it’s not simply the sum of its individuals, but something far greater. The true wealth of a nation, he says, lies not in its land or resources but in its collectivistic potential; he also identifies anti-collectivistic “weapons” that exist in our society that keep us from realizing it. He expresses his hopes that society will eventually move forward into an increasingly globalized, post–nation-state economy. At less than 100 pages, readers can breeze through this book in one or two sittings. Merchant takes a topical approach to his argument, dividing the essay into easily digestible chapters with titles such as “Consumption: The Concept of Commodity,” “Work: The Concept of Role,” and “Trade: Buying and Selling.” Although many readers may seek out economics books that reinforce their own personal beliefs, Merchant’s vision isn’t traditionally conservative or liberal. Instead, he advocates a holistic approach that’s rarely encountered in mainstream debate. He writes in crisp, accessible prose and offers examples to illustrate the principles he discusses, placing them into the relatable, physical world of the everyday. The brevity and clarity of the work will make it attractive to readers who aren’t engaged by opaque economics tomes and pundit-penned rehashings of established ideas. If it’s true that the most plainly stated arguments win the most supporters, this one should have no trouble entering the larger dialogue. A concise, persuasive argument for the importance of the collective in economics.


This intensely personal, nontraditional work could appeal most to kindred spirits who might take comfort in and appreciate unfiltered thoughts. the diary of a suicidal artist

Small Fires in the Sun

Metoyer Jr., Herbert R. Cane River Media (412 pp.) $25.00 paper | Nov. 1, 2014 978-0-9905404-0-3

A sprawling historical drama chronicling the Colonial history of Louisiana. Mukta, an African man aboard a slave ship in the mid-18th century, allies himself with the slavers and is rewarded with relative freedom. Yet when the ship arrives at the slave market, Mukta’s master sells him on a whim. Metoyer’s novel is filled with such cruelty—betrayals, bloody battles, sexual violence, etc. Multiple, diverse perspectives tell a range of stories. In one scene, Two Dog, a Native American of the Natchez people, has a seemingly supernatural experience in a temple; soon after, French adventurer St. Denis rides a boat into the wilderness and wonders whether his men will be ambushed. Where the author excels are his depictions of people and places long extinct. He sprinkles authentic foreign words into dialogue and colorfully describes indigenous villages, local dances, and customs. While Metoyer capably describes the elaborate power plays of early Louisiana, his descriptions of daily life are vivid and often graphic. Toward the end of the novel, St. Denis’ wife, Emanuelle, encounters a young man named Robert Trevor; within minutes they struggle to contain their passion. Throughout the novel, Metoyer reminds readers that the Natchez are headhunters, and their social order is divided into a rigid class system. Each ethnic group is deeply suspicious of the others, and tempers are often deadly. Many characters occupy a moral gray area: Mukta is a slave, but he also molests the women aboard the slave ship. St. Denis is mostly honorable, but he leads expeditions that eventually destroy the indigenous communities. Metoyer doesn’t gloss over the brutality of the age. His enormous cast of characters is as selfish and merciless as their historical inspirations. Exhaustively researched and unflinching in its descriptions, bringing early America to life while shedding light on some of its least remembered founders.

WRATH OF THE CAID Book 2 in the Red Hand Adventures O’Neill, Joe Black Ship Publishing (256 pp.) $9.95 paper | $6.99 e-book Sep. 23, 2014 978-0-9851969-6-7

In the second volume of the actionpacked Red Hand Adventures series (Rebels of the Kasbah, 2012), a trio of boys in early 20th-century Morocco team up with heroic rebel fighters to stop a bloodthirsty villain.

Teenage boys Tariq, Fez, and Aseem, as well as English tourist Margaret Owen, have been kidnapped to serve as slaves to the power-hungry Caid Ali Tamzali, but rebel leaders Malik and Sanaa storm the Caid’s casbah and free them. The Caid wants revenge, so he hires the most feared assassin in Morocco, the Black Mamba, to track the rebels down. He also hopes to build an alliance with France that will help him destroy the rebellion and become the next sultan. Tariq, Fez, and Aseem decide to spy on behalf of the rebels, but along the way, they encounter various obstacles. Back in England, Margaret finds it hard to readjust to the rigid rules of her country’s stuffy social hierarchy, particularly after witnessing horrible things during her brief time as a slave. Meanwhile, Margaret’s missing father lives a secret life as a Robin Hood–esque pirate alongside the goodhearted Capt. Basil, but both are unaware that there may be a traitor in their midst. It’s fortunate that O’Neill includes a character list at the start of the story; the already large cast keeps expanding, and it can be hard to keep track of who’s who. The author also doesn’t skimp on details, packing every page with vividly drawn scenes that take readers to a mysterious circus in the Australian Outback (“Two clowns juggled knives back and forth, and a really short little man practiced every manner of somersault”), an island inhabited by French anarchists who worship Napoleon, an uptight English girls’ school, and the dangerous, bustling streets of Tangier. Young readers will enjoy reading about exotic cultures that they may not have heard about in history class, although they will need strong stomachs to handle some of the graphic violence that liberally, albeit realistically, peppers the story. A strong second installment in a YA historical series that should please inquisitive and imaginative readers.

THE DIARY OF A SUICIDAL ARTIST

Pfundt, Andreas Peter CreateSpace (364 pp.) $13.09 paper | $2.99 e-book Oct. 5, 2014 978-1-5027-8081-2 The raw, sinewy memoir of a wild mind at work. It can be a tough task reviewing someone’s personal diary that they’ve released commercially. This book, for instance, offers no real context up front other than the title. Pfundt only reveals his name randomly in the text, which is made up of photocopied pages from a handwritten journal featuring hand-drawn illustrations. It does not appear to be edited for publication. Inky black drawings feature people, crosses, and, in some cases, just scribbles. “Long Live the Spiral,” one page screams, while another just repeats, “I want to die.” Large sections are blacked-out, words the author has evidently decided against. Sometimes it seems the pages have been partially burned; in one case, it is explained that several smudges were made with the author’s blood. Pfundt starts by talking about how he learned something new about himself: he |

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was trying to be someone else. “Why can I not just be me?” he asks. Readers are privy to the author’s direct, personal thoughts as he recalls trying to become a filmmaker and a video game designer while dealing with sex and love, grappling with his feelings for his family, discussing philosophy, and trying to chase away depression. Words are often misspelled. Drawings are usually fairly primitive. It has the earnest, childlike feel of Daniel Johnston’s work, but anyone who thinks this might be a tonguein-cheek sendup of artists will be disappointed. It rambles, it’s beautiful and harrowing at turns, but there’s no real narrative cohesion, and it’s unclear to whom the book is directed. Then again, the author notes at one point that life doesn’t necessarily have clear goals, other than staying alive, and his prose follows that philosophy. These are the inner workings of a mind struggling to stay alive and figure out what it’s supposed to be doing. As the author admits, this intensely personal, nontraditional work could appeal most to kindred spirits who might take comfort in and appreciate unfiltered thoughts. Unvarnished lens looking at a troubled man’s life— there’s little to nothing like it out there.

THE HEALER A Doctor’s Crusade Against Addiction and AIDS Primm, Beny J. & Friedman, John S. CreateSpace (182 pp.) $14.99 paper Dec. 16, 2014 978-1-4995-4797-9

One of America’s leading experts on addiction battles drugs, HIV, and racism in this absorbing memoir. Primm, an anesthesiologist by training, helped found the Addiction Research and Treatment Corporation, a pioneering drug-treatment program in Brooklyn, and directed the Federal Office of Treatment Improvement under President George H.W. Bush. His reminiscences afford an insider’s view of policy shifts during the explosion of drug abuse in the 1960s and ’70s, when the earlier emphasis on punishment gave way to a medical approach focused on weaning users off dependency, including long-term methadone-maintenance therapy for heroin addiction. Primm recounts intense controversies surrounding drugtreatment innovations: he was initially skeptical of long-term methadone maintenance himself and endured criticism from other doctors for supplementing inpatient treatment with outpatient centers that could accommodate impoverished addicts while providing social services. There’s a guerilla-warfare feel to these anecdotes, with activists squatting in abandoned buildings they want for rehab centers, invading government offices to demand funding, and coping with NIMBY violence. (Primm’s early drug-treatment facilities were targeted by neighborhood vandals and arsonists, and he was confronted by machete-carrying black militants who considered methadone just another white man’s drug that would keep their community addicted.) He continues on to his experiences during the AIDS 142

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epidemic, when he founded the Brooklyn AIDS Task Force and lobbied for federal support for needle-exchange programs and greater attention to the intertwining of drug abuse and AIDS. Primm, who is African-American, discusses how disadvantages and discrimination exacerbate sociomedical crises in minority communities; his personal saga—the lack of openings for black students in the 1950s forced him to go to Europe for medical school—makes these observations more resonant. He and amanuensis Friedman tell the story in lucid, straightforward, rather subdued prose that conveys fraught incidents in a matterof-fact style. One wishes that Primm had given more space to the science of addiction, but his narrative of policy implementation captures important aspects of crucial episodes in American health care. An interesting, informative firsthand account of how medicine and government grappled with two plagues that reshaped society.

The Father-Daughter Club

Ragsdale, Alison Self (334 pp.) $12.99 paper | $3.99 e-book Dec. 15, 2014 978-0-9907478-3-3

In Ragsdale’s (Tuesday’s Socks, 2014) second novel, a tightknit father and daughter face life-changing challenges that threaten the stability of their relationship. David and Elizabeth Fredericks settle into their swanky hotel in Athens, Greece, as they begin a month’s vacation in Europe to revel in David’s new status as a retiree. They also have an unspoken hope that the trip will help strengthen their marriage, which was once nearly destroyed by David’s affair with a co-worker. Kate, their only child, is 30 years old and has always had a much tighter bond with her father, which has sometimes left Elizabeth feeling distant and isolated. On the second day of their vacation, Kate flies in from Edinburgh, Scotland, unannounced, to shakily announce that she’s happily in love with a woman. In an unexpected plot turn, Elizabeth reacts calmly, seeing a bright silver lining in the news: the potential for forging new bonds with her daughter. Her father, however, alternates between quiet seething and downright cruelty. Later, when Elizabeth takes day trips to spend more time with Kate and her partner, Charlotte, David clumsily struggles with anger, embarrassment, jealousy, and guilt. No longer is his affair coming between him and his wife; now their daughter is. When tragedy strikes, a change in the family dynamic causes even more complications. In one of many emotionally rich scenes, David drives to Edinburgh alone and locates Charlotte’s bakery, intent on confronting her and “telling her to leave his precious daughter the hell alone.” The author beautifully depicts his embarrassment and ineptitude as he bumbles through his purchase of two scones, as well as Charlotte’s dawning realization of his identity. The novel’s flowing dialogue prompts quick page turning, as it’s at once complex and believable. The descriptions of various


geographic locales are as sumptuous and lyrical as a travelogue: “Fragrant lemongrass and lush ferns draped themselves over the stairs’ time-softened edges. Lush vines crept up trellises and wove themselves over arbors as hundreds of gold lights twinkled from amidst the green leaves, warming the walkways beneath.” Along the way, Ragsdale masterfully explores the characters’ emotions and the motivations behind their shifting alliances. A thoroughly readable story about acceptance, forgiveness, and redemption.

TALES OF IRAN

Rashidi, Feridon Self (302 pp.) $10.99 paper | $5.99 e-book Jan. 21, 2014 978-1-62921-166-4 In this short story collection, Rashidi (The Outcast, 2014) offers dark tales of rural Iran. The setting of Rashidi’s fiction is one of meager village life, characterized by the ubiquitous “dust, bits of hay and the stench of dung.” In “Galeen Khanum,” a young girl is forced into an early marriage with a local lord, and the trauma of the consummation leads her to an unhealthy fascination with Islamic promises of the afterlife. In “Ashura,” a peasant boy has a disturbing first experience with the eponymous holy day, during which men lament the memory of the ancient Battle of Karbala by shedding their own blood with cleavers. In “Omar Koshan,” a family attends a yearly festival, the “rowdiest of carnivals, initiated by religious hatred, ever held anywhere in the history of humankind.” Ostensibly an occasion to burn an effigy of Caliph Omar the Cursed, the festival devolves into a chaotic excuse for insults and score-settling. Each of the 16 stories explores the intersection between the individual and an oppressive, tradition-dominated society: the people, lacking the language or vision to transcend the weight of inherited culture, generally come away worse for the encounter. Rashidi is an adept chronicler of village color; his tales are full of gossiping women in flowery chadors, scampering children, destitute beggars, dancing gypsies, scheming mullahs, and old men lazing with their chibouks and opium pipes. The world he creates is so detailed and frenetic that it feels like a documentary, not historical fiction. Most stunning of all is that Rashidi makes no attempt to romanticize the past: the livestock and excrement, the cold and dust, the threat of dangerous neighbors and of the wilderness outside the village make his Iran a legitimately unsettling locale. He doesn’t try to psychoanalyze his characters through a modern lens, but he’s clearly interested in the traumatic effects that the hierarchy and ritual of this world have on its inhabitants, particularly the children. The context of religious and ethnic history is often lost on the characters, if it’s even explained; even so, the ripples of tradition, embodied in the wealthy, the ordained, and the mad, influence their lives in ways that they cannot escape. A hard-edged collection of finely wrought stories.

How (Not) To Fall in Love

Roberts, Lisa Brown Entangled Teen (352 pp.) $9.99 paper | $5.99 e-book | Feb. 3, 2015 978-1-62266-520-4 In Roberts’ debut YA riches-to-rags story, the daughter of a self-help guru searches for her lost father and finds herself. Darcy Covington discovers who her true friends are when her Audi is towed from her private school’s parking lot. While most of her classmates gawk from the sidelines, only her best friend, Sal, comes to her aid. Darcy’s father’s self-help business is going bankrupt, and he’s gone missing. Her only clues to his whereabouts are the cryptic postcards he sends from the road (“I’m still looking. Not sure when I’ll find it. But I love you. —Dad”). Now his business partner, J.J., is threatening to seize the family’s home if they can’t come up with the money to buy it from the company. The fallout from the scandal unfolds in media sound bites—including a David Letterman–style top-10 list that doesn’t quite land—but Darcy’s observations about her plight are astute: “The sleek, spiky silver chandelier made me think of knife blades poised above us while we ate, but Mom bought it during a European shopping spree, so we were stuck with it.” While her mother drinks herself into oblivion, Darcy takes refuge in her estranged Uncle Charlie’s thrift shop. As she warms up to Charlie, she sees how her hippie uncle and her overachieving father are opposite sides of the same coin: Charlie applies his brother’s wisdom by being kind to his customers, who tell stories in exchange for doughnuts. Not since Uncle Leo in Barthe DeClements’ Sixth Grade Can Really Kill You (1985) has an uncle made such an impact. Darcy also sees glimpses of her future self in Charlie’s friend Liz, who runs a cozy (and chaotic) coffee shop nearby. When Darcy meets Charlie’s trusted employee, Lucas, she’s immediately smitten. Ultimately, though, her personal transformation is more compelling than her crush: her confidence grows as she admirably takes over the household duties, from baking casseroles to coordinating her family’s estate sale. Lucas, though unfailingly chivalrous, is left behind when Darcy finds another clue in the Stonehenge replica she created with her father—a wonderful narrative detail—and goes on a rescue mission to bring him home. A promising debut featuring a crackerjack heroine who doesn’t need a hero to complete her sweet, rambling quest.

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This narrative acts not as a typical whodunit but as a fascinating peek into the mind and machinations of a sociopath. rothaker

ROTHAKER

Ruff, Jenifer WorldCastle Publishing (229 pp.) $3.99 e-book | Apr. 1, 2015 Beautiful, superfocused, yet troubled Brooke Walton, now in medical school, is involved in yet another disappearance of a fellow female student in this second installment of a dark thriller series. Brooke is embarking on her first year at Rothaker Medical School, a critical next step in achieving her goal of becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon. Observing her classmates, Brooke muses that she knows she’s “uniquely different, but not because of anything others could see. How many of her fellow students had already killed three people?” She eagerly works on her first cadaver and is the only one to observe that fellow student Xander, a slightly older, handsome former football star and returning veteran, has a PTSD reaction upon seeing the corpse. She immediately dislikes classmate Rachel Kline, fixating on the woman’s mole and annoyed by her do-gooder persona. When Rachel tells Brooke that she better come clean about completing the work of a student on emergency leave—Brooke did it so the groupproject grade wouldn’t suffer—Brooke swings into action to

This Issue’s Contributors # Adult Maude Adjarian • Stephanie Anderson • Mark Athitakis • Joseph Barbato • Rebekah Bergman Amy Boaz • Scott Borchert • Jeffrey Burke • Lee E. Cart • Andrew E. Colarusso • Dave DeChristopher • Kathleen Devereaux • Daniel Dyer • Lisa Elliott • Anjali Enjeti • Jordan Foster • Julie Foster • Bob Garber • Devon Glenn • Peter Heck • April Holder • Rebecca Johns Robert M. Knight • Christina M. Kratzner • Megan Kurashige • Paul Lamey • Chelsea Langford • Louise Leetch • Judith Leitch • Georgia Lowe • Joe Maniscalco • Don McLeese Gregory McNamee • Carole Moore • Clayton Moore • Jennifer Morell • Elise Moser • Liza Nelson • Mike Newirth • Therese Purcell Nielsen • John Noffsinger • Mike Oppenheim Derek Parsons • Jim Piechota • Signe Pike • William E. Pike • Gary Presley • Amy Reiter Benjamin Rybeck • Lloyd Sachs • Leslie Safford • Bob Sanchez • Michael Sandlin • Marthine Satris • Chaitali Sen • Gene Seymour • William P. Shumaker • Rosanne Simeone • Linda Simon Wendy Smith • Margot E. Spangenberg • Andria Spencer • Rachel Sugar • Bill Thompson Matthew Tiffany • Claire Trazenfeld • Hope Wabuke • Pete Warzel • Steve Weinberg • Rodney Welch • Carol White • Chris White • Joan Wilentz • Marion Winik Children’s & Teen Alison Anholt-White • Marcie Bovetz • Louise Brueggemann • Connie Burns • Timothy Capehart • Ann Childs • GraceAnne A. DeCandido • Dave DeChristopher • Elise DeGuiseppi Lisa Dennis • Andi Diehn • Brooke Faulkner • Laurie Flynn • Omar Gallaga • Laurel Gardner Judith Gire • Carol Goldman • Heather L. Hepler • Megan Honig • Shelley Huntington Kathleen T. Isaacs • Betsy Judkins • Deborah Kaplan • Joy Kim • K. Lesley Knieriem • Angela Leeper • Peter Lewis • Lori Low • Wendy Lukehart • Joan Malewitz • Hillias J. Martin Michelle H. Martin PhD • Shelly McNerney • Kathie Meizner • Lisa Moore • Deb Paulson John Edward Peters • Susan Pine • Rebecca Rabinowitz • Kristy Raffensberger • Nancy Thalia Reynolds • Amy Robinson • Lesli Rodgers • Christopher R. Rogers • Erika Rohrbach • Ronnie Rom • Leslie L. Rounds • Ann Marie Sammataro • Mindy Schanback • Katie Scherrer • Mary Ann Scheuer • Hillary Foote Schwartz • Stephanie Seales • John W. Shannon • Karyn N. Silverman • Robin Smith • Karin Snelson • Jennifer Sweeney • Pat Tanumihardja • Deborah D. Taylor • Jessica Thomas • Kimberly Whitmer • S.D. Winston • Monica Wyatt Indie Poornima Apte • Charles Cassady • Stephanie Cerra • Simon Creek • Michael Deagler Lindsay Denninger • Steve Donoghue • Nora Dunne • Eric F. Frazier • Devon Glenn • Michael Haaren • John Huetter • Susan J.E. Illis • Robert Isenberg • Leila Jutton • Ivan Kenneally Donald Liebenson • Collin Marchiando • Dale McGarrigle • Ingrid Mellor • Florence Olsen Joshua T. Pederson • Judy Quinn • Jessica Skwire Routhier • Hillary Foote Schwartz • Emily Thompson • Heather Varnadore • Nick A. Zaino

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eliminate her latest “obstacle.” By the time the investigation for now-missing Rachel heats up, Brooke has become increasingly involved with Xander, who continues to suffer from PTSD flashbacks; he’s also starting to suspect that something is off with his new girlfriend. Ruff (Everett, 2014) continues the adventures of emotionless, Terminator-like Brooke in this second tale of the series. Since readers get early insight into Brooke’s deadly nature, including a recap of deeds from the first book, this narrative acts not as a typical whodunit but as a fascinating peek into the mind and machinations of a sociopath. Given her acute observations and rigorous discipline, also expressed in her fitness regime, Brooke is almost appealing at times, though her gruesome dismemberment and disposal of Rachel also quells such sympathies. While readers will hardly root for Brooke, they may look forward to what Ruff will reveal next about this enigmatic character and may make guesses as to how long this determined student and runner can outpace and outwit besotted male admirers and others. Absorbing, at times gory thriller featuring an oddly compelling killer “heroine.”

TEACHING WILL What Shakespeare and 10 Kids Gave Me that Hollywood Couldn’t

Ryane, Mel Familius (230 pp.) $16.95 paper | $2.99 e-book Aug. 26, 2014 978-1-939629-23-4

A former actress shares her experiences running a Shakespeare acting club at a Los Angeles elementary school as well as reflections on her own life and career. Canadian-born actress Ryane had walked away from an acting career and was working as an acting coach and living in LA with her husband, William, when she spotted a flyer that asked for “civilian help” to make Arden Street Elementary “the best school possible.” She volunteered to run an after-school Shakespeare acting club at the school, where students were mostly of color and from low-income families, and transformed a rowdy, distracted group of children into an acting troupe ready to perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She had them follow “rules” for the club: respect each other, Shakespeare, and the acting process and write in journals (excerpts are included here). Ryane soon realized that her group had issues beyond her own experience (literacy challenges) and reminiscent of her own life (facing the scrutiny of casting); she includes several autobiographical flashback sequences for context. Throughout the rehearsal process, Ryane learned to navigate the balance of leading and learning from the children, who proudly came together to play Titania, Bottom, et al., by year’s end. Ryane brings a wry tone to this highly enjoyable memoir, and parents and teachers will undoubtedly appreciate her stories about working with children who are by turns sweet and wily. She effectively brings


her pint-size players to life; Miles, the only boy in the production, is a particularly well-drawn character who goes from just wanting to swing a sword to itching to play Hamlet. It’s inspiring how Ryane helped these kids step up to Shakespeare, and their journal excerpts are often hilarious (“William Shakespeare went to London because I like his plays”). The inclusion of various excerpts from Shakespeare’s works also underscores the evergreen emotional connections to be found in the Bard’s work. Overall, a bravura performance. A charming memoir that will amuse and inspire parents, teachers, and Shakespeare fans.

REBUILDING A DREAM America’s New Urban Crisis, the Housing Cost Explosion, and How We Can Reinvent the American Dream for All Shashaty, Andre F. Partnership for Sustainable Communities (322 pp.) $29.95 paper | $9.99 e-book Sep. 1, 2014 978-0-9905187-0-9

A passionate but well-reasoned call to reinvigorate federal support for affordable housing. In this tour de force debut, Shashaty, a journalist-turnedadvocate who has covered housing and urban policy since 1979, combines encyclopedic knowledge, real-life stories, and a point of view that’s equal parts data-driven pragmatism and enlightened moral outrage. His central thrust: the lack of affordable, safe, and decent places to live imperils the American dream of generational upward mobility. The book examines the successes and failures of federal housing programs since the 1965 Watts riots in Los Angeles. Shashaty unleashes a virtual fire hose of statistics and examples of successful multi-income, multifamily communities across the country to counter the stereotype of failed, crime-ridden, high-rise public housing projects. Erosion of political support at the national level and federal budget cuts have reversed previous gains in reducing segregation and concentrated poverty. These shortsighted cuts hinder low-wage workers from saving for down payments and becoming homeowners. Worse, poor housing conditions drive up federal costs elsewhere, particularly Medicare and Medicaid. As federal funding evaporates, the surviving tax credits cannot bridge the gap. At the local level, affordable housing initiatives are often stymied by other municipal policies, like exclusionary zoning. Shashaty warns that stagnant incomes and rising housing costs now set the stage for a new housing crisis in the aftermath of the Great Recession and the recent foreclosure debacle. His nimble prose keeps the narrative from drowning in a flood of numbers. Color charts visualize data, sidebars expand key concepts, a bibliography offers further reading, and an appendix outlines practical actions for individuals or groups. Ideologues who reject any federal role in affordable housing will

dismiss the book out of hand, but thoughtful readers will be hard-pressed to challenge the facts, figures, and logic. Housing and urban development issues are complicated, and Shashaty doesn’t pretend they can be made simple. But by articulating the many interconnected components and identifying concrete, proven approaches, he offers a blueprint for converting retreat into progress. A must-read for policymakers at all levels and recommended for anyone who wants to understand housing problems while working toward solutions.

EXIGENCY

Siemsen, Michael Fantome (438 pp.) $16.95 paper | $4.99 e-book Feb. 16, 2015 978-1-940757-23-0 In Siemsen’s (The Opal, 2013, etc.) sci-fi novel, scientists embark on a longdistance, one-way voyage—and encounter disaster. Minerva “Minnie” Sotiras is one of a small group of Earth scientists who’ve devoted their lives to studying the indigenous inhabitants of the planet Epsilon C from the orbital safety of their spaceship. The aliens have formed two polarized civilizations: the Hynka, a brutal, warlike people who live on one side of the planet, and the Threck (Minnie’s specialty), a peaceful, advanced people who live on the other half. Siemsen skillfully sketches in the basic interpersonal dynamics between Minnie and her shipmates and then kicks off the main plot: a catastrophe renders the ship uninhabitable and sends its occupants fleeing into space in escape pods. As ill luck would have it, the pod containing Minnie and the ship’s captain lands in Hynka territory, and the story rapidly and expertly unfolds into a classic tale of alien survival and adaptation. Siemsen does a seamless job of blending the tech-speak of hard sci-fi and the exotica of alien worlds; the story’s technology is internally consistent and very well-explained, and the bizarre, terrifying animal life-forms of Epsilon C are vividly realized. Best of all, his well-drawn characters are emotionally resonant. Minnie, in particular, is a heroine to root for; she constantly strives to overcome not only the limitations of salvaged equipment, but also her own preconceptions about her colleagues and the natives of Epsilon C. The author has carefully worked out every detail of his story and manages to infuse a genuine sense of urgency and humanity into a basic, clichéd plot. The action alternates steadily, building to a series of climaxes that, although predictable, are tense and satisfying; the tale also has an appealing sarcastic undertone. Readers of last year’s surprise sci-fi hit, Andy Weir’s The Martian, will find the same great blend of technology and storytelling here. A highly recommended, character-driven sci-fi novel in the tradition of Robert A. Heinlein.

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THE BOOK OF ELIOT

Simon, Robert A. 11 Barberry Books (566 pp.) $2.99 e-book | Jul. 12, 2014

Simon explores the unlikely effects of a cancer diagnosis in his darkly comedic debut novel. Eliot Abrams is the chief marketing officer of De-Lish Chix, “the fifth largest franchise food operation on the planet.” When he meets people, he can accurately guess what cars they drive and how their offices are decorated. He has a beautiful wife, who runs her own business, and two young children. He has a golf handicap of 4. He never gets hangovers. When people meet him, they say things like, “You’re obviously a very smart man.” The only real problem in his life is that his job requires him to live in provincial Kansas City, Missouri. Oh, and that he’s been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Also—and this is just a smallish thing—he’s decided to murder his boss. With a probable death sentence hanging over his head and feeling ever less in control of his fate, Eliot attempts to reassert his own agency and go down swinging. As the oppressive clouds of his careerist lifestyle gather and darken, Eliot plots an act of liberation, learning that a proximity to death (his own or someone else’s) makes him feel alive in ways he’s never encountered before. Simon is a highly capable storyteller with a fluid sense of scene and a snarky sense of humor. He treats his plot and his characters with a refreshingly disdainful glee: this is not a story meant to tug on the reader’s heartstrings but to invite readers to fantasize about the sort of freedom that people normally K i r k us M e di a LL C # President M A RC W I N K E L M A N Chief Executive Officer M E G L A B O R D E KU E H N Chief Financial Officer J ames H ull SVP, Marketing M ike H ejny SVP, Online Paul H offman # Copyright 2015 by Kirkus Media LLC. KIRKUS REVIEWS (ISSN 1948- 7428) is published semimonthly by Kirkus Media LLC, 6411 Burleson Road, Austin, TX 78744. Subscription prices are: Digital & Print Subscription (U.S.) - 12 Months ($199.00) Digital & Print Subscription (International) - 12 Months ($229.00) Digital Only Subscription - 12 Months ($169.00) Single copy: $25.00. All other rates on request. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Kirkus Reviews, PO Box 3601, Northbrook, IL 60065-3601. Periodicals Postage Paid at Austin, TX 78710 and at additional mailing offices.

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forget they possess. Eliot is witty and humorously morose but not immediately likable: he’s arrogant, elitist, and self-centered. Yet this is what makes him an engaging character. He feels suitably real and therefore enticingly dangerous. Not that realism is Simon’s project. Drama and comedy are heightened just enough to make the novel a work of highly entertaining fancy. The book is longer than it needs to be, but questions about the lives that hang in the balance—along with Eliot’s quips —keep the reader turning pages to the end. A pleasing comic novel with fatal stakes and a cynical edge.

THE DRAYTON DIARIES

Stephens, Robert W. CreateSpace (198 pp.) $9.99 paper | $2.99 e-book | Dec. 2, 2014 978-1-5028-9332-1 An ordinary man tries to make sense of his extraordinary powers in Stephens’ (Nature of Evil, 2012, etc.) crisply narrated tale with paranormal elements. Jon Drayton knows he is special. He heals dead people. He miraculously cured his sister who almost died in a car crash. What’s more, Drayton can’t seem to resist the urge to exercise his abilities— he brings a few more people back from near death. But there’s a problem. His good Samaritan impulses win him no brownie points with a group masquerading as the Unknowns. Every time Drayton heals someone, he finds his own life in danger. Yet, it’s not so easy to kill Drayton; special weapons are needed to do the job. Having spent most of his life on the run and trying to make sense of his circumstances, he discovers that the secret to his powers might lie in the ruins of a 17th-century Virginia plantation called King’s Shadow. Who exactly was Henry King, the plantation owner, and what connection does he have to Jon Drayton? Who wrote the journal entries that surface throughout the narrative? Stephens sets up a plot with quite a few disparate threads, most of which come together at the end of the well-paced tale. Even if at times a mixed bag of paranormal elements—“fires” entering and leaving people, folks walking from one dimension to another, large dragonlike birds appearing—is thrown in, forcing the reader to occasionally suspend disbelief, the plot largely manages to hang together and reach a satisfying conclusion, complete with a pulse-pounding finale. A chief archaeologist at King’s Shadow, Laura Girard, adds a touch of romance to the proceedings. The take-home message might be trite, but it’s conveyed in an appealing manner. Stephens ends the story with what appears to be the promise of a sequel (or two) to follow. Sure to please fans of paranormal fiction.


Townsend’s prose is always limpid and evocative, and at his best...he finds real drama and emotional depth in the most ordinary of lives. gayrabian nights

GAYRABIAN NIGHTS

THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW A Bible Study

Townsend, Johnny Booklocker.com, Inc. (272 pp.) $16.95 paper | $2.99 e-book Nov. 1, 2014 978-1-63490-034-8 Gay Mormons struggle for acceptance from a hostile church—and themselves—in these wryly subversive stories. Townsend’s latest collection recycles stories from past collections and frames them with a new yarn whose chapters unfold between them. The latter involves a Mormon male prostitute named Houston who has a tryst with a closeted Mormon Republican senator in a Washington hotel room. Learning that he plans to vote for an anti-gay bill the following day, Houston, imitating Scheherazade from Arabian Nights, decides to soften the legislator’s self-loathing heart with tales of gay Mormon life. These stories foreground usually closeted, usually devout Mormons wrestling with the doctrines of a religion that insists on heterosexual marriage and child-rearing as the sole path to holiness. Many of them are wracked with guilt and fears of hell—an old man welcomes a terminal cancer diagnosis as a release from a life of tormented celibacy, and a Brigham Young student tries electroshock to cure himself of lustful thoughts—while others finesse an accommodation between their sexual longings and their faith: two Mormon missionaries go on a public date; a shy bookstore cashier inches toward his first relationship; and a husband decides to tell church officials about his cross-dressing even if it means excommunication. Townsend weaves explicit, matter-of-fact sex into his characters’ authentic religious aspirations, setting the conflicts in a well-observed realism lit with flashes of deadpan humor. A few stories slide from satire into ridicule—one new husband’s wedding night with plural brides is so traumatic that he winds up with men instead—and the long framing story, the collection’s only original, is a disappointment, with the Scheherazade routine feeling contrived and evincing a rare preachiness. (“Why don’t you come over to the good side?” Houston implores the Republican Darth Vader he is trying to beguile.) Still, Townsend’s prose is always limpid and evocative, and at his best, as in a story about a son trying to console his dying mother for her unfulfilling life, he finds real drama and emotional depth in the most ordinary of lives. There’s little new material in this repackaging of previously published stories, but this is a good introduction to Townsend’s cleareyed, funny, empathetic dissection of Mormonism and its discontents.

Walker, Carol CrossBooks (344 pp.) $39.95 | $21.99 paper | $3.99 e-book May 7, 2013 978-1-4627-2492-5 A comprehensive study guide to the biblical book of Matthew. Walker’s debut commentary and lesson plan for the New Testament’s opening account of the life and sayings of Jesus is a thorough, genial work, perfect for Bible study classes and nonexperts. Her short introduction mostly skirts the Gospel’s deeper exegetical issues, although more serious students may take her assertion that “Bible scholars are not united as to whether or not Matthew himself entirely wrote the gospel” with a grain of salt; in fact, Bible scholars are virtually unanimous in asserting that the Gospel dates late enough to preclude its having been written by an eyewitness. Throughout, Walker provides clear, patient evaluation and illustration of Matthew’s account. She even points out his preoccupations; for instance, she writes that he continually stressed all the ways that the arrival of Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecies because he was intent on convincing Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. After each chapter and verse, Walker provides readers with several aids to test what they’ve just read, including multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank questions as well as many open-ended discussion questions (“Do you think it was important for Jesus to meet privately with his disciples and discuss the parables which he used to teach people? If so, why?”). The book also draws on the other Gospels and Paul’s letters, creating a rich context for Matthew’s account. Oddly, Matthew’s actual verses aren’t included, so readers will need to have the book open beside them as they read along. However, the extra effort will be rewarded. Walker provides unhurried, nonjudgmental introductory New Testament study, and her discussion questions are uniformly excellent, particularly for beginning students. They not only dissect individual events, but also broaden the inquiry to include Matthew’s underlying philosophies. Understandably, the book’s starting assumption is that all four Gospels are uniform and implicitly contemporaneous accounts of Jesus’ ministry, so readers looking for textual deconstruction should look elsewhere. This is instead a guide to enhancing one’s personal faith through scriptural knowledge. A careful, thoroughly enjoyable guide to the most entertaining of the Synoptic Gospels.

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HOOKED

Wolf, Allen Morning Star Publishing (238 pp.) $14.99 paper | $8.99 e-book Feb. 10, 2015 978-0-692-27427-9 In Wolf ’s debut novel, an autistic man doesn’t immediately grasp that his new “girlfriend” is a prostitute. Shawn, 24, is a socially awkward computer programmer for a dating website. One evening, he attends his boss’s “Pimps and Hos” party. There, he meets a young woman named Violet, who agrees to go on a date with him. After they arrive at Shawn’s New York City apartment, where he lives with his recently widowed grandmother Ruth, Violet realizes that he doesn’t know that she’s truly a “ho” who expects to be paid. But because Shawn is rather sweet, Violet lets him wait for her as she goes on so-called “auditions” that evening. Later that week, Shawn’s older brother, Colin, takes him to a singles party; Violet shows up as well, finally responding to Shawn’s persistent texts. She’s annoyed when Colin warns her off, telling her that Shawn is a high-functioning autistic; as a result, she and Shawn start hanging out in earnest. Eventually, and rather reluctantly, she agrees to meet him at church services. Arriving late and on her own, she recalls how her mother didn’t believe her when she told her about her uncle’s sexual abuse and how she forbade her from telling her pastor about it; this trauma led to her leaving home and meeting Anton, the pimp who trapped her into prostitution. Shawn catches her sneaking out of the church and proposes, and they soon get married. But later, when Ruth reveals the results of her background check on Violet, the latter runs off. Will Shawn and Violet find a way to forge a new life together? Wolf, an award-winning filmmaker, has adapted this first novel from his own original screenplay, and its cinematic potential clearly shows. The high-concept narrative is entertaining, well-paced, and highly visual, as Shawn also grapples with synesthesia, hearing sounds when seeing color. The work’s scope is also rather ambitious, encompassing discussions of Scripture, Shawn’s earlier girlfriend, Violet’s fellow sex workers, and even the dating website’s connection to human trafficking, among other things. Still, the story largely holds together, and it’s a charming, humorous, and hopeful tale. A quirky, touching love story that offers insights into autism, religion, and personal tragedy.

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INDIE

Books of the Month EINSTEIN’S BEACH HOUSE

CHRISTIANITY IN STAINED GLASS

Sharp, observant, darkly funny and deeply humane. Another winner from Appel.

A striking volume of remarkable art and informative commentary.

Jacob M. Appel

Lynne Alcott Kogel

THE JOURNALIST

A DOG NAMED ZERO AND THE APPLE WITH NO NAME

Jos Scharrer

An essential adventure in British journalism.

T.C. Bartlett

Smart, witty text matched by fine design and illustrations make this kids’ book a tasty, off beat treat. (See p. 136 for an interview with the author.)

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Fi e l d No t e s Photo courtesy Sarah Bork Hamilton

By Megan Labrise

In anticipation of National Poetry Month in April, the Academy of American Poets is distributing 120,000 free commemorative posters inspired by late Pulitzer Prize–winning Poet Laureate Mark Strand, designed by New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast. Request yours at Poets.org.

Adelle Waldman (The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.), Jennifer duBois (Cartwheel), and Steph Opitz, the literary director of the Texas Book Festival, at the Festival’s second annual TBF <3s Indies party, a celebration of Austin’s indie presses.

(l-r) Sarah Pohlman, publisher of Open Road Media; Paul Morris, PEN’s Director of Literary Programs; Phil Klay, National Book Award winner and author of Redeployment; Saeed Jones, LGBT Editor for Buzzfeed and author of Prelude to Bruise; Lisa Lucas, publisher of Guernica; and Mira Jacob, author of The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing

“I think it’s often the people who are telling us the things that we don’t want to hear who are the ones we need to listen to the most.”

—Redeployment author Phil Klay, in a speech at the PEN American Center’s New Members/New Books party

“Looking for goshawks is like looking for grace: it comes, but not often, and you don’t get to say when or how.”

“What these numbers count is just quantity—they don’t indicate quality, they don’t indicate authenticity, they don’t indicate what the books are actually about….Ideally, what we would have would be a variety of books by and about all kinds of people.”

—KT Horning, director of UW-Madison’s Cooperative Children’s Book Center, which has tracked books by and about people of color since 1985, on the recently released 2014 data

“You know you’ve hit upon an interesting research topic when in a single week you get interview requests from both Penthouse magazine and Christian Life Radio.”

—Alice Dreger, author, academic and intersex patients’ rights activist, in Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science

Midland Pantone Colors

PMS - 186C

“Nothing will lift your ego like getting a phone call from Marlon Brando saying, ‘I’m ready to talk to you.’ ”

—biographer James Grissom, who first interviewed the actor for Follies of God: Tennessee Williams and the Women of the Fog and is now at work on a Brando biography tentatively titled The Lake of the Mind

Coming soon!

—Helen Macdonald in H Is for Hawk

Submissions for Field Notes? Email fieldnotes@kirkus.com. 150

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Excerpted from COLLECTED POEMS by Mark Strand. Copyright © 2014 by Mark Strand. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


Appreciations: A Century Ago, Virginia Woolf Debuts with The Voyage Out

B Y G RE G OR Y M C NAMEE

Photo courtesy George Charles Beresford

“As the streets…are very narrow, it is better not to walk down them arm-in-arm. If you persist, lawyers’ clerks will have to make flying leaps into the mud; young lady typists will have to fidget behind you. In the streets of London where beauty goes unregarded, eccentricity must pay the penalty, and it is better not to be very tall, to wear a long blue cloak, or to beat the air with your left hand.” Allowing for the fact that “young lady typist” is an extinct job category, and allowing for the peculiarities of geography, the writer could be addressing the rigors of walking Chelsea, the Nevsky Prospect, or the Ginza, all places where beauty and eccentricity both are in much evidence but where busy passersby seldom seem to have time to notice. The writer is Virginia Woolf, the year 1915, when, in mid-March, her first novel, The Voyage Out, was published in London. Like Heart of Darkness, its opening takes in both the Thames estuary and the whole sweep of an empire. If it were to claim an immediate cousin, though, The Voyage Out might take up kinship not with Joseph Conrad’s novel but Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice as an elaborate, elegant comedy of manners. Where the people in Austen’s grand confection, though, are generally decent to each other, those in Woolf ’s book are very often clueless, perhaps none more so than one Mrs. Dalloway, whom Woolf would call to service in a later book. Aboard a ship bound for South America in the first part of the book, passing their time chatting about rheumatism and the heat, they alternately ignore and chase each other, the women “highly trained in promoting men’s talk without listening to it,” the men single-minded in their chauvinism: “He went on saying ‘No’ to her on principle, for he never yielded to a woman on account of her sex.” “We don’t seem to understand each other,” concludes young Rachel Vinrace, Woolf ’s impressionable heroine, and indeed they don’t. In such a war of each against all, no one can be the winner—no one, that is, but death, which is always waiting around the corner but always picking the wrong person to steal away. Virginia Woolf was famously interested in the gulf, if not the war, between the sexes, and she delighted in satirizing colonialism and class rigidity. She had worked on the novel that began life as Melymbrosia for almost a decade, and she took pains to develop a way of representing how it is that people think more than how they interact—that is, in writing that reflects the “stream of consciousness,” something for which she would soon become a byword. People think, of course, of things that they might not easily talk about, at least not in public. So it is in Woolf ’s debut, in which uncomfortable subjects emerge that put the lie to the staidness of Edwardian Britain. Without the social upheaval of World War I, her “strange” book, as E.M. Forster called it, might never have appeared. That it did is something for which we can be thankful, a century on. Gregory McNamee is a contributing editor. |

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March 15, 2015: Volume LXXXIII, No 6  

Featuring 318 industry-first reviews of fiction, nonfiction and children's & teen; also in this issue: T.C. Bartlett, a writer of many talen...

March 15, 2015: Volume LXXXIII, No 6  

Featuring 318 industry-first reviews of fiction, nonfiction and children's & teen; also in this issue: T.C. Bartlett, a writer of many talen...