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Featuring 330 Industry-First Reviews of Fiction, Nonfiction and Children's & Teen

KIRKUS VOL. LXXXIV, NO.

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REVIEWS

Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s debut,

The Nest, one of this year’s most anticipated novels, is about four adult siblings and a shared inheritance. What could possibly go wrong? p. 14


from the editor’s desk:

Writers’ Deaths, and Then Their Lives B Y C LA I B ORNE

SM I T H

Chairman H E R B E RT S I M O N President & Publisher M A RC W I N K E L M A N #

Photo courtesy Michael Thad Carter

“I think of what I am doing as biography backward, a whole life unfurling from a death,” journalist and critic Katie Roiphe writes in the introduction to The Violet Hour: Great Writers at the End (Mar. 8). In short chapters about the deaths of writers she admires (Susan Sontag, John Updike, James Salter, Maurice Sendak, Dylan Thomas, and Sigmund Freud), Roiphe wrestles with how these thinkers’ insights into death on the page square up with their uneasy journeys to give up the ghost (although Sontag worked particularly hard to never give it up in the first place). “I chose people whose imagination is bigger or greater or holds out some possibility of more intense percepClaiborne Smith tion or precision of description than I would be capable of myself,” Roiphe writes. “I was thinking: If it’s nearly impossible to capture the approach of death in words, who would have the most hope of doing it?” Relentless, clear, shrewd, intimate, and honest, Roiphe’s minibiographies unearth vibrant insights. Freud’s smoking (he refused to give up cigars even though he suffered from cancer of the mouth for years before he died in 1939) was, Roiphe writes, an “erratic, stubborn, glorious pocket of misbehavior” for a man who was so rational in everything else he did. At the age of 69, Sontag sold her archive to UCLA but she said at the time, “Selling the archive is not, ‘Now it’s all over, and I’m packing up and getting ready to think about my estate.’ ” But Roiphe points out the “flagrant irrationality” of Sontag’s statement: “One doesn’t sell one’s papers at twenty-five.” The Violet Hour is a deliciously honest calling-out of authors whose behaviors don’t always rise to their cleareyed writing, but it is also a book coursing with empathy. Roiphe writes in the book that “I don’t believe that you can learn how to die, or gain wisdom, or prepare, and the work I have done on this book has, if anything, confirmed that suspicion.” Over the phone, she tells me it was easier to write about the death of a writer long dead than a recently deceased one. “It’s hard to call somebody up and say, ‘Can you talk about your mother dying?’ ” she says. But she kept at it because “biography frees you from the inhibitions of normal life. You can have these conversations that you would never have with someone in a normal setting,” like the time James Salter told her that all of her perceptions about her own father’s death weren’t true. “That’s just not a conversation you would have over lunch with somebody,” she acknowledges. Writing The Violet Hour may not have taught Roiphe how to die gracefully, but some of the writers she profiles in the book “created their own peace at the end,” she says. “To watch that happen and to see how you can do that to me was really comforting.”

Chief Executive Officer M E G L A B O R D E KU E H N mkuehn@kirkus.com Editor-in-Chief CLAIBORNE SMITH csmith@kirkus.com Managing/Nonfiction Editor E R I C L I E B E T R AU eliebetrau@kirkus.com Fiction Editor L AU R I E M U C H N I C K 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 D AV I D R A P P drapp@kirkus.com Indie Editor M Y R A F O R S B E RG mforsberg@kirkus.com Assistant Editor CHELSEA LANGFORD clangford@kirkus.com Editorial Assistant M I C H A E L VA L I N S K Y mvalinsky@kirkus.com Copy Editor BETSY JUDKINS Director of Kirkus Editorial CARISSA BLUESTONE cbluestone@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 R D E N P I AC E N Z A apiacenza@kirkus.com Advertising/Client Promotions ANNA COOPER acooper@kirkus.com

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you can now purchase books online at kirkus.com

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

fiction INDEX TO STARRED REVIEWS............................................................ 5 REVIEWS................................................................................................ 5 EDITOR’S NOTE..................................................................................... 6 ON THE COVER: CYNTHIA D’APRIX SWEENEY.............................. 14 ELIZABETH BRUNDAGE MEETS A SOCIOPATH.............................. 24 MYSTERY.............................................................................................. 34 SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY.......................................................... 42 ROMANCE............................................................................................44

nonfiction INDEX TO STARRED REVIEWS.......................................................... 47 REVIEWS.............................................................................................. 47 EDITOR’S NOTE...................................................................................48 DAVID KUSHNER INVESTIGATES A MURDER: HIS BROTHER’S................................................................................... 62 AUGUSTEN BURROUGHS SETTLES DOWN ....................................68

children’s & teen INDEX TO STARRED REVIEWS.......................................................... 87 REVIEWS.............................................................................................. 87 EDITOR’S NOTE...................................................................................88 JEFF ZENTNER’S SENSE OF PLACE................................................ 104 AN OUTRAGEOUS BEAR FROM LONDON (NOT THAT ONE)...... 108 CONTINUING SERIES........................................................................ 131 FOREIGN INFLUENCE.......................................................................134

Sobering, humbling, and extraordinarily rich reading from a wise and gifted writer who sees how far we have come. Read the starred review on p. 75.

indie INDEX TO STARRED REVIEWS......................................................... 135 REVIEWS............................................................................................. 135 EDITOR’S NOTE..................................................................................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.

INDIE INTERVIEW: JASINDA WILDER.......................................... 142 INDIE BOOKS OF THE MONTH.........................................................157 FIELD NOTES..................................................................................... 158 APPRECIATIONS: THE CRYING OF LOT 49 TURNS 49+1............. 159 |

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© Michelle Macirella

After this trauma, Mansoor studies in the United States but cannot leave behind the frustration of the past as his injuries make it all but impossible for him to pursue his career. In the U.S., Mansoor’s life becomes entangled with that of Ayub, an increasingly violent Muslim activist. Mahajan ably weaves together and shifts between the lives Karan Mahajan

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© Drew Stevens

Bombs discusses family as well as trauma, prejudice, and immense frustration. Mahajan’s shifting of perspectives allows this story to explore the effects of small-scale terrorism on not only the victims (or the families of victims), but on the perpetrator as well. The Association of Small Bombs often finds itself at the intersection of the emotional and political, explosive territory that Mahajan skillfully explores. Photo courtesy Molly Winters

Live March 23 A terrorist bombing in Delhi, which claims the lives of two schoolboys and leaves Mansoor the bearer of physical and psychological damage, fuels Karan Mahajan’s second novel, The Association of Small Bombs.

of Mansoor, Ayub, Vikas— the killed boys’ father— and Shockie, the worn-out bomb maker. Mahajan’s first and second novels are both set in his home of New Delhi, but the circumstances that unfold within these stories are drastically different. While both follow the dysfunction within a family structure, his first novel, Family Planning, takes a warmer approach. The Association of Small

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Live March 17 Today we talk to Sarah Schulman about her jarring and beautiful historical novel, The Cosmopolitans, which has the makings of a modern classic.

Live March 17 Join us for a quick Q-and-A with author Sonja Livingston where we talk about her new book of essays, Ladies Night at the Dreamland, and her love for all things wild.

Live March 18 We’re talking to author Roy Blount Jr. today about his new book, Save Room for Pie: Food Songs and Chewy Ruminations. There are sure to be plenty of food-fueled jokes along the way. Live March 22 Check out our interview with beloved Southern writer Lee Smith as we talk to her about her childhood in a small Virginia coal town and her warm and poignant memoir, Dimestore.

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fiction THE ENCOUNTER

These titles earned the Kirkus Star:

Adamesteanu, Gabriela Translated by Blyth, Alistair Ian Dalkey Archive (277 pp.) $17.00 | Apr. 15, 2016 978-1-56478-953-2

THE SUMMER GUEST by Alison Anderson.......................................... 6 SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF EASE AND PLENTY by Ramona Ausubel................................................................................8 THIS TOO SHALL PASS by Milena Busquets......................................12 THE SECOND LIFE OF NICK MASON by Steve Hamilton................18 NITRO MOUNTAIN by Lee Clay Johnson............................................22 THE CHILDREN by Ann Leary............................................................23 THE SPORT OF KINGS by C.E. Morgan............................................ 26 THE LAST PAINTING OF SARA DE VOS by Dominic Smith........... 29 STONE TABLETS by Wojciech Zukrowski........................................... 33 TRAIL OF ECHOES by Rachel Howzell Hall......................................38 THE MAP OF BONES by Francesca Haig............................................43 HOW THE DUKE WAS WON by Lenora Bell.................................... 44 THE LAST PAINTING OF SARA DE VOS

Smith, Dominic Sarah Crichton/Farrar, Straus and Giroux (304 pp.) $26.00 | $12.99 e-book Apr. 5, 2016 978-0-374-10668-3 978-0-374-71404-8 e-book

An exiled scientist returns home to a country that has forgotten him. Or has it? Odysseus wandered for years before arriving at Ithaca. Manu Traian has been away as long, having left his homeland before the Iron Curtain clanged shut. As this novel, the latest by the renowned Romanian writer Adamesteanu (Wasted Morning, 1983, etc.), opens, he is dreaming fitfully of running a gauntlet of officials demanding documents he cannot produce, then making his way, finally, to a place where he is now a ghost. It is a dream he has often. His name contains that of the Roman emperor Trajan, who conquered Romania, just as other names are suggestive of other times, other stories. Now that he is actually homeward bound, it’s the Securitate that means to conquer him, though, by ringing him with traps; invited to speak at a university, he flatters himself to think that his fame might be preceding him, without pausing to consider that the academics are implicated in the police state, as is everyone else. His German-born wife sees the danger clearly (“She knows it is too late to turn back. But she cannot stop herself from trying”), but he does not; his nephew, Daniel (think lion’s den), is perhaps the only innocent, but even he, the Telemachus of a book that resounds with allusions to and quotations from The Odyssey, is suspect. Even though there are hints everywhere that the Ceaușescu regime is on its last legs, the police are vigilant enough to keep fat dossiers on everyone, from exiles to librarians (“It’s no accident that his daughter is called Mihaela, he says that he gave her this name in memory and honor of the last king of the former bourgeois-landowning Romania”). Still, in the end they have nothing to pin on Traian, who bungles through somehow—which is no guarantee of a happy ending. Layered, nuanced, and deeply allusive; readers without a grounding in recent Balkans history may miss some of the clues. The meaning of the story is clear enough, though, even if parts are opaque.

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a publisher, a novelist, a “literary person” Photo courtesy Leah Overstreet

Plenty of well-known editors have also been novelists, but there seems to have been a groundswell lately, with new books from FSG publisher Jonathan Galassi and Norton executive editor Jill Bialosky. Now Danielle Dutton, editor of Dorothy, a publishing project, has come out with Margaret the First, and like many of its forebears, it concerns writing and publishing, telling the story of Margaret Cavendish, the Duchess of Newcastle, who in the 17th century became the first woman to write for publication in England. I asked her a few questions: What’s it like to go from being a publisher to a novelist? How does each of your roles nourish the other? I like that you say “nourish” rather than “conflict with.” The truth is, there are so many roles in my life (wife, mother, teacher, etc.) that I think all the book-related roles get clumped together under the heading “literary person.” I write and edit, work on my own stuff and on other people’s, and these activities are not all that different from one another. One way the variety is nourishing, though, is that each activity takes some of the pressure off the others.

Photo courtesy Sarah Shatz

You’re the publisher of a very small press and are being published by Catapult, a bigger small press. What do you think small presses bring to the literary world that can’t be found in big presses? The thing that any worthwhile press brings is an editorial vision. Some editors have a more commercially viable vision than others, and I’d like to think that this is why they fit at a big press, because their tastes happen to align with commercial viability. Whereas my own tastes run from borderlinecommercial to audaciously strange, and so that is the vision of literature that my press puts into the world, and Dorothy’s value can be measured in how compelling that vision is. Danielle Dutton

Margaret feels like such a modern character. What about her would you like current readers to know? Beyond just how compelling and complicated a figure she was, I’d like readers to know about her work, from her poem “A World in an Eare-Ring” to her proto–science fiction, proto-feminist A Description of a New World Called the Blazing World, with its rivers of liquid crystal, its empress in her gown of alien star-stone, its underwater ships, its animal-men, its transportation of souls. —L.M. Laurie Muchnick is the fiction editor.

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ENCHANTED ISLANDS

Amend, Allison Talese/Doubleday (320 pp.) $26.95 | $13.99 e-book | May 24, 2016 978-0-385-53906-7 978-0-385-53907-4 e-book Secrets, lies, and spies on a faraway island. The real-life Frances and Ainslie Conway spent years before, during, and after World War II on the Galapagos Islands, recording their unusual adventure in two memoirs that have inspired Amend’s (A Nearly Perfect Copy, 2013, etc.) pleasurable new novel. Her fictional Frances grows up in a Jewish immigrant family in turn-of-the-century Duluth, with a best friend, Rosalie, who is being sexually exploited and parents too poor even to let her finish high school. The two girls run away when they are 15, but their paths soon diverge: Rosalie eventually marries a rich man and becomes a socialite; Frances, after putting herself through college, ends up as a secretary in San Francisco, working for Navy Intelligence. One day, her boss presents her with “a strange proposition.” It seems that one Ainslie Conway, a military man who “does some shadow work” for the Navy, is being assigned to “a rather remote post, and part of his cover,” he tells Frances, “requires that he arrive with a wife.” No explanation is provided for this requirement, but soon Frances, at 50, is married to the handsome, charming Ainslie, 11 years her junior. Although he sometimes stays out all night, although Frances notices lingering looks between him and other men, and although Ainslie takes three months to consummate their union, she fails to guess that he’s gay until, on the island, she catches him kissing a man. “You’ll wonder how I could have been so blind,” she admits. But she realizes, too, that her love for him is “deeper than mere facts.” On the island, the Conways are supposed to look out for German spies, but Amend portrays espionage as less challenging than the arduous struggles of daily life. Despite some improbable plot twists, appealing characters and vivid local color make for an entertaining read.

THE SUMMER GUEST

Anderson, Alison Harper/HarperCollins (400 pp.) $27.99 | $12.99 e-book | May 24, 2016 978-0-06-242336-8 978-0-06-242337-5 e-book A newly uncovered 19th-century diary describes a brief but vivid friendship between the writer and a young Anton Chekhov. The literary press that Katya Kendall runs with her husband is in danger of failing when they come across a project that could keep them afloat: a diary, written in Russian in the late 19th century, by a young woman named Zinaida Mikhailovna. Trained as a doctor, Zina, as her family


calls her, has recently been blinded by an unnamed illness. She’s dying, but she begins writing in the diary to keep herself occupied. (She uses a notched ruler to track her writing across the page, since she can’t see it.) But what makes this diary truly momentous is Zina’s friendship with a young man whose family rents the guesthouse connected to her family’s rural estate. Like Zina, the young man, Anton Pavlovich, has been trained as a doctor, but he is also a writer. Katya and the translator she hires to work on the diary, Ana, immediately recognize this young man as Anton Chekhov. Anderson, herself a translator (of Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog, 2008, among other things) and author of two novels (Darwin’s Wink, 2004, etc.), has written a gorgeous elegy to a great Russian writer. Her Chekhov is a witty and mercurial but gentle and kind man who spends long afternoons with Zina, discussing everything from his writing (which he insists he only engages in to put “bread on the table”) to Zina’s fear of dying. But Chekhov forms only one facet of this remarkable novel, which is also a moving account of three women separated by time, nationality, and geography and how each comes to terms with her own life. Like Zina, both

Katya and Ana are, to greater or lesser degrees, isolated from others and, because of that isolation, thrown into a period of reflection. Like Zina, they ruminate upon the past, the various whims—of fate and of their own—that have steered them to where they are now. Anderson’s characterizations of Katya, Ana, Zina, and the young Chekhov are delightfully complex, and she treats them with patience, sensitivity, and sympathy. Her prose is the height of elegance. Here’s hoping that she follows this novel with more of her own. An exceptional novel about the transcendent possibilities of literature, friendship, and contemplation.

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Ausubel’s trademark combination of realist narrative with fabulist elements shines in this novel. sons and daughters of ease and plenty

SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF EASE AND PLENTY

Ausubel, Ramona Riverhead (304 pp.) $27.00 | $13.99 e-book | Jun. 14, 2016 978-1-59463-488-8 978-0-698-41085-5 e-book Fortunes and hearts are lost and found in a modern fairy tale set in the 1960s and ’70s. Ausubel’s (A Guide to Being Born, 2013, etc.) trademark combination of realist narrative with fabulist elements shines in this novel that includes everything from Vietnam War casualties and a West Virginia mine disaster to a road trip with a giant, an escape by sailboat, and children on their own in a wood. It begins on Labor Day weekend, 1976, at the summer house of Fern and Edgar Keating and their three children. Fern receives a call from her family lawyer that not a penny is left of the fortune she was to inherit from her recently deceased parents. And while Edgar could “go back and take over the family steel company in Chicago...[i]t was the very last thing he wanted to do. He would not be able to publish the novel he had spent ten years writing because it was about the son of a steel baron who walks away from his father’s money.” This is a first-world problem to be sure, but it rocks the Keatings’ world. Edgar wanders off to a pot party and gets way too involved with a louche woman in white bell-bottoms named Glory. Meanwhile, Fern is inveigled into playing the bride in a fake wedding put on to entertain Alzheimer’s patients in a nursing home, then takes off for California with her groom, who is literally a giant. Both Fern and Edgar leave town thinking the other is still at home—but in fact, their kids are all alone, with only fourth-grader Cricket to take care of her kindergartenage twin brothers. Interwoven with this ’70s story are sections set in 1965, filling in marvelous detail about Fern’s and Edgar’s parents, the early days of their love, and the fate of Fern’s own adored twin. Ausubel’s magical, engrossing prose style perfectly fits this magical, engrossing story.

BRITT-MARIE WAS HERE

Backman, Fredrick Atria (384 pp.) $26.00 | $13.99 e-book | May 10, 2016 978-1-5011-4253-6 978-1-5011-4255-0 e-book The latest in a trio of thematically similar books by the bestselling Swedish author of My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry (2015), etc. Like Backman’s debut, A Man Called Ove (2014), this latest novel features an older, very particular protagonist forced to navigate a challenging set of circumstances. Readers will remember the titular Britt-Marie as the 8

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“nag-bag” from My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry. In that book, and to a greater extent in this one, Britt-Marie’s compulsive fastidiousness is explained by her tragic past and history of being neglected and diminished by those around her. Having left her husband after recognizing his faithlessness, she finds herself in Borg, a tiny, economically depressed “community built along a road.” Borg is almost Dickensian in its circumstances. Most of the town has been shut down, most of the residents have left, and the ragtag bunch remaining includes orphaned children, a criminal, a former star of the local football team (now blind), and the proprietor of the only business in town—who’s in a wheelchair and also probably an alcoholic. But they are all supremely pure of heart and loving toward each other. All Borg needs to be brought back to life is for BrittMarie to arrive and literally set about cleaning the place, transforming herself in the process. In this way, the novel feels clunky and contrived, something the earlier books narrowly avoided. Backman has always played fast and loose with internal logic; without the smart pacing displayed in his previous books, the problem is more glaring here. Fans of Backman’s style or of the metaphoric powers of football will enjoy what this novel has to offer, but it needed to simmer longer.

A COUNTRY ROAD, A TREE

Baker, Jo Knopf (304 pp.) $26.95 | $12.99 e-book | $27.00 Lg. Prt. May 17, 2016 978-1-101-94718-0 978-1-101-94719-7 e-book 978-0-399-56758-2 Lg. Prt. The experiences of a struggling Irish writer in France during World War II— joining the Resistance, fleeing the Gestapo, risking everything again after escaping to the free zone—will help shape his groundbreaking literary future, suggests this novel based on the life of Samuel Beckett. Having turned Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice on its head in Longbourn (2013), Baker moves on to more recent but bleaker literary pastures with a biofiction tracing the life of Beckett, the brooding “spindly giant,” from 1939 to 1946. Before the war begins, the young author has escaped his difficult relationship with his mother by settling in Paris, where he finds work as a secretary to James Joyce, a partner named Suzanne, and a creative community. However, once war is declared and Paris falls, life becomes increasingly harsh and is further darkened by Joyce’s death. Beckett joins the Resistance, his role to find patterns in scraps of information. But the cell is betrayed, and Beckett and Suzanne are forced to flee, enduring a terrifying journey to Roussillon, which includes an interminable wait by a tree in a nameless place, a woman who can’t stop talking, and the constant agony of ill-fitting boots. These passing but pointed references to Beckett’s great works to come—Waiting for Godot, Not I, etc.—and philosophical speculations (“And so


one finds one goes on living...”) are intrusive. Baker’s impressionistic character portrait works hard at evoking a questing, solitary intelligence during a period of physical and mental anguish and wholesale destruction, but Beckett is a world-class literary enigma, and any such attempt was perhaps always going to fall short of full-blooded conviction. Baker’s virtuoso imagining of war’s terrors and privations is not quite matched by her depiction of a unique, consistently elusive artistic identity.

THE SKY OVER LIMA

Bárcena, Juan Gómez Translated by Rosenberg, Andrea Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (288 pp.) $25.00 | $11.99 e-book | May 17, 2016 978-0-544-63005-5 978-0-544-63006-2 e-book Spain’s Bárcena has based his first novel on a true if bizarre literary hoax concocted in 1904: a romantic correspondence between rising young Spanish poet Juan Ramon Jiménez (eventual recipient of the 1956 Nobel Prize) and two Peruvian men pretending to be a young female fan. Law students Carlos Rodriquez and José Gálvez decide to write Jiménez, the author of Violet Souls, to ask him to send them a copy of his latest book, which they cannot find in Lima’s bookstores. Both young men are wealthy aspiring poets. But Carlos, raised in a family of new money and no lineage, is selfconscious and self-effacing around casually self-important José, whose family can boast both money and a prestigious ancestry. As a kind of joke, which they share with their friends, the men decide to pretend to be a well-born young poetry lover named Georgina Hübner. Carlos, who has been teased for his feminine handwriting, does the actual writing of Georgina’s letters. Eventually Carlos comes up with the idea of turning the correspondence into a novel, and soon the novel takes over his life. The more he feels driven to write, the less ambition he has to be a great writer. José writes less, but his ambition for literary success grows. Thanks to advice from a professional love-letter writer, Georgina’s letters become more personal. After she shares a “tragedy” similar to one Jiménez has experienced, the poet is clearly smitten. In a different way, so is Carlos, who has modeled Georgina after his only experience approaching love, with a child prostitute he encountered when he was only 13. The correspondence stalls when Lima’s dockworkers go on strike, stopping trans-Atlantic mail delivery. The strike also causes a rift between Carlos, who has a new sociopolitical awareness, and José, who doesn’t. Nevertheless, the novel/correspondence continues until it reaches an unexpected crisis point. Charming if a bit precious, Bárcena’s novel is both a love letter to the creative process and a contemplation on the sometimes-blurred line between life and art.

SWALLOWED BY THE COLD Stories

Beach, Jensen Graywolf (176 pp.) $16.00 paper | $9.99 e-book May 17, 2016 978-1-55597-738-2 978-1-55597-935-5 e-book

In these linked stories set in Sweden, a host of characters considers their family histories, the flaws of memory, and the looming prospect of their own mortality. Beach’s second collection opens with a memorable image: two men engaged in a heated game of tennis in a small town north of Stockholm. One of them, a former professional player named Fredrik Holm, has a prosthetic arm; the other, Rolf Strand, seems like he’ll be the central character of the story, right up until a sudden bicycle accident causes his death. Both characters loom large throughout the book—Rolf ’s son, Lennart, figures prominently

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Beverly-Whittemore returns with another charming page-turner. june

in several stories, for example. The tales leap forward and backward in time, showcasing the ways different lives touch one another. Sometimes Beach’s storytelling is gradual, allowing the reader to draw connections between the stories at his or her own pace. This isn’t to say he avoids striking images. One story opens with an immediately gripping sentence: “From the bottom of a shallow ditch, Henrik needed help.” Perhaps the strongest story here is “The Winter War I,” in which the book’s many layers are reflected in a kaleidoscopic plot: Lennart brings his grandfather Bent to the opening of a work of art called The Winter War, inspired by the 1939-1940 conflict in which Bent himself fought. Bent’s own memory is failing, a condition mirrored by the artwork’s compression and distortion of time, but he retains some certainty about his life. “I don’t think it was anything like that,” he says with good reason after watching it. The unexpected convergences and dramatic shifts in fortune of Beach’s characters make for a measured, quietly powerful experience.

JUNE

Beverly-Whittemore, Miranda Crown (400 pp.) $26.00 | $12.99 e-book | May 31, 2016 978-0-553-44768-2 978-0-553-44769-9 e-book

Love between a small-town girl and one of Hollywood’s leading men leads to murder, blackmail, and secrets. Beverly-Whittemore (Bittersweet, 2015, etc.) returns with another charming pageturner, this time marrying old Hollywood elegance to Midwestern practicality. Fourteen-year-old Lindie may not know much, but she sure knows that marrying Artie Danvers would be the biggest mistake of her best friend June’s 18-year-old life. Enter Jack Montgomery, glamorous heartthrob, who’s come to St. Jude, Ohio, to film Erie Canal, a movie some locals hope will put their town on the map. Jack stumbles into June on the set one day, and it’s love at first sight. Except that Jack’s an already-divorced father and practically engaged to his co-star, Diane DeSoto, who takes an instant dislike to both June and Lindie. Lindie’s efforts to coordinate their Great Romance are thwarted not only by Diane, but also by Clyde—Artie’s older brother, Lindie’s father’s nemesis, and a scheming real estate tycoon wannabe. June and Jack find brief bliss, but the aftermath is catastrophic. Sixty years later, photographer and installation artist Cassie is reeling from a broken relationship. She moves back to Two Oaks, her grandmother June’s neglected mansion in St. Jude, and immediately begins dreaming of the house’s former inhabitants, with star-struck Lindie and June center stage. As if the haunted dreams weren’t unsettling enough, Cassie suddenly finds herself the sole beneficiary of Jack Montgomery’s estate, worth $37 million. Cassie soon finds herself playing hostess to Jack’s movie-star daughter, Tate; Tate’s yogini/barista personal assistant, Hank; and Tate’s very attractive executive assistant, Nick—all of whom intend to stay in St. Jude until the mystery can be solved. Although 10

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Beverly-Whittemore interweaves Cassie’s and June’s stories deftly, her imagining of Two Oaks’ own consciousness is less successful. “In its excitement, the house ushered forth its crowd of memories, flooding the foyer and the parlors, where Nick and Cassie were discussing Jack and June.” At times the house is swirling with all the characters of the past, but the effect is awkward rather than magical. A lightly gothic tale of hearts broken and mended in small-town America.

SCREAMIN’ JAY HAWKINS’ ALL-TIME GREATEST HITS

Binelli, Mark Metropolitan/Henry Holt (224 pp.) $26.00 | $12.99 e-book | May 3, 2016 978-1-62779-535-7 978-1-62779-536-4 e-book The sometimes-murky details behind a rhythm-and-blues legend are transformed by dark magic and even darker comedy into an eccentric mélange of imaginative speculation and cultural criticism. The artist known for much of his adult life as Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (1929-2000) is pre-eminent among one-hit wonders for his hyperbolic 1956 R&B classic, “I Put A Spell On You,” whose shrieking and yowling vocal effects were enhanced in live performances by gaudy horror-movie theatrics—e.g. a real coffin from which he would emerge. Because that sui generis blend of novelty tune and blues shout has been both the first and last thing most people think about when thinking about Hawkins, outsized legends about his life have superseded known facts. But that doesn’t bother Binelli, a contributing editor to Rolling Stone best known for his bluesy, impassioned 2012 travelogue of urban decline, Detroit City Is the Place to Be. Binelli uses the mythology Hawkins helped create about himself as a means of getting at the essence of his lasting appeal. He also debunks some myths; notably the oft-repeated—and, in Binelli’s words, “almost certainly untrue”—tale of how Hawkins’ greatest hit was the result of him and his session musicians getting “blind drunk” recording what was supposed to be a straight ballad. Binelli steeps other, more furtive elements of Hawkins’ life story in impressionistic scenes from Jalacy Hawkins’ Ohio upbringing, followed by even more impressionistic vignettes, including speculative reconstructions of dialogue Hawkins had with such myriad figures as guitarist Tiny Grimes; legendary, ill-fated rock DJ Alan Freed; the ghost of Jimmy Gilchrist, Fats Domino’s dead-from-overdose opening act; and Elvis Presley, who (so Hawkins says) pressed him for information about Haitian voodoo. There’s even a what-if reimagining of Presley’s 1957 movie, Jailhouse Rock, with Hawkins in the lead. None of which, in this novel’s loose and baggy form, would work without Binelli’s shrewd takes on pop culture, racial identity, and 20th-century American mores. This dreamlike album of real and imagined scenes from a complex artist’s memory bank is as flamboyant a display of light and shadow as one of Hawkins’ stage shows.


ARE YOU HERE FOR WHAT I’M HERE FOR?

Booker, Brian Bellevue Literary Press (256 pp.) $16.95 paper | May 10, 2016 978-1-942658-12-2

Seven phantasmagorical stories from debut author Booker. Altered perceptions are the cornerstone of this collection of stories. “Brace for Impact” explores the inner life of a boy who has a transformative experience in his youth talking to a woman who said she’d been in a plane crash. “I wasn’t sure if I believed in her,” he thinks. “But in years afterward, whenever the bad turbulence hit, miles above Wyoming, or off the coast of Newfoundland, I’d feel the floor drop, hear bolts wrenched, the ripping of metal, a calamity of noise and wind, and think, now it gets real: and if you could surrender to that, how terribly fear, infinitely precious fear, would fall away: and that’s what it

would be like to be seen by God.” A boy falls very ill in “A Drowning Accident” and can’t be sure what’s real and what’s imagined. Illness haunts a hypochondriac in “Are You Here for What I’m Here For?” “It was a kind of spiritual camouflage: you disguised yourself in a cloak of misfortune to trick fate into passing you over,” he writes. “It was a kind of dark magic performed in the corner of your heart. It was vaguely shameful, and Gina knew better. But you stuck with what seemed to work.” Sickness also runs amok in “The Sleeping Sickness,” which finds a physician exploring a landscape transformed. In “Here to Watch Over Me,” a man searches for his missing son in a remote lodge that might as well be in the same chain as the Hotel California. The book finally descends into full-on psychedelia in “Gumbo Limbo,” a myth about a coastal village in hysterics. But it wraps up with “Love Trip,” a nostalgic if slightly bent tale of a boarding school and the trials of childhood. Carefully curated and slightly delicate tales of pedestrian terror.

"Compelling Series....West effectively creates suspense. Weep with the gentle love. Chuckle at the word play. Picture Jane Austen laughing as she writes Anne of Green Gables!" ––The Hollywood Times

“...delightful...”

—Kirkus Reviews

All Three are Winners

“...engrossing...”

“...charming...love story...”

—Kirkus Reviews

—Kirkus Reviews

Mom’s Choice Award© for Excellence

Available NOW in E-Book, Paperback, and Audio at CleanKindWorldBooks.com, BN.com, Amazon.com & fine bookstores everywhere. Distributed by Ingram Book Company

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THIS TOO SHALL PASS

Busquets, Milena Hogarth/Crown (176 pp.) $24.00 | $11.99 e-book | May 24, 2016 978-1-101-90370-4 978-1-101-90371-1 e-book A witty and passionate woman, recently bereaved, goes to the beach. “It’s my mother’s funeral, and if that’s not bad enough, I’m forty,” says Blanca in the opening paragraph of Busquets’ summery, sexy, cool debut novel, set in the author’s native Spain. “I swear I’ve never dressed so badly in my entire life.” A couple of pages later, lying in bed with one of her exes, she decides to go recover at the house she’s inherited in the coastal town of Cadaqués, a place she’s been visiting since she was a girl. “The red earth of Tara, I’ll go home to Tara,” she deadpans, then wonders if she’s mixed up ET and Gone with the Wind. Still trying to cure death with sex, she next meets up with her married lover. She’s tried and failed to make her body a temple, she explains; it “always remains an amusement park.” And then it’s off to Cadaqués, with two ex-husbands, the young sons she’s had with each of them, her best friends, Elisa and Sofia, Elisa’s boyfriend, Sofia’s son, and Ursula the babysitter. On the way, they stop for lunch at a friend’s dog rescue and marijuana ranch. The tumble of kookiness and hedonism is balanced by two remarkable calming elements. One, a summer rain of axioms and insights: “Hope is the hardest facial expression to fake and the ability to express it diminishes with every broken dream; the only thing that can substitute the loss is ordinary desire.” Two, a series of brief, emotional cutaways addressing her mother: “When your death was still something inconceivable to me, and still is now, we were at your house chatting. Suddenly, out of nowhere, you stood up to get something from the bathroom and said, without even glancing over at me and as nonchalantly as someone saying, “I need some toothpaste,” that “it’s been an honor to know you.” Oof. Light, profound, sensual, unmistakably European: this may be the only book about grief to feel like a vacation.

THE ATOMIC WEIGHT OF LOVE

Church, Elizabeth J. Algonquin (320 pp.) $25.95 | $25.95 e-book | May 3, 2016 978-1-61620-484-6 978-1-61620-611-6 e-book

Church’s debut novel explores the relationship between sacrifice and love. Set during World War II and the decades leading up to the Vietnam War, the novel follows Meridian Wallace as she transforms from a bright ornithologist-to-be studying at the University of Chicago into an unhappy housewife. While in college she meets Alden Whetstone, a brilliant physics professor 12

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who joins the team of scientists at Los Alamos, New Mexico, to work on a top-secret wartime project. The bookish Meridian falls in love fast with Alden’s intense intellect, and the two are married in 1944, at the end of Meridian’s junior year. Once she graduates and moves to New Mexico, however, Meridian becomes disenchanted with married life; it isn’t the passionate endeavor she had in mind, and soon she’s off the path to getting her Ph.D. Years later, she falls in love again, this time with a young Vietnam veteran, and is forced to evaluate the choices she’s made up to that point. The story, though spanning several decades, never loses momentum. The writing is descriptive and clean. Church’s commentary on the American nuclear family, particularly the expectations placed on women, showcases iterations ranging from doting housewives and mothers who are content in their roles to the rebellious. Each sentence drives the plot further, exploring love’s limits and its spoils. But it’s Church’s exploration of Meridian’s role in her relationships that is the most gracefully executed feat of the novel. Even while describing Meridian’s disappointment in her marriage, Church’s writing is never overly sentimental. Meridian’s voice is poignant, a mixture of poetry and observation: “I cannot escape the beating of my 87-year-old heart, the constancy of it, the weariness of it,” Meridian says in the prologue. “I cannot say with scientific certainty how many times over these many decades...it catapulted with love or capitulated in grief.” An elegant glimpse into the evolution of love and womanhood.

HITLER, MUSSOLINI, AND ME

Davis, Charles Permanent Press (232 pp.) $28.00 | May 31, 2016 978-1-57962-432-3

A young Irish art historian living in Rome leads a tour for two men he calls The Flatulent Windbag and The Constipated Prick. That’s Hitler and Mussolini. The motive for Hitler’s 1938 visit is to seek Italian support for his Lebensrauming—gobbling up a nation or six—while the Italians want to be serious players on the international scene. When the multilingual art historian, Colgan, is drafted to guide the two men around some museums, Hitler takes a shine to him and demands he accompany the party on the entire tour, riding in Hitler’s personal railway car. The novel takes the form of a memoir, an expiation, written by Colgan in 1968 for his daughter, a flower child who’s discovered a news clipping of the event.Who could have thought Nazi cretins could have authored the Holocaust? The setting is rendered in broad strokes, the plot based on observation rather than action. The heart lies in Colgan’s nuanced characterizations—humanizations?—of Hitler and Mussolini. With spare input from the entourage—Goebbels, Ribbentrop, etc.—the focus is on Colgan’s interactions with the dictators, which shine with bons mots, droll insights into human behavior, and distinctively witty turns


As the book begins, four women are on the cusp of a jump from an airplane. the blackbirds

of phrase—“I wasn’t exactly gruntled by my day in Naples.” Hitler takes most of the spotlight, with a stunning anecdote of his volcanic apoplectic rage. The egoist Mussolini is shadowed by the tragic. Within the first-person narrative, Davis (Standing at the Crossroads, 2011, etc.) offers whimsically sardonic yet serious miniessays on feminism, sex, Hitler’s mustache, obscure German literature, and the tragic pervasiveness of anti-Semitism. A sardonic take on human nature and a wry deconstruction of the “banality of evil.”

THE BLACKBIRDS

Dickey, Eric Jerome Dutton (528 pp.) $27.00 | Apr. 19, 2016 978-1-101-98410-9

Four friends, nicknamed the Blackbirds, push each other to live their best lives as they navigate life and love in Los Angeles. As the book begins, four women are on the cusp of a jump from an airplane. We see not only their fear, but their willingness. Their joy. Their deep-seated trust in one another. This is how Dickey (Naughtier Than Nice, 2015, etc.) introduces the Blackbirds. Together, they are a fortress of mutual love, respect, and support. Cycling through each of their birthdays over the course of a year, the novel interweaves four points of view as relationships—not just romantic, but familial and platonic—are built, fall, and change. Indigo, the pride of her Nigerian parents, must make an advantageous match worthy of her heritage, leading to conflict and new possibilities. Nerdy Destiny, always in the shadows, balances an old secret with a new relationship. Meanwhile, Ericka, divorced and in remission from cancer, acts as big sister to the much younger trio but needs guidance in her own life, particularly when it comes to a complicated attraction to Destiny’s father. And Kwanzaa is bitter and lonely after ending a six-year relationship, having learned about her fiance’s cheating in the worst way possible. Within fewer than 10 pages, all four women spring to appealing life, regardless—or perhaps partly because—of their flaws. They have one rule: “Always build each other up. No crabs, no barrel, never pull each other down.” They may gibe, but they support each other through all the weirdness they encounter. In this sensual tale, words stoke the body and the imagination. With prose that is both witty and current, Dickey chronicles the pothole-filled journey four modern black women take to find love.

THE RISEN A Novel of Spartacus

Durham, David Anthony Doubleday (496 pp.) $28.95 | $12.99 e-book | May 3, 2016 978-0-385-53566-3 978-0-385-53567-0 e-book

“I’m Spartacus.” “No, I’m Spartacus.” No such shenanigans in this rousing historical novel, where there’s no mistaking who the Thracian slave hero is. If everyone of a certain age carries in their heads the ideal of a ripped Kirk Douglas as the proletarian hero of the first century B.C.E., fantasy maven Durham (The Sacred Band, 2011, etc.) turns in a portrait perhaps more suited to, say, Brad Pitt or Channing Tatum: “A hulk of a man, muscled as only gladiators ever are, taller than a Roman, than a Greek. His longish hair and even his eyebrows shimmer like gold in the lamplight.” Yep. He’s Spartacus, all right, and as Durham’s novel opens, in

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INTERVIEWS & PROFILES

Cynthia D’A prix Sweeney FOUR ADULT SIBLINGS AND A SHARED INHERITANCE: WHAT COULD GO WRONG? By Megan Labrise Photo courtesy Lisa Whiteman

In The Nest, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s glorious New York novel, four adult siblings meet at the Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant for some fresh coffee and old roles. “The three of them wondered how he did it, how he always managed to be unruffled while putting everyone else on edge, how even in this moment, at this lunch, where Leo should be abashed, laid bare, and the balance of power could have, should have, shifted against him, he still commanded their focus and exuded strength,” Sweeney writes. “Even now, they were deferentially waiting, hoping, he would speak first.” Leo Plumb, 46, is the fortunate son with the TriBeCa 14

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loft, a new media mogul who cashed out to join the jet set. As the oldest, he’s set the lifelong pace for his younger siblings: Jack, 44, a gay antiques dealer in the West Village, was frustratingly known, in adolescence, as “Leo Lite.” Bea, 42, a widowed writer on the Upper West Side, owes the early success of her career, in part, to Leo’s inspiration and connections. And even though Melody, 39, has a husband, children, and a mortgage on a suburban house 30 miles north, she defers to her big brother when it comes to solving family problems. “The book is very much about the thing that everyone inherits, which is a place in a family narrative,” Sweeney says. “You’re born into a story that you have no control over, including who the other characters are, and I think the reason I’m so fascinated with adult siblings is because everyone—to different degrees, but at some point in their lives—has to figure out how to reconcile the story you have inherited with the one you are writing for yourself.” The Plumbs’ problem du jour is entirely Leo’s doing, and it’s a doozy: an inebriated indiscretion at a cousin’s Long Island wedding resulting in an injurious accident, a stint at a top-shelf rehab facility, and hush money paid to a bright-eyed cater waitress and a merciless soon-to-beex-wife. To cover these significant expenses, their otherwise disengaged mother drains the heretofore inviolable family trust, nicknamed “The Nest.” The account was devised by their shrewd father, the late Leonard Sr., to give them all a bump in middle age. “Keeping the money tied up until Melody was forty appealed to Leonard for many reasons,” Sweeney writes. “He was realistic about the maturity—emotional and otherwise—of his four children: not commendable. He suspected if they didn’t get the money all at once, it would become a source of conflict between those who had it and those who didn’t; they wouldn’t be kind to one an-


other. And if anyone was going to need the money earlier in life, Leonard imagined it would be Melody. She wasn’t the brightest of the four (that would be Bea), or the most charming (Leo), or the most resourceful (Jack).” The Oyster Bar meeting is called to determine when— or if—Leo intends to pay back the $2 million owed The Nest (or the $1.5 million, minus his share). If it’s not replenished soon, middle age may get bumpier for Jack, Bea, and Melody, who’ve all made decisions based on its eventual disbursement. “It’s an East Coast story, in terms of the family wealth and this sense of our family has money we are going to preserve in some way,” says Sweeney, a native New Yorker living in Los Angeles. “That sense of expecting certain things and feeling trapped by not wanting to lose them or move or backtrack in any way is very, very New York. And it’s about people who are clinging to their place in New York, in that way that’s particular to New York. People are not as invested in where you live in Los Angeles, almost everyone’s from somewhere else, and their love and nostalgia for Los Angeles is not quite as white-knuckled as being a New Yorker is—it’s a huge part of my identity and a big part of this book.” The Nest’s sharp New York satire speaks to a keen ear and insider’s eye. The other mothers at Melody’s twins’ school “look at each other and shrug and say, ‘luxury problems,’ cackling like some modern skinny-jean–wearing equivalent of Marie Antoinette’s court,” she writes. On Bea’s grouchy downstairs neighbor: “Did he even sleep? Or did he just sit, alert, clutching his broomstick, waiting for her auditory trespasses.” And her writer nemesis: “Bea couldn’t believe how regal Lena sounded, as if someone had appointed her the fucking Emperor of Fiction.” With riotous results, Sweeney takes on old money, new money, publishing, digital media, real estate, education, and the collisions that come from living in a city of 8.4 million strangers, neighbors, friends, and foes. A colorful array of supporting characters feathers The Nest, beginning with Matilda Rodriguez, the Long Island waitress (with Mariah Carey aspirations) who takes a ride with Leo. There’s Stephanie Palmer, Bea’s former literary agent and Leo’s former flame; Paul Underwood, the forthright publisher of a small literary magazine, Paper Fibres; Cpl. Vinnie Massaro, a young Italian-American war-wounded veteran; Tommy O’Toole, a 9/11 widower and former firefighter in search of a sign; Jack’s husband, Walker; Melody’s husband, Walter, and their collegeready twin daughters, Nora and Louisa—and many more to meet.

“It’s an ensemble piece,” Sweeney says. “That was important to me when I was writing it, and there were a few times along the way when I had to make an argument for why it should stay that way. Turning down the volume on the peripheral characters, and really concentrating on a book about four siblings fighting over their inheritance, to me, is not as interesting a New York book. There are other people in New York who deserve [attention].” Somebody tell that to Leo Plumb as he weighs how— and whether—to pay back his embattled siblings. Anyone wondering what tack he’ll take might do well to analyze his favorite expression: “If you want to predict a person’s behavior, identify his or her incentives,” Sweeney writes. As a debut novelist, Sweeney’s incentives are straightforward: tell a great story that entertains readers as well as herself. “I want to create a world that feels real, that you can live in as a reader, that you want to keep going back to,” Sweeney says. “I worried about [The Nest] feeling both emotionally authentic and authentic in terms of place, but I also wanted it to be entertaining. It’s lonely sitting in your office all day writing things, so if you’re not having fun—and fun is different for all different kinds of people, of course; Knausgaard’s idea of fun while he’s writing is probably different from mine—you can write something that is emotionally very tough or you can write something that challenges you from a craft standpoint, but, at the end of the day, it’s a pretty odd way to choose to spend your time if it doesn’t please you.” Megan Labrise writes “Field Notes” and features for Kirkus Reviews. The Nest received a starred review in the Jan. 1, 2016, issue. THE NEST Sweeney, Cynthia D’Aprix Ecco (368 pp.) $26.99 | Mar. 22, 2016 978-0-06-241421-2

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full-tilt medias res, he’s down in the gladiators’ pen plotting the first move in what will become a widespread slave revolt. By Durham’s account—and in this there’s no significant departure from what Plutarch said 19 centuries ago—Spartacus is a steelywilled but generous fellow with a secret weapon: namely, a wife with the gift of prophecy, a subject of some learned discussion as Spartacus and associates gather round the fire for strategy talks: “It seems revolts need mystics,” says the Sicilian Philon, while his ascetic leader sits far enough away from the fire to enjoy the bracing cold and think good thoughts about killing Romans with a short sword. The conversation is occasionally a little too breezy to seem period-appropriate, but that lightness of touch keeps the story moving at a steady pace toward its inevitable end—and, since those readers of a certain age will have another vision of how things will wind up, Durham wisely closes at a different moment that still embraces the horror. The set-piece battles are especially well-done, fitting given Durham’s sword-and-sorcery background. If the message is a little circular (“He looked free because he was free”), the yarn adds up to a competent piece of historical fiction.

THE VEINS OF THE OCEAN

Engel, Patricia Grove (320 pp.) $25.00 | May 3, 2016 978-0-8021-2489-0

After her older brother Carlito kills his girlfriend Isabela’s baby girl because he thinks Isabela is cheating on him, 23-year-old Reina feels trapped trying to comfort him on death row—until his death frees her to start over in Crescent Key, a place where nobody knows her family history. At first, Carlito claimed he didn’t throw Isabela’s baby into the river on purpose; it was, he said, an accident. Never mind that it’s the same thing Carlito’s father, Hector, did to 3-year-old Carlito when he thought his own wife had cheated on him. Back then, Carlito survived due to the lifesaving efforts of nearby fishermen. But now, alone in solitary confinement, Carlito “doesn’t try to act remorseful or even say he’s innocent anymore,” says Reina. Somehow Engel (It’s Not Love, It’s Just Paris, 2013, etc.) is able to find a lightness in a disturbing story to carry the reader through the novel. But this effervescent, breezy voice does jar, at times, with the dark subject matter. Still, Engel has crafted a detailed, rich world of vivid atmosphere and imagery: “the hum of the ceiling fan blades hit me like a torrent of screams,” Reina thinks, after her brother is found dead, a suicide hanging from the electrical cord of his fan. Finally free of her weekly visits to the prison, Reina moves to Crescent Key and finds companionship with Cuban immigrant Nesto Cadena and with the local dolphins—until she realizes that the only way she will truly be free is to reckon not just with Carlito’s death, but with the rest of her family’s ghosts as well. Here is the casual violence of men—and the tired acceptance of it that women face. But 16

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through it all rises Reina’s voice—her belief in optimism, in family, in the importance of life. A dark comedy with unexpected heart.

NATIVE BELIEVER

Eteraz, Ali Akashic (320 pp.) $15.95 paper | May 3, 2016 978-1-61775-436-4 A secular Muslim searches for his place in America in this biting satire from first-time novelist Eteraz (Falsipedies and Fibsiennes, 2014, etc.). As a teenager growing up in Alabama, M. saw Islam as “one of those things that foreigners did, like soccer, or kung fu, or Bollywood.” So it comes as something of a surprise to this second-generation American, now living in Philadelphia, when he loses his PR job after his new boss, at M.’s apartment for a work party, spots a Quran high atop a bookshelf and determines M. isn’t “democratic” enough for the “business-culture” of the company. A “protected” child of the 1980s and ’90s who eats “the West, breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” M. feels particularly unequipped to fight discrimination. “The bespectacled gadfly from Chicago I had grown up with wasn’t Malik El-Shabazz but Steven Q. Urkel,” he laments early on. At the insistence of his wife, MarieAnne, a white South Carolinian suffering a cortisol imbalance that’s made her gain tremendous weight, M. becomes a freelance marketing consultant and “social-media maven.” Soon he’s immersed in a diverse set of Muslim communities: creating a PowerPoint for a “playboy princeling” hoping to sell exercise DVDs to American audiences, partying with the members of a punk rock/rap group called the Gay Commie Muzzies, under the employ of the “Muslim Outreach Coordinator” at the State Department. Though at times in need of a trim (M.’s interior monologues can feel repetitive by book’s end), Eteraz’s narrative is witty and unpredictable. Marie-Anne, whose weight and domineering nature make her at first seem potentially cartoonish, becomes more complicated as the novel progresses, and the darkly comic ending is pleasingly macabre. As for M., in this identity-obsessed dandy, Eteraz has created a perfect protagonist for the times. A provocative and very funny exploration of Muslim identity in America today.


Set loose in the cabaret world of the Weimar Republic, Marlene works her way up from the chorus to bit parts in the burgeoning German film world. marlene

CHARLOTTE

Foenkinos, David Translated by Taylor, Sam Overlook (224 pp.) $26.95 | May 15, 2016 978-1-4683-1276-8 Charlotte Salomon, a real-life German Jewish artist, created a small but radiant body of work before dying in the Holocaust. Salomon was 26 when she died at Auschwitz. The young artist had recently completed a massive autobiographical project that combined writing and musical notation with vivid, original paintings. That project, which she titled Life? or Theatre?, survived the war, was exhibited all over the world, and is still referred to today. Foenkinos draws on Life? or Theatre? in his tribute to Salomon, a kind of imagined biography—he calls it a novel—which also describes his own preoccupation with Salomon’s art and life. Foenkinos, a French screenwriter and author of 13 novels (Delicacy, 2012, etc.), has a wry humor, a keen intelligence, and a wide frame of reference. This is a smart book, as passionate as it is tragic. The author’s language is considered and precise, as is the arrangement of white space on each page. Foenkinos ends a line every time he ends a sentence and begins a new line with every new sentence. This system creates a hushed and poignant atmosphere. Still, his work doesn’t quite hang together. Strangely, he dwells least on what most drew him to Salomon: her art. He relies on glowing but vague accolades about her work (“incredibly moving,” “startlingly powerful”) without going into any greater depth. The question you’re left with is a simple one but stark: why tell Salomon’s story when she already told her own? Foenkinos hasn’t written a biography, but he hasn’t written a novel, either. He’s retold Salomon’s life in his own style. His is an unsettling ventriloquism. It’s as if he’s extracted Salomon’s voice and inserted his own in the space where it was. A searing portrait of a brilliant artist that doesn’t reveal anything new about its subject.

will never be a top-notch violinist, she promptly seduces her instructor, beginning a lifelong journey of balancing her middling talent with her overwhelming sexual charisma. Set loose in the cabaret world of the Weimar Republic, Marlene works her way up from the chorus to bit parts in the burgeoning German film world, marries a promising director, and then meets Josef von Sternberg, who makes her a star and takes her to Hollywood. Author Gortner (The Vatican Princess, 2015, etc.) skillfully evokes the cross-dressing, sexually fluid atmosphere of the seedy nightclubs that helped Marlene define her unique appeal; the scenes are lively and authentic, though overpopulated. When Marlene moves to Hollywood, the story becomes a litany of lovers—Gary Cooper, Mercedes de Acosta, and Jean Gabin— and interchangeable films in which Marlene plays a chanteuse or spy while coping with numerous domestic problems that are raised but never fully examined. It’s only when Bette Davis badgers Marlene into joining the USO that the novel finds its heart. The scenes of Marlene entertaining the troops and visiting hospitals in Europe during the second world war are well-detailed and truly moving.

MARLENE

Gortner, C.W. Morrow/HarperCollins (384 pp.) $26.99 | $12.99 e-book | May 24, 2016 978-0-06-240606-4 978-0-06-240608-8 e-book International movie star Marlene Dietrich relates her eventful story in a first-person fictional account. Maria Magdalene Dietrich, known as Marlene, was born to a distinguished but threadbare family in turn-of-the-20th-century Berlin, where her hardworking widowed mother instilled in her the motto Tu etwas—do something. This work ethic and constant struggle against insolvency in a defeated Germany propels young Marlene to a music conservatory, where, upon learning that she |

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An ambitious but occasionally overbroad account of the life of the German-American star whose life spanned continents, wars, and nearly an entire century.

HOMEGOING

Gyasi, Yaa Knopf (320 pp.) $26.95 | Jun. 7, 2016 978-1-101-94713-5 A novel of sharply drawn character studies immersed in more than 250 hard, transformative years in the African-American diaspora. Gyasi’s debut novel opens in the mid1700s in what is now Ghana, as tribal rivalries are exploited by British and Dutch colonists and slave traders. The daughter of one tribal leader marries a British man for financial expediency, then learns that the “castle” he governs

is a holding dungeon for slaves. (When she asks what’s held there, she’s told “cargo.”) The narrative soon alternates chapters between the Ghanans and their American descendants up through the present day. On either side of the Atlantic, the tale is often one of racism, degradation, and loss: a slave on an Alabama plantation is whipped “until the blood on the ground is high enough to bathe a baby”; a freedman in Baltimore fears being sent back South with the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act; a Ghanan woman is driven mad from the abuse of a missionary and her husband’s injury in a tribal war; a woman in Harlem is increasingly distanced from (and then humiliated by) her husband, who passes as white. Gyasi is a deeply empathetic writer, and each of the novel’s 14 chapters is a savvy character portrait that reveals the impact of racism from multiple perspectives. It lacks the sweep that its premise implies, though: while the characters share a bloodline, and a gold-flecked stone appears throughout the book as a symbolic connector, the novel is more a well-made linked story collection than a complex epic. Yet Gyasi plainly has the talent to pull that off: “I will be my own nation,” one woman tells a British suitor early on, and the author understands both the necessity of that defiance and how hard it is to follow through on it. A promising debut that’s awake to emotional, political, and cultural tensions across time and continents.

THE FAT ARTIST AND OTHER STORIES

Hale, Benjamin Simon & Schuster (320 pp.) $26.00 | $13.99 e-book | May 17, 2016 978-1-4767-7620-0 978-1-4767-7622-4 e-book Five years after his debut novel, The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore (2011), Hale returns with a collection of seven short stories, none earthshaking but all evidence of a steadily growing professional talent. The fat artist of the title story really is a fat artist, no political correctness about it. He’s a little pompous—“This is a modus of being quite distinct from ‘fat person,’ ” he intones— and his story comes packed with enough footnotes to make one suspect that a David Foster Wallace parody is in the offing. Still, for all the self-importance of the fat artist and his impending doom (“at thirty-three I am young yet, although (Nos morituri te salutamus) I am about to die”), there is a true seriousness to the story: Hale means to say something about art and death, just as elsewhere he means to take us into modes of being that are sometimes torqued a little beyond ordinary reality. The opening story is a case in point, a sideways look at a fugitive underground group from the 1960s broken apart by a mishap during a flight over the Atlantic Ocean, set in a world in which people still smoke cigarettes and wear cufflinks. Along the way, Hale stops to look at the pickles we get ourselves into, often commenting on the scene in a world-weary, knowing way: “There is nothing that brings two people closer together faster than 18

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A terrific new hero built for the long run. the second life of nick mason

A GAME FOR ALL THE FAMILY

doing something wrong together, and that’s the greatest psychological kick you get out of infidelity.” “How was it that she was dressed in fishnet stockings, a garter belt, a leather corset, and a red wig, holding a creepy South African rhino-skin whip and sitting alone in a luxury apartment in Washington, D.C., with the dead body, which was naked except for the rope on his wrists and the nipple clamps still on his nipples, of a US Congressman?” How indeed? Hale will, of course, explain. Hale’s stories are wry rather than funny, often predictable rather than surprising—but the questions he raises are interesting all the same.

Hannah, Sophie Morrow/HarperCollins (464 pp.) $26.99 | $12.99 e-book | May 24, 2016 978-0-06-238829-2 978-0-06-238831-5 e-book

A London TV producer who’s retired to Devon to get away from it all is terrorized by a series of anonymous phone calls that mercilessly reveal every fault line in the lives of two families, one of them her own. As opera singer Alex Colley’s car inches forward in traffic, his wife exults silently: “My name is Justine Merrison and I do Nothing.” No more early morning meetings, no more blandishments to strangers, no more guessing which series will have legs. Not even the momentary sense of alarmed recognition that passes over her when Alex teasingly tells Ellen, their 14-year-old daughter, that they’ve changed plans and decided to move into a random house he points out on the side of the highway can disturb

THE SECOND LIFE OF NICK MASON

Hamilton, Steve Putnam (304 pp.) $26.00 | $12.99 e-book | May 17, 2016 978-0-399-57432-0 978-0-399-57433-7 e-book When hard-nosed Chicagoan Nick Mason is sprung from an Indiana prison after serving only five years of a 25-year– to-life sentence, he’s hardly done paying for a killing he did not commit. When he gets out, Mason must do the bidding of Darius Cole, the feared inmate who used cartel-like connections to get his conviction reversed. A stoic along the lines of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, Mason agrees to the deal out of a fervent desire to see his ex-wife and young daughter before the girl is too old to remember him. A seasoned criminal before he was out of his teens, he had gone straight to raise his family only to be talked into taking part in one last heist. One dead Drug Enforcement Administration agent and one dead friend later, he was in a maximum security unit, refusing to name the fed’s real killer. Now, set up by Cole in a swanky, fully stocked pad in Lincoln Park—a far cry from the Irish South Side neighborhood in which he grew up—Mason has barely settled in when he’s directed to shoot a man in a motel room. That assignment goes better than a surprise visit to his family in the leafy suburbs, where his remarried wife won’t let him see their daughter. Meanwhile, Mason is obsessively tailed by Sandoval, a cop with a checkered history of his own. Chicago has rarely served as a better backdrop for a crime novel, both with its diverse qualities and pervasive corruption. A consummate pro known for his Alex McKnight series (Let it Burn, 2013, etc.), Hamilton surpasses himself with Mason, who inspires storytelling of the leanest, most gripping sort. With a terrific new hero built for the long run, Hamilton stands to gain new followers—especially if Hollywood’s plans to adapt the book come to fruition.

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A small charter plane mysteriously crashes into the water off Martha’s Vineyard, leaving only two survivors. before the fall

her quietude. Four months later, though, she’s plenty disturbed by a series of calls from a woman who refuses to identify herself but says she knows why Justine, whom she insists on calling “Sandie,” has moved outside Kingswear and insists she go back to London. Ellen, meanwhile, seems to have settled into the Beaconwood School by writing a story of a family whose youngest daughter is a multiple murderer and a murder victim herself. But Ellen’s honeymoon with Beaconwood ends when her best friend, George Donbavand, is expelled for stealing the coat she gave him. Things get worse when Justine goes to the school to plead George’s case and head teacher Lesley Griffiths denies that there ever was such a student. Soon enough the deepening mystery forces Justine to confront the real reason she left her old job and her old life in the first place. Plenty of shivery intimations of second sight, but Hannah (Woman with a Secret, 2015, etc.) plots and writes persuasively enough to pull them off. Even after the last clouds have dispersed, you won’t soon forget this nightmare within a nightmare.

BEFORE THE FALL

Hawley, Noah Grand Central Publishing (400 pp.) $26.00 | $13.99 e-book | May 31, 2016 978-1-4555-6178-0 978-1-4555-6180-3 e-book In the latest by TV writer and novelist Hawley (The Good Father, 2012, etc.), a struggling artist becomes a hero twice— first by saving a young boy’s life, then by outsmarting the anchor of a Fox-like conservative TV network. A small charter plane mysteriously crashes into the water off Martha’s Vineyard, leaving only two survivors: the painter Scott Burroughs and JJ, the young son of the network owner who chartered the flight. In a well-turned rescue sequence, Scott braves the waves and sharks and makes dry land with JJ on his back. From there, the book is part whodunit and part study of Scott’s survivor’s guilt. Flashbacks trace the back story of each doomed passenger: network head David Bateman and his wife, Maggie, who may have had a thing for Scott; financier Ben Kipling, about to be tried for laundering terrorist money; flight attendant Emma Lightner, who recently jilted co-pilot Charlie Busch. While the rescue team works to figure out who crashed the plane, Scott struggles to get his bearings—no small feat when wealthy socialite Layla Mueller is trying hard to get him into bed and when O’Reilly-like anchorman Bill Cunningham is harassing him for an interview. Like the successful screenwriter that he is, Hawley piles on enough intrigues and plot complications to keep you hooked even if you can spot most of them a sea mile away.

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MY BEST FRIEND’S EXORCISM

Hendrix, Grady Quirk Books (336 pp.) $19.99 | $14.99 e-book | May 17, 2016 978-1-59474-862-2 978-1-59474-863-9 e-book

The wonder of friendship proves to be stronger than the power of Christ when an ancient demon possesses a teenage girl. Hendrix was outrageously inventive with his debut novel (Horrorstör, 2014) and continues his winning streak with a nostalgic (if blood-soaked) horror story to warm the hearts of Gen Xers. “The exorcist is dead,” Hendrix writes in the very first line of the novel, as a middle-aged divorcée named Abby Rivers reflects back on the friendship that defined her life. In flashbacks, Abby meets her best friend, Gretchen Lang, at her 10th birthday party in 1982, forever cementing their comradeship. The bulk of the novel is set in 1988, and it’s an unabashed love letter to big hair, heavy metal, and all the pop-culture trappings of the era, complete with chapter titles ripped from songs all the way from “Don’t You Forget About Me” to “And She Was.” Things go sideways when Abby, Gretchen, and two friends venture off to a cabin in the woods (as happens) to experiment with LSD. After Gretchen disappears for a night, she returns a changed girl. Hendrix walks a precipitously fine line in his portrayal, leaving the story open to doubt whether Gretchen is really possessed or has simply fallen prey to the vanities and duplicities that high school sometimes inspires. He also ferociously captures the frustrations of adolescence as Abby seeks adult help in her plight and is relentlessly dismissed by her elders. She finally finds a hero in Brother Lemon, a member of a Christian boy band, the Lemon Brothers Faith and Fitness Show, who agrees to help her. When Abby’s demon finally shows its true colors in the book’s denouement, it’s not only a spectacularly grotesque and profane depiction of exorcism, but counterintuitively a truly inspiring portrayal of the resilience of friendship. Certainly not for all readers, but anyone interested in seeing William Peter Blatty’s infamous The Exorcist (1971) by way of Heathers shouldn’t miss it.


THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY

and gorgeous, she begins to fantasize about the turn her life could have taken if she had only said yes to that date. Abbey often longs for a taste of the high life, and a few weeks earlier she had spent almost $600 on a Marc Jacobs purse she couldn’t afford. Unfortunately for Abbey, when Jimmy finds the bill, he demands that she return the bag. Under duress, she complies, though her frustration leads to clumsiness, and she takes a tumble over the escalator railing at Nordstrom. When she wakes up, she is no longer Abbey Lahey, but Abbey van Holt, thrown smack in the middle of the dream life she had imagined. Despite the money, designer goods, and handsome husband, Abbey soon sees fractures in the facade of this new alternate reality. While Mrs. Lahey packed a few extra pounds, Mrs. van Holt is fit, pampered, and nothing like Abbey. Could a different choice all those years ago really have changed her that much? Throughout the novel, Abbey longs to find herself in the midst of this glittering new life. Himes explores what could have been in this charming debut novel.

Himes, Leigh Hachette (384 pp.) $26.00 | $13.99 e-book | May 31, 2016 978-0-316-30573-0 978-0-316-30572-3 e-book A stressed-out wife and mother finds that appreciating her life will require a fresh perspective. Abbey Lahey is an overworked mother of two who feels her identity slipping away. Her relationship with her husband, Jimmy, a landscaper, isn’t as strong as it once was, and being on the “mommy track” at her PR firm means she no longer represents the most coveted clients. Now relegated to managing an exterminator’s account, she longs for a life just a little more glamorous. While flipping through a copy of Town & Country, she finds a photo of Alexander Collier van Holt, a man who asked her out on a date many years earlier. Discovering that he’s now both rich

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NITRO MOUNTAIN

Johnson, Lee Clay Knopf (224 pp.) $25.00 | $12.99 e-book | May 17, 2016 978-1-101-94636-7 978-1-101-94637-4 e-book Appalachian noir at its darkest and most deranged. When a doctor suggests to one of the emotionally (and physically) battered women in this powerfully bleak novel that she may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, she responds bitterly that she’s far too young for Vietnam, though the reader recognizes that life in the shadow of the titular Nitro Mountain is its own minefield. Most of these characters have been warped by brutality, abuse, even in-breeding, and the isolated community seems to offer no way to escape or transcend what amounts to a spiritual death sentence. At the core of the novel is a romantic triangle all but devoid of romance. At one corner is Leon, the first-person narrator of the long opening chapter. He’s a broken-armed bass player who lives with his dysfunctional parents and makes little more than spare change onstage with a country band. He somehow finds himself attractive enough to quite a few of the novel’s women, though, typically, “sex was just two sloppy bodies being tossed against each other.” The love of his life, Jennifer, wants what Leon cannot give her and ends up either the lover or the mountain captive of a tattooed video voyeur whose camera monitored the women’s bathroom at the town bar. Two of these people conspire to kill the other, though Leon’s narration leaves open-ended who will be the killers and who will be the corpse. The second chapter switches to third-person narration (and the present tense) to show the aftermath of whatever happened on Nitro Mountain, where what once was a still for moonshine has given way to a deadly mixture of heroin and speed. It focuses on the songwriter who fronted the band that employed Leon and suggests the possibility of a future denied the others. Chapter 3 is the shortest and saddest, with another shift of narrative perspective and a sense that any glimmer of redemption might just be a mirage. Some of the plainspoken narration is very funny, deadly so, among characters who prefer pain to the numbness of feeling nothing at all. An ambitious, disturbing, and daring debut.

EAR TO THE GROUND

Kolsby, Paul & Ulin, David L. Unnamed Press (196 pp.) $14.99 paper | Apr. 12, 2016 978-1-939419-73-6

Hollywood cashes in on the prediction of a catastrophic earthquake in this comic novel by LA insiders Ulin (Sidewalking, 2015, etc.) and Kolsby (a film and TV writer). 22

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Charlie Richter’s grandfather was the guy who invented the Richter scale, and Charlie has followed in his footsteps. He works for an outfit called the Center for Earthquake Studies, whose multimillion-dollar budget is partially funded by the entertainment industry. “If the Big One hits L.A.,” muses an inside source, “the studios will be in on the ground floor.” This proves prophetic when Charlie’s boss leaks his prediction of a massive quake. While the terrified people of Los Angeles make plans to flee, Hollywood movers and shakers hatch plans for a big-budget earthquake movie. This is great luck for struggling screenwriter Ian Marcus, whose dead-in-the-water screenplay, Ear to the Ground, explores this exact scenario: the turmoil created in LA when a catastrophic earthquake prediction goes public. Retrieved from the slush pile by his girlfriend, studio flunky Grace Gonglewski, Ian’s script is sold for $1 million. While Ian heads out to live the life, Grace gets to know her oddball neighbor, who happens to be seismologist Charlie Richter—the one person focused not on profiting from the disaster but preventing it. Will his plan work? Will the movie be completed in time? Will Los Angeles fall into the sea? According to one character, “In the closing chapter of the second millennium, the smart money was squarely on doom,” but don’t give up yet. The book’s 39 short chapters originally appeared in the Los Angeles Reader as a serial in 1995 and ’96, and period details abound. The death of Jerry Garcia, for example, is mourned by several characters, including both Charlie and the president of the United States. A fast, high-spirited sendup.

DON’T YOU CRY

Kubica, Mary Harlequin MIRA (320 pp.) $26.99 | $11.99 e-book | May 17, 2016 978-0-7783-1905-4 978-1-4592-9486-8 e-book A roommate’s mysterious disappearance and the tale of a dead girl form a haunting confluence of circumstances in Kubica’s latest psychological thriller told from dual points of view. Quinn Collins awakens one cold Chicago Sunday morning to the sound of her roommate Esther Vaughan’s alarm clock going off. When Esther fails to hit the snooze button, Quinn struggles out of bed and turns it off herself, but all is not right in Esther’s room: the window on her fire escape is open, and Esther is gone. That night, Quinn is startled when Esther’s phone starts ringing. She discovers that Esther left it behind when she disappeared, and further digging turns up even more mystery: why did Esther acquire a new name? Why did she place an ad for a new roommate? And what made her ask the super to change the apartment’s locks? Meanwhile, Alex Gallo, the smart kid who got left behind when everyone else in his town on Lake Michigan went off to college, struggles with his home life and crappy job working at a restaurant. The only bright spot to his day is when a mysterious woman comes in and drinks coffee, watching the office of the handsome psychiatrist across the street. Later, he sees her on the


A long, pensive meditation on the life and death of the mathematician Alan Turing. fall of man in wilmslow

THE CHILDREN

playground and watches her take most of her clothes off and walk into the frigid lake. He finds her behavior inexplicable. Kubica, skilled at building on the premise that things are not always what they seem, stumbles a bit in this one. With disjointed prose, the first part of the book isn’t her usual polished product, and the denouement isn’t as surprising as the author intended. A master of suspense and dense plotting, Kubica still leads the pack when it comes to her genre even though this isn’t her best work.

Leary, Ann St. Martin’s (256 pp.) $26.99 | $12.99 e-book | May 24, 2016 978-1-250-04537-9 978-1-4668-4402-5 e-book Leary (The Good House, 2013, etc.) writes about nutty, pedigreed New Englanders in this noirish comedy in which financial wrangling and emotional secrets are kept under wraps within a well-born Connecticut family until the arrival of an interloper from west of the Rockies. Single, childless 29-year-old narrator Charlotte is a typical Leary character—likable but slightly bent. Charlotte makes a good living writing a fake mommy blog and swears she doesn’t have agoraphobia although she hasn’t left her home during the day since shortly after her beloved stepfather Whit’s death three years ago. Charlotte’s home is “Lakeside Cottage,” where she

FALL OF MAN IN WILMSLOW

Lagercrantz, David Translated by Goulding, George Knopf (368 pp.) $26.95 | $13.99 e-book | May 3, 2016 978-1-101-94669-5 978-1-101-94670-1 e-book

Lagercrantz, heir to Stieg Larsson and author of the latest Lisbeth Sander installment, The Girl in the Spider’s Web (2015), turns to a mystery of another sort. Wilmslow, near Manchester, is a gloomy sort of northern place, about right for a suicide. (Just ask Ian Curtis.) That’s the opening gambit of Lagercrantz’s long, pensive meditation on the life and death of the mathematician Alan Turing, who famously did himself in with a cyanide-laced apple. Apple in the garden, Fall of Man: the obvious allusion would have worked better, perhaps, if Turing himself had seen any particularly grand lesson in death other than escape from some particularly ill treatment, for he was chemically castrated as punishment for being homosexual in a Britain that would later repent that terrible injustice to a man who, after all, had helped bring down Nazi Germany. Lagercrantz adds further psychological dimension to the story by introducing DC Leonard Corell, a dour sort who becomes gloomier on contemplating the corpse. As he questions why Turing should have killed himself, he implicates an unhappy family life, disbelieving parents, sniffy associates (“Alan found it hard to blend in. He couldn’t play along, to be blunt”), and intelligence operatives who, now that the enemy has shifted from Germany to Russia, still have a stake in keeping Turing’s secrets secret. The story and its possibilities (was Turing murdered? were his assignations with Soviet spies?) beg for the taut handling of a John le Carré, Alan Furst, or Graham Greene, but Lagercrantz lets things drift on a bit too long and a bit too talkily to keep the necessary tension. Better, though, is his quietly suggestive depiction of how the investigation affects the investigator; says one colleague to Corell, “This whole Alan Turing business seems to have become something very personal for you,” to which the reader will sagely nod, ah, if you only knew.... A bookend of sorts to Bruce Duffy’s fine novel The World as I Found It (1987); full of psychological insight though not much action.

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who done it? don’t ask the sociopath.

Photo courtesy Elena Seibert

All Things Cease to Appear (Mar. 8) is the haunting tale of a young family that relocates to a small town upstate, from New York City, in the summer of 1978. George Clare is an ambitious art history professor. Catherine, his wife, a talented muralist and restorer, has put her career on hold to raise their 3-year-old daughter, Franny. Due to a recent on-premises tragedy, they’re able to buy the old Hale farm at a bargain price. Half a year later, Catherine is dead—discovered by George with an ax in her head. He scoops up their traumatized daughter, who’s been home with her mother’s corpse all day, to speed to a neighbor’s house for help. An incomprehensible evil at the dark heart of Elizabeth Brundage’s All Things Cease to Appear is sociopathy, as personified by George: he refuses to let the town sheriff question Franny, the only witness. He lawyers up. He skips town. “Sociopaths have a certain dissonance to the conventional music, which I think is really interesting,” Elizabeth Brundage Brundage says. “There’s a sense of performance in what they do in their lives: their camera is always running, and they’re center stage.” But sociopathic tendencies do not a murderer make—much to the consternation of Sheriff Travis Lawton, who’s bedeviled by a profound paucity of evidence in the Clare case. All Things Cease to Appear is more than the gorgeous portrait of a sociopath, though. It’s a lyrical literary thriller that unfurls unhurriedly, imparting a sense of foreboding more profound than your typical page-turner. And as Kirkus warns in its starred review, “with a storyline that tightens like a constrictor, this is a book that you won’t want to read alone late at night.”—M.L.

THE PROGENY

Lee, Tosca Howard Books/Simon & Schuster (384 pp.) $26.00 | $13.99 e-book | May 24, 2016 978-1-4767-9869-1 978-1-4767-9870-7 e-book Series: Descendants of the House of Bathory, 1 A young woman learns she’s a descendant of a notorious female serial killer and must stay one step ahead of an organization hellbent on killing her. Emily Porter wakes up in a Maine cabin with only vague recollections of undergoing a memory-erasing procedure. All she knows is that she wants to live a normal, quiet life, but those hopes are dashed upon meeting the intriguingly foreign Luka Novak at the local Food Mart. Just as quickly, she’s whisked away by another Eastern European, Rolan Vasilescu, who tells her that Luka isn’t what he seems—the theme of shifting loyalties is underscored ad nauseam throughout—only to be pursued by Luka. Turns out that Rolan is the bad guy, and handsome Luka’s mission is protection—or is it? And Emily Porter? She’s really Audra Ellison, revered by a secret sect who, like her, are all descended from the murderous Hungarian “Blood Countess” Elizabeth Bathory, thought to have murdered 600 people during her 17th-century reign of terror. These Progeny, as they’re known, are hunted by the Scion, descendants of Bathory’s

All Things Cease to Appear received a starred review in the Jan. 1, 2016, issue. 24

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and her older sister, Sally, grew up with Whit and their mother, Joan. Wealthy, eccentric Whit had two great passions: Joan and the banjo. He and Joan didn’t believe in talking about, let alone spending, money. Although his two sons from his first marriage, Perry and Spin, have inherited the once-grand, now increasingly dilapidated family house, Whit requested that Joan be allowed to live there until her death. Enter Spin’s new girlfriend, soon to be fiancee, Laurel, from Idaho. Laurel’s resume—Olympiclevel skier, MFA from USC, huge advance for her first novel, a relative of Ernest Hemingway—is as intimidating as her aggressively friendly manner. While Charlotte warms to Laurel’s questionable charm, Sally, who has moved home after losing her job as a violinist in Manhattan, remains suspicious. But Sally, who has a history of sneakiness, sexual misbehavior, and mental illness, may not be the best judge of character. And Charlotte may not be, either; she’s fascinated by Laurel’s knowledge of what she calls “life hacks”—actually scams, like ways to use a fancy hotel’s amenities without staying there—which are supposedly research for her novel. Leary is by turns affectionate and vicious toward her characters. So, is Laurel trustworthy? Was Whit? And what about Charlotte’s off-and-on lover, Everett, who lives rent free on the property as a kind of caretaker and is not above flirting with an attractive woman like Laurel? In this deeply satisfying novel about how unknowable people can be, intrigue builds with glass shards of dark humor toward an ending that is far from comic.

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WILDE LAKE

victims, and led by the Historian. Audra learns not only that she has special, persuasive powers—think vampires and glamouring—but also that she voluntarily wiped her own memory to keep certain information a secret. Soon she and Luka are crisscrossing Europe from Croatia to Vienna in an attempt to find a diary that could hold the key to her survival or the Progeny’s extinction. Lee (The Legend of Sheba, 2014, etc.) dispenses with plausibility early on, yet even in a fantasy world, Audra would still grate as a pseudo-heroine constantly in need of protection. For all their gory antecedents, Lee’s characters—and her plot—are strangely bloodless and noncompelling.

Lippman, Laura Morrow/HarperCollins (384 pp.) $26.99 | $12.99 e-book | May 3, 2016 978-0-06-208345-6 978-0-06-208347-0 e-book Lippman (Hush Hush, 2015, etc.) takes familiar themes to a new locale as she traces a family’s journey from raucous Baltimore to the meticulously planned community of Columbia, Maryland. Growing up in green, slightly hippie suburbia has its pluses and minuses for Luisa Brant. She lives in an old stone tavern her father, Andrew Jackson Brant, state’s attorney for Howard County, had moved onto a lush double lot for his wife. Adele Brant lived in her dream house for less than a year before she died a week after Luisa’s birth. Although she’s never quite accepted by her peers, motherless Lu does get to tag along with her brother, AJ, and his multicultural band of friends from Wilde Lake High. AJ leads a charmed life of academic ability, athletic triumph, and artistic talent, and some of these blessings seem to rub off on Luisa. What’s hers alone is her raw ambition. Her drive powers her through life’s challenges: the death of her young husband, Gabe, the difficulty of raising her twins without him, and her complicated relationship with her father, which grows even thornier after she moves back into her childhood home. It also brings her to what for many would be the pinnacle of her career when she beats her old boss Frederick C. Hollister III and takes her father’s old position, becoming the first woman elected state’s attorney for Howard County. Her new job pits her almost immediately against Fred in a case that looks like a sure winner. Homeless Rudy Drysdale is accused of breaking into Mary McNally’s apartment and killing her. There’s forensic evidence, there’s an eyewitness, but for Lippman, there’s no such thing as a sure thing. Before long, Lu the fierce looks like she may have caught a tiger by the tail. Although she overamps some reveals and shortchanges others, Lippman as always treads the fine line between certainty and amazement.

MASHA REGINA

Levental, Vadim Translated by Hayden, Lisa Oneworld Publications (288 pp.) $20.00 | May 10, 2016 978-1-78074-861-0 A young movie director takes inspiration from her life in St. Petersburg. Masha Regina is a provincial girl from a remote Russian backwater. She isn’t content there. “I don’t want to spend my life like you!” she tells her bus-driving father before taking off for the city. On the train, the teenage Masha meets a boy, Roma, who helps her find her way to a school where another young man, A.A., teaches; A.A. helps her to be admitted. Both figures end up playing important roles in Masha’s life. It turns out to be a prominent life. Masha grows up to be a film director, to make artful, influential—indeed, revolutionary—films of which all Europe stands in awe. Levental’s debut novel, which was shortlisted for Russia’s Big Book Award, describes those films in detail: they draw heavily on Masha’s various experiences, her vacillations between Roma and A.A. in particular. But the novel works on several levels at once and is replete with references from Pushkin to Gogol, Tom Stoppard to Star Wars and even Hegel. It’s a cerebral work that urges its readers to consider the limits of ambition, the price of making art. Masha leaves a trail of loved ones in her wake. Levental is concerned with something like fate: Masha wonders again and again if the decisions she’s making are truly her own. Is there any such thing as choice? After all, “in the final reckoning,” Levental observes, “seemingly very little really depends on our decisions in this life.” In this way, his characters—Masha, Roma, and A.A. among them—take on the qualities of Masha’s own characters, none of whom can escape the screenplays in which they appear. This genre-defying novel takes on the limits of talent and ambition, fate and art in contemporary Europe.

SEAL TEAM SIX: HUNT THE DRAGON

Mann, Don & Pezzullo, Ralph Mulholland Books/Little, Brown (304 pp.) $26.00 | $13.99 e-book | May 17, 2016 978-0-316-37753-9 978-0-316-37752-2 e-book Mann, a former Navy SEAL, and Pezzullo (SEAL Team Six: Hunt the Fox, 2015, etc.) send their fictional SEAL, Chief Warrant Officer Thomas Crocker, to a North Korean island to pull the pin on Kim Jong-Un’s nuclear plans. |

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This time the authors gives nuance and depth to Crocker’s character, offering back story on how his wife, Holly, couldn’t tolerate SEAL life and left, his angst over his daughter’s growing independence, and his father’s fragile health. The action begins with Crocker seconded to the Secret Service to help in a counterfeit case. North Korea’s “Office 39” employs “optical variable inks” to print U.S. currency, adding another way besides illicit drugs and arms trading to shore up their economy. That means a quick sojourn to Las Vegas, where beaucoup funny money is appearing. There, Crocker serendipitously meets a possible new love interest, dancer and single mom Cyndi. Then Crocker and his Black Cell teammates (otherwise mostly behind the scenes in this story) saddle up to intercept a North Korean freighter carrying counterfeit bills. Most of the team stays stateside as Crocker makes a foray along China’s North Korean border. With that, the pace turns electric, as Crocker rides aircraft carriers, helicopters, and even a SEAL Delivery Vehicle, a minisubmarine, to the Pansong Archipelago. It’s vital to rescue Jim Dawkins, an American engineer kidnapped in Switzerland to work on North Korea’s “missile guidance set control.” As usual, the narrative is filled with acronyms and weapon and product references, but the conclusion is satisfying, with Crocker going entertainingly superhuman. Formulaic, but for the Tom Clancy/Dale Brown genre fan, Mann and Pezzullo provide enough excitement to while away a weekend.

BLOOD FLAG

Martini, Steve Morrow/HarperCollins (400 pp.) $27.99 | $14.99 e-book | May 17, 2016 978-0-06-232896-0 978-0-06-232897-7 e-book After World War II veteran Robert Brauer dies under mysterious circumstances, San Diego attorney Paul Madriani—hired to defend Brauer’s daughter on charges of assisting a suicide—discovers the old man was not the only member of his former Army unit to meet with a suspicious end. Shortly before his death, Brauer received a package from an Army buddy containing a key to a safe-deposit box. No sooner has Madriani signed on to the case than his plucky young assistant, Sofia, is murdered, and Madriani and his legal partner, Harry Hinds, find themselves in the middle of a strange plot involving a Nazi relic known as the Blood Flag. Unbeknownst to the lawyers—or the U.S. government—the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad also is in hot pursuit of the flag, which reputedly was bloodied by an accomplice of Hitler’s during the future Führer’s attempted takeover of Munich’s city hall in 1923. Working from inside the California Department of Justice, Mossad will take extreme measures to get their hands on the flag—and they’re not the only ones. The trail leads Madriani to the rich and powerful married man with whom Sofia, who was pregnant when she died, was having an affair. Madriani’s sensitive wife, 26

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Joselyn, who was protective of Sofia, proves her husband’s ace in the hole in the investigation. The foreign operatives aren’t very interesting, and the international intrigue seems like an add-on to the plot. But otherwise, the novel boasts the sure-handed, suspenseful storytelling that Martini’s fans have come to expect. Martini holds serve with his 14th Paul Madriani thriller, in which Hitler’s evil legacy continues to haunt survivors of World War II.

THE SPORT OF KINGS

Morgan, C.E. Farrar, Straus and Giroux (560 pp.) $27.00 | $12.99 e-book | May 3, 2016 978-0-374-28108-3 978-0-374-71517-5 e-book Morgan follows up her slim, keening debut (All the Living, 2009) with an epic novel steeped in American history and geography. As a boy, Henry Forge determines to turn the land his aristocratic Kentucky family has planted with corn for generations into a farm for racehorses. Henry grows into an arrogant, hard man, imbued with the unthinking racism and sexism of his haughty father and unnaturally focused on his only child, Henrietta. Before she leaves him, wife Judith loudly voices the novel’s seething strain of bitterness about the lot of women in this world, but her anger is nothing compared to the rage of Allmon Shaughnessy, an African-American man who enters the story in the early 2000s, when Henrietta and he are both in their 20s. Backtracking to trace Allmon’s past, Morgan’s gothic tale of Southern decadence deepens into a searing investigation of racism’s enduring legacy. Allmon’s ailing, hard-pressed mother and her father, a storefront preacher and veteran civil rights activist, are notable among the teeming cast of brilliantly drawn secondary characters who populate the bleak saga of an intelligent, sensitive boy with zero prospects; by the time he’s 17, Allmon is in jail, where he discovers the knack with horses that gets him hired on the Forges’ farm. A few years go by, Henrietta and Allmon become lovers, but there’s little hope of a happy future for such damaged people. A series of five brilliant riffs called Interludes anchor this modern tale in a vast sweep of geological time and the grim particulars of Allmon’s ancestor, a runaway slave named Scipio. The consequences of the Forges’ brutality and pride come home to roost in an apocalyptic climax just after their extraordinary filly Hellsmouth runs the 2006 Kentucky Derby; it’s entirely appropriate to Morgan’s dark vision that it’s not the guiltiest who pay the highest price. Vaultingly ambitious, thrillingly well-written, charged with moral fervor and rueful compassion. How will this dazzling writer astonish us next time?


DISCOVER NEW TITLES GREAT STORIES. UNIQUE PERSPECTIVES.

And the Word Became Flesh

Fairies In My Garden Barbara L. Kananen

Janet Lyso

www.iuniverse.com

www.xlibris.com

978-0-5959-1014-4 Hardback | $20.95 978-0-5954-5082-4 Paperback | $10.95 978-0-5958-9393-5 E-book | $3.99

978-1-5035-5079-7 Hardback | $24.99 978-1-5035-5080-3 Paperback | $15.99 978-1-5035-5081-0 E-book | $3.99

The dragon has to be stopped before it wreaks havoc! Mabel, a flower fairy, and her cohorts must use telepathy to contact help from another world.

And the Word Became Flesh reflects on the great sacrifice of God the Father in sending his only begotten son on earth to save humanity – an event that holds true the message of the above mentioned verse.

He Beat Past My Skin

amadeus!

Redemption of a Broken Spirit

What makes a human human?

Jessica Green

Josephine deBois

www.iuniverse.com

www.authorhouse.co.uk

978-1-4502-8150-8 Hardback | $29.95 978-1-4502-8148-5 Paperback | $19.95 978-1-4502-8149-2 E-book | $9.99

978-1-4969-9624-4 Paperback | $24.34 978-1-4969-9625-1 E-book | $4.99

amadeus! by Josephine deBois is a tale about outstanding characters in the phantasmagorical world of Josephine deBois intertwined in a stunning series of events. DeBois’s characters shine with distinct conviction - to their causes and deep desires. The intermingling of fates spiral into a conclusion where beauty and cruelty stand face-to-face in terrible moments of death and destruction. Love appears extinct, but does it survive in disguise?

Jessica Green’s new novel, He Beats Past My Skin, tells the story of five women living through the trauma of abuse, violence, and low self-esteem meeting at a church gathering to face the horror of their own truths.

In Pursuit of Running Water

The Uncommon Cure A Novella and Three Stories

Cornell Charles

T. Agvanian

www.authorhouse.com

www.iuniverse.com

978-1-4490-2034-7 Hardback | $24.99 978-1-4490-2035-4 Paperback | $14.49

978-1-4917-7302-4 Paperback | $13.95 978-1-4917-7301-7 E-book | $3.99

In Pursuit of Running Water, author Cornell Charles shares the compelling tale of an American businessman’s dangerous journey to the truth. Join Jim as he discovers that owning the mountain may be more challenging than he ever realized.

A provocative and poignant collection, The Uncommon Cure bares the lives of women trying to fi nd emotional peace through food, fantasy, or virtue. The urge for liberation from pain drives them to face conflicts arising from the desire for relief.

James W. Burke Jr.

The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen

www.iuniverse.com

Collins Hemingway

978-1-4917-1276-4 Paperback | $17.95 978-1-4917-1277-1 E-book | $3.99

www.authorhouse.com

The Weekend Warriors

978-1-5049-1103-0 Hardback | $27.99 978-1-5049-1102-3 Paperback | $16.95 978-1-5049-1104-7 E-book | $6.99

In the mid-1980s, Russian and the Warsaw Pact launch an attack, hoping to overwhelm NATO. To meet this threat and support its allies, the U.S. mobilizes large numbers of its Army Reserves who never expected to serve on the front line.

The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen is author Collins Hemingway’s highly enthralling book that re-imagines the life of England’s most famous female author by asking: How would her life have changed if she had married and had a child?

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A suspenseful Balkans thriller. the wolf of sarajevo

THE REACTIVE

Ntshanga, Masande Two Dollar Radio (212 pp.) $15.99 paper | Jun. 7, 2016 978-1-937512-43-9 A trio of friends sell antiretrovirals to HIV patients in Cape Town, but their lives are upended when a stranger who knows more about them than he should tries to buy their whole stash. It’s early in the 21st century, the South African government has not yet made antiretrovirals widely available, and Lindanathi, who contracted HIV while working as a lab assistant, now spends his days hanging out, huffing glue, and, with the help of two friends, Cecelia and Ruan, selling his own ARVs to customers he finds at support-group meetings. One day, the friends receive an email from a man offering to buy all their pills for double their usual price. But the proposition comes with an implicit threat: the man also includes information about where each of them lives and works, and before they even agree to his terms, the stranger has deposited the funds in their bank account. It’s an electrifying premise, though Ntshanga is more interested in Lindanathi’s emotional journey than with the particulars of the plot. Indeed, a good portion of the proceedings concerns not the present but the past. Ten years before, Lindanathi’s younger brother, Luthando, was killed, and Lindanathi blames himself for what happened. As the narrative moves forward, questions build: how exactly did Lindanathi contract HIV? What really happened to Luthando? And who is the stranger at the story’s core? Unfortunately the questions Ntshanga raises are more compelling than his answers, but even if the plot doesn’t completely come together, he still succeeds at exploring major themes—illness, family, and, most effectively, class—while keeping readers in suspense. Readers hooked by the premise may ultimately find the plotting a disappointment, but Ntshanga’s promising debut is both moving and satisfyingly complex.

NOT WORKING

Owens, Lisa Dial Press (256 pp.) $26.00 | $12.99 e-book | May 3, 2016 978-0-8129-8881-9 978-0-8129-8882-6 e-book In Owens’ rollicking debut novel, an indecisive millennial wallows in “voluntary unemployment,” trying the patience of everyone around her. When Claire Flannery decides to leave her job in “creative communications” to find a career she’s more passionate about, she first has to figure out where her passion actually lies. Her live-in boyfriend, Luke, happens to be a brain surgeon–in-training, and Claire envies his clear-cut path to success. In the meantime, all her friends have climbed London’s 28

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corporate ladder, leaving Claire to wonder where she fits in her social circle. Brash but observant, Claire has a tendency to speak without thinking, which lands her in hot water with her mother. Without the emotional support of her parents, Claire begins an inevitable downward spiral, drowning her sorrows in gallons of wine, self-pity, and bad decisions. Thankfully, Owens uses quick, sharp vignettes to move us through Claire’s London, so we’re never asked to wallow with her main character for too long. These sketches have the added benefit of giving us snapshots of Claire’s interior struggle. With trademark 20-something selfishness, Claire has the ability to turn even a toothbrush cup on the sink or a weed growing out of a foundation into a metaphor about her failed life. To her credit, Owens deploys a deft sense of humor to help us laugh at the incongruities of contemporary upper-middle-class crisis. In Owens’ hands, even Claire’s long-overdue visit to a dentist results in a misunderstanding that sums up the shame, absurdity, and hopefulness of the overskilled, underemployed worker. Since Claire already has Luke, Owens frees her character from the constraints of the marriage plot haunting similar rom-com titles like Bridget Jones’s Diary. Rather than, “Reader, I married him,” we get the sense Claire might wind up happily dating a new career, if only she can decide on one. While her privilege never quite catches up with her, this hapless protagonist will leave younger readers laughing—and wincing—in recognition.

THE WOLF OF SARAJEVO

Palmer, Matthew Putnam (400 pp.) $28.00 | $13.99 e-book | May 24, 2016 978-0-399-17501-5 978-0-698-19600-1 e-book A suspenseful Balkans thriller by the author of The American Mission (2014). Twenty years after the Bosnian War, Eric Petrosian works for the U.S. State Department and is assigned to advise the ambassador to Bosnia. He couldn’t stop the murders of his friend Meho Alimerovic and thousands of other men and boys in Srebrenica during that conflict, and he still feels guilty. Now, in this complex story, a second war is on the verge of breaking out in a country that’s haunted by ghosts and toe tags. European Union diplomat Annika Sondergaard has a plan to stop this war before it starts, and Eric works to help her. Smart and humane, Eric is intensely aware of the genocide that has already occurred in the Balkans, one of the “great civilizational fault lines.” On the other side are men like the sociopath Marko Barcelona, who knows that “money is power and power is money.” Marko possesses a secret videotape showing the now politically powerful Zoran Dimitrovic shooting men in the back of the head in 1995— so Marko controls Zoran. Marko used to be “a worm...feeding on the droppings of his betters” but prefers being a wolf to a worm and a king to a wolf. And there is Darko Lukic, a talented sniper who loves to shoot children and pregnant women—and


A rich story that connects a 17th-century Dutch painting to its 20th-century American owner and the fervent art student who decides to forge it. the last painting of sara de vos

EXTREME PREY

never misses, even from 2 kilometers away. He is “the god of death” for whom “killing from a distance was an act of worship.” Time is running out for Eric to save Darko’s next target, Annika, whose peace plan is the last, best chance to avoid another war. Well-written, exciting, and fast-paced fiction by a diplomat with deep knowledge of the Balkans.

Sandford, John Putnam (416 pp.) $29.00 | $14.99 e-book | Apr. 26, 2016 978-0-399-17605-0 978-0-698-40710-7 e-book Forget the Iowa caucuses. The real way to effect political change in the nation’s heartland, according to Lucas Davenport’s latest antagonist, is a carefully calibrated assassination. Marlys Purdy has been through it all, and she’s come to realize one thing for sure: the deck is stacked in favor of wealthy farmers, and Michaela Bowden’s shoo-in presidential campaign isn’t going to change that situation. The only hope for Marlys and her sons, straight-arrow Jesse and war-damaged Cole, is the election of Minnesota’s left-wing governor, Elmer Henderson, and the best way to clear his path to the Democratic nomination is to remove Bowden with extreme prejudice. As the Purdys plot, Henderson reaches out to Lucas, who’s left Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (Gathering Prey, 2015, etc.) because he’s concerned about several winking directives he’s gotten from people at campaign stops to move to the center so he’ll be able to win the nomination if anything should happen to Bowden. It doesn’t take Lucas long to trace the messages to the Progressive People’s Party of Iowa, but once he makes the connection, he slows down. That’s partly because so many PPPI members are superannuated flower children who can barely chew their food, partly because the remainder are such self-convinced revolutionaries that it’s hard to winnow the wheat from the chaff. Aging activist Joseph Likely, for instance, clearly knows more than he’s willing to say about the suspects Lucas is seeking, and PPPI secretary Grace Lawrence is still hiding secrets about the Lennett Valley Dairy bombing years ago. Can Lucas, working without a badge, sift through the harmless and the tangential radicals in time to protect Bowden from the coup de grâce he’s certain is planned during her ill-advised visit to the Iowa State Fair? An efficient and unremarkable treatment of a story that keeps threatening to leap the gap from paranoid fantasies to tomorrow’s headlines.

THE ATTEMPT

Platzová, Magdaléna Translated by Zucker, Alex Bellevue Literary Press (224 pp.) $16.95 paper | May 10, 2016 978-1-942658-08-5 An elliptical novel that encompasses history, anarchy, and love. Translated from the Czech, Platzová’s (Aaron’s Leap, 2014) latest bridges a century of social foment, as it involves the attempt by a contemporary Czech historian, during the Occupy Wall Street movement, to shed some light on what might be an anarchist in his closet. The setup is a little unwieldy: on the basis of conjecture and tangential evidence bequeathed to him by his best friend, a middle-aged historian who was raised in Prague but now lives in Manhattan thinks he might be related to a notorious anarchist who attempted to murder an American tycoon in the early 20th century. His investigation leads him to correspondence between the tycoon’s heirs and to a meeting with one who has repudiated that legacy and become a nun. There is also plenty of correspondence between the anarchist and his lover/comrade. And after the first section of the novel flashes between the present and the past, with the protagonist narrating in the first person, the second part is a notebook by his late friend detailing the lives of the deported anarchists, the lovers whose principles preclude monogamy. The reader thus works his or her way through a lot of structural baggage to arrive at the novel’s essence as it explores anarchy through the broader contexts of environmental apocalypse and capitalism’s self-destruction. One character believes that anarchy is “the only social theory based on human goodness,” though the anarchist to whom the narrator might be related ultimately believes that “Man can’t be reduced to his role in the hierarchy of economic relations. The problem lies elsewhere. Money is just a derivative evil. It isn’t enough to change the economic order!” The narrator’s excavation of the past puts the Occupy movement in different perspective by the time the novel concludes. As for the mystery of the blood ties that spurred his research, “it made no difference” whether he was related to the anarchist or not. The past illuminates the present, though it takes a while for the novel to find the light.

THE LAST PAINTING OF SARA DE VOS

Smith, Dominic Sarah Crichton/Farrar, Straus and Giroux (304 pp.) $26.00 | $12.99 e-book | Apr. 5, 2016 978-0-374-10668-3 978-0-374-71404-8 e-book Smith’s latest novel (Bright and Distant Shores, 2011, etc.) is a rich and detailed story that connects a 17th-century Dutch painting to its 20th-century American owner and the lonely but fervent art student who makes the life-changing decision to forge it. |

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Marty de Groot, a Manhattan lawyer plagued by infertility and the stuffiness that comes from centuries of familial wealth, has one special thing to his name: a collection of 17th-century Dutch paintings, including rare pieces by female artists of the era. At the Edge of the Wood is the only work attributed to Sarah de Vos, and it’s hung above the marital bed in Marty’s Park Avenue triplex for generations. Until one fall day in 1957 it’s plucked off his wall and replaced by a meticulously executed forgery. Behind this deception is not a mastermind but an Australian graduate student named Ellie Shipley, who was approached by a secretive art dealer to replicate the painting. Ellie lives and thinks like a member of the Dutch golden age, boiling rabbit pelts in her claustrophobic Brooklyn apartment for glue, pulling apart antique canvases to understand their bones, and building them up again layer by layer. This is a woman who sees herself in de Vos and would do anything to merge their legacies together. In showing how this is a monumental occasion in Ellie’s life, a truly intimate experience for her, Smith turns forgery into art, replication into longing, deceit into an act of love: Ellie works in “topography, the impasto, the furrows where sable hairs were dragged into tiny painted crests to catch the light. Or the stray line of charcoal or chalk, glimpsed beneath a glaze that’s three hundred years old.” The narrative stretches from a period of grief in de Vos’ life that compelled her to paint At the Edge of the Wood, to 1950s New York to the year 2000 at a museum in Sydney where original and forgery meet—in turn reconnecting Ellie with Marty. “Here comes Marty de Groot, the wrecking ball of the past”: just one example of the suspense Smith manages to carry throughout his narrative, suspense bound up in brilliant layers of paint and the people who dedicate their lives to appreciating its value. This is a beautiful, patient, and timeless book, one that builds upon centuries and shows how the smallest choices— like the chosen mix for yellow paint—can be the definitive markings of an entire life.

SHE POURED OUT HER HEART

Thompson, Jean Blue Rider Press (432 pp.) $27.00 | $13.99 e-book | May 31, 2016 978-0-399-57381-1 978-0-399-57383-5 e-book

A woman discovers her husband is having an affair with her old college roommate. Can this marriage—kids, depression, and all—be saved? In college, Jane was the timid, unassertive type while Bonnie was the sarcastic extrovert with an affinity for bad-news men. An opposites-attract dynamic made them fast friends—they bonded immediately after Jane’s dispiriting loss of her virginity at a frat party. In adulthood, though, things are complicated. Bonnie uses her quick wit as a crisis intervention counselor for the Chicago Police, but her best romantic prospect is a bartender with a coke habit. Jane is married to a doctor, Eric, and has a son and another baby on 30

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the way, but she’s going off the rails emotionally, experiencing rapturous mental breaks (“oh lovely pure nothing”) that may be epilepsy or, she thinks, a curious capacity for premonition. Either way, Jane’s baffling suicide attempt pushes Eric and Bonnie into each other’s arms and prompts Jane to wonder if such an arrangement might actually be good for the marriage. Thompson (The Witch, 2014, etc.) works to elevate this story beyond its familiar infidelity-in-the-burbs setup by avoiding pat moral judgments; she’s more concerned with the dynamics that prompt affairs than thundering about consequences. And both Jane and Bonnie are well-crafted characters, reflecting Thompson’s consistent knack for capturing the emotional seas within seemingly conventional middle-class Midwesterners. (She’s also excellent at depicting children, so often an afterthought in such novels.) But Thompson seems at a loss to figure out what to do with the characters after Jane’s breakdown; Jane makes an unpersuasive and contrived romantic decision as Thompson abandons the more mystical element of Jane’s mindset and her odd musings “about the death of the self and the all-encompassing spirit.” Good for her, but less good for a novel that slackens into familiarity. An overly domesticated marriage-gone-bad story.

DEAR FANG, WITH LOVE

Thorpe, Rufi Knopf (320 pp.) $24.95 | $12.99 e-book | May 24, 2016 978-1-101-87577-3 978-1-101-87578-0 e-book A father and daughter tour Lithuania in Thorpe’s (The Girls from Corona del Mar, 2014) odd and deceptively simple family saga that spans countries and generations. As teenagers at Exeter, Lucas and Katya, drunk on love, impulsively decided to start a family (“Let’s make a baby, baby”). The relationship collapsed soon after; Lucas and Katya spent most of their daughter’s childhood semiestranged. Seventeen years later, the trio—Lucas, Katya, and now-teenage Vera—have arrived at a sort of hesitant familial equilibrium. And then Vera has a psychotic episode—or at least, it seems that way. The doctor is certain of the bipolar diagnosis; Vera herself is sure she’s fine. Lucas, now an English professor, isn’t sure what to think, but when a flier for educational tours of Vilnius appears in his faculty mailbox—“Experience History Firsthand”—he’s sure what to do. “It was an absurd idea,” he admits, “whisking her off to a strange Eastern European vacation in the midst of a mental health crisis,” and yet the idea of a father-daughter pilgrimage to his grandmother’s homeland strikes him as restorative, even hopeful. In Vilnius, the two bond over an endless itinerary of walking tours; internally, though, they’re both lost in their own worlds: Lucas is consumed by the mystery of his grandmother’s escape from the camps, while Vera’s attention is fixed on more recent history—what happened between her parents? And—a question for both of them—what is really happening inside


Vera’s mind? Switching between Lucas’ endearing narration and Vera’s ultrateenage letters home to her boyfriend, Fang, the novel weaves a strange and strangely intoxicating web of histories, both personal and geopolitical. Perhaps as a reflection of her mental instability, Vera flickers in and out of focus. The book belongs instead to Lucas; it is his personal history that gives the novel its emotional weight. Melancholic and whimsical at once, Thorpe’s novel is bumpy, quirky, and wholly original.

THE PURSUIT OF PEARLS

Thynne, Jane Ballantine (512 pp.) $16.00 paper | $9.99 e-book May 3, 2016 978-0-553-39386-6 978-0-553-39392-7 e-book

A movie star faces the nightmare of living in Nazi Germany in this second volume of a planned trilogy. Clara Vine is an Anglo-German actress who has thus far succeeded in hiding the fact that she’s of partially Jewish heritage. Her English lover, Leo Quinn, a passport control officer in Berlin, recruited her to spy “on the private life of the Third Reich” (The Scent of Secrets, 2015), and then shortly afterward, he disappeared. Clara travels to London in 1939 to attend a ball she’s been invited to, given by a man she’s never met, and finds that she’s been summoned by a newly hatched espionage agency. British intelligence asks her to try to discover whether Hitler is planning to make a deal with the Soviets—and warns her to forget the missing Leo, who she refuses to believe is dead. Despite the assurances of the Führer, many Germans know that war is near. Back in Berlin, Clara—who’s afraid her own apartment is being watched—is staying at a friend’s house near the Faith and Beauty Society headquarters, where Aryan girls are groomed to marry high-ranking Nazis. Clara is deeply disturbed when Lottie Franke, the most beautiful, talented, and unorthodox girl in the training program, is found murdered nearby. As an actress, Clara knows all the top-ranked Nazis and their wives and has opportunities to meet foreign reporters and travel abroad. On a trip to Paris for a photo shoot, she mistakes the handsome, wealthy Conrad Adler for Leo even though she’d already met the charismatic Obersturmbannführer at a party in Germany. She’s upset by both his pursuit of her and her physical response to him. On her return to Germany, she starts shooting a film under the direction of Leni Riefenstahl, looks for Lottie’s killer at the behest of the girl’s best friend, and tries to find out Hitler’s plans for war. The paranoid pressure-cooker atmosphere of Berlin forces her to make dangerous decisions every day. Darkly brooding horror hangs over Germany; an irresistible page-turner packed with historical detail and told from a most unusual perspective.

GEORGIA A Novel Of Georgia O’Keeffe Tripp, Dawn Random House (336 pp.) $28.00 | $13.99 e-book | Feb. 9, 2016 978-1-4000-6953-8 978-0-679-60427-3 e-book

A much-celebrated—and misunderstood—painter peers across decades to ask: what would I have become without the lover who first promoted my work? “This is not a love story,” she promises, before Tripp (Game of Secrets, 2011, etc.) re-creates O’Keeffe’s unannounced visit to Alfred Stieglitz’s New York gallery, just missing a show of abstract drawings she’s been sending him from Texas—truly, one of the sexiest “meets” of all time. In short order, he rehangs all of the work so he can photograph her with it and within a year, has thrown over his dismal-but-financially-advantageous 25 years of marriage to nest with his young sibyl and capture every inch of her with his camera. The nudes revive his career, but what’s in it for O’Keeffe, who hasn’t sold a painting? Tripp soon locates the wrinkle in this storybook relationship: “You will be a legend,” Stieglitz tells O’Keeffe, if she sticks with her more representational (and sexually provocative) studies of oversize flowers—which will more easily win over critics and attract customers who tend to shy away from purely abstract work. She takes the advice and is crowned best woman painter of the modernist generation. Over time, O’Keeffe gets pulled back to the Southwestern landscape, the one place she can free her mind of her lover’s unquenchable thirst for young female adoration and—most bitter to her—his refusal to father a child (he has his reasons). Artful dialogue and snappy segues whiz a reader through 30 years of professional and domestic Sturm und Drang plus cameo appearances by members of the era’s avantgarde art scene (including one or two who tempt O’Keeffe to turn tables on Stieglitz). In the end, it’s not fidelity she craves but space to make art as she did when she was “nobody”: “This is, after all, what I learned from [Stieglitz]: to keep what I want to myself. To reveal only what I want to be seen.” A year before the centennial of that first one-woman show, Tripp’s portrait makes a compelling primer to O’Keeffe’s early career—and, yes, more than a love story.

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HOT LITTLE HANDS

Ulman, Abigail Spiegel & Grau (368 pp.) $26.00 | $12.99 e-book | May 31, 2016 978-0-8129-8917-5 978-0-8129-8919-9 e-book A vivid collection of short stories about young girls and women on the cusp of major life changes. In her debut collection, Australian writer Ulman offers us glimpses into the lives of seven women between adolescence and 30, most of whom are making choices without thorough thought of repercussion. Waggish but weighty, these stories render the mundane and the momentous in equal measure. Claire, a Ph.D. candidate and a tambourine player in the band Betty Cooper’s Revenge, is the only recurring protagonist—she appears in “The Withdrawal Method,” “The Pretty One,” and “Your Charm Won’t Help You Here.” Often reckless, Claire faces in turn unwanted pregnancy, heartbreak, and Homeland Security. Anya, of “Jewish History,” is a postwar immigrant from Russia confronted not only with the dynamics of assimilation, but with the consequences of kissing a crush. In “Same Old Same As,” Romana navigates the murkiness of sexual abuse and the fleeting nature of popularity, learning what comes of both wanted and unwanted attention. “Head to Toe” deftly depicts the apathy and aimlessness of teenagers; Elise and Jenni are torn between sex and horse camp, adulthood and childhood. In each story, the female protagonist must handle a newfound responsibility: her allure, her freedom, her future. It is rare for a collection to so adeptly capture the way life can be at once facile and intense. Ulman’s details are lifelike and droll, her style lucid and engaging, and the overall effect stirring. Nine short stories, all wry, authentic, and moving.

SMOKE

Vyleta, Dan Doubleday (448 pp.) $27.95 | $14.99 e-book | $28.00 Lg. Prt. May 24, 2016 978-0-385-54016-2 978-0-385-54017-9 e-book 978-0-7352-0920-6 Lg. Prt. A dystopian fantasy novel set sometime in 19th-century England. “We thank the Smoke” is a mantralike phrase that’s used by characters throughout this exciting, fearful fantasy novel by Vyleta (The Crooked Maid, 2013, etc.). His previous novels explored social paranoia, distrust, and fear, and he’s now bringing these same topics to a scary imagined world. Meet two young, upper-class best friends, Thomas Argyle and Charlie Copper, at what appears to be a classic English public school—except it isn’t. This is a world where children are born in sin, where Smoke emanates from their bodies when they lie or 32

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think a bad thought, and the purpose of this school is to cleanse them of the Smoke. Bleak House had its fog; in this world Smoke surrounds people, staining their clothes (only lye or urine will get it out). As children grow older, “Good begins to ripen.” Why? Can it be changed? Over Christmas holidays, Thomas and Charlie meet a girl named Livia, a prefect at another school, the attractive daughter of Baron and Lady Naylor. Following up on something shocking Lady Naylor tells Thomas changes the novel’s trajectory into one familiar to Philip Pullman and C.S. Lewis readers—the quest. Thomas, Charlie, and Livia are off to London and its old, abandoned halls of Parliament, where they’ll seek answers about Smoke and the maleficence behind it. We root for these appealing characters as they face one dreadful obstacle after another. Although the novel is primarily told in the third person, many chapters are in the first person, narrated by a wide variety of characters, which helps the reader become more deeply invested in their adventures. Even though it’s somewhat derivative of other books in this vein and loses its way at times, the novel’s sumptuous, irresistible narrative— filled with plenty of twists and turns and imagination—will satisfy any reader. A terrific, suspenseful tale that could definitely cross over to the teen audience. Sequel, anyone?

GIRLS ON FIRE

Wasserman, Robin Harper/HarperCollins (368 pp.) $25.99 | $12.99 e-book | May 17, 2016 978-0-06-241548-6 978-0-06-241716-9 e-book Girls behaving very, very badly. Hannah Dexter has been lonely for so long that she doesn’t even notice anymore. She’s not an outcast; she’s a nonentity. An episode of public humiliation brings her to the attention of Lacey Champlain. Initially bound together in their hatred of popular girl supreme Nikki Drummond, Hannah and Lacey become inseparable, with Lacey the dominant member of this dyad. She transforms Hannah into Dex, replacing her Keds and Kmart T-shirts with Doc Martens and flannel. Under Lacey’s tutelage, Dex becomes the kind of girl who swipes drinks from her parents’ liquor cabinet and sneaks into clubs. Dex knows that Lacey has a dark side, but she doesn’t know the half of it, and it’s not long before this attachment takes a pathological turn. Wasserman has written a number of books for kids (Game of Flames, 2015, etc.), and she clearly sympathizes with that audience. The challenge here is that grown-ups almost never find adolescents as fascinating as they find themselves. Reading this overstuffed and overwrought book is, more often than not, as tiresome as paging through a high school diary. The fact that it’s set in the 1990s doesn’t help. The references to Nirvana and Sun-In and LA Gear sneakers create a sense of nostalgia rather than a sense of immediacy. (It was probably a good call to avoid mention of Heathers, which covered similar territory with wit and brevity rather than


Politics and romance, always a volatile mixture, intersect in Delhi in 1956. stone tablets

melodrama and extended metaphors.) The writing is repetitive—Wasserman delivers the same information over and over again—and overly florid. Indeed, the fact that the whole novel is written at fever pitch defuses the horror toward which the narrative builds. And, after hammering home the smallness of the town Dex and Lacey dream of escaping, Wasserman asks the reader to believe that this humdrum place could produce not one, but two, teen sociopaths—not just mean girls who go too far, but born deceivers and natural manipulators. Simultaneously overwhelming and underwhelming.

KEEP YOU CLOSE

Whitehouse, Lucie Bloomsbury (368 pp.) $26.00 | $17.99 e-book | May 3, 2016 978-1-63286-320-1 978-1-63286-321-8 e-book A woman retraces an estranged friend’s last days following her seemingly accidental death. Secrets can bind a friendship or tear it apart. For Rowan Winter, it’s been 10 years since she’s spoken to Marianne Glass, once her closest companion, but the news of Marianne’s death is still a crushing blow. A renowned artist, Marianne allegedly fell from the roof of the same Oxford home where, years earlier, Rowan once considered herself an honorary member of the lively, intellectual Glass clan. Whitehouse (Before We Met, 2014, etc.) teases the reader by withholding the specifics of what drove the two women apart that summer following college graduation and patriarch Seb Glass’ death, leaving just enough crumbs to generate a healthy dose of suspense. Encouraged by Marianne’s mother, Jacqueline, to attend the funeral, Rowan, currently living in London, finds herself back in Oxford, and from there, it’s easy to become ensnared in the life Marianne, darling of the art world, led. Convinced that her friend, who’d always suffered from crippling vertigo, didn’t simply tumble off the roof, Rowan volunteers to housesit—an offer that Marianne’s grieving mother and brother gladly accept—and begins digging into Marianne’s final, haunting series of paintings, as well as her tabloid-fodder relationship with her gallerist. Marianne isn’t the only one with secrets, and Whitehouse expertly unpeels Rowan’s layers to reveal someone who’s infinitely more intriguing—and darker—than she initially lets on. A first-rate psychological thriller about the decisions we make that forever define us.

STONE TABLETS

Zukrowski, Wojciech Translated by Kraft, Stephanie Paul Dry Books (733 pp.) $22.00 paper | May 24, 2016 978-1-58988-107-5 Politics and romance, always a volatile mixture, intersect in Delhi in 1956 when a Hungarian cultural attaché falls in love with an Australian doctor. Originally published 50 years ago and now translated into English for the first time, this novel draws on Zukrowski’s experience as a Polish envoy in India in the 1950s. In the fictional world Zukrowski creates, Istvan Terey, a native of Budapest, works at the Hungarian Embassy in Delhi and deals with some of the minutiae of diplomatic life. Although he’s married, his wife and two sons have remained in Budapest, and Istvan feels both out of touch and out of love with his wife. He has an explosive sexual encounter with Grace Vijayaveda, a young Hindu woman on the eve of her wedding to a rajah, but then, at the wedding ceremony, he meets Margit Ward, an Australian eye doctor who’s come to India to relieve some of the suffering there. As Grace notes, “We have misery and suffering enough, so she is in her element.” While neither Istvan nor Margit is looking for romance or love, they find themselves attracted to each other and eventually begin an affair. Things heat up in all senses when Istvan starts receiving disturbing letters from Bela, a friend from Hungary, who recounts to him some of the “gravity [and] grandeur” of the revolution that’s unfolding in Budapest in response to arrests, interrogations, and torture. Istvan feels pulled to return to his native land, though his outspoken criticisms of the government do not sit well with the Hungarian ambassador. And his ongoing relationship with Margit keeps him anchored in India, where he is popular with and sympathetic toward the local residents. And life gets even more morally complicated as the relationship between Margit and Istvan deepens and he considers divorcing his wife. A novel of epic scope and ambition.

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m ys t e r y BOAR ISLAND

Barr, Nevada Minotaur (384 pp.) $26.99 | $12.99 e-book | May 17, 2016 978-1-250-06469-1 978-1-4668-7093-2 e-book Ranger Anna Pigeon, sent from the Rockies to Maine’s Acadia National Park for a three-week stint, finds the brief interval more than long enough for another round of murder and assorted skulduggery. It seems like an especially good time to leave Boulder, where 16-year-old Elizabeth, the adopted daughter of Anna’s friend Heath Jarrod, has turned withdrawn and suicidal after becoming the victim first of unwanted and wholly inappropriate sexual overtures and then of an unrelenting barrage of cyberstalking and cybershaming. So packing up Heath, Elizabeth, and their dog Wily, Anna heads east just in time to run smack into a bizarre murder plot. Nurse Paulette Duffy, newly reunited with Acadia ranger Denise Castle, the identical twin separated from her for most of their lifetimes, is so convinced that her abusive husband, lobsterman Kurt Duffy, is going to kill her that she decides to strike first, establishing an ironclad alibi while her newfound sister does the dirty work. Denise, whose inability to cover her tracks is magnified by an inherited disease she doesn’t know about and a series of comically unlikely coincidences, arouses Anna’s suspicions almost instantly and just as quickly decides that “the pigeon” has to go. Lest Elizabeth feel neglected, her tormenter follows her to Acadia and demands a meeting that can’t possibly end well. By the time it’s all over, Anna will have been kidnapped twice, the second time ducttaped to a babe in arms. After the razor-sharp focus of Destroyer Angel (2014), Barr’s latest is a surprisingly hot mess, awash in scattered crimes whose perpetrators’ behaviors defy belief. There’s not even much about Acadia National Park.

HOLLOW CRIB

Bourg, BJ Five Star (252 pp.) $25.95 | May 18, 2016 978-1-4328-3142-4 Two separate police cases may actually be related. Detective Brandon Berger, of Louisiana’s Magnolia Parish, may be totally committed to his job, but his admirable loyalty sometimes lands him in his wife’s bad graces, as when he forgets their anniversary. While investigating a small-time thief, Berger finds the body of a woman 34

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who apparently died of natural causes. His discovery leads to his sharper awareness of an area church, led by the charismatic Father Isaac, whose members believe in faith healing. Berger thinks the church, which takes in an unusual amount of money for a poor area, is more like a cult than a mainstream church. Meantime, a young couple and their baby are camping in the Skybald National Forest. William Chandler and his wife, Claire, hope the trip will help heal the trauma of the accidental death of his father at the park many years ago. They meet a pleasant couple who dote on their baby daughter, Gracie, but are disturbed by a homeless vet hanging around the campsite. Disaster strikes when Claire is pushed in the river, the baby is attacked by a bear, and the whole family suffers a horrific accident as they rush to a hospital. When Chandler awakes in the hospital, he finds himself accused of killing his daughter and the homeless vet. His protestations of innocence fail to sway the detective investigating the case, who’s already convinced of his guilt. It will take Chandler himself along with a few coincidences to resolve the mystery. Bourg (But Not Forgotten, 2015), a veteran law enforcement officer, starts off slowly but eventually produces a tense procedural with some interesting twists.

A CAST OF FALCONS

Burrows, Steve Dundurn (384 pp.) $15.99 paper | $8.99 e-book May 31, 2016 978-1-4597-3214-8 978-1-4597-3216-2 e-book A police detective with a tough case is distracted by moral ambiguities in his own life. Brilliant DCI Domenic Jejeune (A Siege of Bitterns, 2014) is that rara avis, a Canadian serving in the British police force. Just as the Saltmarsh cops are called in to investigate the brutal murder of environmental scientist Philip Wayland, Jejeune has to leave for the Scottish Highlands, where local police have found a bird guide with his name on it on the unidentified body of a man who fell from a coastal cliff. Jejeune recognizes the book as a message from his reckless older brother, Damian, who’s in trouble with the law and wants his help. Both brothers are avid birders, and Damian made the trip to Great Britain with the dead man, who wanted his help illegally trapping wild gyrfalcons. Filled with trepidation, Jejeune takes Damian back to the Norfolk home he shares with his girlfriend, journalist Lindy Hey. In the meantime, his team, including his sergeant, Danny Maik, has been searching for clues in Wayland’s murder. Wayland was working in carbon-capture research, first at the Old Dairy property financed by Emirati Crown Prince Ibrahim al-Haladin, then switching to the nearby university where his fiancee works, raising hackles among some key parties. The public footpath leading through the Old Dairy property where Wayland was found has been the scene of several protests over the project, which threatens to destroy much


Cambridge is terrified by a series of inexplicable killings in 1094. the night wanderer

THE NIGHT WANDERER

of the local coastline, and the protesters are likely suspects. His colleagues naturally wonder why Jejeune is so distracted, and when a young woman working with gyrfalcons on the prince’s land is ostensibly killed by one of them, Jejeune keeps to himself his search for a connection between the man dead in Scotland and his own case. Burrows’ bird-watching expertise lends authenticity to an excellent mystery whose conflicted protagonist faces hard decisions.

Clare, Alys Severn House (240 pp.) $28.95 | May 1, 2016 978-0-7278-8584-5

Cambridge is terrified by a series of inexplicable killings in 1094. The healer Lassair, returned from her East Anglian village to Cambridge to continue her studies with the wizard Gurdyman and delve deeper into the connection she feels with the lawman Jack Chevestrier, is called to the scene of the death of a man whose throat has been ripped out so violently it would appear to be the work of an enormous wild animal. Jack is investigating what will turn out to be a series of similar murders marked by the discovery of first a rat, then a cat, and finally a dog, as if the killer were perfecting his method. As the killings continue, the panicking locals are commanded to stay indoors by the corrupt sheriff, who orders Jack not to investigate further, an order he and Lassair ignore at their peril. Seeking a connection among the murder victims, they learn that each may have possessed a rare item the killer could have been seeking. Convinced he’s no mortal man, the townsfolk call the killer the Night Wanderer. Lassair, who has otherworldly abilities she’s slowly been developing, sees flashes of clues in the uncanny black stone she has inherited from her grandfather. Working with Jack only intensifies her love for him despite her affection for her lover, Rollo, a Norman who spies for the king and has been overseas for more than a year. As the pair delve deeper into the horrific deaths, they set themselves up for a visit from the Night Wanderer. Once more, Clare (Blood of the South, 2015, etc.) deftly combines a vexing mystery with paranormal activity and earthly romance.

AFTER THE FIRE

Casey, Jane Minotaur (352 pp.) $25.99 | $12.99 e-book | May 3, 2016 978-1-250-04885-1 978-1-4668-5000-2 e-book A suspicious fire that claims three lives—no, make that four—in a high-rise London housing project provides a sixth case for DC Maeve Kerrigan (The Kill, 2015, etc.). DCI Una Burt, Kerrigan’s acting boss, is attracted to the case not only because one of the casualties—MP Geoff Armstrong, who apparently took the trouble to empty his pockets of his cellphone and identifying papers before plunging to his death from a 10th-floor window in Murchison House—has such a high profile, but because no one can imagine what such a racebaiting conservative would have been doing in Maudling Estate in the first place. Kerrigan, predictably, is drawn more strongly to Melissa Pell, a woman who, with her young son, had fled an abusive husband to take shelter in Murchison House only to get severely beaten by an unknown assailant after the fire broke out; to Mary Hearn, an elderly widow who survived the blaze but suffered an incapacitating stroke; and to the two unidentified girls who died locked in a closet in a neighboring flat. Nor can she forget the toxic family of self-styled “handyman” Carl Bellew, whose survival seems more nuisance than mercy. Throwing herself into the investigation despite her love/hate relationship with DI Josh Derwent, her continued dread of Chris Swain, the predator bent on her destruction, and the daunting news that Armstrong was strangled before he went out that window, Kerrigan comes up trumps, which is a lot more than you can say for Murchison House. Rococo plotting effectively tamed by Kerrigan’s cleareyed narration. If you think there are too many perps wandering the halls, it’s obvious that you’ve never lived in a place like Maudling Estate.

THE SINGER FROM MEMPHIS

Corby, Gary Soho Crime (352 pp.) $26.95 | May 17, 2016 978-1-61695-668-4

A wry sleuth accompanies a historian on the brink of fame to Egypt, where rebellion, murder, and wisecracks are in full flower in 450 B.C.E. Nicolaos, “the only private investigator in ancient Athens,” gets a surprise visit from aspiring historian Herodotus. He plans a research trip to Egypt, where, backed by Athens, the locals have risen up against their Persian overlords and need a bodyguard. Nico’s mentor, the politician Pericles, warns him that Herodotus might be a Persian spy but advises taking the job. If Herodotus is a spy, Pericles advises, “kill him.” And so the journey begins, Herodotus accompanied by a large retinue and Nico by his wife, Diotima, a priestess. Their course takes them into the colorful |

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heart of the conflict, richly depicted in Nico’s arch first-person narrative. They run afoul of pirates and require rescue by the Athenian fleet, interview the rebel leader Inaros, who claims to be the prince of Libya, and receive aid from Maxyates, a surprisingly erudite barbarian who claims Troy as his homeland. Nico is none too happy to run into the duplicitous Barzanes, the eyes and ears of the King of Persia, an established nemesis from his previous adventures (Death Ex Machina, 2015, etc.). The murder of a general, tied to the pharaoh’s valuable crook and flail, adds a new wrinkle to the excursion and raises its stakes. Is it just a coincidence that both Barzanes and Max are on the scene as Nico investigates? Corby’s latest is brisk, cheeky, and full of wellresearched historical tidbits.

COLD BLOOD, HOT SEA

D’Avanzo, Charlene Torrey House Press (250 pp.) $14.95 paper | May 10, 2016 978-1-937226-61-9

An oceanographer fears she was the target of an accident at sea that kills one of her colleagues. Are climate change doubters at work? Having two famous oceanographers for parents sets expectations high for Dr. Mara Tusconi and her work at the Maine Oceanographic Institution. Though Mara is gifted and has the good luck to work with her closest friend, Harvey, aka Dr. Harvina Allison, she’s got her share of professional troubles as well. Seymour, her boss, resents her for having famous parents even though they died when she was a teenager. Worse, someone appears to be out to get her. Climate change deniers have been hacking scientists’ emails, and Mara’s name is on a list of potentially “dangerous” researchers. In addition to everything else, Mara is one of those rare oceanographers who gets seasick. It’s especially unfortunate when she succumbs to her illness in front of Ted McKnight, a relatively new hire. She’s interested in getting to know Ted better even though she has a sneaking suspicion he’s involved with Harvey. During a research cruise that involves all hands, Mara’s nausea forces her to sit on the sidelines while the rest of the team is at work. When disaster strikes in the form of a suspicious death, Mara’s convinced that what happened was no accident. She wonders if she was the intended victim and knows she needs to investigate even if it means finding out that Ted isn’t the man she thought he was. Combining niche material about Maine life and oceanography, D’Avanzo’s debut may have trouble finding an audience.

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THE STRINGS OF MURDER

de Muriel, Oscar Pegasus Crime (412 pp.) $26.95 | May 15, 2016 978-1-68177-132-8

As Jack the Ripper plies his sanguinary trade in 1888 Whitechapel, Inspector Ian Frey, his boss and patron ousted from Scotland Yard, is dispatched to Edinburgh to help solve what turns out to be an equally gruesome series of murders. The death of violinist Guilleum Fontaine, stabbed and disemboweled, was so grisly that the authorities would think it Jack’s own handiwork if the notorious Ripper hadn’t presented a fresh victim in London only a few hours later. Was Fontaine’s killing the work of a copycat? Frey and Inspector Adolphus McCray, whom he’s been detailed to assist, don’t agree on much of anything—McCray’s idea of detecting, for instance, is to set the scraps of physical evidence before that renowned clairvoyant Madame Katerina—but they soon come to agree that the Edinburgh killer has a distinct program of his own, one that seems to strike down everyone who dares to play one of the storied violins Fontaine’s left behind. Theodore Wood, the conscientious, untalented conservatory student who inherited “the Maledetto,” his Amati, had better watch himself. So had Alistair Ardglass, the dean of the conservatory, even though he didn’t inherit Fontaine’s Stradivarius himself. Maybe even Elgie, Frey’s youngest brother, who’s come to Edinburgh to play first violin for Sir Arthur Sullivan’s latest opera. Will the salt-and-pepper cops interrupt the florid bickering in which they’re both seriously overinvested long enough to put together the pieces and identify a killer who seems to have flown in from the dark side of the moon? De Muriel’s debut offers nonviolinists ghostly, ghastly apparitions, unappealing accounts of unspeakable pub meals, and a steady drip of Had-I-But-Known foreshadowing and backshadowing. A series seems inevitable.

A KILLER BALL AT HONEYCHURCH HALL

Dennison, Hannah Minotaur (304 pp.) $24.99 | $11.99 e-book | May 3, 2016 978-1-250-06550-6 978-1-4668-7245-5 e-book A decades-old costume event brings new trouble for a titled family and its tenants. When a burst pipe destroys part of the Tudor wing of Honeychurch Hall, Rupert Honeychurch, the 15th Earl of Grenville, has to part with some of his artwork to pay for replastering the ceiling. He asks one of his tenants, antiques specialist Kat Stanford, to evaluate two historic drawings. A former London TV celebrity, Kat is beginning to


enjoy life in rural Devon and is setting up her own shop. But she should know by now that in Honeychurch Hall, nothing is ever straightforward: her efforts to examine the framed drawings send her tumbling into a hiding place for priests, from the days when Honeychurch Hall was a Royalist sanctuary and a temporary mint for Charles I. Kat stumbles over a desiccated female corpse with a broken neck and the remnants of a fancy costume that, as it happens, Kat’s mother, Iris, had made back in 1958, when she was visiting as a member of a traveling circus. The Dowager Countess of Grenville was supposed to wear the outfit at the annual midsummer ball, but an American heiress, Pandora Haslam-Grimley, stole it, wore it, and wasn’t seen again—until now. The Honeychurches plan to do what they’ve done for past scandals and deaths in their house: close ranks and cover up, which could prove harder than they thought after Kat discovers that the drawings are involved in an insurance scam. Add to the mix an aging lothario, Iris’ ex-con stepbrother, Kat’s ex-boyfriend and his spiteful wife, and the attractive local detective who’s suspicious of both Iris and Kat—and it doesn’t augur well for the grand opening of Kat’s antique business. The third in Dennison’s series of zany country cozies veers even closer to farce than its predecessors (Desire at Honeychurch Hall, 2015, etc.). It’s still enjoyable if you don’t think too hard.

that evidence have vanished, leaving Tracy wondering which Stoneridge locals might be covering up the truth, and why. It’s pretty obvious where this is all going, and when Tracy arrives at the unpleasant truth, more readers will be relieved or sad than surprised. Back in the present, the recent killing is wrapped up equally predictably but a lot more quickly, having led fans of this heartfelt series (Her Final Breath, 2015, etc.) through a long slog alongside the heroine with little to show for the effort.

LOST AND GONE FOREVER

Grecian, Alex Putnam (384 pp.) $27.00 | $13.99 e-book | May 17, 2016 978-0-399-17610-4 978-0-698-40726-8 e-book Jack the Ripper meets his psychopathic equal in this macabre tale of late Victorian England. Although Nevil Hammersmith, late of Scotland Yard, has the credentials to run his own detective agency, his only goal is to find Inspector Walter Day, his best friend and former colleague from the Yard. Day has been missing for almost a year, and his wife, Claire, is putting up the money for Hammersmith Discreet Enquiries, which, if not for employee Hatty Pitt, would be a one-case agency. She takes the initiative with the missing manager of the grandly refurbished and reopened Plumm’s Emporium, while her boss remains focused on Day. Despite all his searching, Hammersmith doesn’t know that practically under his nose, Day is wandering around in a dazed and amnesiac condition after months of captivity and mistreatment by a man he calls Jack. His jailer, who just released him, is better known as Jack the Ripper and has mesmerized Day into forgetting his wife and children and avoiding the police. Jack himself has eluded the members of a secret society that held him captive and tortured him in retribution for the pain he caused others. Now he’s killing the members one by one, and one of the few survivors, Claire’s father, hires a mysterious couple, known only as Mr. and Mrs. Parker, to kill Jack before he murders the entire society. Mrs. Parker is a particularly good choice for the job; her husband has to keep her in shackles at night so she won’t kill him just for the love of it. As pursuers and quarry converge on opulent Plumm’s, Jack is still one step ahead, with a secret weapon that only Walter Day can anticipate. Grecian (The Harvest Man, 2015, etc.) spares no gruesome detail in this fifth installment about the hunt for England’s most famous serial killer. If you’re up for one more tale about him and you can stand the gore, you’re in for quite a ride.

IN THE CLEARING

Dugoni, Robert Thomas & Mercer (384 pp.) $15.95 paper | May 17, 2016 978-1-5039-5357-4 Seattle PD Detective Tracy Crosswhite’s third case takes her back 40 years to a crime everyone concerned keeps telling her isn’t a crime at all. It’s no wonder that Tracy would be willing to take her days off reopening the apparent suicide of Stoneridge High senior Kimi Kanasket, whose father, Earl, was a Yakama elder, on the eve of the football game that put the Stoneridge football team, the Red Raiders, on the map back in 1976. The present-day case she’s been assigned, the shooting of Tim Collins, has elicited two confessions, one by Angela Collins, the wife who was divorcing him, the other by their son, Connor, 17. Since Angela’s retained her father, ultrasharp defense attorney Atticus Berkshire, as her counsel, the case promises to be a headache. So Tracy’s highly receptive to her police academy classmate Jenny Almond’s request that she do one last favor for Buzz Almond, the father Jenny just buried: look once more into the first big case he handled as a Klickitat County deputy sheriff. The evidence indicates that Kimi Kanasket threw herself off a hill into the river below following her breakup with Tommy Moore. But Buzz had never been happy about the case. And as Tracy, with zero encouragement from her boss, takes time to review the evidence herself, she sees that Buzz had been remarkably conscientious about collecting evidence 40 years ago—and that some crucial pieces of |

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ROCK-A-BYE BONES

Haines, Carolyn Minotaur (352 pp.) $25.99 | $12.99 e-book | May 17, 2016 978-1-250-08516-0 978-1-250-08518-4 e-book A Mississippi detective must dig down deep into the roots of a town when a newborn is left on her doorstep even though her business partner may want to keep the baby for herself. Sarah Booth Delaney already has plenty to deal with between taking care of her family home, Dahlia House, and attending to its pesky, preachy resident ghost, Jitty, who’s been on her to attach the Delaney name to something other than a detective agency. Now Sarah Booth has doubled her load by volunteering to cook Thanksgiving dinner for a large group of friends. Before she can get to the store to score some canned pumpkin for the pies she was supposed to make from scratch, she’s pulled into something altogether bigger than her cooking disasters: caring for a baby. Sarah Booth calls in Tinkie, her partner in crime and business, to help investigate, but Tinkie is interested in just one thing: the infant. While Tinkie tries to convince Sarah Booth that it might be best if the baby’s mother were never found, Sarah Booth does her darnedest to figure out what would make a mother abandon a newborn and why she’d leave the child on Sarah Booth’s porch. Though her investigation gets some additional help from three men vying to win her affection, Sarah Booth’s longtime adversary, Gertrude Strom, is spotted in town after skipping bail, leaving Sarah Booth trying to protect one party from danger while trying to stay out of trouble herself. As usual, Haines crams a lot into her latest cozy (Bone to Be Wild, 2015, etc.), aiming at readers with a taste for levity rather than restraint.

TRAIL OF ECHOES

Hall, Rachel Howzell Forge (320 pp.) $25.99 | $12.99 e-book | May 31, 2016 978-0-7653-8117-0 978-1-4668-7803-7 e-book Talented African-American teenagers from a poor LA neighborhood are targeted by a serial killer. Elouise “Lou” Norton was once one of those aspiring teens, and now she’s a homicide detective who still hasn’t won the promotion she deserves. Beneath her tough exterior lurk some inner demons; she’s just divorced her wealthy, unfaithful husband, and the long-ago murder of her sister was only recently solved. Now Victor Starr, the father who deserted the family when she was a child, wants to make amends. Lou’s living with a newspaperreporter friend and starting a tentative romance with DA Sam 38

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Seward when she catches the case of a dead African-American teenage girl found in a duffel bag in beautiful Martha Bonner Park. Lou and her white, Colorado-born partner, Colin Taggert, finally bond over the complex case as they find more victims apparently all killed by the same clever killer. Lou’s even more disturbed when they discover that the first victim lived in the same crumbling apartment complex where she herself grew up. Lou’s investigation reveals that several other missing black girls went to the same school as her victim, had the same guidance counselor, and were despised and sometimes attacked by their fellow students for being brighter and more talented than the rest. Although the missing girls are all eventually found in duffel bags in the park, they were killed elsewhere, moved several times, and injected with bug repellent. In a neighborhood where tensions between African-Americans and Mexicans are ratcheting up, a Mexican with a long record of child abuse is an obvious suspect, but there are plenty of others. Lou scrambles to find a killer who enjoys using coded messages and leaving statues of Greek muses on her car. Striving to solve her own personal problems while in the midst of her most difficult case will only make her stronger—if she survives. The third and best of a finely wrought series (Skies of Ash, 2015, etc.) that gives voice to a rare figure in crime fiction: a highly complex, fully imagined black female detective.

SISTER EVE AND THE BLUE NUN

Hinton, Lynne Thomas Nelson (336 pp.) $15.99 paper | $4.99 e-book May 17, 2016 978-0-7180-4188-5 978-0-7180-4167-0 e-book A nun may need divine intervention to rescue her from a desperate killer. Now that she and her fellow nuns have been thrown out of the New Mexico monastery most have called home for many years, Sister Eve Divine has some lifechanging decisions to make. She’s enjoyed helping her father, a retired police detective, with several of his cases (The Case of the Sin City Sister, 2015, etc.) and, deeply disturbed at being treated as a second-class citizen by the church, considers giving up her life as a nun despite her deep faith. She’s temporarily back at the monastery as she tries to decide what to do, when her friend Brother Anthony’s sister, Kelly, a college professor, is found dead in her room. Anthony, who’d recently had a loud argument with his sister, admits to Eve that he’d stolen some papers from the Isleta Pueblo concerning Sister Maria de Jesus de Agreda, the 17th-century Blue Nun who lived in Spain but reputedly traveled to New Mexico to visit the Jumano people, who then converted to Christianity. Anthony blames himself for his beloved sister’s death because he gave her the papers since she had an academic interest in the Blue Nun. Then Anthony vanishes, and even though he left behind a letter that reads like a confession, Eve is certain that he didn’t kill his sister. Of course the police, including


DON’T BELIEVE A WORD

her father’s former partner and an attractive Native American, think Anthony is the most likely suspect. Despite warnings from them and her father, Eve sets out to prove Anthony’s innocence and ends up putting herself in such a dangerous position that only an unusual source of help can save her. Hinton mixes lots of twists and action with mysticism and a touch of romance, but the biggest puzzle in Sister Eve’s third case may be the heroine’s reckless decision-making.

MacDonald, Patricia Severn House (240 pp.) $28.95 | May 1, 2016 978-0-7278-8587-6

A book editor is forced to work with the author who ruined her life. Eden Radley’s world was turned upside down nine years ago when her mother, Tara, ran off to marry handsome Harvard grad Flynn Darby, a short story writer 13 years her junior. Now Eden has a nice life in New York. She works for DeLaurier Publishing in Manhattan and lives in millennial-friendly Brooklyn, where she munches Thai spring rolls with her pals at the Black Cat as she wonders whether Vince Silver, the bartender at Brisbane’s, might have a thing for her. Her world is upended a second time when her mother and her half brother Jeremy are found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning in their Cleveland home. Everyone sees their deaths as a murder-suicide. Four-year-old Jeremy suffered from a rare genetic disorder that had left him unable to walk, talk, or care for himself, an obvious burden for his aging parents. But something in Eden resists the notion that Tara would dose Jeremy and herself with barbiturates before leaving him to die alone in his bed while she retreated to hers. Her suspicions grow when Barry Preston and Tim McNee, investigators from Harriman Insurance, question her about a $5 million policy naming Flynn as beneficiary. But she must tread lightly because Flynn has just sold DeLaurier a book chronicling his and Tara’s marriage and their struggles to care for their disabled son—and insisted as part of the deal that Eden be appointed his editor. MacDonald (I See You, 2014, etc.) presents a story of love gone wrong that avoids black and white, letting the reader appreciate its many shades of gray.

MURDER FRAMES THE SCENE

Kneubuhl, Victoria Nalani Univ. of Hawai’i (384 pp.) $16.99 paper | May 15, 2016 978-0-8248-5529-1

Even in paradise, murder can disrupt the lives of the upper class. While her playwright fiance, Ned Manusia, prowls the streets of 1930s Shanghai in search of his lifelong friend Nigel Hawthorn, Mina Beckwith, back in Hawaii, lunches at the Harbor Grill with “petite and spunky” Cecily Porter, one of her childhood pals. Since Mina’s about to start work on the catalog for the upcoming Honolulu Academy of Arts show at Tamara Morrison’s gallery, where Cecily’s husband, Tom works, the two plan Mina’s best approach to the socialite over teriyaki steak and macaroni salad. Ned soon returns to Hawaii with Nigel and Nigel’s wife, pianist Mei Lien Chen, in tow, so tête-àtêtes over cocktails on the lanai often become foursomes. Ned and Nigel set up an outpost in town where they can help the Americans keep tabs on suspicious comings and goings at the Japanese Embassy. Meanwhile, Mina trails photographer Raymond Morgan as he snaps the artists in poses that evoke classical paintings. Mina does her best to write copy to accompany Raymond’s photos, but the artists, being artists, can’t always articulate what inspires them. One of the things that clearly does inspire them, however, is dallying with folks other than their spouses. So when corpses start to appear, Ned and Mina first assume the motive is personal. But Ned and Nigel’s surveillance soon points to the possibility of more global forces at work, as they find that even a remote tropical island can feel the force of the storm gathering over Europe. Despite some sharp exchanges between the fiances, Kneubuhl (Murder Leaves its Mark, 2011) evokes Charlie Chan more than Nick and Nora, with exotic locale and period setting at the forefront.

TEA WITH JAM AND DREAD

Myers, Tamar Severn House (224 pp.) $28.95 | May 1, 2016 978-0-7278-8589-0

Downton Abbey meets the Penn Dutch Inn. As fans already know, Magdalena Portulacca Yoder Rosen is a Mennonite bedand-breakfast owner married to a Jewish physician. Her mother-in-law surpasses the wildest stereotype of a Jewish mother, her half brother is a serial killer, and as the wealthiest person in her small Pennsylvania community, she pays the bills for anything from the sheriff to the pastor of her church. Her latest guests at the inn are the Earl of Grimsley-Snodgrass, his wife, Countess Aubrey, and their three children, identical twin viscounts Rupert and Sebastian and their sister, Lady Celia. Not long after the guests arrive, the desiccated body of a former guest from Japan is found on |

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top of the elevator, clearing up the question of what smelled so awful for such a long time. Cultural misunderstandings abound. In an effort to entertain her British guests, Magdalena takes them on a picnic, where Celia claims to have seen one of the twins pushed off a cliff. For better or worse, no body is found. The handsome local sheriff makes a token effort to solve the crimes, but as always, Magdalena comes up with the answer. Sarcasm and wacky humor overwhelm the underwhelming mystery in Magdalena’s ninth (The Death of Pie, 2014, etc.).

ZIGZAG

Pronzini, Bill Forge (272 pp.) $24.99 | $11.99 e-book | May 17, 2016 978-0-7653-8103-3 978-1-4668-7677-4 e-book Two brand-new novellas and two reprinted short stories test the semiretired Nameless Detective’s ability to close cases—and the gentle reader’s taste for new wine in old bottles. The two brief reprints both involve serendipitous discoveries. In “Grapplin’,” Nameless (Vixen, 2015, etc.), who’s signed on to help a long-estranged uncle search for his missing niece, is surprised to solve a 50-year-old double murder along the way. The even shorter “Nightscape” finds Nameless and his operative Jake Runyon sitting in a diner hoping to catch the scent of a deadbeat dad and ends with their bagging “two violent, abusive fathers in the space of about three minutes.” The title novella follows an even curvier path. Nameless, working a rare case himself out in Rio Verdi, begins by collecting statements from witnesses to an auto accident involving San Francisco businessman Arthur Clements, then takes a macabre turn when his search for one more witness leads him to the bodies of two men who’ve apparently shot each other in an argument over drugs. Newly widowed Doreen Fentress, convinced that her Ray wasn’t that kind of man, hires Nameless to find out the truth about him, and to her sorrow, that’s exactly what he does. The client in “Revenant,” suburban stockbroker Peter Erskine, is literally spooked by the effects of another car crash. Elza Vok, the Lithuanian Satanist who plowed into Erskine’s car, cursed him on his deathbed, and now Erskine and his ailing wife, Marian, are both convinced that an evil spirit has assumed Vok’s physical form to haunt them. Pronzini tries to end on the same ambivalent note as John Dickson Carr’s classic novel The Burning Court but doesn’t quite pull it off. Proficient but routine work.

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MURDER, BY GEORGE

Quigley, Jeanne Five Star (268 pp.) $25.95 | May 18, 2016 978-1-4328-3143-1

A contested case of finders keepers turns deadly in upstate New York. The picturesque Adirondack village of Barton may be a far cry from Veronica Walsh’s former home on the set of a recently canceled soap opera, but Veronica’s enjoying a more leisurely life as a boutique owner and the companion of history professor Mark Burke. Village charm changes to rancor when Scott Culverson, a young architect who’s one of Mark’s former students, buys an antique letterbox that surprisingly contains a valuable miniature painting by the late local artist George Bradshaw. Is Scott entitled to keep the painting? Should it belong to Ella and Madeline Griffin, who had originally owned the box, as their grandniece Regina contends? They’d given it away without knowing about the painting and an accompanying letter that identifies it as a gift for their mother. Is it rightfully the property of the man to whom Ella and Madeline gave the box? He sold it to Scott at a flea market, but now he insists the sale included only the box and not its contents. Or should Bradshaw’s rich, influential daughter, Leona Kendall, and her children get the painting? While the various parties threaten lawsuits, someone stabs Scott to death with a cheese knife and steals the painting. Ella and Madeline beg Veronica to investigate unofficially; they’re worried that Regina will be the prime suspect, especially since she has no alibi. Besides, Leona is rumored to have a judge or two in her pocket, and perhaps the police as well. Veronica pitches in by blithely removing a silver watch she finds from the crime scene, shadowing a mysterious woman in black, enmeshing herself in local property politics—and ending up precariously placed when she finds out who killed Scott. As chatty and replete with hometown detail as Quigley’s debut (All Things Murder, 2014). But gentle humor and an amiable lead make up for all those digressions.

LAWYER FOR THE CAT

Robinson, Lee Dunne/St. Martin’s (240 pp.) $24.99 | $11.99 e-book | May 10, 2016 978-1-250-05242-1 978-1-4668-5404-8 e-book Now that she’s represented a dog named Sherman, a Charleston family lawyer is naturally assigned as a cat’s counsel. Though their marriage was brief and their divorce years before, Sally Baynard knows that her exhusband, Joe, still cherishes feelings for her. But it doesn’t seem right that he uses his powers as a Charleston Family Court judge


to assign her to represent pets. To be more accurate, he’s recommended Sally’s skills to a colleague, but it feels the same when she’s assigned to select the caretaker for Beatrice, Lila Mackay’s cat. Sally has a hard enough time getting her human clients to tell her the truth and nothing but; she doesn’t have the patience to deal with a client who can’t do anything but meow. Sally isn’t one to shirk her responsibilities, though. She’s been a dedicated caretaker to the ailing mother who’s lived with her for years. Moved by the same sense of duty, if not enthusiasm, Sally gets ready to choose from one of Lila’s three suggested caretakers for Beatrice. Sally’s experience helping with custody of Sherman (Lawyer for the Dog, 2015) doesn’t do her much good. She doesn’t feel the same affection for Beatrice, though her boyfriend, who happens to be a veterinarian, tries his best to bridge the gap. Sally’s biggest problem may be Lila’s bad-news son Randall, who knows that the estate will be his once Beatrice is out of the picture for good. For better or worse, this cozy concludes with a bittersweet ending. Maybe the next installment (Lawyer for the Bird?) will provide a more positive resolution.

go beyond Walleye’s borders. Even more than in Macy’s earlier cases (Burnt River, 2015, etc.), personal complications encumber not only the protagonist’s life, but also the story’s momentum— though her flaws do make her more real. A dedicated detective and a grieving daughter find strength in teamwork in this bleak procedural.

KILLER DEAL

Sarenbrant, Sofie Translated by Norlén, Paul Stockholm Text (448 pp.) $16.95 paper | May 10, 2016 978-91-7547-197-6 Sarenbrant’s first English translation introduces to crime-ridden Scandinavia a Swedish police detective whose third recorded case strikes uncomfortably close to home. Ordinarily, Emma Sköld’s pregnancy would be the biggest news in her life. But even though she and Kristoffer, her realtor lover, are overjoyed, their pleasure is overshadowed by a new development in the already grim life of Cornelia Göransson, a friend of Emma’s older sister, personal trainer Josefin Eriksson. Just when Cornelia thought the sale of the home she shared with Hans Göransson, the much older husband who dazzled her many years ago with the wealth from his commercial real estate agency, would get her safely away from his mental and physical abuse, Hans comes back to haunt her in the most graphic possible way: by turning up dead the morning after realtor Helena Sjöblom stages her second open house. Cornelia hustles their developmentally delayed 6-year-old, Astrid, away from the scene and over to Josefin’s house, little aware that she’ll need to make more urgent demands on Josefin’s friendship when she’s arrested for murder and must ask Josefin to take Astrid indefinitely. Emma and the rest of Stockholm County’s Violent Crime Detective Unit, unable to uncover any evidence, turn a cold ear on Cornelia’s tales of decades of unreported abuse, and the only remedy for her plight seems to be another dose of homicide while she’s still in police custody. But this latest outrage brings the case even closer to Emma’s own hearth and home. The house-of-cards structure, piling one disaster atop another, lacks the remorseless logic of the best Nordic procedurals. There’s no denying, though, that the climactic revelation is a shocker.

WALLEYE JUNCTION

Salvalaggio, Karin Minotaur (336 pp.) $25.99 | $12.99 e-book | May 10, 2016 978-1-250-07892-6 978-1-4668-9147-0 e-book Abduction, murder, and scandal mar the beauty of cherry-blossom season in a small Montana town. Detective Macy Greeley, a special investigator for the Department of Justice, is responding to a call from kidnap victim Philip Long when she accidentally hits him with her SUV. She doesn’t know that he’s just escaped his captors, and the pelting rain on her windshield prevents her from seeing him running toward her until it’s too late. Hanging upside down in her overturned vehicle, she watches in helpless horror as someone gets off a motorcycle and shoots Long with Macy’s gun. After her rescue, Macy cuts short her recuperation, entrusts her young son to her mother’s care, and returns to Walleye Junction to find Long’s killer. She knows that as a talk show host, he riled up a number of people, especially militia members. But when the bodies of Carla and Lloyd Spencer—both long-term addicts, both dead of a drug overdose—are found next to the van used to kidnap Long, their motive appears to be merely money to buy more drugs. Forensic evidence that the corpses were moved, however, suggests a third party with an even more sinister purpose. Long’s daughter, Emma, comes home to attend the funeral and look for an incriminating journal that only she knows her father kept. While Emma’s confronting painful events from her past and the realization that her father kept secrets even from her, Macy juggles work, motherhood, and a romance with a police chief. Emma’s love for her father and Macy’s determination to help Long in death, even if she couldn’t in life, bring them together over the big exposé he was working on and implications that |

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DOMINION

science fiction and fantasy

Connolly, John & Ridyard, Jennifer Emily Bestler/Atria (336 pp.) $26.00 | $13.99 e-book | May 17, 2016 978-1-4767-5718-6 978-1-4767-5720-9 e-book Series: Chronicles of the Invaders

COMPANY TOWN

An alien-warfare trilogy (Empire, 2015, etc.) culminates with white-hat aliens, black-hat aliens, young human survivors, and evil brain-sucking parasites battling

Ashby, Madeline Tor (256 pp.) $24.99 | $11.99 e-book | May 17, 2016 978-0-7653-8290-0 978-1-4668-8985-9 e-book A teenage genius and his bodyguard uncover unpleasant corporate secrets and face a potentially otherworldly threat in this near-future sci-fi thriller. New Arcadia is a failing town-sized oil rig in the Canadian Maritimes, recently purchased by Lynch Ltd. Rumors abound about the community’s future, and in the center of this turmoil is thrust Go Jung-Hwa, a skilled fighter and bodyguard for the sex workers’ union. The heir to the Lynch empire, 15-year-old genius Joel, has received death threats that seem to come from the future, and his elderly, ruthless father, Zachariah, believes that only Hwa can protect him. Poor and suffering from a congenital disorder that has stained her skin and given her epilepsy, Hwa has never received the augments or implants that most people have—which means that she can’t be hacked. But that doesn’t mean she and Joel can’t be stalked by an invisible serial killer who targets both them and the sex workers Hwa used to guard. We don’t learn much about the world outside of New Arcadia, but the microcosm we do experience—a single-industry town dependent on the continued need for fossil fuels, where corporations act like governments and nearly everyone is some form of cyborg—is intriguing and feels reasonably grounded in potential future trends. Ashby (iD, 2013, etc.) hints at the more outré, time-travel elements of the plot early on, but they still seem almost grafted on to the more realistic aspects of the story. They detract from the book’s hardedged authenticity and ultimately undercut a major theme: Hwa overcoming her hatred of and shame at her physical appearance. There’s also a killing that occurs midway through the book that ought to have major repercussions for Hwa but is apparently swept under the rug. Begins with vivid characters and solid worldbuilding bones but doesn’t entirely hang together.

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to a gruesome finish. Sound complicated? Not to worry, there’s a helpful short summary in the first couple of pages. Advanced human-aliens, the Illyri, have conquered the Earth despite the ongoing civil war pitting the Illyri Diplomatic Corps and Securitat against the Military. Both sides covet an alliance with the Sisterhood, a secretive female society of knowledge brokers. Rebellious Syl Hellais, the first Illyri to be born on Earth, became involved with resistance fighters Paul Kerr and his younger brother, Steven. The brothers were captured, trained as Illyri fighters, and sent millions of light-years away, while Syl forcibly joined the Sisterhood. There, she learned that key members of the Sisterhood, Diplomats, and Securitat have been enslaved by alien parasites, or Others, and then used her immense psychic powers to escape and link up with the Kerr brothers. Now, they flee into a mysterious wormhole from which nobody has ever returned; inside, they discover the Cayth, a collective organism that knows about and opposes the Others but fears annihilation. Ani, Syl’s former friend from Earth, meanwhile, hijacks the Sisterhood and schemes to destroy the One, the Others’ ancient controlling intelligence. Instructed by the parasites, the Illyri dose Earth with Other spores; only a handful of resistance fighters successfully retreat into secure underground bunkers. Tension cranks up as Syl and Paul plot with the uninfected Illyri Military to seize the Sisterhood, unaware of Ani’s presence, while Steven heads for Earth with a small fleet of captured ships. All these well-articulated, intriguing threads combine with solid action to produce a satisfying conclusion. A yarn that makes little claim to originality but offers appealing characters and an involving narrative to devotees of easy-reading space operas.


ALL FIXED UP

are bound together for life—when one dies, the other dies, too. In the first book, Cass, whose mutation is that she can see the future, escaped her twin, Zach, a powerful player on the ruling Alpha Council. She rescued a boy called Kip from a kind of living death, floating unconscious in a tank built by the Alphas to imprison their Omega twins to keep them away from harm. But even her visions couldn’t keep the council from slaughtering hundreds of Omegas on the island that had been their only refuge —or stop Kip from sacrificing his life to end that of his twin, who was working with the council. Now, along with Piper, a resistance leader, and his sympathetic Alpha twin, Zoe, Cass must prevent Zach and the rest of the council from trapping all Omegas in these horrifying tanks. Haig isn’t afraid to take readers into dark places, letting her characters struggle with grief and tough moral choices. Suspense comes as much from uncovering the secrets of the past as from moving inexorably toward the uncertain future. A powerful post-apocalyptic story with unusual emotional depth and clear, often beautiful language, this is one genre fans won’t want to miss.

Grimes, Linda Tor (336 pp.) $26.99 | $12.99 e-book | May 24, 2016 978-0-7653-7639-8 978-1-4668-5127-6 e-book An addition to the sexy, fun urban fantasy series (The Big Fix, 2015, etc.) featuring Ciel Halligan, “aura adaptor”— which means that, thanks to a genetic mutation, she can assume the appearance and physical characteristics of another person in a sort of 21st-century version of elvish “glamour.” Ciel’s latest gig involves covering for the temporary indisposition of astronaut Dr. Philippa Carson, who intends to be the first woman to conceive—via IVF—in space. But then the mission’s official photographer, Alec Loughlin, accuses Ciel of being an impostor. But how does he know? Can he see through her aura? Worse, Ciel’s elderly Aunt Helen—also an aura adaptor; the talent runs in the family—turns up murdered. When Loughlin puts in a hostile appearance at the funeral, Ciel knows something’s deeply amiss. Other family members are murdered using the same gruesome method, so Ciel turns to her hot-hothot boyfriend, adoptive cousin, adaptor, and mysterious operative, Billy Doyle. Here, Ciel’s forced to make a confession: she’s pregnant. And she isn’t sure who the father is. Not at all the paternal type, Billy blanches and promptly disappears, compelling Ciel to turn to CIA agent and far-from-ex-crush Mark Fielding—the alternative candidate for fatherhood. Loyal, compassionate Mark insists he’ll marry her even if the baby isn’t his. He’ll also investigate the possibly homicidal Loughlin and his perplexing associates, aura adaptors being a significant asset to the CIA. Can Ciel stay alive long enough to decide between Billy and Mark? Grimes keeps the pot bubbling with humor, suspense, steamy sex, riddles, danger...oh, and more hot sex. Sure to please series regulars and fans of urban fantasy/ mystery/romance.

THE CHIMES

Smaill, Anna Quercus (304 pp.) $26.99 | $12.99 e-book | May 3, 2016 978-1-68144-534-2 978-1-68144-533-5 e-book A melodic, immersive dystopian tale set in a London where writing is lost and song has replaced story. It’s some time after the cataclysmic Allbreaking, and the powerful Order has set all to rights. Every evening now, their bells peal out a soothing chorus of harmony that overwhelms body and mind. Living in an eternal present, residents of Britain rely on the rituals of “bodymemory” and their private hoards of “objectmemories”— a muddy raincoat, a shard of plate—in order to cling to the slippery knowledge of who they are. In inventive language that perfectly captures the disrupted nature of this world, debut novelist Smaill introduces us to Simon, through whom we experience this richly realized future. Simon runs with a “pact” of fellow teens in the “under”—the dark tunnels and tracks leftover from when Britain had electricity. Guided by the pact leader, Lucien, whose musical gifts more than make up for his blindness, they scavenge in “thamesmuck” for nuggets of precious pale “mettle” to sell on the black market. Simon has settled into this life despite the unusual clarity with which he can visualize his past, which once included a family. But to Simon’s great disturbance, Lucien starts asking him to share these stories of his past, in violation of all social codes. When Simon does begin to piece his memories together with Lucien’s, they discover the horror of how this world of seeming harmony came to be. After the deft and engaging worldbuilding of the first half, the second half of the novel slips into a swift and simple quest narrative, but it’s one plaited with an unexpected story of first love. As the novel reaches its crescendo, the poignancy of memory, with all

THE MAP OF BONES

Haig, Francesca Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster (320 pp.) $24.99 | $12.99 e-book | May 3, 2016 978-1-4767-6719-2 978-1-4767-6726-0 e-book Series: Fire Sermon Trilogy, 2 This sequel to The Fire Sermon (2015) extends and deepens its story of a postapocalyptic world riven by war. Cass lives in a world divided in two by the nuclear blast that destroyed the old, technological world and created the twinning phenomenon that makes every pregnancy result in a twin birth: one child is always an Alpha, perfect and whole, and one an infertile, mutated Omega. Despite their differences, twins |

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its attendant pain and loss, faces down the dangers of a perfection built on ignorant bliss. Entrancingly poetic and engagingly plotted, this is a story that brims with heart and soul.

r om a n c e ONLY BELOVED

Balogh, Mary Signet (400 pp.) $7.99 paper | $7.99 e-book | May 3, 2016 978-0-451-47778-1 978-0-698-41132-6 e-book When the Duke of Stanbrook announces his plans to marry spinster Dora Debbins, friends rally around them in celebration while an old nemesis swears vengeance against the couple, casting a shadow across their marriage. Eight years ago, George Crabbe, Duke of Stanbrook, opened his Cornwall estate to wounded officers of the Napoleonic Wars and ended up becoming especially close to six of them, known as the Survivors. Over the past couple of years, all the Survivors have made their ways back into the world and found soul mates, leaving the duke extremely happy for them but also lonely. At 48, having been a widower for more than a decade, he discovers he’s contemplating marriage with a certain spinster he met a little over a year ago, the sister-in-law of one of the Survivors. Once the idea is planted, he moves forward quickly, and soon Miss Dora Debbins has agreed to be his wife. For her part, Dora’s life hasn’t turned out in any way as she expected, but she has found contentment in her modest, quiet path as a music teacher. When the Duke of Stanbrook turns up on her doorstep, proposing marriage, she is stunned but accepts. Finding him honorable and attractive, she’s hopeful they can make a good life together. Neither is prepared for the true happiness they find in each other’s company, and as they learn more about each other’s past disappointments and struggles, they fall in love and help each other heal. The duke’s first marriage was marred by shameful secrets he’s never shared with anyone, and when a member of his first wife’s family seems determined to make trouble for the newlyweds, even the couple’s friends may not be able to shelter them from his dark intentions. Balogh wraps up her celebrated series with a perfect happy-ever-after for the older duke, his spinster bride, and the whole Survivors’ Club.

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HOW THE DUKE WAS WON

Bell, Lenora Avon/HarperCollins (384 pp.) $7.99 paper | $6.99 e-book Apr. 26, 2016 978-0-06-239772-0 978-0-06-239773-7 e-book One proud duke, four desperate women, and a weekend full of surprises. Charlene knows her place—she’s the by-blow of the Earl of Desmond—and all she dares hope for is a better life for her family. Her father’s wife has offered her what might be her only chance to change their lives. Charlene looks just like her half sister, Lady Dorothea, who’s busy traveling, which means Lady Desmond wants to train Charlene to stand in for Dorothea and help charm the Duke of Harland into marrying her. Charlene needs to use all of her talents to reach James, aka His Disgrace, who’s bringing four women to his country house for a weekend in order to find a suitably proper wife (with suitably powerful father) who can give him an heir and restore his reputation. True love isn’t his aim; he only cares for his cocoa farm in the West Indies, where he’s abolished slavery, and his only goal is making chocolate affordable for everyone in England. Over a weekend of pratfalls, with Lady Desmond urging her on from the sidelines, Charlene falls for the duke despite herself, and the duke falls for “Lady Dorothea.” When Charlene secures a betrothal, her work is done—but the duke might not be fooled so easily. Bell’s debut romance is as fierce as Charlene’s self-defense skills and is full of surprises. The duke’s proto–social justice leanings add a new angle to this spicy romance and will delight fans of the genre. Bell has found a new avenue to the happily-ever-after of the Regency era, and it’s one that fans will enjoy exploring. Bold and sweet as good chocolate, this debut romance will give Regency fans a new author for their must-read list.

THE UNTAMED EARL

Bowman, Valerie St. Martin’s (304 pp.) $7.99 paper | $7.99 e-book | May 3, 2016 978-1-250-07258-0 978-1-4668-8440-3 e-book In love with one sister, betrothed to the other—what’s an earl to do? Usually when sisters fight over a beau, they’re both mad for him, but that’s not the case for the Hobbs sisters. Lady Alexandra has quietly carried a torch for the roguish Lord Owen Monroe since her teens; her older sister, Lady Lavinia, can’t stand him, but her father has arranged for them to marry. Owen has no interest in marrying either, but his father tells him he must not only marry Lavinia, but woo her—or else lose his allowance. After a case of mistaken identity, Owen


HOW TO MANAGE A MARQUESS

stumbles into an agreement with Alexandra: she’ll tell him how to win Lavinia, and he’ll help raise her profile on the marriage market. Soon, Owen is as besotted with Alexandra as she has been with him, but the arranged marriage looms—unless Owen can find a way to marry the sister he truly loves. In the fifth book in The Playful Brides series, Bowman’s characters are a bit flat, with spoiled Lavinia barely kinder than Cinderella’s stepsisters and Owen bearing the tight breeches and confusion of the average Regency hero, but they’re still endearing. Luckily, the plot and ending are satisfying, and Alex earns her place among the ranks of perfectly awkward romance heroines. A sweet and simple Regency story of unrequited love, requited.

MacKenzie, Sally Zebra/Kensington (352 pp.) $7.99 paper | $5.99 e-book Apr. 26, 2016 978-1-4201-3714-9 978-1-4201-3715-6 e-book A Regency-era marquess has allowed his life to be controlled by a family curse, but a blonde spinster promises to give him something else to live for. The second full-length installment of MacKenzie’s Spinster House series (What to Do with a Duke, 2015) stars 30-year-old Nathaniel, the Marquess of Haywood, who made a deathbed promise to his mother to protect his cousin Marcus, the Duke of Hart, from a 200-year-old curse. The curse says that unless the duke marries for love, he’ll die before his wife gives birth to an heir. But Marcus is sick of Nate following him around, trying to prevent him from compromising gently born ladies and being forced into marriage and ultimately his own death. Nate himself is somewhat distracted from playing nursemaid to his cousin by the lovely Miss Anne Davenport, a childish blonde in her 20s who is anxious to leave her girlhood home before her father’s impending marriage to a woman younger than Anne herself. She’s vying with other village spinsters for a chance to move into a cottage called the Spinster House, with the Duke of Hart as landlord. Because both Nate and Anne lack any self-control whatsoever, they find themselves canoodling in public repeatedly, until finally Nate realizes he is trying to get himself into a position where he’ll be forced to marry Anne. MacKenzie’s prose is lively and readable, but her characters are a bit insipid and don’t grow much during the course of the story. Worse, Nate talks to his penis throughout the novel, frequently telling it, “Shut up, Cock!” in response to his own lascivious thoughts. Tiresome lead characters and a rather inane plot make this novel eminently skippable.

THE GIRL FROM SUMMER HILL

Deveraux, Jude Ballantine (384 pp.) $27.00 | $13.99 e-book | $27.00 Lg. Prt. May 3, 2016 978-1-101-88326-6 978-1-101-88327-3 e-book 978-0-399-56683-7 Lg. Prt. Kicking off a new series set in Summer Hill, Virginia, the New York Times bestselling author brings Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice to the theater—and into the 21st century. Acacia “Casey” Reddick doesn’t know she’s renting her guesthouse from movie star Tate Landers until he shows up naked in her outdoor shower. Casey, who hasn’t seen any of his movies, thinks Tate is trespassing; Tate, who’s usually “cast as a shirtless guy who throws women across his shoulder,” mistakes Casey for a peeping, star-struck fan. When they’re both cast in a stage production of Pride and Prejudice, they continue their feud as Lizzy Bennett and Mr. Darcy. The chapters are divided into acts and scenes that follow the arc of the original story without necessarily sticking to the script—a device that offers a bounty of ways for Casey and Tate to spar onstage while wearing period costumes and offstage while wearing nothing at all. With all the modern updates—Casey and her half siblings were fathered by the same sperm donor—there are also tongue-in-cheek laments about dating “metrosexuals” while fantasizing about a hero who “throws women over the saddle of a horse and tells them to shut up.” The highlight is Tate’s conniving ex-brother-in-law, Devlin Haines, who fully embodies his role as Mr. Wickham when he lies to Casey about Tate and seduces a young cast member. Thankfully, advancements in women’s rights have made 21stcentury America a better setting than Regency England for comeuppance—and redemption—when all is revealed. A steamy and delightfully outlandish retelling of a literary classic.

SLEEPLESS IN MANHATTAN

Morgan, Sarah Harlequin HQN (384 pp.) $7.99 paper | $5.99 e-book | May 31, 2016 978-0-373-78915-3 978-1-4592-9408-0 e-book Morgan’s latest contemporary romance focuses on the ups and downs of being a modern career girl in the big city. Paige works with her two best friends at Star Events, where she’s expecting a big promotion. Romantic Eva is a chef and prickly Frankie is a floral designer. When the three women are unexpectedly fired, they decide to go into business for themselves. Paige’s brother, Matt, is overprotective and has been since she was a sickly child with a heart condition. But |

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can he protect her from Jake, his best friend, whom Paige has been in love with since high school? When they were younger, Paige, fresh from the hospital, threw herself at Jake, who tenderly rejected her. He has issues with women, stemming from his mother’s abandonment when he was 6. Jake’s rejection of Paige and his issues with women are so often repeated that they interfere with any hope of a smooth story arc. Morgan succeeds best when she doesn’t belabor the point. The friendship between the women is the strongest relationship in the book, but the romantic hero leaves a lot to be desired. Jake has all the classic trappings of a bad boy: a motorcycle, a sexy voice, and a string of failed relationships with women like Bambi (whose most defining characteristic is that she’s a raw vegan model). Morgan describes him as “the sort of man you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley on a dark night. Unless you were a woman.” While the sex scenes between Paige and Jake are steamy, he’s the sort of guy a smart friend might warn her friend away from. The romance is a bit overworked, but there have certainly been worse examples of these established tropes.

MAGNATE

Shupe, Joanna Zebra/Kensington (352 pp.) $7.99 paper | $5.99 e-book Apr. 26, 2016 978-1-4201-3984-6 978-1-4201-3985-3 e-book A wager between a Knickerbocker princess and an upstart steel magnate from the slums leads to marriage in this novel set in New York City during the Gilded Age. Shupe (Tycoon, 2016, etc.) returns with the first full-length novel in her Knickerbockers Club series about a group of wealthy industrialists. Lizzie Sloane feels stifled by the constraints placed on young, unmarried women. Bored by the parties and opera outings considered by her brother and guardian to be appropriate activities for her, Lizzie intends to make a fortune speculating on the stock exchange instead. She approaches Emmett Cavanaugh, hoping to convince the wealthy owner of East Coast Steel to provide the necessary backing for her investment firm. Emmett is a ruthless businessman who overcame crushing childhood poverty. Unwillingly attracted to Lizzie and unable to resist the chance to gain a business advantage over her brother, Emmett suggests a wager that could cost Lizzie her shares in her family’s rail company. Lizzie accepts. But the pair’s association quickly leads to scandal, and Emmett finds himself blackmailed into marriage by Lizzie’s brother. The rest of the book continues at the same quick and enjoyable pace even as Shupe deftly weaves other characters from the series into the narrative. A slower pace might have served the main story better in some places, however. Emmett spends most of the novel tormented by his failure to protect his family and by the things he did to overcome poverty. Until suddenly he isn’t. A more in-depth exploration of Emmett’s change of heart would have been preferable. 46

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Readers will enjoy this entertaining romance about two people who refuse to let society dictate whom they love.

ALPHA WOLF NEED NOT APPLY

Spear, Terry Sourcebooks Casablanca (352 pp.) $7.99 paper | $7.99 e-book | May 3, 2016 978-1-4926-2186-7 978-1-4926-2187-4 e-book There are too many packs of werewolves in the same Colorado mountains. The Silver pack, well-manned and well-resourced, runs Silver Town and its surrounding territory. Eric Silver, park ranger and cousin to the pack leader, is on the hunt for a second pack, which may have been growing huge tracts of marijuana on the grounds of the local national park. But instead, he encounters a small, more agreeable pack led by the most beautiful shewolf he’s ever seen. Pepper Grayling is a perfectly capable alpha who’s not interested in a mate, but she has to call on Eric and his family when a new danger threatens both of them. While Spear (SEAL Wolf in Too Deep, 2016, etc.) has written 18 prior books in the series, the worldbuilding is thorough enough that a reader can follow the pack structure and nature of the lupus garous without prior knowledge of the universe. There are certainly things a new reader can only guess at, but most of it is irrelevant to the story. A questionable number of alphas in various packs notwithstanding, the story is...readable. It’s certainly a pageturner, but the entire story arc is little more than lukewarm. This is unfortunate considering the promise and importance of introducing an alpha female who is also a good pack leader. How many female alphas are there in paranormal romance? But the execution, from meeting to mating, as well as conflict and denouement, is just OK. Limited drama, minor angst, and mediocre writing.


nonfiction MOGULS, MONSTERS AND MADMEN An Uncensored Life in Show Business

These titles earned the Kirkus Star: YOUR SONG CHANGED MY LIFE by Bob Boilen............................. 49

Avrich, Barry ECW Press (400 pp.) $25.95 | May 10, 2016 978-1-77041-287-3

MACARTHUR AT WAR by Walter R. Borneman............................... 49 COURT-MARTIAL by Chris Bray.........................................................50 THE BIG PICTURE by Sean Carroll.....................................................52

Montreal-bred impresario Avrich (Selling the Sizzle, 2, 2005, etc.) recounts the deals that shaped his career in North America’s often volatile and always high-stakes entertainment industry. As a child, the author knew he wanted to entertain, and his father’s advice for his young son was, “don’t blend in.” That suggestion sat particularly well with Avrich, who determined not to let his lack of a singing voice keep him off the stage, even if that meant dedicating himself to operating behind the scenes. The author writes affectionately about the warm Jewish upbringing that put him on the right path, first in advertising, then Broadway and, ultimately, Hollywood. “I promised myself that I would take my father’s passion for life and run with it,” Avrich writes, before launching into the story of an exciting career trajectory that soon had him intimately involved in the production of blockbuster plays like Phantom of the Opera and Kiss of the Spiderwoman. That same path, however, also landed him inside the shaky orbits of some of the most powerful players in show business. Legally challenged producer Garth Drabinsky (“a seductive and relentless psychopath”) looms especially large in the mix. However, Drabinsky is by no means the only outsized ego that Avrich analyzes. The author also scrutinizes Hollywood powerbrokers Lew Wasserman and Harvey Weinstein, screen legend Lauren Bacall, sensationalist scribe Dominick Dunne, and comedian David Steinberg. The author ticks off each minivignette without dishing too much dirt, but he still manages to be surprisingly compelling. Avrich laments that after completing his contentious Weinstein documentary, “asshole” critics were left wondering, “Where’s the sleaze?” This time around, the author isn’t slinging a whole lot of mud, either, but that doesn’t prevent his intimate takes on subjects as diverse as Winston Churchill and Guccione from delighting with a special insider’s authenticity. An entertaining look at some giant-sized celebrity personalities.

PUMPKINFLOWERS by Matti Friedman........................................... 57 THE UKRAINIAN AND RUSSIAN NOTEBOOKS by Igort................ 64 BLACK HOLE BLUES AND OTHER SONGS FROM OUTER SPACE by Janna Levin......................................................................................70 THE NEW ARAB WARS by Marc Lynch............................................ 71 THE ROMANOVS by Simon Sebag Montefiore.................................... 75 THE GENE by Siddhartha Mukherjee................................................. 75 AMERICAN RHAPSODY by Claudia Roth Pierpont.......................... 77 EAST WEST STREET by Philippe Sands..............................................78 FAR AND AWAY by Andrew Solomon................................................79 MEMORIES by Teffi...............................................................................79 GOD IS ROUND by Juan Villoro.........................................................81 BITTER FREEDOM by Maurice Walsh................................................ 82 TROUBLE IN THE TRIBE by Dov Waxman........................................83 HOMINTERN by Gregory Woods.........................................................85 EVERYTHING IS TEETH by Evie Wyld...............................................85

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the ways of guns A SELF-MADE MAN The Political Life of Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1849

Photo courtesy Leah Overstreet

On the heels of three more mass shootings in the past week alone—in Kalamazoo, Michigan (6 dead), Glendale, Arizona (5 dead), and Hesston, Kansas (4 dead)—we are forced yet again to confront our relationship with weapons and what I—and millions of others—consider to be woefully inadequate gun laws. Countless books have explored the history of weapons, guns in particular, and their appeal across generations, many of them written with distinct political agendas in mind (both pro- and anti-gun). On March 22, British journalist Iain Overton joins the debate with The Way of the Gun, an investigation of how guns are manufactured, sold, and used throughout the world, from the U.S. to South Africa to Pakistan. Much of the book is personal, some even ideological—in a starred review, we called it “a passionate mix of rhetoric and travelogue”—but the narrative is a welcome, emotionally powerful addition to the gun debate. (For another intriguing perspective, that of gun manufacturers, see Pamela Haag’s The Gunning of America, coming April 19.) Overton traveled to more than 20 countries in search of both hard data and firsthand stories, and for American readers, his heavy focus on the U.S. will be especially helpful. Even the author, who works for a charity called Action on Armed Violence, admits, “guns are fun. I have no doubt about that. When used in the right way and in the right place, they can bring great satisfaction and pleasure.” Of course, just because they may bring pleasure doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be highly regulated—particularly those guns not used for hunting purposes—and Overton delves into the National Rifle Association’s overly heavy hand in policy direction (or lack thereof). It’s his comparisons with other countries, however, that leave the most lasting impression, and his book should cause renewed conversation in a seemingly intractable debate that should be anything but. —E.L.

Blumenthal, Sidney Simon & Schuster (608 pp.) $35.00 | May 10, 2016 978-1-4767-7725-2

The first volume in a study of Abraham Lincoln, professional politician. In this minutely detailed work, Blumenthal (The Strange Death of Republican America, 2008, etc.), a former senior adviser to Bill Clinton and national staff reporter for the Washington Post, sifts through Lincoln’s early influences to take the sum of the later politician. The humble rail splitter recognized from an early age what slavery meant, beginning in his childhood among the anti-slavery dissidents in backwoods Kentucky and Indiana and continuing with his practical experience as his father’s hireling until the age of 21. Indeed, at an early campaign event, Lincoln announced, “I used to be a slave,” and although he made the audience laugh, he was deeply serious. As Blumenthal shows, he was “constantly transforming himself through self-education and political aspiration.” He was a new kind of man, a professional politician who delighted in the messy give-and-take of the party ring, unlike earlier historians’ portrayal of the Great Emancipator (for example, by James G. Randall) as someone “too noble” to get his hands dirty. Blumenthal sees in Lincoln’s striving a method of calculation—e.g., his cultivation of the stories of the common man and his courting of the press. Practicing law was the first step in becoming a politician, and Lincoln modeled himself consciously on the image of statesman Henry Clay. Blumenthal works his way through mentors and early influences, such as Springfield’s leading attorney John Todd Stuart; former president and now Massachusetts anti-slavery Congressman John Quincy Adams, “old man eloquent” arguing constantly against the gag rule in Congress; and especially future wife Mary Todd, who believed in Lincoln as no other did. While the author often seems so swept up in his historical research as to lose sight of his subject, he delves deeply into the incremental building of Lincoln’s anti-slavery views, flourishing in the debates with Stephen Douglas. A consummate political observer keenly dissects the machinations of Lincoln’s incredible rise to power.

Eric Liebetrau is the nonfiction and managing editor. 48

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Boilen’s warm, engaging voice pervades this treat for music aficionados. your song changed my life

YOUR SONG CHANGED MY LIFE From Jimmy Page to St. Vincent, Smokey Robinson to Hozier, Thirty-Five Beloved Artists on Their Journey and the Music that Inspired It

MACARTHUR AT WAR World War II in the Pacific

Borneman, Walter R. Little, Brown (592 pp.) $30.00 | May 10, 2016 978-0-316-40532-4

Boilen, Bob Morrow/HarperCollins (288 pp.) $25.99 | Apr. 12, 2016 978-0-06-234444-1

An examination of the reputation of Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964), at one point the most admired of all the generals on the Allied side of World War II. Borneman (American Spring: Lexington, Concord, and the Road to Revolution, 2014, etc.) draws on a wealth of sources to give a clear, full-length portrait of MacArthur, who carefully massaged his image with frequent press releases. In the early chapters, the author recapitulates MacArthur’s career before 1941 when, as commander in the Philippines, he was caught unprepared when the Japanese attacked the day after Pearl Harbor. A desperate defense on the Bataan peninsula failed to hold the Japanese.

Interviews with nearly three dozen musicians about the lifealtering songs that inspired their musical careers. Since 2000, Boilen, creator and host of NPR’s All Songs Considered, has featured new and established singers of all genres on his popular online music show and podcasts. In these winning profiles, he teases out the single moment when each artist heard a song he or she will never forget. (His own life “changed forever,” he writes, when he first heard the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life.”) The song for these artists varies greatly: Motown star Smokey Robinson cites Jackie Wilson’s “Lonely Teardrops,” Irish-born Hozier recalls falling in love with Tom Waits’ “Cold Cold Ground,” and composer Philip Glass remembers his discovery at age 11 of Spike Jones’ amusing version of Rossini’s “William Tell Overture,” played on pots and pans. In his fascinating explorations of these artists’ lives and work, Boilen finds pivotal moments happen most often at early ages, especially the teens and 20s. But then Justin Vernon of indie folk band Bon Iver encountered The Staves’ “No Me, No You, No More,” and “felt like I was lifting off the ground,” only recently, at age 33. Colin Meloy of the Decemberists remembers buying Hüsker Dü’s “beautiful, aching, gorgeous acoustic song” “Hardly Gotten Over It” and playing it on a boom box. Trey Anastasio of Phish first heard “Something’s Coming,” from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story, among his mother’s Broadway original cast albums. Jazz violinist Regina Carter, on the other hand, rejected her own mother’s advice to join a symphony orchestra and went on to become a solo performer after hearing “Lovin’ is Really My Game” by Brainstorm, a funk band. Other contributors include Cat Stevens, Jackson Browne, Chris Thile, Jeff Tweedy, Carrie Brownstein, David Byrne, Jenny Lewis, and Jimmy Page. Boilen’s warm, engaging voice pervades this treat for music aficionados. (25 b/w photos)

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After direct orders from the president, MacArthur evacuated to Australia to organize Allied efforts to stem the tide. Despite his loss of the Philippines, he was widely seen as a hero, something Americans desperately needed in the dark days of 1942. Borneman chronicles the buildup of American forces and the stepby-step progress of the general’s return to the Philippines and the ultimate defeat of Japan. Stories of his infighting with other U.S. commanders make up much of the narrative. The author portrays MacArthur as a prima donna who regularly inflated his own exploits and bad-mouthed anyone who got between him and his perceived destiny. But Franklin Roosevelt and Gen. George Marshall recognized MacArthur’s value both as a general and as a symbol, and they tried to keep him happy, as Borneman amply shows with quotes from memos and messages. The author shows a grudging respect for his subject despite an understandable impatience with some of his less admirable qualities. These included declaring battles won when there was still serious resistance—which he left to subordinates to clean up while he moved on in an aura of victory. On the other hand, he showed real personal courage, frequently touring beachheads only hours after troops had landed. The book concludes with him presiding over the Japanese surrender in the fall of 1945, one of his finest moments. A no-holds-barred portrait of a controversial figure and a feast for World War II aficionados. (16-page b/w photo insert; 17 maps)

the time the two men launched their plan, it was clear that the Ninth Edition was quickly becoming outdated. Scientific, technological, social, and political changes mandated new material, so they decided to produce supplemental volumes, hiring as editor respected journalist Hugh Chisholm, “a man of the world as well as a scholar.” Throughout his tenure, the heroic Chisholm served as ballast to ground Hooper’s wild enthusiasms. Boyles traces the evolution of the Britannica and the fate of the Times through lawsuits, battles for ownership, and ongoing money woes involving colorful, earnest, sometimes eccentric characters. It all culminated in the majestic 11th Edition: 40,000 long, erudite, yet accessible articles written by a huge number of renowned contributors. Boyles focuses mostly on the business end; his look at content is illuminating, though, and might well have been expanded. A well-researched, brightly told history of the men and women who saved a great compendium of knowledge.

COURT-MARTIAL How Military Justice Has Shaped America from the Revolution to 9/11 and Beyond

Bray, Chris Norton (400 pp.) $27.95 | May 17, 2016 978-0-393-24340-6

EVERYTHING EXPLAINED THAT IS EXPLAINABLE On the Creation of the Encyclopaedia Britannica’s Celebrated Eleventh Edition, 1910-1911

In his first book, a former infantry sergeant–turned-historian surveys more than 200 years of the administration of American military justice. Through the prism of select, illustrative military trials, courts-martial, and commissions, Bray’s chronological treatment stresses a few consistent themes: how unwritten rules, politics, culture, and institutional tradition shape the application of law; how the increased scale of our wars expanded the scope and power of military justice; how the interests of command authority, obedience, and discipline always rub up against rights of the accused; how “the hard journey from command authority to due process” has never been straightforward; how the issues contested have always mirrored the controversies that have riven the larger society. Some of his court-martial subjects—John C. Fremont, Billy Mitchell, and William Calley— will be known to general readers. Others include the likes of a militiaman who refused to cut his hair, the African-American Women’s Army Corps medical technicians who defied orders to scrub floors, or the only World War II soldier shot for desertion. Though his sympathies seem to lie almost uniformly with the accused, Bray never loses sight of the always-pertinent command perspective, whether the officer involved is Andrew Jackson, Winfield Scott, William Tecumseh Sherman, or John Pershing. His delightfully conversational style makes room for literary references to the works of Herman Melville, Richard Henry Dana, and Robert Penn Warren and to discursions on flogging and dueling, the class division between officers and

Boyles, Denis Knopf (464 pp.) $30.00 | Jun. 7, 2016 978-0-307-26917-1

How grit and determination created an encyclopedia for the modern world. In the 1890s, the Encyclopedia Britannica, then in its Ninth Edition, and the prestigious Times of London both were losing money. Critic and editor Boyles (Superior, Nebraska: Common Sense Values of America’s Heartland, 2008, etc.), editor at large and columnist for Men’s Health, focuses on a pair of audacious American bookmen, Horace Everett Hooper and Henry Haxton, who hatched a plan to revive the fortunes of both eminent publications. They would use the newspaper to sell the encyclopedia by barraging readers with “bombastic, full-page and direct-mail marketing,” a form of advertising that the staid Times had never seen. For Hooper, promoting the encyclopedia was more than a way to make money: an idealist and anglophile, he saw the encyclopedia as “a tool for making the world a better, more civilized place by supporting his romantic vision of an English-speaking elite.” He aimed, he said, “to make the Britan­ nica self-sustaining and give it to Britain as a national trust.” By 50

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THIS ROAD I RIDE Sometimes It Takes Losing Everything to Find Yourself

enlisted, and the warrior mentality of professional soldiers. The author resurrects numerous stories that deserve wider attention: the strong-arm tactics by the Lincoln administration and the Union Army officer corps to ensure political uniformity within the ranks, the hidden portion of a cemetery in France that houses only the numbered graves of soldiers executed for rape, murder, and desertion, or the shocking symmetry between a massacre of Cheyenne at Sand Creek and of Vietnamese at My Lai 100 years later. A thoroughly impressive debut.

Buhring, Juliana Norton (224 pp.) $26.95 | May 24, 2016 978-0-393-29255-8

An endurance cyclist’s account of how the death of the man she loved became the catalyst for a record-setting aroundthe-world cycling journey of self-discovery. When Buhring (co-author: Not Without My Sister: The True Story of Three Girls Violated and Betrayed, 2007) met adventurer Hendri Coetzee, she was working as a “quasi-missionary” for the Children of God in Kampala, Uganda. The two were immediately and powerfully attracted to one another, and for the next several years, they maintained an intense connection despite the distance that separated them. In 2010, just as Buhring (now an ex–cult member) was nearing her 30th birthday, Hendri was

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A brilliantly lucid exposition of profound philosophical and scientific issues in a language accessible to lay readers. the big picture

killed on an African kayaking expedition. More grief-stricken than she had ever been in her life, the author realized she needed to do something to save herself “or be swallowed up by the profound melancholy I was drowning in.” So she set herself a goal: to travel around the world by bicycle. She had no training and no sponsorship, yet within a year and a half, she gained both. Leaving her home in Naples, Italy, Buhring began her journey in the United States. Traveling against fierce headwinds, she cycled between Boston and Seattle, averaging 175 miles per day. After losing her way in New Zealand, she was forced to traverse—without a map or functioning GPS—through icy, mountainous terrain. She crossed the deserts of Australia and then made her way through Malaysia, Thailand, India, Turkey, and finally Italy. Hunger, illness, and the threat of equipment failure dogged her, as did moments of doubt and fear. As grueling as the journey was, however, ex–cult friends and strangers she called her “road angels” gave her the journey-affirming aid she needed. Buhring’s book is a testament to the human will to overcome and survive as well as a moving portrait of a woman on a deeply personal quest to define the meaning of her life. A searching, engaging memoir from an author who “can be at home no matter where...in the world.” (15 illustrations)

father thought nothing of driving on two-lane highways and narrow mountain roads in their giant American station wagon, without a sign of a guardrail. As the author tells it, everything was a lovely adventure. Those lucky enough to have lived and attended school in Europe will love this book, and anyone heading to Paris will surely add Fontainebleau to his or her schedule.

THE BIG PICTURE On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself

Carroll, Sean Dutton (464 pp.) $28.00 | May 10, 2016 978-0-525-95482-8

“From the perspective of a vast, seemingly indifferent cosmos,” do our lives really matter? As might be expected, Carroll’s (Theoretical Physics/ Caltech; The Particle at the End of the Universe: How the Hunt for the Higgs Boson Leads Us to the Edge of a New World, 2012, etc.) answer is affirmative but not simple. “We are not the reason for the existence of the universe,” he writes, “but our ability for self-awareness and reflection make us special within it.” Furthermore, “understanding how the world works, and what constraints that puts on who we are, is an important part of understanding how we fit into the big picture.” In this fascinating book, Carroll explores “how and why, in the context of mindless evolution from the Big Bang to the present, the laws of physics brought about complex, adaptive, intelligent, responsive, evolving, caring creatures like you and me.” To effectively navigate these complicated matters, he turns to an area of his own research regarding how the emergence of increasing complexity in the evolving universe relates to increasing entropy, the second law of thermodynamics. Although intuitively, we associate entropy with disorganization and increased randomness, it plays a crucial role in the development of complex structures. For example, it is randomness and apparent disorganization— the role of chance variation and mutations—that are central to Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection. At each successive level of complexity—from stars and planets to life and conscious beings—different levels of descriptive language are necessary. This introduces a poetic aspect into the language used by scientists in their attempts to understand our place in the universe. The author affirms his conviction that “nothing we... know about consciousness should lead us to doubt the ordinary, naturalistic conception of the world,” including the provisional nature of scientific theory. Carroll is the perfect guide on this wondrous journey of discovery. A brilliantly lucid exposition of profound philosophical and scientific issues in a language accessible to lay readers.

FINDING FONTAINEBLEAU An American Boy in France

Carhart, Thad Viking (304 pp.) $27.00 | May 17, 2016 978-0-525-42880-0

The author of The Piano Shop on the Left Bank (2001) returns with another celebration of France. Carhart (Across the Endless River, 2009) was 4 when his family moved to Fontainebleau in 1954. His father was a staff officer for the headquarters of NATO command, housed in the Château de Fontainebleau. The author and his four siblings were enrolled in French schools, where they had to learn the language quickly. Carhart alternates chapters explaining the 900-year history of the chateau with delightful tales of France in the 1950s. Having returned to live in Paris as an adult, he has been lucky to meet the architect in charge of preserving Fontainebleau. The architect has shown him the attics and gutted remains, explaining the additions and changes of the various occupants, including Marie and Catherine de Medici and Napoleon III. He convincingly argues for his preference for the history-rich chateau over the more popular Versailles. Just as interesting are the stories of children’s games played at school and Sunday excursions to Paris. In the city, they explored parks and museums while their father went to his fencing matches. The family lived in a large home with an acre of garden, sufficient household help, and, most importantly, wine delivered to the back door every few weeks. Camping was a cheaper vacation for a family of seven, but spending an entire day setting up their large, nonwaterproof tent took most of the fun out of it. Carhart relates how their 52

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BLACK DOVE Mamá, Mi’jo, and Me

to unlocking her present. She writes of her struggles with childhood poverty and the many obstacles that her family had to face on a daily basis. The author focuses on her aunt Flora, who, despite hardship—or perhaps because of it—found positivity in all things, displaying a vibrant, extroverted personality. Castillo’s mother, on the other hand, was quiet and reserved. “My mother,” writes the author, “from whom no doubt I acquired the somber manner that has so often been misinterpreted as aloofness, was so different from her only sister.” Castillo describes a childhood and young adulthood spent moving among Mexico, Chicago, and elsewhere, pursuing education, love, and a growing sense that writing could provide a way to make sense of her life and the difficulties faced by a nation with many cultures living side by side. It is a high-wire act to bring together a combination of personality characteristics and specific cultural touchstones and make it resonate with a wider readership, but the author handles it well. There are points when the writing veers from emotional into overly sentimental. However, Castillo succeeds more often than she fails, and her book provides a compassionate look at those crossing points in our shared lives.

Castillo, Ana Feminist Press (304 pp.) $16.95 paper | May 10, 2016 978-1-55861-923-4

A memoir of a writer—single, bisexual, mother, feminist—and her thoughts on social injustices, culture, and families. In the introduction, poet and novelist Castillo (Give It to Me, 2014, etc.) acknowledges that her specific combination of self-descriptors could cause many readers to “come away from this book feeling that my stories have nothing to do with your lives.” Certainly, many readers approach memoirs with the idea of that being a positive aspect— to immerse oneself in the experiences and travails of somebody different, to escape oneself—and the author ably explores the intersections between shared experiences and personal, unique experiences. The details of her forebears’ histories serve as keys

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THE AUCTIONEER Adventures in the Art Trade

illumination of the saga of how Marcus Samuel Jr. (1853-1927) and Henri Deterding (1886-1939) became rivals in the world oil trade and then, around the turn of the century, found enough common interest to attack the Standard Oil juggernaut from Japan, Russia, and elsewhere outside the U.S. Samuel, from a London Jewish merchant family, and Deterding, an ambitious executive at the Royal Dutch Petroleum Company, have been largely ignored by American oil industry chroniclers publishing for general audiences. Doran decided to move them into the spotlight, an especially ambitious task considering that Samuel ordered his personal and business papers burned shortly after his death in 1927. However, the author found enough surviving material to proceed confidently. As he closes the historical portion of the narrative, Doran tacks on a chapter titled “The Enduring Puzzle,” which explains how the impacts of Rockefeller, Samuel, and Deterding play out in today’s global oil economy. Certain elements endure, especially the geography that determines where to drill, the distances overcome to transport the products to consumers, the limits of technology in extracting substances from deep in the Earth, the environmental and financial risks involved, and the impossible-to-measure impacts of greed. The author views Chinese energy exploration and consumption (China is “a place where 291 million tons of imported coal goes up in smoke each year; where car-crazy consumers buy 20 million new automobiles annually”) as the overarching key to the future of the oil business. A readable popular history told largely through the actions of swashbuckling tycoons.

de Pury, Simon & Stadiem, William St. Martin’s (240 pp.) $25.99 | May 3, 2016 978-1-250-05978-9

Renowned auctioneer de Pury presents a memoir full of gossip, anecdotes, and tales of the very, very rich. The author always had a physical, rather than intellectual, approach to art. Pure joy was just seeing and being around great art. De Pury, who is assisted by co-author Stadiem (Jet Set: The People, The Planes, The Glamour and the Romance in Aviation’s Glory Years, 2014, etc.), makes no secret of the fact that he has always been an ambitious snob and elitist, required assets for an auctioneer to those with large, expensive collections to sell. His first job was with art dealer and “total genius” Ernst Beyeler, a hometown friend of his mother in Basel, Switzerland. In 1971, Beyeler created Art Basel, and he laid out a five-year plan for the boy who still thought he wanted to be an artist. He showed him that buying and selling can be just as rewarding. The author moved on to Sotheby’s and met Peter Cecil Wilson, “the seemingly mythical chairman” and auctioneer extraordinaire. In Wilson, de Pury discovered the techniques to copy in hopes of being as great as his role model. Occasionally, the book is a true ego trip, with the author recalling his record-breaking sales as “the gallery swooned” or “the crowd breathed a collective ‘wow.’ ” De Pury engages in unabashed name-dropping and delivers plenty of juicy tidbits about some of the world’s 1 percent. However, this is also the story of a man wholly dedicated to his profession, a jet-setter before the jet age. He served as curator for one of the world’s greatest art collectors, Baron Heini Thyssen, and was also the owner of the acclaimed auction house Phillips. At times, the narrative reads like a gossip rag for the fabulously wealthy, but it’s an enjoyable book that lets us live vicariously in the haut monde. (8-page color photo insert)

DEVOURED From Chicken Wings to Kale Smoothies—How What We Eat Defines Who We Are

Egan, Sophie Morrow/HarperCollins (416 pp.) $28.99 | May 3, 2016 978-0-06-239098-1

How American food habits have changed over time. In this entertaining investigation of the habits of American eaters, Egan, a director in the strategic initiatives group of the Culinary Institute of America, examines how eating habits have changed in the past 50-plus years. “At every step of my research,” she writes, “this is what I have found: We don’t put food first. We put three main values above all: work, freedom, and progress.” Those three factors have pushed us to be a nation that now spends more time eating at our workstations than ever before and have prompted an explosion in the snack food industry, as the fine line between a snack and meal gets increasingly blurry. Because Americans spend so much time at work, there’s little time or inclination to create a meal from scratch, which has aided the rise of pre-made meals that are easily reheated in the microwave. Fast-food restaurants now offer a plethora of dishes, while fast-casual restaurants put the emphasis on letting customers

BREAKING ROCKEFELLER The Incredible Story of the Ambitious Rivals Who Toppled an Oil Empire

Doran, Peter B. Viking (340 pp.) $28.00 | May 24, 2016 978-0-525-42739-1

A biography of two unlikely oilmen from outside the United States who broke the global domination of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company. Although the unimaginably wealthy and powerful Rockefeller receives marquee billing in the title, Center for European Policy director of research Doran’s account of that tycoon is mostly derivative. The author’s main accomplishment is his 54

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JEFFERSON’S AMERICA The President, the Purchase, and the Explorers Who Transformed a Nation

create their own meals from a variety of options. Low-fat, gluten-free, low-sugar, and other “diet” foods are all the rage as increasing numbers of Americans battle obesity and diabetes thanks to excessive food intake. The author analyzes a variety of topics, including the desire to drink more wine, eat more chicken wings, and binge on cheese. Egan studies the creation of “food holidays,” as well, days that revolve as much around food as the actual event (think Super Bowl), and novelty foods that combine sugar, salt, fat, and other ingredients into fantastic creations sure to entice us—e.g., Papa John’s Frito Chili Pizza. The author tells readers how and why these items have become part of America’s food culture and speculates on where American food habits will take us in the future. An occasionally humorous, definitely informative look at what Americans eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and all those snack times in between and how our eating habits are changing who we are.

Fenster, Julie M. Crown (416 pp.) $30.00 | May 10, 2016 978-0-307-95648-4

The United States purchased the Louisiana Territory for $15 million but did not know its borders. Fenster (FDR’s Shadow: Louis Howe, The Force that Shaped Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, 2009, etc.) ably depicts the men who set out to discover them. We all know about Lewis and Clark, but there were other parties seeking the territory’s boundaries. The author narrates the wonderful and twisted story of how Napoleon’s France acquired the territory from Spain and then sold it a year later to America, while Spain did their best to block exploration. The

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No author has covered the years after exoneration with the same depth as Flowers does in this disturbing book. exoneree diaries

threat of war with Spain was a constant, with explorers on alert. Thomas Jefferson sought men who would make a geographic record, interact and seek peace with Native Americans, and survey sites for forts. Most importantly, they were to conduct experiments to establish longitude and latitude, describe the land, and collect mineral, vegetable, and animal specimens. “Jefferson had in mind a very special combination of characteristics when he chose his explorers,” writes the author. Andrew Ellicott and Thomas Freeman were appointed to survey the 31st parallel boundary between the Floridas and the Mississippi territory, working in cooperation with William Dunbar, a brilliant but difficult polymath. The self-serving Gen. James Wilkinson, a subject worth a book on his own, often got in the way and collected salary from Spain and America. In spite of Wilkinson, however, the 31st parallel project was completed. Lewis and Clark’s Missouri River expedition may have been the longest, but equally important were Dunbar and chemist George Hunter’s work on the Ouachita River as well as Zebulon Pike’s discovery of the source of the Mississippi and his attempts to link up with Freeman’s Red River expedition. Geographers and American history buffs will enjoy Fenster’s detailed research on these fascinating men, her easy style of writing, and tales beyond the textbooks. She opens an entirely new vista on those who opened the West. (8-page b/w insert; 5 maps)

focus, however, is the lack of compassion shown to the exonerated defendants after their releases from prison. Illinois, Indiana, and most other states erect obstacles to compensating exonerees financially for their lost years and their physical and emotional suffering, and some states provide no compensation. Flowers ably shows that even under the best of circumstances, exonerees struggle with family relationships, job searches, recovery from prison-related health problems, adjustments to new technologies, and more. She does offer examples of efforts, mostly poorly funded, to help exonerees, but she makes the significant point that prisoners actually guilty of crimes often receive more government assistance after release than exonerees. A thoroughly researched, provocative book of justice gone wrong.

FINDING NORTH How Navigation Makes Us Human

Foy, George Michelsen Flatiron Books (304 pp.) $25.99 | May 10, 2016 978-1-250-05268-1

Novelist and amateur sailor Foy (Creative Writing/New York Univ.; Zero Decibels: The Quest for Absolute Silence, 2010, etc.), who sees technology as a distinctly mixed blessing, chronicles his journey up the New England coast in a rickety boat without satellite guidance. In a poetically written, occasionally fragmented account, the author traces his attempts to emulate with more success his great-great grandfather, who died when his ship went down in the frigid waters off Norway. Before taking off on the brief sail from Cape Cod to Maine described in two chapters, in which the author nearly falls off the ship during high winds and reluctantly uses GPS to navigate to shore through the fog once he has reached his destination, he undertook some other navigation-related adventures. He got lost in “a casual sort of way” on his way to NYU’s biology lab to explore how cells make their ways to their proper positions; encountered “the dark heart of GPS” at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado; and hitched a ride with a Haitian boat captain who steers by the stars. Later, he headed off to Norway to try, with questionable success, to find the spot in the ocean where his ancestor’s ship went down. Attempts to work in his feelings about the recent death of his brother take the book off course, and speculations about the connection between the increase in the number of Alzheimer’s cases and the more frequent use of GPS are far-fetched. The author’s work is most successful at its most visceral: the feeling of “slaloming around lobster trap buoys, like a plane lost in clouds,” or the sight of life jackets, “hung like orange fruit in the rigging.” Armchair sailors will enjoy the vicarious thrills of Foy’s brief journeys, and even those with no intentions of abandoning their smartphones will find something to ponder in his speculations about the challenges of gadget-free navigation.

EXONEREE DIARIES The Fight For Innocence, Independence, and Identity Flowers, Alison Haymarket (280 pp.) $22.95 | $17.95 paper | Jun. 7, 2016 978-1-60846-587-3 978-1-60846-675-7 paper

Chicago journalist Flowers goes deep into the cases of three innocent men and a woman serving at least a decade in prison for crimes they never committed. The case of the woman’s wrongful conviction occurred in mostly rural Decatur County, Indiana; the cases of all three men occurred in densely populated Cook County, Illinois (Chicago), infamous for a fractured criminal justice system. Each case received local media coverage over the years, but none of the four is well-known nationally. No author has covered the years after exoneration with the same depth as Flowers does in this disturbing book. Although the case studies are not intended as narratives of prison life, the author does provide insights into prison routines, including the many cruelties endured by inmates. As with thousands of other documented wrongful convictions across the United States, the cases chosen by Flowers seem absurd in hindsight: how could so many detectives, prosecutors, forensic analysts, judges, and jurors make such egregious errors, while the actual perpetrators remained unpunished? The only heroes within the system are the defense appellate lawyers who labor for years on wrongful conviction litigation. Flowers’ primary 56

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PUMPKINFLOWERS A Soldier’s Story

BLOOD, BONE, AND MARROW A Biography of Harry Crews

Friedman, Matti Algonquin (256 pp.) $25.95 | May 3, 2016 978-1-61620-458-7

Geltner, Ted Univ. of Georgia (416 pp.) $32.95 | May 15, 2016 978-0-8203-4923-7

Powerful account of youthful Israelis maturing, fighting, and dying at a forgotten Lebanon outpost. In this limber, deceptively sparse take on the Middle East’s tightening spiral of violence, Friedman (The Aleppo Codex: A True Story of Obsession, Faith, and the Pursuit of an Ancient Bible, 2012) combines military history and personal experience on and off the line in deft, observant prose. The narrative is reminiscent of novels by Denis Johnson and Robert Stone, linking combat’s violent absurdity to the traumatized perspectives of individual participants. Friedman covers the period from about 1994 to 2000, and most of the action takes place at a fortified border emplacement, nicknamed the Pumpkin, meant to prevent guerrilla incursions from southern Lebanon. The author notes that he and his predecessors found themselves “in a forgotten little corner of a forgotten little war, but one that has nonetheless reverberated with quiet force in our lives....Anyone looking for the origins of the Middle East of today would do well to look closely at these events.” In the first section, Friedman dramatizes the experiences of an early unit serving there, focusing on Avi, a soldier who fulfills the infantry archetype of the rebellious miscreant who was changed by vicious combat, here against an increasingly professionalized Hezbollah. Avi’s death in a helicopter accident fueled the civilian peace movement, represented by the anguish of the mothers of such casualties. Yet, as Friedman discovered during his own tour of the Pumpkin, the enemy they faced was quietly mutating: “Israel found itself facing an enemy other than the one it thought it was fighting.” Throughout, the author grapples with questions regarding both Israeli aggression and the nature of the state’s survival. In a chilling final section, he chronicles his travels as a Canadian tourist to his former combat zone in Lebanon, encountering friendly residents in thrall to Hezbollah and seething with anti-Semitism. A haunting yet wry tale of young people at war, cursed by political forces beyond their control, that can stand alongside the best narrative nonfiction coming out of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Alcohol, rage, and determination mark a writer’s life. In 1979, Harry Crews (1935-2012) stumbled drunkenly through a reading at the University of South Florida. “What did it take to be a real novelist?” an audience member shouted out. Defiantly, Crews shouted back: “Blood!...Bone!...Marrow!” He might well have added: sweat, tears, and alcohol. Geltner (Journalism/Valdosta State Univ.; Last King of the Sport Page: The Life and Career of Jim Murray, 2012) draws on interviews with Crews, his colleagues, students, drinking buddies, and ex-wife and on Crews’ fiction, memoirs, and nonfiction to produce a candid, sympathetic life of a wounded, self-destructive man.

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Entertaining common-sense advice for parents to ensure that their children don’t run amok. your kid’s a brat and it’s all your fault

Born in rural Georgia to a family struck hard by the Great Depression, Crews’ childhood was “filled with violence and pain and hideously damaged people” and “replete with disease and alienation and indescribable suffering.” At 5, he contracted polio. Although doctors said he would never walk again, he ended up with only a limp. A few months later, he fell into a pot of scalding water, resulting in burns over two-thirds of his body. “At least in terms of physical agony,” Geltner observes, “Harry’s life had bottomed out early.” Crews later escaped by joining the Marines; he married, had two sons, earned a college degree, and took a teaching job at the University of Florida, all the while determined to be a writer. His first novel, The Gospel Singer (1968), won critical praise for its “nice wild flavor,” and some compared him to Faulkner and Hemingway. Prestigious houses vied for his work, and he published eight novels in eight years, got assignments from top-level magazines (Playboy, Esquire), and won a string of awards. But demons overcame him: Geltner calls him a functioning alcoholic, except when he was not. One year, he had 16 stays in rehab clinics. His classes—when he was sober enough to appear—were “tension- and testosterone-filled environments.” An absorbing but sad chronicle of a tormented writer.

drove the family on to Mexico, where Gilbert gave birth to her second child and learned to speak Spanish with ease. Two years after they had begun their journey, the family decided to settle more permanently in Barcelona, where they could “form [their] life...and community” around a second culture they could love and call their own. Informed by research into language and cognitive development, Gilbert’s book is not only the record of a lively and unusual adventure. It is also a celebration of a family’s determination to venture together, for better or worse, into the unknown. An engaging travel narrative for both language lovers and general audiences.

YOUR KID’S A BRAT AND IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT Nip the Attitude in the Bud— from Toddler to Tween Glickman, Elaine Rose Tarcher/Penguin (320 pp.) $16.00 paper | Jun. 1, 2016 978-0-399-17312-7

Sensible suggestions on how to raise your children so they don’t become screaming brats who offend everyone

MOTHER TONGUE My Family’s Globe-Trotting Quest to Dream in Mandarin, Laugh in Arabic, and Sing in Spanish

around them. Former teacher and parenting advice columnist Glickman (Sacred Parenting: Jewish Wisdom for Your Family’s First Years, 2009, etc.) writes that even though a toddler may appear to want that sugary treat at the checkout line or a tween really wants to wear a skimpy skirt to school, “what they really want are limits and boundaries and consistent expectations. What they want are opportunities to learn discipline, to demonstrate responsibility, to develop self-esteem, to earn self-respect and the respect of those around them.” Beginning with toddlers and advancing through the tween years, Glickman gives levelheaded advice mixed with a healthy dose of humor to any parent who has cringed at their child’s behavior: screaming in a store, running wildly through a restaurant, or throwing a temper tantrum at being denied anything. The author covers children interacting with pets, children who bite, picky eaters, clinging behavior, rudeness, and a host of other topics common to toddlers and preschoolers. By stopping bratty behavior at the earliest ages, parents are less likely to have issues later, but if spoiled and demanding performances are already part of the daily norm, Glickman reassures parents that there is still time to correct these matters. As children grow, the concerns shift; your tween may claim he or she is bored, won’t turn off any number of electronic devices, or have begun to use inappropriate language. Glickman offers advice for these topics and numerous others. She also provides some handy checklists—e.g., “Helpful Phrases to Use with Your Kid” and “Jobs for Toddlers”—for easy access to quick information that should help parents get through almost any situation. Entertaining common-sense advice for parents to ensure that their children don’t run amok.

Gilbert, Christine Avery (336 pp.) $25.95 | May 17, 2016 978-1-59240-792-7

A blogger and documentary filmmaker’s account of how she and her family became globe-trotting foreign language learners. Gilbert decided that she, her husband, and her child needed to become multilingual global citizens rather than remain “allAmerican monolinguals”—not just to enhance their cultural literacy, but also to give their young son, Cole, a cognitive edge. The author’s father had suffered from dementia, and she discovered research that showed how lifelong bilinguals “could stave off the effects of dementia by four to five years.” The “mad” project she envisioned would eventually take her family to Beijing, Beirut, and Puerto Vallarta, where they would learn three languages through focused study and cultural immersion. Her idealism, however, foundered almost immediately after she arrived in China. Studying Chinese, one of the hardest of all modern languages, “felt like hitting my head against a brick wall,” and Beijing was so polluted that the family had to stay indoors most of the time. Yet by the time they left for Beirut a few months later, they had managed to learn the rudiments of Chinese. Although Cole went through a worrisome “silent period” before he began to speak Arabic, Gilbert soon discovered that the language “was hard, but it wasn’t that hard.” However, political instability and the constant threat of violence 58

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THE PRESIDENTS AND THE CONSTITUTION A Living History

IN THE NAME OF GUCCI A Memoir

Gucci, Patricia with Holden, Wendy Crown Archetype (320 pp.) $28.00 | May 10, 2016 978-0-8041-3893-2

Gormley, Ken—Ed. New York Univ. (680 pp.) $45.00 | May 10, 2016 978-1-4798-3990-2

The heiress to the Italian fashion house unfurls her combustible family history. “A reserved child who’d had to grow up fast,” Gucci was born into an elite, highprofile familial legacy. As her candid memoir details, her father Aldo’s relationship with her mother, Bruna, was shrouded in secrecy and controversy. The author describes the company’s ascent to greatness by way of her grandfather, founder Guccio, and her father, who “transformed his father’s small Florentine luggage company into a global phenomenon that came to epitomize Italian chic.” Aldo’s death in 1990 left Bruna mired in grief, and her relationship with Patricia slipped deeper into

A fluidly fashioned collection of essays about how the roster of American presidents shaped the executive duties as defined in the Constitution. Editor Gormley (Dean, Duquesne Univ. School of Law; The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr, 2010, etc.) assembles an evenhanded consideration of each president’s operating style and effectiveness, from George Washington to Barack Obama. Each executive has had to assume the constitutional duties of the office: serving as the commander in chief of the Army and Navy, appointing ambassadors and judges, granting reprieves and pardons, delivering the State of the Union address to Congress, and vetoing legislation. Yet the Constitution is maddeningly vague on specifics and even, as Gormley notes in his crisp introduction, seems to assume “that the president and Congress will have to duke it out, battling over the parameters of their respective powers,” as most evident in the current political climate under President Obama. Precedent has established the strictures of the office, starting with Washington’s keen sense of caution in respecting the separation of powers (he only used the veto twice) and in exercising executive restraint; he stepped down after two terms in order to avoid the appearance of a longreigning monarch. Yet these precedents were exploded during the four terms of Franklin Roosevelt, who expanded emergency executive powers during extraordinary “times of war and hysteria.” James Monroe’s historic Monroe Doctrine (1823) first set the principles that guided foreign policy in the Western Hemisphere, while the death in office of William Henry Harrison forced the determination of succession from then on. Each scholarly essayist—all of whom provide extensive notes at the conclusion of each chapter—pinpoints a defining presidential moment, from the Emancipation Proclamation of Abraham Lincoln to Watergate and the presidential pardon of Richard Nixon to the navigation of war powers under both of the Bush administrations. A useful, educational tome featuring top-drawer contributors—though female scholars are woefully underrepresented.

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New light is shed on both architects in this absorbing, well-organized, delightfully told story. architecture’s odd couple

estrangement. Yet two decades later, saddled with two failed marriages, the author began writing as a cathartic attempt to both connect the missing pieces of her parents’ complex romance and to afford Aldo his “rightful place in history.” Referencing a cache of her father’s love letters to her mother, the author explores the precarious evolution of their illicit courtship, from their budding attraction when Bruna was a teenage Gucci salesgirl in Rome to the author’s hushed birth (Aldo was already married with children, and Italian law forbade adultery). Treating Bruna as his common-law wife, Aldo raised his daughter lovingly if sporadically, shuffling her between England and Italy. Gucci describes him differently at alternating points throughout the memoir. As a fashion figurehead, he was a “trailblazing businessman of extraordinary dynamism,” yet as a father, he was the infrequently present “handsome daddy with the ready smile and distinctive cologne who flew in and out of our lives with a blast of movement and noise.” As solemn as many of her memories are, Gucci imparts these emotions with impassioned, poetic prose that buffers much of the hollowness of her restless childhood. Once jailed for tax evasion, Aldo watched the business suffer through tragedy and further familial betrayal as his daughter struggled to emerge from a cloistered life in the shadows of a fashion empire. An absorbing, bittersweet tribute. (two 8-page full-color photo inserts)

show helped resuscitate Wright’s career. In 1935, he designed an iconic home for a wealthy client in Pennsylvania: Fallingwater; Johnson “always spoke grudgingly of [it].” They continued to compete: Wright did the Guggenheim Museum, Johnson did the Seagram Building. Howard describes them as a “dog and a cat forced to share the same home.” In 1949, Johnson finished his most iconic structure, the Glass House, as something of a rebuttal to Wright’s now-famous “waterfall cottage,” as Wright called it. Minimalist and modern, Johnson’s own residence outside New Haven was made of glass and framing, “akin to a plain black frame on a photograph.” Over time, Johnson came to recognize the value of their “odd alliance,” finally admitting Wright was the greater architect. New light is shed on both architects in this absorbing, well-organized, delightfully told story. (8-page color insert; b/w photos throughout)

DEATH ON EARTH Adventures in Evolution and Mortality Howard, Jules Bloomsbury Sigma (288 pp.) $27.00 | May 10, 2016 978-1-4729-1507-8

Evolution solves myriad problems, so why do living things die? “Death is the biggest problem of all, surely....Why hasn’t it been whipped into shape by

ARCHITECTURE’S ODD COUPLE Frank Lloyd Wright and Philip Johnson

natural selection?” No one knows for sure, admits British zoologist and journalist Howard (Sex on Earth: A Journey Through Nature’s Most Intimate Moments, 2014) in this breezy, scattershot exploration of the topic. The author explains current theories in the early pages and then occasionally returns to them in a score of unrelated, often quirky chapters on natural history with an emphasis on extinction, dying, and death. In an early chapter, Howard describes placing a dead magpie in a field to observe how fellow magpies respond. Would they mourn? “Would they view it as an interloper? Would they feed off it?” No, they mostly ignored it until a fox carried it away days later. Less blasé, humans rarely ignore a dead human. Death gives us the creeps. Everyone loathes maggots, and most people—but not the author—have a low opinion of animals that eat the dead: vultures, buzzards, kites, hyenas, etc. Howard writes of a 13-acre body farm filled with pigs in various stages of decomposition: a center in forensic research on determining the time of death. Bugs and smells feature prominently. He learns that many creatures die immediately after reproducing, but delaying sexual maturity by a very low-calorie diet prolongs life, often spectacularly—in some animals but not others. Howard also chronicles his visit to a huge, commercial exhibition on life extension, an event that gives the impression of a charlatan’s convention: some of the participating vendors included “DermaNutri...EDM Therapy, Forever Living Products, [and] iGrow Hair Laser Rejuvenation System.”

Howard, Hugh Bloomsbury (352 pp.) $28.00 | May 24, 2016 978-1-62040-375-4

An in-depth portrait of two “grand men of American architecture.” The prolific Howard (Mr. and Mrs. Madison’s War: America’s First Couple and the War of 1812, 2012, etc.) offers up another sterling book of popular history, one about the “peculiar calculus” of the “flint and steel” friendship between two great architects of the 20th century, Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) and Philip Johnson (1906-2005). Fierce rivals for nearly 30 years, they were the “yin and the yang, in love and in hate, the positive and the negative charges that gave architecture its compass.” Both could be imperious, inspiring, trivial, and proud. Wright was mostly a cantankerous coot. He was the unreformed romantic, Johnson the modernist who still liked the classical. Howard starts by nicely summarizing the early careers of his subjects. Wright’s career early on had been dramatic and successful, but in the 1930s, he was languishing. In 1931, Johnson wanted Wright’s work represented in a traveling Museum of Modern Art show he was organizing. Wright agreed but later withdrew; his letter included a snide remark about Johnson’s homosexuality. Only after Lewis Mumford interceded did Wright capitulate. The 60

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BaoHaus celebrity chef Huang returns with a fresh mélange of hip-hop patter, Chengdu street cuisine, and Asian-American identity politics. double cup love

THE SLEEP REVOLUTION Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time

Less a thoughtful investigation than a collection of journalistic essays, interviews, and personal experiences related to death, many of which are not for readers with weak stomachs.

Huffington, Arianna Harmony (400 pp.) $26.00 | Apr. 5, 2016 978-1-101-90400-8

DOUBLE CUP LOVE On the Trail of Family, Food, and Broken Hearts in China

A book about sleep deprivation from an author well-versed on the subject. Co-founder and president of the influential, eponymous news blog, Huffington (Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder, 2014, etc.) ranks 52nd on Forbes’ list of the most powerful women in the world. She describes her own experience in 2007, when she suffered a burnout and collapsed at her desk. Regaining consciousness, she awoke with an injured cheekbone and her head in a pool of blood. At that time, she slept, at most, four hours each night. Huffington’s situation as a celebrity and mother of two daughters

Huang, Eddie Spiegel & Grau (240 pp.) $27.00 | May 31, 2016 978-0-8129-9546-6

BaoHaus celebrity chef Huang (Fresh Off the Boat, 2012) returns with a fresh mélange of hip-hop patter, Chengdu street cuisine, and Asian-American iden-

tity politics. Can a politically charged, wildly successful chef find love and happiness in the new millennium? The author was determined to find out after bumping into Dena at a popular bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. But before he could take that leap into the foreign land of commitment, he decided that he had to address something else that had been eating at him for a while. Sure, he has been able to conquer hipster palates with his Taiwanese steamed buns, but what Huang truly hungers to know is what Chinese people living in the homeland think of his cooking: “I’m Chinese, but I grew up in America. What if I’m a fraud?” With his romance with Dena still blossoming, Huang corralled his brothers and headed for China. His initial impression of the city of Chengdu isn’t necessarily appetizing, but it’s vivid: “a disgusting mummy lair accented with a touch of pre–Cory Booker Newark, neatly encased in a delicious cocoon of coal smog...the views are so spectacularly putrid that it makes West Philly feel like Queen Anne’s world.” Huang possesses a fiery descriptive flair capable of splicing disparate cultural references with the acuity of a yakitori grill master: “Paris’ll put you to bed with butter and burgundy; Houston’ll drip it up in au jus and drape it out with horseradish; and Chengdu’ll set your mouth on fire, then extinguish it with Newport [cigarettes] guts.” The lingo is dense and can veer wildly from delicate descriptions of the author’s all-time culinary favorites to his decidedly eccentric bathroom habits. But when he reaches full boil, Huang’s exchanges between family and friends can be laugh-out-loud funny. Once fully communed with his Chinese roots, Huang realized that he needed Dena by his side, and what began in Brooklyn finally came to fruition in China. A challenging author continues to bravely bare his soul along with his best dishes.

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INTERVIEWS & PROFILES David Kushner A WRITER INVESTIGATES A MURDER: HIS BROTHER’S By Alex Layman Photo courtesy Gasper Tringale

wrestles with childhood recollections bumping up against testimony and fact. But some undisputable points emerge: two men, John Paul Witt and Gary Tillman, abducted and murdered Jon on the trail back home; he was “missing” for more than a week before his body was found in a shallow grave. The details of what happened are grisly and haunting. Thus, it’s no surprise that it took Kushner, a veteran crime journalist and contributing editor to Rolling Stone, decades before he could figure out how to write about Jon’s murder. “Ever since I began thinking of myself as a writer, this was a story I wanted to tell,” he says. “I think the reason I was reporting all these other crime stories is because I was preparing to do my own.” Kushner’s young age at the time of the murder made filling in the gaps of Jon’s life and death often feel vital. “No matter how well you know someone, when they die it’s hard not to feel like you wish you’d known them better,” he says. So Kushner turned to his parents’ words for help, particularly his mother’s delicate and raw journal passages that feel simultaneously luminous and heartbreaking on the page. “It was incredibly powerful to read my mother’s journals,” Kushner says. “As a son, it was devastating but also so insightful.” But his mother’s words could not explain the actions of Witt and Tillman, who had long ago morphed into “bogeyman” figures in Kushner’s mind. To read the chilling testimony about their lives, and details like Witt’s gifting the Snappy Gator Gum meant for Kushner to his 7-year-old son, “was dizzying. It was unlike anything I’ve ever gone through,” Kushner says. “But after a lifetime of not knowing so much I was trying to find out everything I could so I could be done with it. Not closure, but I didn’t want to ask any more questions.” These questions were secondary, though, to the story’s silver lining: grief, often considered taboo and

The cypress- and palm-filled woods that separated David Kushner’s Tampa, Florida, home from the 7-Eleven were supposed to be safe; a place for exploration and childhood wonderment. The 400-yard path that connected his house to the store was one Kushner’s 11-year-old brother, Jon, had traversed on bicycle countless times. A police officer would later walk the trail in six minutes. On Oct. 28, 1973, then 4-year-old Kushner begged Jon to bring him back a novelty candy called Snappy Gator Gum from the 7-Eleven. Jon said he would, and Kushner watched him pedal away. It was the last time he saw his brother. This precise memory serves as the epicenter from which Alligator Candy (Mar. 15) unfurls, as Kushner 62

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hard to speak about, has the power to unite. Following Jon’s death, Tampa became an invaluable source of comfort for the family and remained so as Kushner researched this book nearly 40 years later. “I felt so reliant upon other people to really get to know my brother,” Kushner says. “To see all those people in the room, it was like each person had a piece of him.” This presence was so strong, in fact, that the Kushners never moved from their home, despite its proximity to the murder scene. “I asked them [why they didn’t move]. They said, ‘This is our house,’ ” Kushner explains. “That house became such a source of comfort, because that’s where everyone came to support us. As much as the story is tragic and an examination of evil, it’s a tremendously reassuring story about the power of community.”

was not dissimilar to that of other successful people today. She estimates that nearly half of American adults are sleep-deprived, and the situation is worse for college students. Our values have become so skewed that all-nighters have become a mark of success. For those looking to get ahead in their careers and others who need to hold two jobs to make ends meet, going without sleep has become the norm. As the author documents, this abuse of our bodies is devastating not only to our health and longevity; job performance and relationships also suffer. Indeed, it is not unusual for drivers to nod off at the wheel. Huffington also looks at the flip side of habitual insomnia. She relates instances where reliance on sleep medications, such as Ambien, has induced potentially dangerous behavior—e.g. sleepwalking, and even driving, in a dazed state. Her takeaway message is that we should prioritize sleeping seven to eight hours every day. With little new insight to add on this well-worked theme, however, the author relies on inspirational nostrums and a host of tired clichés—e.g., “We are not defined by our jobs and our titles...sleep gives us a chance to refocus on the essence of who we are.” Readers looking for effective advice for sleep should turn to a professional. A disappointing addition to the celebrity self-help shelf.

Alex Layman is a writer living in Austin. Alligator Candy was reviewed in the Jan. 1, 2016, issue.

COMRADE HUPPERT A Poet in Stalin’s World Huppert, George Indiana Univ. (168 pp.) $24.00 | May 1, 2016 978-0-253-01978-3

The troubled life of Hugo Huppert (1902-1982), a respected but largely forgotten Austrian writer and communist. When George Huppert (Emeritus, History/Univ. of Illinois, Chicago; The Style of Paris: Renaissance Origins of the French Enlightenment, 1999, etc.) began researching Hugo, it was because he, like the author’s own father, was an Austrian Jew born in 1902, a time marked by growing anti-Semitism. Rather than attempt to find connections between the two families, however, the author was drawn into the tangled life story Huppert told in his autobiography and other writings he left behind. The son of middle-class parents, Huppert—who early on revealed a gift and penchant for writing—had an idyllic childhood and adolescence. His life changed dramatically after he moved to Vienna in the 1920s. There, Huppert joined the Communist Party and experienced the political upheavals that came in the aftermath of the Austrian empire, including the rise of Hitler in Germany. As much as he wanted to immerse himself in the Viennese literary scene, however, Huppert found himself putting his political work before his own artistic endeavors. In the late 1920s, he went to Moscow, where he taught and also continued to engage in activities as “political culture worker” for the Soviet Communist Party. Imprisoned and then freed during the Stalin purges, Huppert could not return to Hitler-controlled Austria until 1945. At that time, the Communist Party sent him there to oversee political |

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A work that ranks with the best journalism and the finest graphic artistry. the ukrainian and russian notebooks

THE UKRAINIAN AND RUSSIAN NOTEBOOKS Life and Death Under Soviet Rule

activities only to recall him four years later for conducting an illicit affair with a local girl. The narrative is slim and limited in its scope, but the author is strongest in his focus on his subject’s struggle between his literary/artistic ambitions and his need for security after years of grueling, often bitter unrest. A loyal Communist Party member until his death, Huppert found peace but only after submitting to ideological forces greater than himself. Of interest to scholars of Austrian literature and history but not to a general reading audience.

Igort Illus. by the author Simon & Schuster (372 pp.) $28.00 | Apr. 26, 2016 978-1-4516-7887-1

A masterful mix of journalistic reporting and graphic art. The plainspoken title offers little hint of the devastation within, as the Italian artist Igort (5 is the Perfect Number, 2003, etc.) focuses his considerable talents on 20th-century atrocities that bled into the 21st, as Russian totalitarianism and seemingly ceaseless war have made a mockery of human rights. The first notebook is more of an oral history, as the interviews recorded by the artist testify to the horrors of famine in the Ukraine— sanctioned by Josef Stalin—and human resilience in the face of hunger, disease, deportation, and exile. “What emerged was a programmatic plan that, by military might, crushed the Ukraine, obliterated its independence movements, destroyed its identity,” writes Igort, followed by the communist edict: “Ukrainian culture doesn’t exist! In order to carry out cultural and physical genocide they had to follow a plan defined down to the last detail.” The second notebook works more like a piece of investigative reporting. “I spent five years in Ukraine, Russia, and Siberia, trying to understand, to document,” writes the author. “What was the Soviet Union? What was it like to have lived through this experience that had lasted over seventy years?” He also tells the stories of other journalists who had tried to document the atrocities and who had paid with their lives. He illuminates the life and work of Anna Politkovskaya, a writer who saw herself as a truth-teller in the lineage of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky and whose writing put her in grave danger. “Her empathy, her ability to listen and share, took her beyond the limits of her own method,” writes Igort. “She had shed the journalist’s distance and was left simply a human being. And that was her death sentence.” As well reported and written as these notebooks are, the visual artistry reinforces the impact, with a richness and evocation of emotional detail that transcend words. A work that ranks with the best journalism and the finest graphic artistry.

THE AUDACIOUS CRIMES OF COLONEL BLOOD The Spy Who Stole the Crown Jewels and Became the King’s Secret Agent Hutchinson, Robert Pegasus (352 pp.) $27.95 | Jun. 6, 2016 978-1-68177-144-1

The story of “one of those mysterious and charismatic characters in British history whose breathtaking exploits underline the wisdom of the old maxim that truth can be stranger than fiction.” In what is ostensibly a biography of Thomas Blood (16181680), the daring fighter, spy, turncoat, and adventurer, Hutchinson (The Spanish Armada, 2014, etc.) glosses over many of his subject’s feats, writing mostly of changing politics during the English civil war and the restoration of Charles II. Blood fought for Charles I in the civil war and switched sides after the king’s execution, an act that netted him vast lands in Ireland. He was part of an abortive rebellion in Ireland after the restoration, and revenge—especially against the Duke of Ormond, lord lieutenant of Ireland—drove him on. He was leader of a group who kidnapped Ormond in London with a view to hanging him, but Ormond escaped. That act brings in two more shady characters, the Duke of Buckingham and Barbara Palmer, Charles II’s mistress. Both were sworn enemies of Ormond, and it seems likely to Hutchinson that they may have instigated the attack. After Blood attempted to steal the crown jewels from the Tower of London, he met with the king, who not only pardoned him, but also granted him a pension, removed the writ of attainder, and paid him a salary for his “services,” which included spying against nonconformists. Blood was a serial turncoat with a number of disguises, even posing as a doctor, but he was no petty thief; he only wished to regain his lands. Readers hoping to discover an Errol Flynn–type swashbuckler will be disappointed; Blood does not come across as the rip-roaring, lovable rogue one might anticipate. A good history of difficult times in England and Ireland, but Hutchinson provides little significant information about the spy.

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THE ORACLE OF OIL A Maverick Geologist’s Quest for a Sustainable Future

and irascible. The sharp, self-made Texan became a petroleum geologist and eventually taught geophysics at Columbia University. The intellectual life of Greenwich Village was more to his liking, and he was an early organizer of the technocracy movement. Unhappy at Columbia, Hubbert took a government job in Washington, D.C., but, again unhappy, he left for Houston and a career at Shell Oil. By 1956, with clear, emphatic assurance, he warned that the world would eventually run out of oil. He demonstrated the inevitable with a bell curve graph that came to be known as “Hubbert’s Peak” (or “Hubbert’s Pimple”). According to his reckoning, we are on the cusp of the downward slope of the curve, the inevitable exhaustion of hydrocarbons and, probably, the decline of life as we know it. Unless new forms of ecologically friendly energy are developed promptly, it’s apocalypse soon. Against stiff industry opposition, Hubbert lectured and published frequently. After retiring from Shell in 1964, he rejoined the government, working as a geophysicist for the U.S. Geological Survey, followed by posts at Stanford and the University of California, still preaching the lesson of Hubbert’s Peak, now widely accepted as a standard.

Inman, Mason Norton (416 pp.) $29.95 | Apr. 11, 2016 978-0-393-23968-3

The career of a hero of hydrocarbon exploration reminds us that it’s a finite world after all. The professional accomplishments of oil seer M. King Hubbert (1903-1989) are the subject of this assiduously researched book, which adds much to previous texts like Kenneth S. Deffeyes’ Hubbert’s Peak (2001). Journalist Inman begins when Hubbert was 19; his birth and hardscrabble childhood are largely irrelevant here. This biography is a character sketch within a lengthy professional CV, coupled with a narrative of big oil politics. Never “particularly good at working with anyone,” Hubbert was independent, self-assured, stubborn,

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A forthright testimony by a witness to history. answering the call

FIRST DADS Parenting and Politics from George Washington to Barack Obama

Inman provides enlightenment on a persistently intractable topic and praise for the scientist who clearly saw the consequences of our reliance on oil.

Kendall, Joshua Grand Central Publishing (400 pp.) $27.00 | May 10, 2016 978-1-4555-5195-8

ANSWERING THE CALL An Autobiography of the Modern Struggle to End Racial Discrimination in America

A look at the parenting practices of American presidents. The United States has had 43 male presidents, men who were not only fathers to the nation, but also fathers to over 200 children. Of those 43, 38 presidents had biological children, and the remaining five men all raised adopted children. Kendall (America’s Obsessives: The Compulsive Energy that Built a Nation, 2013, etc.) takes readers behind the scenes to reveal their private parenting techniques, using interviews, letters, and diaries to access a world that few have seen. The bond between these first fathers and first children has often been purposefully overlooked by biographers to protect the integrity of the first families. However, as the author writes, “the manner in which each President carried out his parental responsibilities reveals much about both his beliefs and aspirations as well as about his psychological makeup.” Kendall categorizes the presidents into different types of fathers. There were those who were so involved with the job that they often ignored the children—e.g., Franklin Roosevelt, Jimmy Carter, and Lyndon B. Johnson—and those who loved to connect by being playful (Ulysses S. Grant and Theodore Roosevelt). Then there are the men who had extramarital affairs that produced offspring, such as John Tyler, who fathered several children out of wedlock. John Quincy Adams and others are known for being “tiger” dads who controlled the lives of their children as tightly as they did the nation. Franklin Pierce and George H.W. Bush are just two who suffered the devastating deaths of children. Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield, and Barack Obama are known as nurturers. Kendall’s research puts all the presidents and their parenting practices in perspective, giving readers great insight into these men and their children. Rich in detail, this informative book gives new understanding to our nation’s leaders and their offspring.

Jones, Nathaniel R. New Press (432 pp.) $35.00 | May 17, 2016 978-1-62097-075-1

Triumphs and frustrations mark the author’s long legal career. In his candid, informative debut memoir, Jones, who in 2002 retired from the U.S. Court of Appeals, 6th Circuit, recounts his work as a lawyer and judge, including serving as general counsel for the NAACP. His nomination to the 6th Circuit by President Jimmy Carter, he writes, was “the pinnacle” of a career that began “at a time when the profession practiced its own form of racial apartheid.” Jones was born in Youngstown, Ohio, in 1926, 17 years after the founding of the NAACP and the publication of The Call, a document “imploring Americans to discuss and protest the racial problem and to renew the struggle for civil and political rights.” That document deeply influenced him, as did his mentor, J. Maynard Dickerson, who guided and often goaded him throughout their long relationship. After growing up in an integrated neighborhood, Jones learned a hard lesson in “deeply entrenched and pervasive” segregation when he joined the Army in 1945. Attending college on the GI Bill, he enrolled in a pre-law course, continued with law school at night, and became involved in civil rights issues, increasingly conscious of the ways that racism was built into voting, housing, health benefits, jobs, and education. His work for the NAACP focused on desegregation, notably in the North, where judges were not convinced that the Brown v. Board of Education decision applied, and on landmark affirmative action cases. Jones praises civil rights lawyers for tirelessly establishing legal standards and fighting federal efforts to thwart them, and he is edifying in his reasons for opposing Clarence Thomas for Supreme Court Justice. Although thrilled at Barack Obama’s “amazing election,” in the discourse surrounding it, Jones was reminded of the need to keep civil rights history alive for the media, Congress, and the judiciary. A forthright testimony by a witness to history.

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no more running with scissors QUENCH YOUR OWN THIRST Business Lessons Learned Over a Beer or Two

After the publication of his self-help book, This Is How, Augusten Burroughs considered getting a divorce—from memoirs. Which is surprising considering Burroughs is the bestselling author of Running with Scissors, Dry, and a half-dozen other highly entertaining, honest, and heart-rending nonfiction books. “At that point, I had made the intellectual decision, within myself, that I wanted to write novels,” says Burroughs, who wrote two in the next few years. But a third book eclipsed them both: the story of marrying his literary agent, Christopher Schelling, and all that led to it. Yes, his latest, Lust & Wonder (Mar. 29), is, in fact, a memoir. “That is what I kept returning to, so I embraced it—I started writing, yet again, more about me,” he says. “And my memoirs are really for me, in the sense that I can’t imagine that this is going to be interesting to anyone else, but they come from a place of needing to gain insight into my own life. It’s almost like the pages that result are a side effect of the writing process.” Lust & Wonder follows from the author’s near-simultaneous achievements of sobriety and success and rides the ups and downs of nearly 20 years looking for love in New York City. “The mystery of, ‘What will the sex be like when we finally have it?’ was over. The answer was: like Augusten Burroughs assembling a bookcase from Ikea with parts missing,” Burroughs writes of one partner on the winding path to true love. “It’s a roundabout love story,” he says, “and it’s also about what it’s like to be sober for almost two decades. It’s about being surprised at where I find myself in life and being open to that surprise. And I suppose the heart of the book is about what happens when you learn to trust yourself.”—M.L.

Koch, Jim Flatiron Books (256 pp.) $27.99 | Apr. 12, 2016 978-1-250-07050-0

Photo courtesy Christopher Schelling

The founder and brewer of Samuel Adams shares the story of Boston Beer Company, his business philosophy, and entrepreneurial tips. Today, craft beer is all the rage, but that wasn’t the case in 1984, when Koch decided to quit his successful job as a management consultant to start the Boston Beer Company, which would become famous for Samuel Adams Boston Lager. Inspired by upstart San Francisco–based brewery Anchor Brewing, Koch set out to brew a high-quality, premium beverage that was basically nonexistent in the beer market at the time. In doing so, he became a pioneer of the craft, home-brew, and small-batch movements. However, Koch’s desire to start a brewery was not a whim. He is a fifth-generation brewer, and the Samuel Adams recipe has been in the family since the 1860s. Invoking “the spirit of a tavern conversation,” Koch’s chatty prose is fun and jocular as he recounts the old days when he sold Samuel Adams by hand while touring Boston’s bars and restaurants, giving impromptu taste tests and letting the quality of the beer do most of the talking. Koch does more than tell old war stories (a bar manager once pulled a gun on him during a cold call). He also shares nuggets of common-sense business wisdom, such as investing in the product over marketing, pursuing organic growth over growth at all costs, and setting challenging but attainable goals. Koch’s wisdom is summed up in his koan: “No one climbs a mountain to get to the middle.” As the brewery landed more accounts and sales increased domestically and abroad, it experienced all the growing pains of a budding business as Koch’s once-ragtag organization quickly morphed into a more streamlined and professional operation. Always true to himself, the author’s belief in Samuel Adams and the people around him is what makes his story and philosophy so genuine and endearing. Koch’s down-to-earth personality, business advice, and passion are good models for those interested in making their own ways.

Megan Labrise writes “Field Notes” and features for Kirkus Reviews. Lust & Wonder was reviewed in the Dec. 15, 2015, issue. 68

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A fascinating, sharply written, thoroughly engaging jeu d’esprit. joe gould’s teeth

JOE GOULD’S TEETH

Times as “plainspoken, arresting, experimental, and disordered... endless, and unremitting.” She wonders: “It didn’t exist. Or did it?” Gould was an eccentric, probably autistic, she believes, who “suffered from gramaphobia”—“he could not stop writing.” Often homeless, drunk, or ill, he required little but had friends—Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, and others—who would help him out. His close friend, e.e cummings, wrote of him: “b jeezuz, never have I beheld a corpse walking.” Like a detective, Lepore describes her mazelike quest, her clues, her dead ends, the many people she met and talked to, the dusty archives visited in a wonderful, sprightly prose lusciously filled with allusions and references. Questions abound. The search led her to a key figure in the Gould mystery: Augusta Savage, an African-American artist who lived in Harlem. Gould knew her and apparently even proposed to her. Could he have given her the manuscript? Borges’ great short story about the fictional writer Pierre Menard, author of the Quixote, comes to mind. Lepore is Borges to Gould’s Quixote, which was his life writ large...maybe. A fascinating, sharply written, thoroughly engaging jeu d’esprit.

Lepore, Jill Knopf (256 pp.) $25.00 | May 17, 2016 978-1-101-94758-6

A writer searches for a “holy grail” manuscript of endless words. This extended essay by New Yorker staff writer Lepore (The Secret History of Wonder Woman, 2014, etc.), originally published in the magazine last year, is about a wild goose chase and missing dentures. Joseph Ferdinand Gould (1889-1957), aka Professor Seagull, first became a public figure thanks to New Yorker staff writer Joseph Mitchell. His two essays about Gould were published together as Joe Gould’s Secret (1964), which was made into a movie in 2000. The “secret” was his mysterious manuscript, an extensively detailed personal biography/history that was millions of words long and 7 feet high. Lepore describes his Oral History of Our

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A superb alignment of author and subject: Levin is among the best contemporary science writers, and LIGO is arguably the most compelling experiment on the planet. black hole blues and other songs from outer space

BLACK HOLE BLUES AND OTHER SONGS FROM OUTER SPACE

THE FRACTURED REPUBLIC Renewing America’s Social Contract in the Age of Individualism

Levin, Janna Knopf (256 pp.) $26.95 | Apr. 1, 2016 978-0-307-95819-8

Levin, Yuval Basic (272 pp.) $27.50 | May 24, 2016 978-0-465-06196-9

On the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s prediction that gravitational waves distort space-time, an acclaimed astrophysicist provides a thrilling insider’s look at the extraordinary scientific team that devised and built the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, which conducted the first experiment to ever observe gravitational waves. In Einstein’s 1916 paper describing the general theory of relativity, he predicted that gravitational waves—such as those created when two black holes collide—would warp the fabric of space-time in predictable patterns. A century later, scientists at LIGO empirically verified his claim by detecting waves that have been “ringing” through space since the moment of collision over 1 billion years ago. Levin’s (Physics and Astronomy/ Barnard Coll.; A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines, 2006, etc.) authoritative account of the brilliant physicists and engineers who envisioned such a remarkable experiment places readers right in the middle of the action, tracing LIGO’s evolution from an inspired idea in the 1970s to the most expensive project in the history of the National Science Foundation. She perfectly captures the fast-paced, forward-thinking, bureaucracy-averse atmosphere of a large-scale scientific experiment, but she also lays bare the decades of interpersonal strife that, at times, threatened to undermine the experiment’s success. The author’s portrait of these pioneers is especially engaging for her ability to contextualize humanness not just within the scope of the physical experiment, but in the face of such dizzying stakes—surely a Nobel is on the line and has been since the beginning. Levin herself is also wondrously present in this narrative, nimbly guiding readers through scientific jargon and reminding us of the enormous profundity of modern physics. “A vestige of the noise of the [black hole] crash,” she writes, “has been on its way to us since early multicelled organisms fossilized in supercontinents on a still dynamic Earth.” A superb alignment of author and subject: Levin is among the best contemporary science writers, and LIGO is arguably the most compelling experiment on the planet. (first printing of 30,000)

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A voice of both reason and establishment conservatism offers a prescription for renewed political discourse and

bipartisan action. You won’t hear many liberals saying that conservative voices make for healthy political balance, or vice versa. Levin (The Great Debate: Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, and the Birth of Right and Left, 2013, etc.), founder of the journal National Affairs and a distinguished student of Edmund Burke, understands that a middle lies between left and right. The right tends to complaints of moral apocalypse and jeremiad: as the author notes, if you had told a conservative 60 years ago that out-of-wedlock birth would increase tenfold to the present, “he probably would have painted a nightmarish spectacle that would bear little resemblance to our relatively thriving society.” Conversely, the left tends to alarmist talk about economic matters, especially inequality, “in ways that suggest that the sky could fall on our society any minute.” Can there be middle ground? Yes, writes Levin, in ways that accommodate some of the best things about both traditions while decentralizing power to “create a constructive tension that can help us to make the most of democratic capitalism.” The operative word is “constructive,” and this in the place of what Levin criticizes as the tendency of both political wings to fall into golden-age nostalgia that does not admit of much action, the left for the 1960s and the right for the ’80s. Some of the author’s proposals are too lightly sketched to test, but they are interesting all the same. One example is his call to privatize certain public services but at the same time allow other public services to compete in the open market—allowing, for instance, post offices to double as banks, a note that Bernie Sanders has been sounding of late. Against “fracture and deconsolidation,” Levin even suggests that “Right” and “Left” designations may not be useful. Refreshingly optimistic; in our diversity lies great strength, Levin writes, a strength that can be tapped once all the rancor is put aside. Highly recommended for readers of whatever political stripe.

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THE NEW ARAB WARS Uprisings and Anarchy in the Middle East

traditions of dictatorship and repression—and despite the enormous promise of peaceful transitions, the region has devolved into sectarian violence and Islamist radicalism. Lynch examines the hot spots—Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria, and Iraq—to uncover “what went wrong and what to expect,” using a combination of on-the-ground reporting and political science (“structural drivers of events”). He also draws from Arabic social media, which continues to be a potent galvanizer for change. All of the conflicts he sees as being fomented by “transnational flows of money, information, people, and guns,” especially from richer nations like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which continue to polarize the conflict. Significantly, Lynch sees the Barack Obama administration’s restraint in the region—especially in not sending military assistance to the Syrian rebels, as well as in the recent nuclear deal with Iran—as provoking fundamental changes to the system of alliances while demonstrating indeed that the Americans have learned a profound lesson from the disastrous Iraq invasions. The author traces the Syrian conflict directly to the failed democratic uprising in Egypt, where the coup against the Muslim Brotherhood “removed the most powerful

Lynch, Marc PublicAffairs (288 pp.) $26.99 | Apr. 26, 2016 978-1-61039-609-7

A keen observer of the violent upheaval in the Middle East since the Arab Spring makes a strong assertion: there is no returning to the old auto-

cratic ways. Lynch (Political Science/George Washington Univ.; The Arab Uprising: The Unfinished Revolutions of the New Middle East, 2012), the director of the Project on Middle East Political Science and contributing editor to the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage, posits that much of the recent events in the Middle East evolved into military crackdown and proxy wars as part of a radical regional restructuring. The Arab uprising shattered the status quo—the

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An inside-out look at the frenzied and at times surreal work environment of tech startup HubSpot. disrupted

ONE Sons & Daughters

mainstream competitor to the jihadist trends” and unleashed a violent new strain of fighters bent on revenge. An excellent, clear distillation of recent events in the Middle East.

Mapplethorpe, Edward Photos by the author powerHouse Books (140 pp.) $50.00 | May 1, 2016 978-1-57687-790-6

DISRUPTED My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble

A noted photographer turns from his previous interest in abstract portraiture to immediate, evocative studies of infants in their splendid innocence. Mapplethorpe, younger brother of Robert (and thus disguised under a pseudonym for much of his early career), writes that this project began in 1995, when he was commissioned to take a photograph of a girl who had just turned 1. “During the editorial process of selecting the image,” he writes, “I discovered something quite remarkable—the photograph wasn’t a baby picture at all, but rather a revealing portrait of a person who happened to have just turned one.” That Renaissance understanding of the baby as a miniature adult shines through these images, distilled from a body comprising 100-odd subjects. Mapplethorpe ponders how it is that images can reveal aspects of personality of “the formed person” who looks back at the viewer, themes picked up by the contributing writers. Andrew Solomon, for instance, notes, “the children in Edward Mapplethorpe’s photographs are fully realized people caught just before language upstages the light in their eyes, their pouting mouths, their brows raised in dismay at an alien world.” Not all express dismay: some express wonder, curiosity, and even joy. If some cry or look a little wary, others have beatific (and sometimes goofy) smiles. Francine Prose gets it just right: “At the tender age of one, they have already figured out how much or how little they want to reveal in the intense and complicated faces that look out at us.” Susan Orlean delivers a fine and funny piece about a not-so-successful effort at babysitting that evokes the same prospect of intensity: “To me, though, unfamiliar with the infant disposition, she seemed like a tiny human bomb, silently ticking, waiting to be set off by something invisible.” Ultimately, readers are left to admire Mapplethorpe’s telling, beautifully printed images in peace. A bonus: a poem by Patti Smith. A wonderful portfolio of little monsters—or little angels, as you prefer.

Lyons, Dan Hachette (256 pp.) $28.00 | Apr. 5, 2016 978-0-316-30608-9

An inside-out look at the frenzied and at times surreal work environment of tech startup HubSpot. In 2012, at the age of 51, longtime journalist Lyons was “unceremoniously dumped” from his position at Newsweek. The magazine, like so many other traditional media publications, was struggling to cope with digitization. (The irony is that the author covered technology for the magazine.) Forced to reinvent his career, Lyons took a risk by accepting the position of “marketing fellow” at HubSpot, a software-as-a-service marketing and sales company that had become “one of the hottest tech start-ups on the East Coast.” As the writer behind the satirical blog Fake Steve Jobs, the author could not have imagined a place so ripe for parody as HubSpot. Every detail of the hip office space, incompetent management, and delusional workforce described by Lyons in his hilarious and unsettling exposé is like something out of a scripted comedy (the author writes for HBO’s Silicon Valley). But beneath the showy display of unlimited candy, beer, and other sundry perks enjoyed by HubSpot’s employees, the culture Lyons experienced was ruthless, predatory, and unforgiving. Employees were routinely “graduated” (i.e., fired) without warning, oftentimes by younger, inexperienced managers. (The theme of ageism plays throughout.) HubSpot pitches itself as a mission-based company whose software will not only help their customers save money and increase profits, but also make the world a better place. These examples of Orwellian doublespeak and utopian jargon are commonplace at tech companies, and they are strategically employed to whip up fervor among employees, investors, and the press as well as disguise the fact that their business models are often ineffective. Lyons sums up the startup model: “Grow fast, lose money, go public.” For Lyons, his adventure at HubSpot was a case study in drudgery, and it turned out to be more pernicious than he could have guessed. An exacting, excoriating takedown of the current startup “bubble” and the juvenile corporate culture it engenders.

TURNING JAPANESE

MariNaomi Illus. by the author 2d Cloud (224 pp.) $24.95 | May 10, 2016 978-1-937541-16-3

The rite-of-passage chronicles of the artist at age 22, coming to terms with her ethnic heritage. A virtuosic comic artist whose slapdash introspection is occasionally reminiscent of Lynda Barry, 72

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MariNaomi (Kiss & Tell: A Romantic Resume, Ages 0-22, 2011, etc.) tells a story here that is both singular and universal, sure to resonate most strongly with females facing similar challenges of young adulthood. It takes place in 1995, beginning and ending with the breakup of a relationship, while the pages in between detail a relationship that almost became a marriage. After leaving San Francisco for San Jose—“I needed to clear my head and reboot, so I chose to do so more than fifty miles away”—she quickly became involved with her co-worker Giuseppe after both had confided about their history of broken relationships. Though she says that the common bond was that they were “both sluts,” promiscuity didn’t seem to be an issue during their year together. Instead, they faced challenges from a number of low-paying jobs, the ethnic divide between his Italian culture and her Japanese-American one, and an extended visit to Japan, where they realized that their impulsive decision to become engaged was likely a mistake. The author’s pilgrimage toward cultural illumination began when she stumbled into a job as a hostess at a Japanese-American bar, where the young women competed for tips and at least one was a borderline prostitute. She wondered why her mother had never bothered to teach her Japanese, and she enlisted her fiance to accompany her to Tokyo, where a visitor’s visa would allow her to reunite with her extended family and immerse herself in their culture. By the time she returned, her perspective on her Japanese heritage had shifted: “The cultural divide was much deeper than I’d thought possible.” This third volume of memoir reads like a chapter in an ongoing series, leading readers to anticipate what comes next.

need to learn the game from the ground up. The author draws many neat and insightful parallels between his career and his new pursuit, including the mix of solitude and competition and of pushing oneself in honing the necessary skills. The adage involving an old dog and new tricks doesn’t hold up as well as one might think; studies have shown that task analysis—breaking down tasks into smaller components—can enable learning at any age. That isn’t to say it’s ever easy, and Marzorati put in the work, seeking counsel from trainers and others. Ultimately, his physical self-challenge grew into a larger questioning of the assumptions—both positive and negative—that he has about himself. What begins as a straightforward chronicle of a notentirely-unusual midlife quest evolves into an examination of midlife reinvention in general, both the how and the why.

LATE TO THE BALL Age. Learn. Fight. Love. Play Tennis. Win. Marzorati, Gerald Scribner (288 pp.) $26.00 | May 17, 2016 978-1-4767-3739-3

A career editor and writer takes up tennis at age 60—not as a hobby, but competitively. One of the benefits of advancements in medicine and the lengthening of the human life span is the range of options open to people in the second part of their lives. Increased physical and mental health make all sorts of pursuits possible that would have one day seemed ludicrous—within limits, of course. Where those limits are, however, continues to shift. Marzorati (A Painter of Darkness: Leon Golub and Our Times, 1990) spent nearly his entire working career as a writer and editor, culminating with editorial oversight of the New York Times Magazine from 2003 to 2010, a job that demanded attention and rigorous oversight of the minute details of words and letters. The author decided to apply this level of discipline and exactitude to tennis—but not simply to play the game. Marzorati had a loftier goal: to be competitive despite his age and despite his |

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PETER ARNO The Mad, Mad World of the New Yorker’s Greatest Cartoonist

Humboldt, and Ravelstein. He was a character-driven novelist. As Mikics (English/Univ. of Houston; Slow Reading in a Hurried Age, 2013, etc.) notes in this “personal” approach to Bellow’s novels, he stayed true to what he saw as the “novelist’s highest purpose: to make people he had known and loved even more real, and more lasting.” Sure, every novelist draws upon real-life people for characters, but, Mikics argues, few “have ever given us such a wealth of...funny, passionate, overwrought people.” He feels Bellow rivals even Dickens in his “power to locate us through observation, to explain how appearances tell who we are.” Mikics selects 10 people who were important in Bellow’s life—friends, family, wives, sworn enemies—to show how each influenced his portrayals of some of his “pungent, unforgettable personalities.” Morrie, his older brother, shows up as Simon in that “explosive, shaggy picaresque” that is The Adventures of Augie March. Bellow made him a “rough apostle of life” instead of the “thwarted ogre that Morrie actually was.” Two of Bellow’s best friends make appearances in Henderson the Rain King. The African King Dahfu is Isaac Rosenfeld, who died young, while Chanler Chapman, who was also for a while his landlord, is Eugene Henderson. Chapman “lived in the present with gusto, never plagued by the shadows of failure that clung to Rosenfeld.” Mikics also shows how in Herzog, Bellow fictionally dealt with his wife Sondra’s affair with his good friend Jack Ludwig. Such literary lights of the time as Delmore Schwartz and Allan Bloom make appearances as Humboldt and Ravelstein. Mikics has done a fine job uncovering how Bellow made art out of life, and he has given us a new way to approach that art.

Maslin, Michael Regan Arts (304 pp.) $26.95 | Apr. 19, 2016 978-1-942872-61-0

The life of the once-influential cartoonist, a favorite of New Yorker readers for decades. Maslin, himself a longtime contributor of cartoons to the magazine, joins a long list of staffers and freelancers to look back longingly on the eras of Harold Ross and, after him, William Shawn and anyone who is not Tina Brown. His subject, Peter Arno (1904-1968), drew sketches and cartoons from the very beginning, way back in the Jazz Age. Maslin writes, rather too enthusiastically, “for forty-three years, from 1925 to 1968, Arno’s art was as essential to The New Yorker as the Empire State Building is to the Manhattan skyline.” (Ross would not have approved of the hyperbole, though Arno probably wouldn’t have minded.) Arno also wrote plays, designed sets, painted, and did piles of commercial art for other clients, which caused Ross to worry. Arno, he wrote in a 1944 memo, “like the rest of the artists, is swamped with advertising work these days, and is feeling cocky and restless.” In the end, Arno also drank with the copious abandon of Thurber and the other inmates, which did not serve him well. As Maslin writes, he was a man of parts; he might have been a musical star. But the author credits Arno particularly for inventing the New Yorker cartoon—i.e., the kind of cartoon for which the magazine would become renowned, droll and arch, dry and ironic. Although Maslin does not take this fruitful thesis as far as he might or supply much in the way of example, he does note that that Arno-esque vision is antiquated now, though all cartoonists from the start have had to ask themselves the same question from Ross and predecessors: “Is it funny?” A book that could have been funnier, though admittedly Maslin delivers more chuckles per page than Renata Adler. The book is also insightful about the workings of a magazine that is a critically important cultural institution.

PORCELAIN A Memoir

Moby Penguin Press (416 pp.) $28.00 | May 24, 2016 978-1-59420-642-9

DJ and producer Moby relives the career-defining years, 1989-1999, leading to his international breakthrough album “Play” (1999). In this entertainingly gritty memoir, the author vividly evokes the sights, sounds, and smells of the evolving and increasingly drug-fueled New York City music and street scenes in the 1990s, when neighborhoods like the Meatpacking district and Lower East Side were still the epicenter of New York cool. “By 1993, the music was getting darker and the drugs were getting heavier,” he writes. “Audiences were dancing less and passing out in corners more.” Moby’s journey began in Connecticut—his hometown of Darien and later as a squatter living in a 100-square-foot space in Stamford—but with his rapid ascension as a cutting-edge DJ talent at hip downtown venues, he quickly established himself in NYC. With multiple high-energy electro-dance hits, he embarked on a series of international tours. Brief and frequently amusing episodic adventures in NYC and on the road drive the narrative

BELLOW’S PEOPLE How Saul Bellow Made Life Into Art

Mikics, David Norton (240 pp.) $26.95 | May 24, 2016 978-0-393-24687-2

How to access the novels of Saul Bellow (1915-2005) via the people he knew and loved. Looking over the titles of Bellow’s novels, one notices how many include the names of their main characters: Augie March, Henderson, Herzog, Sammler, 74

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A panoramic history of the gene and how genetics “resonate[s] far beyond the realms of science.” the gene

thrust of much of the story, but the author also meditates on God, veganism, sex, and his complicated feelings about Christianity. “I understood applying ethical criteria to actions that affected other creatures, which was why I was a vegan, but I didn’t understand applying ethics to sex and other actions that were consensual or self-directed,” he writes. “If I got drunk and had sex in a bathroom with a stripper, was I transgressing a universal ethical code? It felt thrilling to consider that most of the Judeo-Christian ethical codes I’d been raised with were arbitrary. But when I’d been having drunken sex in bathrooms and transgressing Christian ethics, I was still thinking of myself as a Christian. And now I didn’t know if I still was.” While he documents numerous rave events that collectively feel redundant and somewhat tiresome, Moby’s writing comes alive when delving into the creative process of producing his music. A distinctive addition to the recent spate of well-written memoirs by contemporary musicians, a list that would include the likes of Elvis Costello, Patti Smith, and Carrie Brownstein.

capable former Lithuanian laundress. Also leaping from the page is Catherine the Great, the enlightened ruler who happened to come to power by the murder of the legitimate successor. The violence of jealously guarding power knows no bounds in this spirited account of sycophants and bedfellows. A magisterial portrayal of these “megalomaniacs, monsters and saints” as eminently human and fallible. (24 pages of color photos)

THE GENE An Intimate History Mukherjee, Siddhartha Scribner (592 pp.) $30.00 | May 17, 2016 978-1-4767-3350-0

A panoramic history of the gene and how genetics “resonate[s] far beyond the realms of science.” Mukherjee (Medicine/Columbia Univ.; The Laws of Medicine, 2015, etc.), who won the Pulitzer Prize for his history of cancer, The Emperor of All Maladies (2010), begins with Mendel and his “pea-flower garden,” and he never lets readers forget the social, cultural, and ethical implications of genetics research. Indeed, he dedicates the book to his grandmother, who raised two mentally ill children, and to Carrie Buck, the Virginia woman judged “feebleminded” and sterilized according to eugenics laws passed in the 1920s. After Mendel, Mukherjee describes Thomas Morgan’s fruit fly studies in the 1900s, and he goes on to trace the steps leading to the discovery of the double helix, the deciphering of the genetic code, and the technological advances that have created ethical dilemmas. Early on, there was recombinant DNA, the insertion of genes from one species into another, and this led to mandates initially proscribing certain experiments. Then, there were the first disastrous attempts at gene therapy, which consisted of arrogant and sloppy science. Meanwhile, the human genome has been mapped, more and more genes have been associated with certain diseases (and even behaviors), and a new technique has been developed that permits the removing or replacing of specific genetic defects. Are we ready to apply that to an individual patient? Should it apply to sperm and egg cells so as to affect future generations? Mukherjee ponders these issues in the final chapters and epilogue, ultimately seeing the need for more research about the information coded in the human genome, since so much of it does not consist of genes. Throughout, the author provides vivid portraits of the principal players and enough accessible scientific information to bring general readers into the process of genetic lab science. Sobering, humbling, and extraordinarily rich reading from a wise and gifted writer who sees how far we have come—but how much farther we have to go to understand our human nature and destiny.

THE ROMANOVS 1613-1918

Montefiore, Simon Sebag Knopf (816 pp.) $35.00 | May 10, 2016 978-0-307-26652-1

A lively work illustrating the personalities, sensuality, and steely wills of the long line of Russian rulers. Master British biographer Montefiore (Jerusalem: The Biography, 2011, etc.) presents a staggeringly ambitious work of scholarship and temerity: taking on the Romanov rulers over their 300-year reign. He begins with the medieval Romanov boy aristocrat who was crowned Michael I of Muscovy in 1613—Ivan the Terrible hailed from the Rurikids dynasty and ruled in the mid-16th century— to the last czar, Michael II, the brother of Alexander II, who reigned for one day on March 1, 1917, before being forced by the Bolsheviks to abdicate like his older brother. Sticking close to personal records and primary archives, the author gives each of these 20-some rulers (and their spouses) roughly the same space, yet inevitably the last long-reigning czar, Nicolas II, becomes the most compelling and fully fleshed, especially as his wife, Alexandra, ultimately shared his throne, politics, and tragic fate during the Russian Revolution. In his masterly biographical portraits, Montefiore emphasizes what binds each of these Russian rulers, male or female: namely, the sense of an entitlement to “sacred autocracy” and of a “mystical mission” without being encumbered by the tempering “independent assemblies and civil institutions” that developed in Western nation-states. The author tosses in plenty of detail to fully bring to life each ruler. One of the most intriguing is the “freakishly tall,” highstrung, hard-drinking, brilliantly industrious Peter the Great, who achieved an apogee of rule by military success and sheer drive, leaving his crown’s succession to his beloved wife, the |

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ON FRIENDSHIP

to the party, Norman has a couple of things going for him. One is the subject’s tacit approval, useful considering that McCartney has “constructed ramparts of privacy rivaled only by Bob Dylan.” Another is the author’s comprehensive grasp of the existing literature and his sense of what makes a good story. This book is full of good stories, few reflecting poorly on McCartney though sometimes calling his impulses into question, notably with respect to his latter-day marriage to Heather Mills and the mayhem it caused. Mills emerges as the villain of that particular piece, but not without careful evidence and dissection. Elsewhere, Norman repeats well-worn yarns, though sometimes in curious ways. His account of how an apparently throwaway line became the centerpiece of McCartney’s song “Hey Jude” is flat, and his retelling of his subject’s helpful hints on the financial benefits of music publishing lacks the sense of tragic inevitability that we all know lurks nearby. However, Norman has considerable strengths. He understands how complicated the business dealings underlying the Beatles’ Apple Corps were and just how right McCartney was to sue to dissolve that partnership. He also reveals a few little-known facets of Sir Paul’s daily life and interests, including archival talents that would rival any librarian’s, as when Norman takes us to the scene of a “secret underfloor compartment” containing the Hofner bass Paul played at the Beatles’ last performance. There’s plenty on McCartney’s post-Beatles career, of course, but the foursome remains the heart of interest, especially the long rivalry with Lennon. A worthy biography that doesn’t approach the greatness of its subject.

Nehamas, Alexander Basic (304 pp.) $26.99 | May 3, 2016 978-0-465-08292-6

This conceptual exploration of friendship sees both the good and the bad. Nehamas (Humanities/Princeton Univ.; Only a Promise of Happiness: The Place of Beauty in a World of Art, 2007, etc.) explains that his study had its genesis in a graduate seminar he taught and a series of lectures he gave, which suggests why pedagogy, arts criticism, and philosophy overshadow anyone’s personal experience in the development of his argument. The author keeps returning to two illustrative relationships of his: one with a close friend who changed a tire for him and one with his barber. Yet closest scrutiny is reserved for analyses of novels, plays, and movies (Thelma and Louise, in particular), in which whatever they have to say about friendship may or may not be a reflection of any real relationships. “Friendship, I will argue, has a double face,” writes the author early on. Though he does later show how friendship can lead to favoritism or even immoral acts (Thelma and Louise, again), as one favors the friend rather than the ideal, some of his examples are more political friendships of convenience than bonds of true friendship. Perhaps the most compelling argument he makes is that having such a close relationship with a few undermines the ideal of Christian love and charity for all, equally. Otherwise, most of the downsides of friendship, the “complexities and ambiguities” on which Nehamas says he focuses during the book’s second half, have more to do with loss when the friendship ends—“the dull aches of abandonment, the sharp stabs of betrayal, the agonizing dilemmas of loyalty.” The author illustrates most of these with friendships as portrayed through the various arts. For those wanting to see how the concept of friendship in Western civilization has evolved since Aristotle, this study offers a useful, if idiosyncratic survey.

RUN, SPOT, RUN The Ethics of Keeping Pets Pierce, Jessica Univ. of Chicago (256 pp.) $26.00 | May 6, 2016 978-0-226-20989-0

Examination of the pros and cons of pet ownership from the standpoint of ethics. Bioethicist Pierce (The Last Walk: Reflections on Our Pets at the End of Their Lives, 2012, etc.) challenges pet lovers to recognize that animal ownership is definitely a dicey affair; no matter how well loved they are, our pets are essentially being held captives. Arguably, the dogs and cats we consider family may be happy to live with us and would not choose to be free, but for a caged bird or a goldfish in a bowl, the situation is less equivocal. Pierce notes that children are fascinated by animals while still infants, and their relationships with their pets can play an important positive part in their lives, deepening their ability to empathize with and take responsibility for others—with the proviso that they learn to treat them as companions with complex needs rather than merely objects for their entertainment. The author also reminds us that pet ownership is a big business. The pet industry encourages pet ownership, by shaping “a cultural narrative in which pet keeping is part of a normal and happy life,” in order

PAUL MCCARTNEY The Life Norman, Philip Little, Brown (608 pp.) $32.00 | May 3, 2016 978-0-316-32796-1

A biography of the multitalented musician, written with his “tacit approval.” Unless you know nothing about Paul McCartney or think the Beatles were merely his first backup band before Wings, not much in this account from Norman (Mick Jagger, 2012, etc.)—who has authored biographies of John Lennon, Buddy Holly, and Elton John, among others—will come as news. However, though late 76

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As vital and entertaining as the creators and work it celebrates, American Rhapsody is an uncommonly satisfying celebration of the cultural kaleidoscope known as the United States. american rhapsody

As vital and entertaining as the creators and work it celebrates, American Rhapsody is an uncommonly satisfying celebration of the cultural kaleidoscope known as the United States.

to merchandise the sale of the animals as well as “cages, tanks, foods, toys, veterinary products,” and more. People are encouraged to bring animals into their homes without considering their responsibility to provide them with food, shelter, exercise, and play. Pierce points to the failure of many owners to provide access to adequate veterinary care and the existence of animal shelters filled to capacity with unwanted, abandoned animals. The author reminds us that the animals we love and treat as companions “are denied nearly all of their natural behaviors, not to mention their freedom.” A thoughtful book that should spark debate, with the author stressing that bringing a companion animal into one’s life is an ethical commitment that should not to be taken lightly.

INDIA’S WAR World War II and the Making of Modern South Asia

Raghavan, Srinath Basic (576 pp.) $35.00 | May 10, 2016 978-0-465-03022-4

Though the story is overshadowed today by the cataclysmic aftereffects of independence and partition, India during World War II raised the largest volunteer fighting force in history, ineluctably altering the nation’s social structure and political makeup. Raghavan (Defense Studies/King’s Coll. London; 1971: A Global History of the Creation of Bangladesh, 2013, etc.), a military historian and former Indian infantry officer, unearths a period of India’s history customarily consigned to the dustbin as the last gasp of an antiquated colonial system. Even amid mounting opposition to the crown, the Indian political classes widely recognized that the British Empire should be supported in its struggle with Hitler, and “New Delhi and London knew that the Raj would be called upon to make a major contribution to the defense of countries that traditionally fell under its sphere of influence.” Between 1939 and 1945, the size of the Indian army increased tenfold, and Raghavan examines the rapidly shifting political alliances within and among the Congress Party, the Muslim League, and the princely states, the performance of the new soldiers on battlefields from North Africa to Malaya, and the massive domestic disruptions caused by recruiting and shipping out well over 2 million young men. While certain chapters belabor the minutiae of troop movements and formations, the author is more compelling when addressing the constraints and paradoxes faced by Indians battling fascism on behalf of an empire that still deemed them unworthy of exercising selfgovernance and relied on an Orientalist conception of “martial races” to plan recruiting efforts. The strategic needs of British divisions always came first, and Indian troops were moved around with little regard for their preparation or aptitude. In the hapless Southeast Asian campaigns, writes the author, “[t]he brigade [in Burma] had done little training for jungle warfare either in India or Burma,” and the officers “showed little interest in organized training.” World War II was a crucible that forged the modern identities of South Asian nations in ways rarely acknowledged since. While overlong, this book illuminates that period. (32 b/w illustrations)

AMERICAN RHAPSODY Writers, Musicians, Movie Stars, and One Great Building

Pierpont, Claudia Roth Farrar, Straus and Giroux (320 pp.) $26.00 | May 10, 2016 978-0-374-10440-5 The New Yorker staff writer delivers a selective history of the difficult, chaotic, transcendent genius of arts in America. In this cultural survey, Pierpont (Roth Unbound: A Writer and His Books, 2013, etc.) takes her title from George Gershwin’s original appellation for what would ultimately be known as “Rhapsody in Blue,” an epochal musical composition that embodies the wild, daring, original qualities of its nation of origin, the uniquely transformative properties that are the messy, exciting result of the American experiment. The author explores this “American-ness” (expressed at one point as “seeking a personal language to express a unique point of view”) as it applies to the arts through a series of in-depth portraits of such quintessentially American creators as Edith Wharton, Orson Welles, and Katharine Hepburn. Each chapter of this literary “rhapsody”—an informally structured sequence of distinct elements—begins in medias res with an instantly engaging significant anecdote regarding that section’s subject, deepening into a superbly researched and elegantly presented full artistic biography that unpacks the various social, political, and economic contexts of the work in question. Pierpont’s approach is neither dryly academic nor ideologically hidebound. She places the emphasis on the history and the work, not identity politics, and her witty but sober and evenhanded voice is a consistent pleasure, her prose is limpid and evocative, and her insights consistently dazzle. Deftly untangling the cultural threads that produce (and inextricably link) such geniuses as Gershwin, Nina Simone, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Marlon Brando, Bert Williams, and Peggy Guggenheim (the audaciously spired Chrysler Building also receives a fascinating chapter) with grace and style, Pierpont has composed a refreshingly cleareyed piece of cultural history and an inspiring paean to the American artistic spirit. |

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HERBERT HOOVER IN THE WHITE HOUSE The Ordeal of the Presidency

EAST WEST STREET On the Origins of “Genocide” and “Crimes Against Humanity”

Rappleye, Charles Simon & Schuster (560 pp.) $32.50 | May 10, 2016 978-1-4516-4867-6

Sands, Philippe Knopf (448 pp.) $32.50 | May 24, 2016 978-0-385-35071-6

A fair-handed, surprisingly sympathetic new appraisal of the much-vilified president who was faced with the nation’s plunge into the Great Depression. Reading Rappleye’s (Robert Morris: Financier of the American Revolution, 2010, etc.) engaging account of Herbert Hoover’s (1874-1964) one-term presidency, readers may find themselves thinking that maybe the Depression wasn’t really Hoover’s fault after all. Indeed, considering Hoover’s extraordinary managerial skills—he was a self-made businessman, head of the postwar food-aid program Belgian Relief, eight-year secretary of commerce under President Calvin Coolidge—his engineering background, and his reputation as a problem-solver, why couldn’t he devise a way out of national misery? His landslide election against Alfred Smith in 1928 seemed to usher enormous optimism, as the well-intentioned Hoover declared confidently that “we in America today are nearer to the final triumph over poverty than ever before in the history of any land. The poorhouse is vanishing from among us.” Yet the bad news was only just beginning, including the wildly unrestrained Wall Street speculation and the global agricultural recession. The president ultimately seemed to show an indifference to national suffering, rejecting a $60 million drought loan program, which would have “defended the notion of volunteer aid and private relief as America’s core mode of emergency response.” Rappleye valiantly portrays all facets of this conflicted character, who “preached his gospel of recovery until he almost believed it himself ” and, as a leader, had some visionary early progressive programs, such as the Federal Farm Board, expansion in public works, and the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. However, increasing unemployment, bank failures, a credit crisis, hunger marchers, and the Bonus Army converging on the capital—as well as the government’s dogged adherence to the “grim logic” of the gold standard—all competed to create Hoover’s “Gethsemane.” Concluding with the rise of Franklin Roosevelt, this study is finely focused and fills an important niche in presidential scholarship.

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An engrossing tale of family secrets and groundbreaking legal precedents. In a tense, riveting melding of memoir and history, international human rights lawyer Sands (Torture Team: Rumsfeld’s Memo and the Betrayal of American Values, 2008, etc.) focuses on a subtle, and critical, debate that emerged from the Nuremberg trials: whether the Nazi defendants were guilty of crimes against humanity or of genocide. Two Polish-born lawyers, with influence on trial strategy, had strong opposing views. Hersch Lauterpacht, a professor of international law at Cambridge University, maintained that calling Nazi atrocities “crimes against humanity” would lead to protection of individual, fundamental human rights. Rafael Lemkin, who had fled Poland to a position at Duke University Law School, felt, with equal passion, that the murder of whole peoples must be called genocide, a word he coined to describe acts “directed against individuals, not in their individual capacity, but as members of national groups.” The two men’s positions became pieces of a larger conversation among Soviet, American, French, and British prosecutors, each with his or her own particular stake. The lawyers’ own stakes became intensified when they discovered, during the trial, that many of their family members had been sent to their deaths by Hans Frank, one of the Nuremberg defendants. Interweaving the biographies of the scholarly Lauterpacht, tirelessly persistent Lemkin, and arrogant, self-aggrandizing Frank, Sands engages in a search for his own Polish ancestors, especially his grandfather, who was born in the city where Lauterpacht and Lemkin studied law and never spoke of his past. From letters, photographs, and deeply revealing interviews, the author portrays Nazi persecutions in shattering detail. He discusses his viewing of family albums with the son of a Nazi officer who could not bear to condemn his father, and he visited an elderly relative whose emotionless affect puzzled him. But she had not forgotten the past; rather, “I have chosen not to remember.” For the future of humanity, forgetting, Sands insists in this vastly important book, is not an option.

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Agile, informative, even revelatory pieces that, together, show us both the great variety of humanity and the interior of a gifted writer’s heart. far and away

THE GREAT CLOD Notes and Memories on the Natural History of China and Japan

these pieces haphazardly. As he notes in a long (44 pages), lovely introduction—and reiterates in the acknowledgements sections— many of the essays required substantial revisions. He also appends to each a short prologue and epilogue, setting the stage, updating us on events and people, and confessing the inaccuracy of some predictions. Arranged in rough chronology, the pieces reflect Solomon’s impressive career. In the early ones, the author deals principally with art and artists (from Russia to China to South Africa), while the later ones focus on issues ranging from economic inequality (Brazil) to sexual identity (Ghana) to autobiography (Romania—his family emigrated in 1900). Throughout, Solomon evinces an intrepid traveler’s confidence, though he sometimes visits places that were life-threatening, from ghettos around the world to Australia, where he nearly lost his life scuba diving. Some essays are very personal, others mostly expository. He tells us early on, for example, that he is gay, but we don’t learn much about his husband (and, later, two children) until late in the text. In between, Solomon globe-trots, interviewing people from all walks of society, from the president of Ghana to impoverished people living in the most distressed circumstances from South Africa to the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. The author tried but failed to reach Antarctica, but he did experience an African safari and—in an excerpt from The Noonday Demon, his 2001 book about depression—visited the Solomon Islands to see how some locals dealt with the demon that has periodically tormented him. Agile, informative, even revelatory pieces that, together, show us both the great variety of humanity and the interior of a gifted writer’s heart.

Snyder, Gary Counterpoint (180 pp.) $25.00 | May 8, 2016 978-1-61902-569-1

The noted poet and essayist returns with a deceptively small book enfolding a lifetime’s worth of study. Snyder (This Present Moment, 2015, etc.) was an environmentalist before that word was widely applied, “radicalized,” he memorably writes, “by the ghosts of the original trees still hanging out by their stumps and telling me what had gone on” in the overlogged forests of the Puget Sound. He has also been a student of Asian religions for seven decades. Both interests inform this slender volume, which reads as a kind of personalized digest of scholarship and history blended with memoir and travelogue—a book, in short, not quite like any other but trademark Snyder, its learning lightly worn but profoundly stated. The author begins on a rueful note that will be repeated elsewhere: that he had imagined, in his exuberant youth, that by going to China and Japan he would be immersing himself in civilizations that treated the land better than the materialist West did. Not so, he writes with wisdom gained: “large, civilized societies inevitably have a harsh effect on the natural environment, regardless of philosophical or religious values.” His reading of East Asian history is a kind of understated study of the Fall of Man, tinged with anarchist morals; in the place of “a free, untaxed, self-sustaining people” rises a bureaucratized, state-governed society amenable to such things as slavery and despoliation. Religious traditions such as Taoism rise in critique, offering other objects of striving than the material: says one Buddhist exhortation, “the Perfect Way is without difficulty: strive hard!” Classical poetry, calligraphy, the best source of temple incense—all figure in the text, which has something of the feel of a valediction. Elegant and thoughtful, with much to read between the lines in commentary on a long life’s work. Students and admirers of Snyder will be enchanted and intrigued.

MEMORIES From Moscow to the Black Sea

Teffi Translated by Chandler, Robert & Chandler, Elizabeth & Jackson, Anne Marie & Steinberg, Irina New York Review Books (288 pp.) $16.95 paper | May 6, 2016 978-1-59017-952-9 Poignant reflections of a beloved Russian humorist as she fled her homeland on the eve of Bolshevik victory. As more of the work of Russian poet, playwright, and short story author Teffi (the nom de plume of Nadezhda Aleksandrovna Lokhvitskaya, 1872-1952) is translated, her English-language fans will certainly increase, as she is a delightful stylist, dialogist, and observer of her era. Teffi was known for her wry poetry and feuilletons published in the Russian reviews of the first decade of the 20th century (Satirikon, Russian Word), yet her sympathy toward the Bolsheviks cooled when the magazine she wrote for, New Life, became a mere party organ; she then moved to Moscow. In her subsequent travels, she did not glean that fate was favoring the Bolshevik cause. As she first fled an increasingly intolerable existence in Petrograd, she moved with the rumors of safe areas still held by the “whites,” Ukraine and the

FAR AND AWAY Reporting from the Brink of Change

Solomon, Andrew Scribner (576 pp.) $29.00 | Apr. 19, 2016 978-1-4767-9504-1

A veteran journalist and travel writer collects pieces dating back to the late 1980s. Solomon (Clinical Psychology/Columbia Univ.; Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity, 2012, etc.), who has won both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award, has not assembled |

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Black Sea. The stages of her journey during this precarious time make up these amusing and affecting “memories,” first published in installments between 1928 and 1930 in a Russian-language newspaper in Paris, where she finally located permanently. The work chronicles her flight from Moscow and subsequent chaotic and perilous travels to Kiev and Odessa. She was first harnessed to a Ukrainian Jewish “impresario” named Gooskin, who helped mitigate her transfer (along with other motley characters) to the Ukrainian border, and then she traveled by ship from Odessa to Novorossiysk, where all kinds of fleeing types had washed up. Finally, she arrived in Yekaterinodor, where she had agreed to do two nights of readings. Throughout, the author’s characterizations are precise and even ruthless, and she captures the tense mood of paranoia and sorrow of the refugee. Fluently translated by several hands and introduced by Teffi’s biographer, Edythe Haber, these are priceless anecdotes and beautiful portraits of friends and acquaintances lost forever.

thrive under the right conditions. In today’s global society, the children of the world need a voice. Thurow has spoken and made the issue clear: children everywhere need better food and water if they are going to grow into healthy adults. In-depth research and personal stories bring the issue of malnutrition in women and children to the forefront and provide evidence that, with proper support, children can flourish.

THE LONG WEEKEND Life in the English Country House, 1918-1939

Tinniswood, Adrian Basic (344 pp.) $32.00 | May 3, 2016 978-0-465-04898-4

A nostalgic account of life at English country houses during the interbellum era. Tinniswood, who has written frequently about English cultural history— from pirates (Pirates of Barbary, 2010) to architecture (The Arts and Crafts House, 1999)—returns with a richly researched story about the rise and fall and transformation of country-house living, the effects on same of World War I and the arrival of World War II, and numerous other aspects of the phenomenon. In each chapter the author focuses on a different perspective: the emergence of the country house, country-house living of the royals, various restorations of some places that date back to the Elizabethan era, the arrival of moneyed Americans, upstairs/ downstairs stuff, and the changes wrought by more bohemian occupants. Tinniswood teaches us about shooting, hunting, tennis, and golf (some owners built links on their grounds). We learn a lot about the designers, remodelers, occupants, and sales and purchases as well as the endless array of names of these places: Castle Drogo, Gladstone Park, and the like. The author does not suggest that there is anything untoward about any of this vast wealth in the midst of vast poverty, probably calculating that this is the sort of text that will appeal to the myriad viewers of Downton Abbey. Tinniswood includes plenty of engaging details and amusing anecdotes—e.g., one owner’s idea for stringing electrical wires: “they prized up a floorboard at one end and dropped a dead rabbit into the void; then they prized up a floorboard at the other end and unleashed a ferret, with a string tied to his collar. When the ferret had managed to negotiate the joists and reach the rabbit, the string was used to pull through a cable and, hey, presto! The problem was solved.” Although there are many pictures and illustrations throughout, readers will surely wish for more images of these remarkable dwellings. An enjoyable tour with a genial, informed, devoted docent. (8-page color gallery and b/w illustrations throughout)

THE FIRST 1,000 DAYS A Crucial Time for Mothers and Children—and the World Thurow, Roger PublicAffairs (288 pp.) $26.99 | May 3, 2016 978-1-61039-585-4

A presentation of research from around the world showing that good nutrition is critical in the first 1,000 days

of a child’s life. The period consisting of pregnancy and the first two years of a child’s life is when the human brain develops the most. In 2008, world leaders acknowledged the importance of this period and initiated several projects, including Scaling Up Nutrition, to assist low-income families around the world. Thurow (The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change, 2012, etc.), a senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, follows several women—in Uganda, India, Guatemala, and the United States—through pregnancy, childbirth, and the child’s second birthday to see how they have responded to these efforts. Using interviews with the women and their families, the author gives an intimate look at the struggles many women face. They must fight against old customs that are leery of these new programs, contend with discrimination against women and female babies, and battle daily with a lack of sufficient money to purchase the food items they aren’t able to grow themselves. Poverty, lack of training, and prejudice are at the heart of the world’s malnutrition problems. Growing evidence shows that when these issues are addressed properly, children and mothers have far better survival rates. Thurow provides just enough grim facts on infant and mother mortality, the scarcity of food, sanitary conditions for birthing, and the general plight of impoverished families to garner sympathy without being melodramatic, and he also shows how women and children 80

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When tackling the beautiful game, the author is a poet and a critic, a philosopher and a historian, a keen observer and a devoted fan. god is round

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE Taste in an Age of Endless Choice

these job titles are insufficient. When tackling the beautiful game, the author is a poet and a critic, a philosopher and a historian, a keen observer and a devoted fan. This book collects a wide range of his writings on soccer, previously available only in Spanish. “It would not exist if it weren’t for the on-pitch wizards,” writes the author, “but just as crucial were the masters who convinced me of a certain axiom: reality gets better in the writing of it.” Most of the chapters consist of little more than loosely connected vignettes, sketches, and thoughts, sometimes of only a couple of pages. Whether he is producing a “diatribe” aimed at Portugal and Real Madrid narcissist Cristiano Ronaldo or a celebration of Argentina and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi; trying to understand the egomaniacal enigma who is Diego Maradona; or listing his favorite players who wore No. 10 jerseys, Villoro brings some memorable line, some delightful turn of phrase, some inescapable image to every page. Readers will be reminded of a similar stylist, Eduardo Galeano, whose Soccer in Sun and Shadow has always represented the literary apogee of writing about soccer. A word of credit belongs to Villoro’s translator (and respected writer himself) Bunstead, who ensures that Villoro’s finely wrought work makes the poetic transition from Spanish to English. There are occasional moments of repetition, especially when the author revisits a subject he has addressed earlier, but with writing like this, few readers will resent this most minor sin. For millions around the world, soccer is not just a game, but rather life itself and, as Villoro ably reveals, very much worth pursuing to the final whistle.

Vanderbilt, Tom Knopf (320 pp.) $27.95 | May 10, 2016 978-0-307-95824-2

The science behind the choices we make. After insightfully scrutinizing vehicular driving habits, Vanderbilt (Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do, 2008, etc.), a contributing editor for Wired UK, Outside, and Artforum, now explores what compels our selection process in everything from movies and music to munchies and the “chromatic sweet spot” of a favorite color. “We are faced with an ever-increasing amount of things to figure out whether we like or dislike,” writes the author, “and yet at the same time there are fewer overarching rules and standards to go by in helping one decide.” Throughout the book’s entertaining chapters on the partiality of items like foods, Netflix movies, songs, and online social interactivity, Vanderbilt examines the methodology and psychological nature of the “taxonomy of taste.” He notes that while websites like Yelp and YouTube enable users to quickgrade products, services, and media-driven experiences and partake in their popularity and likability, these sites also incorporate algorithms that ingeniously weed out fake reviews, which can skew results and overall impressions. Supporting theories on taste development and personal bias, the author interviewed anthropologists on dog breeding and a host of psychologists and psychology professors, who fascinatingly discuss the sensory influences of dessert and a hypothesis attesting that repeated exposure reinforces likability. In his exploration of the predictability, instability, and malleability of our partialities, Vanderbilt also spent quality time with opinionated competition judges and at a beer festival, where, in matters of flavor and variety, the pairings and possibilities were endless. In a conclusive closing section, the author seeks to clarify the multilayered dynamics of predilection, and though he has produced an extremely convincing effort, he admits that examining this subject remains a “maddeningly elusive and idiosyncratic enterprise.” Like it or not, there’s much to behold in this exhaustively researched, intellectual assessment of human preference.

ZIONISM The Birth and Transformation of an Ideal

Viorst, Milton Dunne/St. Martin’s (336 pp.) $27.99 | May 31, 2016 978-1-250-07800-1

An examination of Zionism through its most influential proponents. Former New Yorker Middle East correspondent Viorst (What Shall I Do with This People?: Jews and the Fractious Politics of Judaism, 2002, etc.) takes a largely objective approach to a controversial subject: the quest for a Jewish state. The book will be especially useful to those new to the idea of Zionism and its historical implications while also providing food for thought to readers more engaged with the topic. After setting the stage with a succinct prologue, Viorst discusses Theodor Herzl, widely considered the father of modern Zionism. The author then moves on to Chaim Weizmann, who was influential in bringing about the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which paved the way for the creation of a Jewish state. Next up is Vladimir Jabotinsky, whose militant brand of Zionism was dubbed Revisionism. Viorst takes a subtle stance against Revisionist Zionism throughout the rest of the book, believing that it has left an intractable legacy of violence and of Arab subjugation. David Ben-Gurion, certainly a soldier at heart but not of the Revisionist brand, brought Zionism to a new level of reality

GOD IS ROUND

Villoro, Juan Translated by Bunstead, Thomas Restless Books (240 pp.) $15.99 paper | Apr. 19, 2016 978-1-63206-058-7 A lyrical exploration of the global game of soccer. In the most prosaic sense, Villoro is a Mexican journalist and professor of literature. But when he writes about soccer, |

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with his declaration of the state of Israel in 1948. Revisionism would be taken up in the Israeli leadership by Menachem Begin and given religious sanction through Rav Abraham Isaac Kook and his son Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook. Viorst concludes with an examination of the events leading up to the current regime of Benjamin Netanyahu. The author echoes the sentiments of Herzl that once a Jewish state was created, Jews would find it difficult to live with differing points of view. “The chief conflict among Zionists today,” he writes, “focuses on whether Israel will make the concessions needed to reconcile with its neighbors, or continue indefinitely to use force to dominate them.” Indeed, Viorst’s greatest lesson is that the Zionist movement is anything but singular in character. A well-written, balanced, and intriguing reference. (7 b/w photos)

Furthermore, Walker leans too heavily on military history clichés, comparing the combatants to “depleted boxers” and quoting heavily from excellent but well-mined sources such as historian John Keegan. A competent piece of historical detective work that is less satisfying as popular history.

BITTER FREEDOM Ireland in a Revolutionary World

Walsh, Maurice Liveright/Norton (544 pp.) $35.00 | May 17, 2016 978-1-63149-195-5

Walsh (Journalism/Kingston Coll.; The News from Ireland: Foreign Correspondents and the Irish Revolution, 2008) digs into the heart of the fight to establish an Irish Republic. In 1914, British Parliament passed the Home Rule Act, but it was suspended until after World War I, and during a period of 10 years, the English bought 12 million acres from large estates for purchase by the tenants. Home Rule was not enough for the “small but insuppressible island.” Walsh provides an eyeopening look at one of many new countries emerging after the war and their similar struggles. The Easter Uprising of 1916 was the beginning, and it produced enough martyrs to build the small army of volunteers who picked up the cause. The election of 1918, with women voting for the first time, returned a majority for Sinn Féin, who didn’t wait for permission to rule themselves and established a government in Dublin. This Dáil Éireann, the Irish parliament, took power from the British government, but Britain paid little attention until 1919, when it was outlawed, forcing it underground. Walsh’s narrative is really about the toughness of the Irish people, the enormous role of the Catholic Church, the end of the landed gentry, and how the Irish Republican Army led what the author calls a flawed revolution. The Royal Irish Constabulary was the model for colonial police, and they were the symbol of British rule and the prime Irish Republican Army target for assassination. It was murderous and cruel on both sides, a conflict with vendetta the only rule. Anarchy was the order of the day as the IRA robbed banks, stole cars, and shot anyone in their way. They were not the only beasts in this game, however. Ultimately, writes the author, the “sense that the revolution was a failure because it did not create a new country was the bitterest feeling of all.” An excellent history, but more importantly, a sharply written portrait of a people and their long struggle to survive. (20 photos)

BETRAYAL AT LITTLE GIBRALTAR A German Fortress, a Treacherous American General, and the Battle to End World War I

Walker, William T. Scribner (464 pp.) $28.00 | May 10, 2016 978-1-5011-1789-3

An attempt to identify the true culprit behind the excessively bloody taking of a German fortress by green American forces at the tail end of World War I. In his debut history, military historian Walker aims to settle a disputed incident in American military history that took place at the beginning of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in 1918. The 79th Division, which “had completed less than six weeks of the prescribed twelve weeks of combat training,” was given the difficult task of taking Montfaucon, a fortified butte serving as a valuable observation post for German artillery and known as “the Little Gibraltar of the Western Front” for its impenetrability. The battle-hardened 4th Division, by contrast, was given a relatively easy sector of the German lines to penetrate. Walker marshals exhaustive evidence suggesting that American planners intended to execute a “turning maneuver”: while the inexperienced 79th held the veteran defenders’ attention, the 4th would encircle the strong-point and force its surrender. The author argues that Maj. Gen. Robert E. Lee Bullard ignored this order, hoping to win glory by leading his corps, which included the 4th Division, further into German territory than any other American unit. Unfortunately, this “betrayal,” while undoubtedly of interest to soldiers of the 79th and military historians, seems insufficiently consequential to interest casual history buffs. Walker never fully demonstrates that capturing Montfaucon was as crucial to the (arguable) failure of the MeuseArgonne Offensive as other factors mentioned by the author, including the American soldiers’ inexperience, sophisticated German defenses, and outdated tactics encouraged by American commanders who “still worshiped the rifle and bayonet.” 82

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A meticulous, precise, well-organized survey that takes into account the many different views and will certainly facilitate the heated conversation. trouble in the tribe

THE COOK UP A Crack Rock Memoir

Delving into the many divisive camps of opinion that have developed over Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, settlements, a two-state solution, and so on, Waxman (Political Science, International Affairs, and Israel Studies/Northeastern Univ.; The Pursuit of Peace and the Crisis of Israeli Identity, 2006, etc.) explores how the American Jewish establishment is being challenged from without and within, to a productive rather than a polarizing end. The right-wing Israeli government’s unpalatable policies have galvanized much debate and ire within the American Jewish community, so much so that many rabbis in their congregations avoid discussion of Israel altogether. According to the traditional establishment, largely made up of older, Orthodox members, public criticism of Israel was taboo because it presented an appearance of disunity or weakness that Jewish enemies could exploit. Yet Waxman shows how robust criticism of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not new, although often stifled—e.g., the demonization of the Zionist group Breira in the 1970s, which urged negotiation with the Palestine Liberation Organization. Currently, however, the disenchantment over Israel’s policies have grown, as has the public outrage, which has been led by a younger, non-Orthodox cohort whose emphasis is on concerns of social justice and the environment— as evidenced by the growth of the Washington organization J Street, a group that is still often ostracized by the mainstream. Waxman looks at the surprisingly diverse makeup of American Jews, who still have a strong emotional attachment to Israel yet do not necessarily support the political actions of its government. The author dissects the so-called “Jewish lobby,” which is considered as indomitable as the gun lobby but is actually no longer speaking with one voice. In the end, Waxman regards the American Jewish relationship toward Israel as evolving rather than eroding. A meticulous, precise, well-organized survey that takes into account the many different views and will certainly facilitate the heated conversation. (15 halftones; 6 line illustrations)

Watkins, D. Grand Central Publishing (272 pp.) $26.00 | May 3, 2016 978-1-4555-8863-3 A memoir of growing up and selling drugs on East Baltimore’s bloody corners. Watkins follows up his acclaimed The Beast Side: Living (and Dying) While Black in America (2015) with a personalized account of the lure of the gangster life for many inner-city black Americans, as well as the grim circumstances propelling them into it. The author opens with his beloved brother’s senseless murder (“selling drugs seemed legal where you lived and he taught you how to be extra careful because bodies dropped every day”) and chronicles how, devastated, he used an inheritance of drugs and money to enter “the game” himself. This occurred with incongruous ease, as his new crew retook an old drug corner. “Street fortunes were made and lost there,” he writes. “My Uncle Gee had it for the longest.” With canny promotion and good-quality product, Watkins established himself as a prominent, low-key dealer: “I could stack a few hundred grand without shooting anyone while I figured my life out, met some girls, and had some fun.” Things proceeded smoothly, despite occasional violent incursions and Watkins’ awareness that his operation, though discreet, fueled the community’s most destructive aspects even while contributing economically to it. He ultimately extricated himself and entered college as his erstwhile colleagues paid the costs of addiction and felony charges. The author’s writing projects keen awareness of both the mediated image of the young black dealer and the actual grim life prospects for a generation of his innercity peers. His memoir’s strengths include its bleakly humorous, original prose, which pinballs between stoned, brand-focused, hip-hop excess and a more contemplative tone, and the many true, touching, or disturbing small details from the fraught daily lives of America’s black underclass. However, many narrative threads trail off unresolved, beginning with his brother’s murder, which fuels the story yet is left unaddressed. A familiar story to fans of The Wire, but Watkins provides a gritty, vivid first-person document of a desperate demographic.

THE END OF PROTEST A New Playbook for Revolution

White, Micah Knopf Canada (336 pp.) $20.00 paper | Apr. 1, 2016 978-0-345-81004-5

TROUBLE IN THE TRIBE The American Jewish Conflict Over Israel

Revolution for the hell of it? Perhaps, this latter-day rejoinder to Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals suggests, since revolution of other kinds seems nigh on

Waxman, Dov Princeton Univ. (328 pp.) $29.95 | May 1, 2016 978-0-691-16899-9

impossible. Impossible, perhaps—but still worth trying. Occupy Wall Street co-creator White, a graduate of the Adbusters school of paradigm subversion, is nothing if not optimistic on that point, at least most of the time, even as he candidly assesses past missteps. “Occupy Wall Street was a political miracle,” he writes, “a rupture moment that redefined reality, pushed the limits of

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possibility and transformed participants into their best and truest selves.” That movement grew from an anti-Starbucks campaign that fizzled—and probably rightly, since Starbucks actually pays its workers a living wage—with “a few insignificant actions that didn’t catch on.” So, given that failure, the ultimate failure of Occupy for all its self-transformation, and the many failures of protest generally, why bother? Because, White assures readers, there’s life in the path to replacing old paradigms with new ones, and if Occupy “failed to live up to its revolutionary potential” and “protest is broken and the people know it worldwide,” that doesn’t mean injustice has taken a holiday. Though the author sounds Leninist at times (“the people must capture legislative and executive control constitutionally and legitimately”), White can be a little theological and even New Age–y, as well (“scour the edges of politics and adapt the protest behaviors that make you excited and a bit nervous”)—all while he looks toward the possibility of carving out new paths of resistance with such things as meme warfare along with the old tried-and-true of satyagraha and sit-down. Fans of Alinsky will find points in common here, but direct-action types will be disappointed to discover that under the revolutionary bluster, this is a rather quietly spiritual treatise and certainly no Anar­ chist Cookbook. Of a decidedly leftist bent, but activists, organizers, and civil libertarians of whatever stripe will want to have a look.

and China joined the world market as Britain and Russia built Asian empires—but not without early versions of another modern phenomenon, genocide, in India and the Caucasus. The U.S. boomed as it dissolved into civil war, which barely interrupted its expansion. The 1860s saw the U.S. replacing Britain as the center of attention in a world that “has been utterly transformed by war, mass migration, economic boom, advancing trade, and the impact of new technologies.” In his epilogue on the 1873 depression, the worst in history, Wilson emphasizes that the 1850s jump-started the modern world, which is more convenient and prosperous than the old but no nicer. An above-average addition to the when-the-modernage-began genre. (b/w illustrations throughout)

WALKING THE HIMALAYAS

Wood, Levison Little, Brown (304 pp.) $27.00 | May 24, 2016 978-0-316-35241-3

In a follow-up to his African odyssey (Walking the Nile, 2016), explorer Wood hits the road again on a trans-Asian adventure. Like his earlier work, this book opens with a bang. In 2001, the author was in Nepal during the Maoist uprising. Just before his scheduled departure, the Crown Prince Dipendra massacred the royal family, plunging the country into chaos, and Wood briefly went into hiding. The author describes this action in the prologue, noting how he was young and broke. The story resumes 14 years later, when his life was decidedly calmer. At this point, Wood lived in London as a published writer with little to prove. Only after much goading from his friend Ash did the author consider another long walk. In contrast to the brutal African wilderness, the Himalayas were majestic and relatively tranquil. Instead of dodging bullets and befriending warlords, Wood met with shamans, villagers, herders, and activists. The desire to explore unfamiliar places is pure and admirable, and Wood is a likable guide. He thoughtfully describes the scenery of places like Tibet, Afghanistan, and Bhutan, and he delves into the basic political problems of Central Asia. Yet many foreigners have trod this region, and Wood’s journey through Pakistan seems less daring after, say, Michael Palin chronicled a similar passage. Given his track record of tenacity and resourcefulness, Wood’s talents seem wasted on such sentimental sightseeing. Most of his prose is dedicated to spiritual rites and friendly chats along the way. The finale feels lackluster, as if he has become bored by his own story. Toward the end, he writes, “ ‘Live in the moment,’ the Dalai Lama had said. ‘Stop concerning yourself with the future.’ ” After so many dramatic experiences, it’s a bit of a letdown. The author certainly deserved a vacation, and fans will appreciate his ongoing travels, but Wood’s skills are too valuable to squander here. The author’s intentions are genuine and ambitious, but the result is uninspired.

HEYDAY The 1850s and the Dawn of the Global Age

Wilson, Ben Basic (520 pp.) $32.00 | Apr. 12, 2016 978-0-465-06425-0

Did the modern world begin during World War I, in 1945, or perhaps with the steam engine in the 1700s? British historian Wilson (What Price Liberty!: How Freedom Was Won and Is Being Lost, 2009, etc.) makes an engrossing case for the dozen years after 1850. That year marked the onset of a boom triggered, according to the author, by the free market that followed Britain’s abandonment of mercantilism and tariffs in the 1840s. Wilson begins in 1851 London, where the Great Exhibition drew enraptured crowds to a dazzling display of world technology (“a day at the Exhibition meant sensory overload”). Although dominated by Britain, there were unexpected hits from the United States, as well—e.g., Cyrus McCormick’s reaper, vulcanized rubber, and the Colt six-shooter. After this initial introduction, Wilson delivers 15 largely unrelated chapters on great midcentury events. The telegraph and railroad, after two decades of modest growth, exploded across the world and under the oceans, beginning a revolution in high-speed transport and telecommunications that is still in progress. An avalanche of gold, more from Australia than California, greased economies. Against their wills, Japan 84

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A rite-of-passage memoir that has powerful poetry in its ellipses. everything is teeth

HOMINTERN How Gay Culture Liberated the Modern World

An award-winning novelist in Britain, Wyld (All the Birds, Singing, 2014, etc.) pares down her prose within a narrative that might not have the length of even a very short story but has the resonance of a tone poem. It also features the illustrations of Sumner, making his debut here, capturing both the comic-strip innocence of the perspective of the author as a young girl and the majesty and the terror of the sharks that are her obsession, a foreboding presence both underwater and beneath the surface of her consciousness. Within her subconscious, as in a dream, those sharks become manifest, take over the full spread of two pages, rendering words unnecessary. Written in the plainspoken diction of the small child who begins the narrative, Wyld describes formative impressions at the seashore of rural Australia, of seeing a shark, or at least conjuring the fin, memories that will lead to an obsession she will pursue in her reading and that will remain with her when she moves to England and has no sea nearby. The obsession is like a foreboding: “There is a constant creeping dread...something watching from the dark... something waiting to strike” [ellipses are the author’s]. She senses the possibility of sharks when she’s taking a bath, and she feels that dark undercurrent in the bloody scars of her bullied brother. She returns for a visit in Australia, she grows older, she flashes forward, and her sense of sharklike foreboding underscores her recognition of mortality: “The ebb and flow of life... and death,” she muses while reaching on the shelf for a book titled Shark Attack! A rite-of-passage memoir that has powerful poetry in its ellipses.

Woods, Gregory Yale Univ. (432 pp.) $35.00 | May 3, 2016 978-0-300-21803-9

A comprehensive anthropological survey exploring the ways in which the gay community has changed the world. In 1895, Oscar Wilde set a precedent that would change the lives of homosexual men all over Europe—and, eventually, the world. Accused of having same-sex relations, he was prosecuted and sent to jail. Most men accused of homosexual acts would have denied the fact, but Wilde did not. This choice set an example that defined new terms for the inner life of the artist, the aesthete, and, more importantly, the European gay man. It spurred the rise of the modernist sensibilities and underground communities in Paris and Berlin. The universal appeal of the Wilde case also led to conspiracy theories about homosexuals. As Woods (Emeritus, Gay and Lesbian Studies/Nottingham Trent Univ.; The Myth of the Last Taboo: Queer Subcultural Studies, 2015, etc.) explains, “to speak of homosexual internationalism was...to conjure up the threat of subversive conspiracy. In this case, however, the Homintern was understood to be conspiring against the Comintern, rather than in league with it.” This conspiracy, however irrational it may seem, fueled the decadence of the 1920s and ’30s and allowed homosexual men to travel from Russia to Paris and from Paris to Berlin to Capri and beyond. As a result, artists and writers formulated a new, cross-cultural art practice: “Values previously taken for granted were deliberately being subverted; rules of perspective and harmony, even of logic, were deliberately being flouted; standards of decency and good taste were deliberately being violated.” Woods delivers a wellresearched, compelling study of how countless gay men have affected, influenced, and restructured the cultural climate for more than 100 years. He also addresses diversity and remains objective, all the while slipping in some personal opinions about political climates across the generations. An information-heavy book that provides a wonderful resource for those interested in learning about the rise of gay poetics at the onset of the 20th century.

JAMES JOYCE Portrait of a Dubliner—a Graphic Biography Zapico, Alfonso Illus. by the author Translated by The O’Brien Press Ltd. Arcade (240 pp.) $22.99 | May 3, 2016 978-1-62872-655-8

A graphic biography of the literary master. Though “breezy” isn’t a term generally associated with the author of Ulysses and Finnegans Wake, artist Zapico (Cafe Budapest, 2008, etc.) remains true to the life and spirit of the Irish master while appealing to readers who might not have the patience for either Joyce’s novels or a standard, more exhaustive biography. There is far more text here than in most graphic narratives, beginning with the Joyce generations prior to the birth of James—or “Jim” as he’s frequently called in these pages—and ending with his death and literary legacy. Zapico shows how Joyce’s mother’s religiosity and his father’s alcoholism and uncertain finances produced a tension in the schoolboy, who was advised to be a priest and was considered “clearly on his way to sainthood.” However, he rejected his religion and became something of a vagabond in exile, accepting random teaching assignments and drinking and whoring his way through

EVERYTHING IS TEETH

Wyld, Evie Illus. by Sumner, Joe Pantheon (128 pp.) $24.95 | May 10, 2016 978-1-101-87081-5

A graphic memoir that proceeds like a young girl’s powerfully disturbing dream, which continues to resonate through her waking hours. |

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his young adulthood, all the while writing the early work that would have such trouble getting published. Much of the narrative concerns his love-at-first-sight relationship with Nora, on whom he depended but whom he also resisted as she bore him children and constrained his tendencies toward dissolution. His prose became more radical, and perhaps even more Irish, the farther he strayed from Ireland and the longer he stayed away. His homeland and its characters lived within him. “Writing from a distance, Joyce always dealt with the subject of Ireland,” writes Zapico. Ulysses would mark his turning point, his most ambitious and audacious work at the time, one that would be banned in the States as immoral yet ultimately became a sensation when published. “While the effect of Ulysses on the reader is rather sickening,” said the judge, “it would be unfair to call it ‘aphrodisiac.’ ” Then came another major leap, with Finnegans Wake raising the bar even higher before Joyce’s premature death. A solid account of the development of a writer not easy to encapsulate.

chronologically, perfectly captures her fractured sense of self. What makes this book so memorable, however, is the courage she eventually found to move beyond the paralyzing “web of loyalty and blood” to tell her truth. An honest, unapologetic, and keenly observed memoir.

THE TELLING

Zolbrod, Zoe Curbside Splendor (264 pp.) $16.95 paper | May 10, 2016 978-1-940430-74-4 The intimate story of the sexual abuse the author experienced as a child as well as her sexual coming-of-age and development. The Rumpus Sunday editor Zolbrod (Currency, 2010) was just 4 years old when her 16-year-old cousin, Toshi, who had moved into her home to escape a difficult family situation, began abusing her. Toshi left a year later, and the author did not speak of the incident to anyone. At 12, she finally blurted out her story to a friend who had just become sexually active. When she mentioned the molestation again, it was to Carl, a young man she met one summer in college and with whom she shared a profound erotic connection. Zolbrod discovered that, rather than seeming like an interesting but ultimately empty story out of “a V.C. Andrews novel,” her troubled past gave her “street cred” among the counterculture “ragamuffins” and sex workers who were her housemates. With Carl, she plumbed the depths of her own desire fiercely and without shame. Yet subsequent relationships mirrored the deep-seated unease she also felt about her sexuality. One in particular was with a Chicago artist whose work reflected his obsession with circumcision and the rage he felt at having been “mutilated.” Influenced by her association with Carl, the author found herself crying spontaneously over her memories of molestation. Finally telling her mother and father about Toshi only intensified her confusion; neither assumed the roles of outraged parents she “had retroactively assigned them.” Only after she was in her 30s and learned that Toshi had been convicted of aggravated child assault did she begin to free herself from her past by more actively confronting it. Zolbrod’s fragmented narrative style, which moves between life episodes rather than 86

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children’s & teen

THE ROSE AND THE DAGGER

These titles earned the Kirkus Star:

Ahdieh, Renée Putnam (432 pp.) $17.99 | May 3, 2016 978-0-399-17162-8 Series: Wrath and the Dawn, 2

WHOOSH! by Chris Barton; illus. by Don Tate................................. 90 DOUBLE DOWN by Gwenda Bond.....................................................91 VOTES OF CONFIDENCE by Jeff Fleischer........................................ 96

Passion and betrayal; swordfights, spells, and sacrifice; and (of course) a flying carpet—all spill over in this culmination of the lush reimagining of The Arabian Nights that began with The Wrath

WHEN FRIENDSHIP FOLLOWED ME HOME by Paul Griffin........ 98 FLORA AND THE PEACOCKS by Molly Idle...................................101 DAYTIME VISIONS by Isol; adapt. by the author & Elisa Amado...101 THIS IS NOT THE END by Jesse Jordan.............................................102 READ ME LIKE A BOOK by Liz Kessler............................................ 103 THE GIRL WHO SAVED YESTERDAY by Julius Lester; illus. by Carl Angel.............................................................................. 107 DEVIL AND THE BLUEBIRD by Jennifer Mason-Black...................110 THE GREAT WHITE SHARK SCIENTIST by Sy Montgomery; photos by Keith Ellenbogen................................................................. 112 COWPOKE CLYDE RIDES THE RANGE by Lori Mortensen; illus. by Michael Allen Austin............................................................ 112 CLOTH LULLABY by Amy Novesky; illus. by Isabelle Arsenault...... 113 THE ARTIST AND ME by Shane Peacock; illus. by Sophie Casson.... 115 SUMMER DAYS AND SUMMER NIGHTS ed. by Stephanie Perkins......................................................................116 THE FALL OF BUTTERFLIES by Andrea Portes................................ 117 THIS IS MY DOLLHOUSE by Giselle Potter...................................... 117 KEEP ME IN MIND by Jaime Reed..................................................... 117

and the Dawn (2015). Amid a devastating magical storm, Shahrzad is torn from her beloved Khalid, the cursed caliph of Khorasan. Held captive by her first love and the alliance massing against the reputed “bloodthirsty monster” Khalid, Shahrzad will need all her wits, courage, and stubbornness to break the curse, stop the war, and master her own awakening powers. Ahdieh plunges readers immediately into a complex tangle of political intrigue, dark magic, and twisted relationships with little explanation; various subplots are dropped along the way and other events never clearly explained. But the crowded, scattershot narrative is more than sustained by the heady prose, mixing poetic allusion and trenchant earthiness, redolent of exotic scents and sights and textures. The fairy-tale plotting is grounded in pure, raw emotion: Khalid’s tortured nobility and leashed selfloathing, Shahrzad’s brazen ingenuity and fiery devotion, and every other character’s overflowing shame, rage, compassion, pain, loyalty, frustration, desire, loneliness, guilt, grief, and oily ambition. Above all there is the shattering, triumphant catharsis of love—between man and woman, parent and child, teacher and student, sisters and cousins, friends old and new. In a story about stories, love is “the power to speak without words.” Thrillingly full of feeling. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

POOR LITTLE GUY

RAILHEAD by Philip Reeve............................................................... 118

Allen, Elanna Illus. by the author Dial (40 pp.) $16.99 | Jun. 7, 2016 978-0-525-42825-1

PERFECT LIARS by Kimberly Reid................................................... 118 IF I WAS YOUR GIRL by Meredith Russo......................................... 121 THIS IS NOT A PICTURE BOOK by Sergio Ruzzier......................... 121 AS TIME WENT BY by José Sanabria................................................122 ON BIRD HILL by Jane Yolen; illus. by Bob Marstall........................ 130 PLACES NO ONE KNOWS by Brenna Yovanoff............................... 130

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A small, bespectacled pufferfish must face the everyday reality of being a small fish in a world full of big fishes. Readers first see the pufferfish swimming alone, totally unaware of a giant eye looking in its direction. As the fish

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let’s talk about sex Photo courtesy Leah Overstreet

As complaints go, it was an easy one to handle. A school librarian in Texas emailed us about Big Nate and Friends (the color edition), saying, “On page 166, Big Nate and his friends are talking to each other about being ‘rated’ by the girls in their school and how the boys feel like ‘sex objects’…this type of language and content should not be even attempted (funny or not) in a book that may go to an elementary school library!” Since Kirkus had not reviewed this compilation of comic strips, we couldn’t apologize for misleading her about its content even if we wanted to. Case closed. But as I thought about it, I’m really not sure that we would have wanted to. Nate and his pals are in sixth grade. “Funny or not,” and whether or not we adults like it, this is the sort of conversation that young adolescents are having, and the spin Big Nate puts on it is a valuable one. Think about it. The word “sex” is not a foreign one to sixth-graders; take a look at the magazines in your supermarket. Glamour: “Let’s Talk About Sex.” Cosmopolitan: “Sex Tips So Hot You’ll Get Turned on Just Reading Them.” Essence: “Why Celibacy Is the New Sexy.” Women’s Health: “The Year’s Sexiest Sex Position.” Shape: “SEX, the way you want it.” Even Girl’s Life, a magazine for preteens and teens, features an article on “boob” anxiety. Lincoln Peirce, the creator of Big Nate, opens the sequence our correspondent found so objectionable with Nate wondering about girls, “We Lincoln Peirce rate THEM, right? I’m wondering if THEY rate US the same way!” By turning the conversation about objectification on its head, he gets readers wondering too. It’s effective satire, and it may well help to counteract at least some of the hypersexualized messages children are getting everywhere else. You go, Big Nate. —V.S. Vicky Smith is the children’s & teen editor.

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makes its way along, it passes in front of two giant eyes; these, it notices. “Gulp.” The fish glances back in fear. Thinking it’s escaped unscathed, the fish breathes a sigh of relief just as a long tentacle sneaks up from behind. “Hello, little guy! Let’s play... / Catch of the Day!” says a big octopus that’s just a bit too friendly. Allen wrings a lot of humor from the wickedly funny abuse the octopus inflicts on the pufferfish, inventing a series of bizarre scenarios that increase in absurdity. The hand-lettered text, meanwhile, twists and turns on the page according to the whims of the octopus. The book at times recalls Jon Klassen’s This Is Not My Hat (2012) in both subversive humor and minimalist aesthetic. Muted, vague strokes coil and curl around the yellow pufferfish and white octopus, conveying motion and contrasting against a plain backdrop that alternates between sea green and light blue. Eventually, the octopus wonders if the “cute” fish tastes “cute” and pops it in its (anatomically incorrect) mouth. “Ohh! You taste adorabl....” Though knowing readers will predict what happens next, it nonetheless still packs a punch. A clear victory for a pufferfish and, more importantly, readers. (Picture book. 3- 7)

OUR TEACHER IS A VAMPIRE AND OTHER (NOT) TRUE STORIES

Amato, Mary Holiday House (272 pp.) $16.95 | $16.95 e-book | May 1, 2016 978-0-8234-3553-1 978-0-8234-3610-1 e-book

Alexander suspects Mrs. Penrose is a vampire; that mystery is the spark that ignites an exciting year. Alexander shares his suspicion (after snooping in Mrs. Penrose’s journal) with his multicultural group of friends and invites them to work with him on an investigation, writing it all in the blank book he got for his birthday. When Mrs. Penrose discovers the secret class project, she reveals the meaning of the cryptic lines in her journal: she’s pregnant. Instead of being angry, though, she encourages the students to use the book in their free time to practice writing. When money-hungry Carly learns of a story-writing contest for second through fifth grades, the kids plan a collaborative entry. Letters to a favorite author bring encouraging responses. Then Mrs. Penrose goes on leave, and she’s replaced with Mr. Pinkerton, a regimented substitute teacher. Can the writers of Delite Elementary keep their collaborative project alive, or will Mr. Pinkerton quash their creative spark? Using different typefaces and distinctive voices to allow the characters to tell their own stories (and sneakily teach such writing concepts as story construction and figurative language), Amato has crafted an enjoyable and often humorous metanovel. Both the characters and their writing come across as entirely genuine. (Art not seen.) Great fun, especially for budding writers; they’ll find kindred spirits within. (Fiction. 9-12)

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PRINCESS LI / LA PRINCESA LI

Amavisca, Luis Illus. by Rendeiro, Elena Translated by Robin Sinclair nubeOCHO (40 pp.) $16.95 | May 10, 2016 978-84-944137-4-2 Series: Égalité

This bilingual Spanish/English picture book celebrates an interracial love affair between two women. Princess Li lives with her father, King Wan Tan, in a generic East Asian country where she frolics with a white woman, the red-haired, green-eyed Beatrice. When she refuses to choose a husband, the palace sorcerer obeys the outraged king’s demands, turning Beatrice into a bird. The two lovers are finally given Wan Tan’s permission to marry, however, after Beatrice-the-bird saves the king from being poisoned by the deceitful sorcerer. Repetitive, awkward prose (perhaps due to the translation) and cluttered, oddly distorted illustrations mar this already emotionally flat book that lacks either the visceral power of traditional folklore or the empowering message of modern tales. Although the moral is explicitly spelled out at the end (“Isn’t love more important than anything?”), readers are left with many questions both plot-related and philosophical. Why would a sorcerer so powerful need to resort to something as obvious as poison? Why must the author emphasize Li’s attractiveness to men? Why does the author repeatedly mention the same-sex aspect of the relationship but only obliquely refer to race (“Both were very different”)? While it is rare and refreshing to see a lesbian couple appear in a picture book outside the context of motherhood, the love affair between Li and Beatrice isn’t likely to extend to their readers. (Picture book. 4-8)

THE SADDEST TOILET IN THE WORLD

Apple, Sam Illus. by Ricks, Sam Aladdin (32 pp.) $17.99 | $7.99 e-book | Jun. 7, 2016 978-1-4814-5122-2 978-1-4814-5123-9 e-book Feeling hurt because young Danny refuses to sit on it, a toilet heads for...browner pastures. Danny will happily sit on chairs and sofas, but the commode makes him anxious. Considerably bummed (“He hates me”), said fixture at last packs its plunger and departs—the very night before Danny decides it’s finally time. As the toilet leisurely takes in a movie, visits an art museum, and poses for photos with tourists, Danny and his mom set off on a frantic search through “all the wrong places” (port-a-potties and public restrooms) before sighting their quarry at last on the subway to (where else) Flushing Meadows. Reconciliation ensues, differences are papered over, and one reminder to flush later, the whole |

family (toilet included) rushes away to celebrate. Ricks endows his angst-y porcelain protagonist with anthropomorphic facial features and deposits it and Danny’s family in a New York(ish) setting splashed with suggestive ads (“Feeling Drained?”) and signage. Danny and his mom have red hair and pale skin, while Danny’s dad has black hair and somewhat darker skin. Aside from the visual innuendo, there is nary a whiff of what might be going into the toilet (nor any mention of urination), and the focus seems to be more on alienation issues than excretory give and take. Still, the episode may give children who share Danny’s anxiety a handle on their feelings. How many toilet-training manuals take the toilet’s side? (Picture book. 3-5)

THE PROBLEM WITH FOREVER

Armentrout, Jennifer L. Harlequin Teen (496 pp.) $18.99 | May 17, 2016 978-0-373-21205-7

After surviving a horrific foster home together, a girl is reunited with the boy who always sought to protect her. Mallory—dubbed Mouse due to her selective mutism—grew up in a foster home with two abusive addicts. The white girl relied on biracial Latino/white Rider, another ward in the home, to keep her safe and serve as her protector. When the violence in the foster home came to a head, 13-year-old Mouse and Rider were removed from it and ultimately separated. When the novel opens, four years have passed, and Mouse has been adopted by Carlos and Rosa Rivas, wealthy physicians, who have dedicated themselves to helping her heal from past trauma and have home-schooled her. Rider, however, is still in foster care and lives a more dangerous life on the wrong side of the tracks. When Mouse enrolls in high school for her senior year, she is reunited with Rider, and though they’ve gone in opposite directions, their mutual past—and their blazing chemistry—pulls them together. Although the intensity between Mouse and Rider is palpably sizzling, the all-too-conventional trope of the quiet girl and the bad boy is played out in classic formula fashion, sinking in its own clichés. However, die-hard romance aficionados may be able to overlook the boilerplate plotting and simply lose themselves in Mouse and Rider’s smoldering glances and steamy kisses. A mainstream romance that covers well-trod territory. (Romance. 13 & up)

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From the initial blast of water that splashes the word “WHOOSH” across the page, Tate plays up the pressurized-water imagery to the hilt. whoosh!

CIRCLE

Baker, Jeannie Illus. by the author Candlewick (48 pp.) $17.99 | May 10, 2016 978-0-7636-7966-8 Baker (Mirror, 2010, etc.) turns her eye to a story that parallels the migration of the godwit with a white, wheelchair-using child who wishes for flight. As the child bird-watches from the shore of a nature reserve, the text narrates the growth and eventual nine-day migration of a godwit and his flock. The author’s soothing prose conveys the spirit rather than the specifics of this marathon migration; the copyright page refers readers to three websites for more information, but the points of the birds’ route—Alaska and New Zealand—are not mentioned in the text, though they are implied in the illustrations. As the godwits “follow an ancient, invisible pathway,” bold, textured collage illustrations give a sweeping bird’s-eye view of the world below, from sprawling cities to the slightest footprint in the sand. “The places they remember are gone,” but eventually they circle back to the nature reserve, “where mud and sand become sea,” where the same child is now chasing a Dalmatian, and underarm crutches lie nearby. In the final illustration, the child, spread-eagled on a bed, imagines soaring with a flock of godwits. The child’s condition is unexplained, leaving the child’s “flight” open to interpretation. Is it about gaining the ability to walk, or is it about a journey like the godwit’s—experiencing transformation over time? A visually striking account of godwit migration—pair it with Sandra Markle’s similar but more concrete The Long, Long Journey (2013), illustrated by Mia Posada. (Picture book. 4-9)

WHOOSH! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream Of Inventions

Barton, Chris Illus. by Tate, Don Charlesbridge (32 pp.) $16.95 | May 3, 2016 978-1-58089-297-1

A tinkering African-American boy grows up to become the inventor of a very popular toy. Lonnie Johnson always tinkered with something. As a kid, he built rockets and launched them in the park amid a crowd of friends. (He even made the rocket’s fuel, which once caught fire in the kitchen. Oops.) As an adult he worked for NASA and helped to power the spacecraft Galileo as it explored Jupiter. But nothing is as memorable in the minds of kids as his most famous invention (to date): the Super-Soaker. While testing out a new cooling method for refrigerators, Johnson accidentally sprayed his entire bathroom, and the idea was born. However, 90

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the high-powered water gun was not an instant success. Barton shows the tenacity and dedication (and, sometimes, plain good timing) needed to prove ideas. From the initial blast of water that splashes the word “WHOOSH” across the page (and many pages after) to the gatefold that transforms into the Larami toy executives’ (tellingly, mostly white) reactions—“WOW!”—Tate plays up the pressurized-water imagery to the hilt. In a thoughtful author’s note, Barton explains how Johnson challenges the stereotypical white, Einstein-like vision of a scientist. A delightfully child-friendly and painfully necessary diversification of the science field. (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

SPY TO THE RESCUE

Bernstein, Jonathan Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins (320 pp.) $16.99 | $9.99 e-book | May 31, 2016 978-0-06-238269-6 978-0-06-238271-9 e-book Series: Bridget Wilder, 2 During her attempt to save her father, a teen spy uncovers an assassination plot. Life has returned—depressingly— to normal for 13-year-old Bridget in the second installment of Bernstein’s teen spy series (Spy-in-Training, 2015). Her birth father, Carter Strike, refuses to discuss his former spy life or to continue her training. When Strike mysteriously disappears, Bridget fabricates a weekend trip to visit her best friend, Joanna, in New York City to rescue her father. Her plans become complicated when her older brother and his girlfriend are conscripted as her chaperones. She tracks Strike to a famous (fictional) building and discovers a figure from their past. She also learns about an assassination attempt on the teenage son of a high-ranking official from the (alsofictional) country of Trezekhastan. When her friends and brother are unwittingly pulled into her adventure, they rally to help stop an international war. Bernstein’s heroine has grown more confident, more adventurous, and, thankfully, more likable. Bridget adapts quickly to the many obstacles and villains thrown her way in the book’s rapid-fire action scenes. While action sequences still require a major suspension of disbelief, readers will love Bridget’s quips and quick-thinking moves. Over-the-top action that will keep readers turning pages. (Adventure. 9-12)

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DOUBLE DOWN

Bond, Gwenda Switch/Capstone (384 pp.) $16.95 | May 1, 2016 978-1-63079-038-7 Following the events of Fallout (2015), Lois Lane is still settling into her new life in Metropolis. Her relationship with the mysterious SmallvilleGuy is going well, and her reputation as a cutthroat reporter for the Daily Planet is intact. Lois’ only problem is finding a second story to follow up her explosive premiere, but intrigue has rarely had a problem finding Lois Lane. The disgraced ex-mayor has been let out of prison, and his son thinks he might be innocent. A mysterious lab is leaving its test subjects out on the street with weird side effects. Meanwhile, the Web forum Lois and SmallvilleGuy frequent has been invaded by peculiar forces threatening to expose the Flying Man. That’s a lot of balls to juggle, but Bond never drops a single one. She fills this adventure with the Golden Age sci-fi weirdness that permeated the comic books of the 1930s and ’40s. The three mysteries dovetail together nicely in the end, with a few bread crumbs leading toward the next installment. Best of all, the novel ends as Lois crosses a line she will never be able to turn back from, a line that will mean big changes moving forward. In a sea of series that keep the characters status quo and rehash the same mysteries with different names and doodads, this is a godsend. A must read for comics fans and mystery enthusiasts alike. (Fiction. 12-16)

working on an evil army for Evil Queen Dagger (the princess’s mom). Can Cosmoe and his friends stop this nefarious plot? Brallier and Maguire bring their webcomic (now with a home full of games and activities and videos at Funbrain.com and Poptropica.com) back for a second venturesome print volume with collaborator Kelley. Jagged comic panes and captioned illustrations, some full-page, propel the story and add to the laffs. Final art not seen. Total fluff, often making not a lick of sense (in a good way), this will satisfy the appetites of fans of the first—but reading that first is a must (or there will be fewer licks of sense). (Graphic/science-fiction hybrid. 7-10)

THE WIENER STRIKES BACK

Brallier, Max Illus. by Maguire, Rachel & Kelley, Nichole Aladdin (288 pp.) $13.99 | $9.99 e-book | May 3, 2016 978-1-4814-2496-7 978-1-4814-2497-4 e-book Series: Galactic Hot Dogs, 2 The proprietors of Galactic Hot Dogs return for more evil-bashing high jinks aboard the Neon Weiner. Earth boy Cosmoe, his ginormous, ex–space-pirate buddy, Humphree, and their half-evil erstwhile kidnapper, Princess Dagger, are having a great time hanging out and hawkin’ hot dogs on the desert planet Arahas...but they aren’t making much moolah. Then Crostini’s Cosmic Carnival and Wonder Circus comes to Arahas. Animal-loving Cosmoe hates circuses, but his two friends talk him in to attending. After a humungous Skorlax attacks the circus tent and Cosmoe shows rare monster-taming talents, Crostini invites the trio to join the circus and sell their wares at each stop...Cosmoe can join the show too. Of course, that doesn’t last for one performance (hey, the story has to move along if there are gonna be enough explosions). Crostini’s |

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Carbone’s straightforward text features just the right details to engage children. It is complemented by Hill’s mix of simple line drawings and muted colors that evoke the era’s austerity. diana’s white house garden

WOODPECKER WANTS A WAFFLE

Breen, Steve Illus. by the author Harper/HarperCollins (32 pp.) $17.99 | Jun. 14, 2016 978-0-06-234257-7

Will this woodpecker wishing for waffles win one? “One morning, Benny awoke to the best tummy-rumbling smell.” He follows his nose to the grand opening of Moe’s, home, so the sign says, of the hot waffle breakfast. Benny doesn’t exactly know what a waffle is, but when he sees one, he knows he wants one. Every attempt to get one ends in a boot or a broom from the beehived, bespectacled white waitress. When his animal friends catch him thinking about waffles and plotting to get one, they laugh and tell him, “Woodpeckers don’t eat waffles!”—but only pushy Bunny has a reason. (Kind of: “Because I SAID so.”) So Benny details his spectacular plan to get a waffle (involving cannon and juggling and fireworks and musical numbers). His description of his plan draws an animal audience around the diner the next morning...but will it net Benny a waffle? Breen’s adorable and determined woodpecker knows what he wants as surely as Willems’ Pigeon does, but Benny may be a bit smarter. His attempts (and final success) will have preschoolers giggling and begging for a second helping. Ink, watercolors, colored pencils, and “artistic genius” were used to make the cartoon illustrations that add the perfect subtle and slapstick humor to Benny’s quest. Serves up fun (and likely a waffle craving)—a good bet for breakfast reading. (Picture book. 3- 7)

DIANA’S WHITE HOUSE GARDEN

Carbone, Elisa Illus. by Hill, Jen Viking (44 pp.) $17.99 | May 3, 2016 978-0-670-01649-5

Based on a true story, Carbone’s story shines a light on the little girl who became the face of the first White House victory garden. It was 1943, and the United States was at war. Everyone was contributing to the war effort: men were fighting for their country overseas. Women were producing heavy machinery in factories. Ten-year-old Diana Hopkins, who lived in the White House (her father was President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s chief adviser), wanted to help too. At first, she thought she might be a spy and practiced by sneaking into the dumbwaiter. But the housekeeper was not pleased. Then she stuck pins in chairs all around the White House to keep “enemies” at bay. That didn’t go well either, especially since Mrs. Roosevelt’s friend actually sat on one! One day, President Roosevelt presented Diana with the perfect opportunity. Soon, Diana was turning over 92

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soil, fertilizing, and planting beans and tomatoes. By the time her vegetables were ready for harvesting, Diana not only provided a bounty for the White House table, but also inspired the whole country to plant victory gardens. Carbone’s straightforward text features just the right details to engage children. It is complemented by Hill’s mix of simple line drawings and muted colors that evoke the era’s austerity. Diana is white, as are the president’s advisers, but many of the White House staff as well as passers-by on Pennsylvania Avenue are black or brown. An important piece of our history brought down to a child’s level. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 4-10)

PUPPY POOL PARTY! An Underwater Dogs Adventure Casteel, Seth Photos by the author Little, Brown (40 pp.) $16.99 | Jun. 7, 2016 978-0-316-37633-4

A passel of pups play underwater at their own pool party in this simple story illustrated with high-quality photographs. Casteel specializes in underwater photography of dogs and is best known for Underwater Dogs (2012), illustrated with his intriguing shots of dogs swimming. This volume presents a large cast of canines, both puppies and adult dogs, gathered together poolside. The short rhyming text follows the dogs as they enter the water, play with pool toys, and swim alone or in pairs. An attractive design uses blue tiles as the background for the photos, with the text set in large, easy-to-read type in white or navy blue. The photographs are clear and well-focused, with lots of action shots and close-ups of the dogs’ faces as they are swimming. Some of the dogs look happy, but several seem terrified, and there is one photo of a bug-eyed dog with mouth open and paws flailing that is downright scary. The storyline, such as it is, continues the pool-party theme as the dogs dry off after their swim, enjoying rest time in the sun. Two final pages present the “guest list” from the party, with the names and ages of the dogs next to thumbnail photos reprising the previous pages. An author’s note details the photographer’s methods in achieving his unusual photographs. These precocious pups will appeal to a wide audience of dog lovers, including beginning readers and older readers. (Picture book. 3-10)

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THE SEVEN PRINCESSES

Coh, Smiljana Illus. by the author Running Press Kids (40 pp.) $16.95 | $11.99 e-book | May 24, 2016 978-0-7624-5587-4 978-0-7624-5831-8 e-book Seven princesses are inseparable until “the biggest fight in the entire history of princess fighting” leaves them all sulking in separate towers. Though Coh’s claim that the princesses “could not have been more different” is an overstatement, she does give them a range of clothing styles, skin hues (their royal mom has darker skin than their ginger-haired, white dad), and individual interests. The eldest, Rosamund, loves “math and building,” for instance, while Indigo is a swimmer, and little Violet is into “basically anything involving the arts.” They live in a pointy-roofed castle set amid trees that look like bunches of balloons—until the fight, after which the colors drain away to a few pale highlights on dull beige, and the entire land is left in barren, dreary silence. Finally, one “extra gray day,” Violet finds an old crayon drawing of all seven smiling together, and as it makes each princess recall happier times, the illustrations brighten again. By the end, the royal clan harmoniously gathers for a new family portrait (with lots of flowers and kittens underfoot for extra cuteness). Neither the touchstone drawing nor the cascade of minor complaints that caused the spat is particularly memorable; it’s the story’s overall arc and the herd of wide-eyed, expressively posed, dolllike princesses that will likely make the stronger impressions on young readers. Sibling feuds are seldom so tidily resolved, but rarely has the suggestion been so prettily made that they could be. (Picture book. 6-8)

TIME ZERO

Cohagan, Carolyn She Writes Press (426 pp.) $14.95 paper | $9.95 e-book May 16, 2016 978-1-63152-072-3 978-1-63152-073-0 e-book In Cohagan’s dystopian theocracy of New York City, women and girls wear face-covering veils and modest clothes and are forbidden to read, and the men wear beards and tunics. The author further underlines this state of affairs with a public call to prayer and references to the Prophet, who is referred to as “Her.” However, the Prophet’s edicts and the society upon which they’re based are deeply patriarchal if not lethally misogynistic, with a woman publicly stoned for infidelity early on. On the day of her Offering, in which her family introduces her to prospective husbands, white, 15-year-old Mina Clark attempts to rescue the stoning victim while carrying a contraband Primer, |

from which her grandmother covertly teaches her to read. As the stoning becomes a melee, Mina is rescued by Juda, the manservant of Damon Asher, scion of a wealthy family to whom Mina ends up unwillingly betrothed. Could an all-women’s cult called the Laurel Society, anti-veil and anti-male, be a refuge for her? Cohagan claims ecumenical intentions in an author’s note, stating that she bases her fictional theocracy on several religions in the United States and the world. However, while it’s possible to see traces of Orthodox Judaism and the Amish, for example, she seems to mostly borrow her ideas not only from current, media-driven stereotypes about Islam, but also the Western feminist–driven idea that Islam inherently oppresses observant Muslim women who wear the hijab and other modest clothing. Girl power need not be Islamophobic—but this book is. (Dystopian romance. 14 & up)

FEASTS OF FURY

Colossal, Eric Illus. by the author Amulet/Abrams (128 pp.) $16.95 | $9.95 paper | May 3, 2016 978-1-4197-1658-4 978-1-4197-1659-1 paper Series: Rutabaga the Adventure Chief, 2 Traveling chef Rutabaga and his magical cooking-pot companion, Pot, continue to journey the world in search of new ingredients. When the going gets tough, the tough get cooking in this sequel to Rutabaga the Adventure Chef (2015). Though Rutabaga is now a veteran traveler, his friendliness and naiveté still land him in plenty of exciting scrapes, including encounters with giant spiders, a clever thief, and malicious gubblins. Fortunately, he’s able to cook his way out of most of his pinches, thanks to his inventive use of ingredients and menus. Though there are a few references to the first book, the narrative is episodic, and it’s not necessary to have read the first book to follow the story. Some readers may be disappointed, however, by the continued lack of character and plot development. Rutabaga’s goofy artlessness is funny at first, but it grows repetitive as the story goes on. Similarly, the straightforward, cartoonish illustrations are a little dull over the course of a novel-length work. Suggest this graphic novel to fans of comic strips and other shortform works; readers searching for longer, plot-heavy series are unlikely to find it to their tastes. Amusing but bland, this graphic novel works better as a snack than as a meal. (Graphic adventure. 8-11)

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THE FERRYLAND VISITOR A Mysterious Tale

If any confusion does ensue, some “Amazing But True: 100% Genuine, Real Facts About Penguins” appear in the backmatter. From the creator of the Benjamin Bear books, absurdist humor carries across species. (Picture book. 5-8)

Cotter, Charis Illus. by Squires, Gerald L. Running the Goat (36 pp.) $21.95 | Jun. 1, 2016 978-1-927917-05-3

CAMP ROLLING HILLS

This slightly spooky tale, based on a true story, recalls a mysterious visitor to the Squires family, who were living in a lighthouse in Newfoundland in the 1970s. Sisters Esther and Meranda move into the old lighthouse with their mother and artist father in the fall; the family is white. The lighthouse, with no running water and minimal heating, is located 2 miles from the village of Ferryland. One night just before Halloween, an older white man unexpectedly knocks on the door of the lighthouse, saying that the family dog asked him to come in. The old-timer tells the family all about his past life in Ferryland and his years as the village policeman. The next day, Esther and her father learn that this policeman has been dead for 20 years. By the next summer, the family is settled in and the mother has opened a pottery shop. There they meet the visiting daughter of the policeman, who tells them that her father always told people, “Your dog asked me to come in.” The narrative, lengthy for the format, is told in the authoritative, compelling style of a campfire ghost story, with plenty of geographical references and atmospheric details. The story is illustrated with vintage photographs of family members and the area along with beautiful oil paintings by Squires, the artist father of the family. An interesting, mysterious story with memorable illustrations. (author’s note, publisher’s note) (Picture book. 7-10)

A GOOFY GUIDE TO PENGUINS

Coudray, Jean-Luc Illus. by Coudray, Philippe TOON Books & Graphics (40 pp.) $12.95 | May 10, 2016 978-1-935179-96-2

Silly untruths about penguins unfold in comic-book style. The premise is to ask wacky questions about penguins and then supply even wackier answers. Short, two-paneled comic strips explain all kinds of penguin antics. How do penguins know they’ve reached the South Pole? When they see the road sign that indicates every direction is north, of course. Why do penguins like to stand? Because only a small amount of snow will pile on their heads. But if they lie down, a mountain will pile on their backs. Endless gags rely on snow/ice humor and also the assertion that all penguins look alike (which makes hide-and-seek difficult). The Coudray author-illustrator duo are twins—they identify with penguins when folks can’t tell them apart. The foundation of silliness is set up in the title and continues with cues in the art. Penguins wear mittens, use electric space heaters, and hold umbrellas. Hopefully, readers will get the joke from the start and not take any of these to be facts. 94

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Davidowitz, Stacy Amulet/Abrams (240 pp.) $8.95 paper | May 10, 2016 978-1-4197-1885-4 Series: Camp Rolling Hills, 1

An anxious boy and a grieving girl on the cusp of adolescence find nascent love at Camp Rolling Hills, a summer camp steeped in its own mythology and culture. The book features the two worst nicknames for protagonists in recent memory. Slimey, age 12, has been going to Camp Rolling Hills since she was a little girl, but it’s Smelly’s first summer. Smelly, who suffers from anxiety and gains confidence over the course of the novel, is there because his parents need time to work out their marriage difficulties. Slimey, who works hard to hide her pain, is still heartbroken over the death of her father. This slice-of-summer novel is overpopulated, with six characters in the boys’ bunk and six in the girls’ plus two counselors, and readers may have trouble keeping track of who’s who. With all these characters, it’s a shame it’s not more obviously diverse, with one Yiddish-spouting Asian boy and another with an Afro (but white skin in the thumbnail guide to the characters in the frontmatter). It’s told from alternating third-person perspectives, Slimey’s and Smelly’s, augmented by funnily realistic letters home from other campers. The book celebrates summer camp as a safe place for children to reinvent themselves, to experiment and be more daring than they might otherwise be. The author’s love for camp shines through, and although this novel will likely have a narrow appeal, it’s a strong choice for first-time campers and for those who find camp and its rituals delightful. (Fiction. 8-12)

SUPERHERO INSTRUCTION MANUAL

Dempsey, Kristy Illus. by Fearing, Mark Knopf (40 pp.) $16.99 | $10.99 e-book | $19.99 PLB May 17, 2016 978-0-385-75534-4 978-0-385-75536-8 e-book 978-0-385-75535-1 PLB When there are no radioactive spiders around to gift you with super skills, curl up with the Superhero Instruction Manual to learn what it takes to realize your inner superhero. Told in a combination of comic-book frames, traditional picture-book spreads, and text boxes that contain directives

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Slathering his narrative with silly cartoon line drawings and alimentary humor (“Doody calls!”), Doodler caps his latest fetid face-off with a hard-fought game of ping-pong. revenge of the roach!

from the titular manual, the book introduces readers to a young, white boy deeply absorbed in a “complete, unabridged” instruction manual that guarantees it can turn anyone super in “seven easy steps.” In the background, a friendly dog and an intriguedyet-suspicious sister follow him throughout his journey to superherodom in hilarious counterpoint. The instructions lead to miniadventures, such as the search for a supersecret hideout that shows him approaching the occupied doghouse and being banished from the predictable behind-the-couch sanctum before fetching up in the remodeled treehouse (complete with “No Sisters” sign). The tale turns as the sister takes to the role of hero with more ease than her discombobulated brother, who feels far from super after a world-saving–cum–world-ending high-speed chase through the park in pursuit of his villainous sidekick pet dog. She helps readers realize that heroics are not always about superpowers but the true human power of “always [being] there when it counts.” This funny, spirited exploration of superhero culture sans violence and with an added dose of familial love is a powerful addition to any bookshelf. (Picture book. 4-8)

REVENGE OF THE ROACH!

Doodler, Todd H. Illus. by the author Bloomsbury (128 pp.) $15.99 | $6.99 paper | Jun. 21, 2016 978-1-61963-382-7 978-1-61963-381-0 paper Series: Super Fly, 2 The mighty muscid gets some unexpected help in this rematch with his greatest foe (Super Fly, 2015). Having left Crazy Cockroach, aka school bully Cornelius C. Roach, squashed under a moon rock in the previous episode, fourth-grade supernerd Eugene Flystein is understandably dismayed when his archenemy reappears at Brown Barge Elementary, roaches being notoriously hard to kill. Furthermore, from a combination lair and clubhouse in a used diaper, Crazy Cockroach begins passing out copies of a strangely addictive video game that brainwashes everyone into voting him class president...to start. Even Super Fly’s sidekick and “pest friend,” Fred Flea, falls under the roach’s spell. Fortunately, Super Fly isn’t left to counter this latest threat to Stinkopolis (and the world) alone, as his snoopy little sister, Elle, finds the very special key lime pie that triggers super smarts and powers and becomes, ta-da! Fly Girl! Slathering his narrative with silly cartoon line drawings and alimentary humor (“Doody calls!”), Doodler caps his latest fetid face-off with a hard-fought game of ping-pong (“suspense hung like a fart inside the diaper”) that leads to well-earned, if temporary triumph. Readers will scent further sequels on the wind. Another “High flyve!” for the dump’s doughty defenders. (Superhero farce. 7-9)

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THE TWO TIMS

Elliott, David Illus. by Alborozo, Gabriel Candlewick (32 pp.) $15.99 | May 24, 2016 978-0-7636-7264-5 Two kids, each named Tim, are best friends. The most obvious distinguishing feature between the two apparently white Tims is their hair. One Tim has blond hair (and pink skin), the other has brown (and has ever-so-slightly darker skin). But they both are exuberant little tots who climb trees and have a ton of fun together. Until Tom comes along. Tom’s also white (and wears an orange stocking cap—just to keep everything straight) and likes some things that one Tim likes and some things that the other Tim does. But the two Tims and Tom can never quite agree on one activity to do together. Until Tom announces that he likes to swim. Neither Tim knows how. Tom teaches the Tims, and a new friendship group is formed! In short, staccato bursts, the text (“Two Tims. Best friends. Forever.”) mimics a youngster’s all-or-nothing thought process. Two friends are simple to understand. Reciprocity is easy. But adding a third requires compromise, and the possibility of feeling left out increases. Even the resolution—“Two Tims and a Tom. / Best friends. Forever”—is not as definite as it sounds, as a fourth child suddenly strolls into view on the final, wordless page. Alborozo’s loose pen sketches (especially the sloping forehead-to-nose swoop), with great swaths of white behind, suggest a distinct Peter Reynolds influence. An oft-told learning journey that all friend groups must navigate; this simple telling may resonate in ways others do not. (Picture book. 2-5)

WHOSE STORY IS THIS, ANYWAY?

Flaherty, Mike Illus. by Vidal, Oriol Sterling (40 pp.) $14.95 | May 3, 2016 978-1-4549-1608-6

A metafictive text introduces a bevy of exciting characters. The title page indicates the tension between the competing narratives suggested by the book’s title since it includes four scratched-out, but legible, titles above the main one. The book proper begins with a declaration from a brown-haired, white child that the story is great “Because it’s all about me.” As pages turn, however, Salty Pete the pirate, a dinosaur, an extraterrestrial named Yurxl, and Sir Knightly astride a horse all enter the story and jockey for position in asserting their own stories. The child who began the story is not amused! Increasingly crowded images introduce Vikings, robots, and zombies to the story. (All the human characters are white.) Ultimately, there’s room for all when the text resolves with the statement that this is a story about when the child “met a bunch of crazy new friends,” but

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Fleischer’s discussion of the electoral college is a fine example of his compressive clarity. votes of confidence

it’s hard not to feel as though both Flaherty and the narrator are caving in under the pressure. Cartoon-style digital art matches the rising excitement of the text as the pages progress and then depicts the final, calm scene in silhouette. This is a well-worn conceit in contemporary picture books, and it delivers an anticlimactic conclusion after so much buildup. It seems like the question isn’t “whose story is it?” at book’s end, but what other stories might have arisen through these characters? (Picture book. 4-6)

BEARD BOY

Flannery, John Illus. by Weinberg, Steven Dial (32 pp.) $16.99 | May 10, 2016 978-0-399-17336-3 In this illustrated ode to the beard, an impatient son seeks to invent and claim a beard of his own to connect with the cool brush of his father. “Billy, the best baker in town, had a short boxed beard. All of the barbers were bodaciously bewhiskered....And both of Bobby’s dads rocked boisterous beards.” Full of alliteration and vivid description, the text introduces readers to Ben as he becomes captivated with the assortment and diversity of the stylish beards of his town, including a “bit bedraggled” beard of an old lady but topped by the most significant stubble of his dad. Ben burrows into his investigation by consulting bearded men in the park: “Is it itchy?” “Does it get too warm in the winter?” “Or hot in the summer?” Ben’s fascination meets invention as he determines to acquire one, whether it’s through bubble bath, peanut butter, or permanent marker. A kid cannot just wait till he’s 25 or 26, as his father suggests, to become more like his old man. Remarkably, Dad finds a solution just in time to calm his son’s beard fever, trimming his scruff to mirror his son’s total lack of fuzz. Weinberg’s digitally colored watercolor-and-pencil illustrations bristle with energy, depicting Ben’s family as white and locating them in a diverse urban neighborhood (and planting cameo appearances by such bearded lights as Darwin, Malcolm X, Ai Weiwei, and a billy goat gruff, among others). Comically charming, this one-of-a-kind story celebrates the unique bond that connects father, son, and facial hair. A refreshing cut for young readers. (Picture book. 5-9)

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VOTES OF CONFIDENCE A Young Person’s Guide to American Elections Fleischer, Jeff Zest Books (224 pp.) $13.99 paper | May 3, 2016 978-1-936976-90-4

Neither the American electoral nor political process is simple. And if you think so, you’ve likely got it wrong. Fortunately, self-described political nerd Fleischer is here to clarify things. In a particularly winning voice, abetted by numerous intriguing anecdotes and trivia, Fleischer commences at the beginning, with an origin story (Revolution, Articles of Confederation, Constitution, Bill of Rights), before moving on to mechanics. He issues an implicit challenge with his introduction—“If there’s one thing we know for sure about American government, it’s that a lot of Americans don’t know much about it”—and then goes on to make sure readers buck that trend. His discussion of the electoral college is a fine example of his compressive clarity: the college is a compromise measure to rein in populous states while avoiding the pitfalls of giving too much power to Congress and state legislatures. It has its drawbacks, but it is not as egregious as push polling (“one of the sleaziest of political dirty tricks”) or hindering voter registration. Fleischer works plenty of civics and history into this study of the revelatory power of politics—“Strom Thurmond and George Wallace demonstrated that racists were a large voting bloc”—so his closing suggestions on how readers can get involved and be heard are perfectly placed. Fleischer’s primer tenders a wealth of insight in a generous and welcoming manner. (resources) (Nonfiction. 12-18)

A FAIRY FRIEND

Fliess, Sue Illus. by Keane, Claire Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt (32 pp.) $16.99 | May 10, 2016 978-1-62779-081-9 A little girl and her dog follow a series of recommended procedures from a book about fairies in order to find a fairy companion for the girl. The story begins by explaining that fairies exist “all around you,” riding around on the backs of dragonflies. In rhyming text with just four lines per spread, the world of the fairies is introduced, with the omniscient narrator explaining how to attract a fairy of your own. The dark-haired, white child and her bulldog work together to build a fairy house in a tree, complete with a mushroom-cap bathtub, a bed covered in thistle fluff, and a cup of flower-petal stew. A flock of friendly fairies (one darkskinned) flutters around the girl and her dog, and after further preparations, a redheaded white fairy lands on the child’s hand to be her special fairy friend. A dreamlike atmosphere prevails,

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with the fairies playing with the girl and dog and helping them to fly above the town and forest. Charming illustrations in a loose style use a muted palette of lavenders and blues to create a magical aura with swirling lines and tiny trails of stars following the fairies, who are mostly light-skinned, pretty creatures in the style of Tinker Bell à la Disney. Enchanting stuff for lovers of fairies. (Picture book. 3- 7)

OWL HOWL AND THE BLU-BLU

Friester, Paul Illus. by Goossens, Philippe NorthSouth (32 pp.) $15.95 | May 1, 2016 978-0-7358-4246-5

In her third outing (Owl Howl, 2011, etc.), Little Owl once again howls, this time in a toddler-esque fit over an escaped Blu-Blu. Readers will understand that the Blu-Blu is a red heliumfilled balloon, but the forest denizens who come to help Little Owl solve her problem must guess what it might be. Little Owl is increasingly upset that they can’t understand her, though not so upset that she can’t make comparisons—her Blu-Blu is round, not rectangular like the deck of cards Mole pulls out. And it definitely doesn’t smell like the stag beetle’s offering of a ball of dung—it flies. Young readers and their parents will empathize with Little Owl when she cries, “when I want something, I really, really want it!” Luckily, crow puts the clues together and saves the day, though not the Blu-Blu: children are not likely to see the ending coming. Goossens’ palette is dominated by a green so vivid it’s almost electric, and his forest friends are cute and cuddly. But while the almost glowing colors on the cover may attract readers, the story will not get them to stay; this lacks the specialness of the first Little Owl title, this time simply playing up the worst of toddler behavior. One wonders how much longer the forest animals will respond sympathetically to Little Owl’s howls. (Picture book. 2-5)

EVEN IF THE SKY FALLS

Garcia, Mia Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins (304 pp.) $17.99 | $9.99 e-book | May 10, 2016 978-0-06-241180-8 978-0-06-241182-2 e-book During a summer service trip to New Orleans, Julie escapes from her church group and revels in Mid-Summer Mardi Gras for one magical, romantic night. In New Orleans volunteering with her church, Julie sneaks away to the French Quarter to get away from a too-flirtatious team leader. There, after seeing the crowd dressed for August’s |

Mid-Summer Mardi Gras, she crafts an impromptu fairy costume and then finds herself drawn to a black banjo player with an electric-blue Afro and a killer smile. They decide to spend the evening together but without the burden of real names. He calls her Lila (which means “night” in Arabic), and she names him Miles (like the musicians Davis and Kane) as they head out to visit his favorite haunts around NoLa. As the night progresses, the two are so caught up with each other they don’t realize a dangerous storm is headed their way. The author’s rich descriptions of New Orleans make the vibrant city come alive, from the music and ghost stories to the vampire lore and delicious beignets. The steamy atmosphere reflects the heated chemistry between Julie and Miles. Throughout the night, the characters share secrets, discuss serious issues, and explore Julie’s Puerto Rican background in addition to Miles’ experiences as a multigenerational New Orleanian. A compelling 24-hour romance that’s as charged as its New Orleans setting. (Romance. 14-18)

IT WAS SO QUIET I COULD HEAR A PIN DROP

Goodman, Andy Illus. by the author Princeton Architectual Press (36 pp.) $15.95 | May 17, 2016 978-1-61689-480-1 A child listens closely to the breeze as sounds evoke images and imaginings. Under a great tree, a child pictured only as a pale-blue silhouette swings. Across the sky images float by: a weathervane, feathers, a bright balloon—making the wind tangible. As the story progresses, Goodman plays with perspective, shrinking the child and tree until sounds take center stage. Silhouettes of dandelionlike flowers tower as a bee buzzes by; gears fill the page, representing the ticking of a watch. The author dabbles with onomatopoeia before sounds begin to represent pets, then people. It is the noises of daily life—and their accompanying images—that tell readers much about who constitutes this child’s world. The protagonist knows that Jill sings in the bath; Peter paints while whistling; and Old Thomas naps in the greenhouse. From this auditory intimacy begins a sort of stream of consciousness, as everyday sounds conjure up fantastical thoughts (elephants, cannon, volcanoes!), until the image of the child swinging repeats, with the thought that it was all a dream. The artwork appears to be collage, with inspiration taken from found illustrations. The images stand out on vast white spaces, sometimes with added graphic shapes. Unfortunately, the execution does not always live up to the idea. While some of the spreads contain complementary elements to create a new statement, others rely solely on the repositioning of an image, the resolution of which is at times inconsistent. A clever concept, in both progression and design, whose realization sometimes falls short. (Picture book. 3-6)

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EXTREMELY CUTE ANIMALS OPERATING HEAVY MACHINERY

Gordon, David Illus. by the author Simon & Schuster (48 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | May 24, 2016 978-1-4169-2441-8 978-1-4814-5967-9 e-book Tutu, torches, and tenacity don’t add up to a simple, ordinary story. Readers meet tutu-clad Karen, an “extremely cute animal” building a sand castle, when bully Skyler appears, claiming, “This is MY sandbox and I say: NO STUPID SAND CASTLES!” He proceeds to stomp, smash, and flatten the castle and walks away laughing, leaving Karen in tears. Karen’s friends— mostly nameless, also identified as extremely cute, and many sporting clichéd bows and dresses—announce that they’ll help Karen build a bigger sand castle. Skyler then brings his friends, Mike and Trent, to destroy the now-improved structure. This happens a third time, to be followed by a red spread showcasing infuriated friends above the message: “Being...extremely cute... doesn’t mean...you can’t get...EXTREMELY MAD!” At this point, Karen brings on the titular heavy machinery, including a bulldozer, heavy-lift helicopter, forklift, and welding torches. The result? Circus tents, roller coasters, water slides, a Ferris wheel, bumper boats, carousels, and more entertainment. Gordon generously uses bright colors, and characters’ emotions are expressive. A favorite wordless spread features Karen, in her tutu, wearing a welding mask and operating a blowtorch atop a beamed structure. Unfortunately, though, far too much of the heavy work is done by Joshua, the only other named “cute animal,” while those in feminine garb watch adoringly. While readers may appreciate the messages of overcoming bullying and granting forgiveness, the story is hampered by cringe-inducing stereotypes. (Picture book. 4-8)

HIPPOPOTAMISTER

Green, John Patrick Illus. by the author with Caro, Cat First Second (96 pp.) $17.99 | May 10, 2016 978-1-62672-200-2 A hippo discovers that the possibilities are limitless. Hippopotamus’ zoo home is in complete disrepair. Since no kids come to visit, the grounds are overgrown, and the animals look unkempt, neglected, and lonely. Bored and frustrated with his life, Hippo leaves the zoo in order to find a job among humans, refashioning himself as a Hippopotamister. But for what profession is a hippo suited? Green’s warm illustrations and graphic-novel presentation create an appealing protagonist for his debut children’s book as both author and illustrator (with finishing 98

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touches by colorist Caro). While the story’s tone is more lighthearted than the early Babar books, Hippo’s struggle to find his place in the world is reminiscent of that famous elephant’s, and it is one with which readers will undoubtedly identify. Red Panda, Hippo’s madcap sidekick, is his guide to the human world, and with each occupation they attempt, from hairstylists and construction workers to sous-chefs, Hippo learns more about himself and his hitherto-undiscovered talents. This story contains all of the elements that make the quintessential selfdiscovery tale so rewarding, as Hippo learns that birthplace need not dictate one’s future and that identity and true happiness might lie in merging the new world he discovers with the home he initially leaves. A charming book with a solid message about changing one’s life through hard work, imagination, and openness to new experiences. (Graphic fantasy. 5-8)

WHEN FRIENDSHIP FOLLOWED ME HOME

Griffin, Paul Dial (256 pp.) $16.99 | $10.99 e-book | Jun. 7, 2016 978-0-8037-3816-4 978-1-101-99450-4 e-book A former foster child deals with love and loss and love again. The hints are abundant. Twelve-yearold Ben, who has taken most of his life lessons from reading Star Wars stories, is the adoptive son of a loving and understanding but elderly lesbian. The charming mite of a stray dog that adopts the white boy is also old. Most worryingly, the endearingly depicted Halley, his fully rounded new best friend, also white and the daughter of a so-perceptive librarian and a funny magician, is undergoing chemotherapy. What could go wrong here? After he discovers his dead mom on the floor, Ben’s remote but well-intentioned aunt and abusive, bumbling uncle, the pair constantly at odds, become his reluctant new parents. What resilient, generous Ben, in a lifetime of foster care punctuated by loss, hasn’t learned is how to believe in the lasting power of love. It’s irrepressible Halley, her health faltering, and her gentle parents who teach him how to cope with loss without forgetting how to love, even when that love is perilous. Together he and Halley compose an otherworldly tale, The Magic Box, that’s a parable of their lives. Those familiar with Griffin’s books for teens know that Kleenex may be needed to successfully navigate this wrenching journey, which breathes fresh, warm life into what might have been an overworked cliché. Entrancing, magical, tragic, and uplifting. (Fiction. 10-14)

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Hirst’s debut is deliciously elliptical and totally child-centered. the girl with the parrot on her head

BLUE BOAT

Hamilton, Kersten Illus. by Petrone, Valeria Viking (32 pp.) $16.99 | May 24, 2016 978-0-451-47141-3 A tugboat rescues a sailing family in distress in this picture book. Although the premise of the story appears to be simple and harmless—anthropomorphized Blue Boat responds to a mayday call from a family on their damaged sailboat (“Missing rudder, broken fin— / wild nor’easter blowing in!”), thereby saving the day—it nonetheless raises disturbing questions. Unaddressed is how the sailboat came to sustain the major damage of losing its rudder and breaking its keel, why the family is out sailing when a nor’easter is coming, and, on a visual note, why the adults aren’t wearing life preservers. It’s hard not to conclude that the sailing family has made some pretty irresponsible decisions, and so the fundamental storyline sours, at least for readers who know sailing. While the illustrations are bright and attractive, some are inaccurate. Cutters, mentioned on a double-page spread, are a type of sailboat with more than one headsail, but the illustration shows sloops, and a mooring line should be tied to a cleat on a sailboat’s deck, not to the lifeline as shown (although as an irresponsible decision, it stays true to the story). Making matters even worse, the clueless sailing family is multiracial (light-skinned mom, dark-skinned dad), and Blue Boat’s captain is white—that she is also a woman does not redeem the story from white-savior symbolism. Sinks. (Picture book. 2-5)

THE LANGUAGE OF STARS

Hawes, Louise McElderry (368 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | May 31, 2016 978-1-4814-6241-9 978-1-4814-6243-3 e-book An act of vandalism revitalizes a small town. Sarah Wheeler, the novel’s presumably white narrator, has hit a fork in the road. Though at heart from the nerdy, lit- and drama-loving “Untouchables,” she’s now dating Fry, the hottest surfer dude at Whale Point High. When Fry throws a kegger in a cherished local landmark, Sarah joins him, against her better judgment—and the seaside cottage, former retreat of famed poet Rufus Baylor, ends up in flames. The drunken escapade lands Sarah and most of the partiers in court, sentenced to restoring the trashed cottage and taking a summer writing class taught by none other than the mythic and octogenarian Baylor. Baylor’s return to Whale Point injects new life into the sleepy community, prompting Sarah’s single mother and her largely absent “biological accident” father to re-examine their relationships with their daughter. At the same time, with Baylor’s |

attention and poetic inspiration, Sarah begins to look more closely at herself. While the circumstances leading to such communal introspection may be a bit far-fetched, Hawes excels in crafting rounded characters with varied home situations teens can relate to, and poems infused throughout the narrative offer poetic points of attachment as well as examples of different writing techniques (group- and free-writing, donning blindfolds, etc.) budding writers might attempt. A tale of self-discovery well suited for art-inclined readers who feel themselves on the fringe. (Fiction. 14-18)

THE GIRL WITH THE PARROT ON HER HEAD

Hirst, Daisy Illus. by the author Candlewick (40 pp.) $16.99 | Apr. 1, 2016 978-0-7636-7829-6

“Once there was a girl with a parrot on her head.” That’s Isabel, and her friend Simon happens to be “very good with newts.” Screen prints emulate a child’s simple, scribbly style, depicting two brown-skinned children who clearly have much in common. “But one day Simon went away in a truck, and he never came back.” The text continues, “For a while Isabel hated everything.” She even alienates her parrot, until the day decides she “likes being on her own.” She’s got a parrot on her head—who needs friends? She boxes up all the toys she and Simon used to play with (including a teepee), but both she and the parrot are a little concerned that “one of the wolves might be too big.” A big box they find on the sidewalk should do the trick, but “something was already inside”: a brown-skinned boy named Chester, who helps Isabel convince the too-big wolf to leave the city for the wilderness and then convinces Isabel that “the space station really needed two astronauts.” Hirst’s debut is deliciously elliptical and totally child-centered—Isabel may have a parrot, but she does not appear to have any parents. Her declarative text gets inside the head of her imaginative protagonist, respecting her turbulent feelings of loss and her trepidation at making a new friend. A salutary reminder that however devastating a loss may be, new connections are worth the risk. (Picture book. 2-5)

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Bootman’s full-page watercolors and muted palette gracefully bring emotional life to Vivien’s personal and clinical scenes alike— never has hospital green been so poignant. tiny stitches

A DARK, DARK CAVE

Hoffman, Eric Illus. by Tabor, Corey R. Viking (40 pp.) $17.99 | May 24, 2016 978-0-670-01636-5

Who is down there in the dark, dark cave? Two white siblings use their imaginations to fearlessly investigate a mysterious cave in this gently suspenseful and lyrical tale. “The pale moon glows // as a cold wind blows / through a dark, dark cave.” Digitally assembled watercolors show the two intrepid explorers bathed in the light of their flashlights as they journey through the cavern and provide plenty of details to get lost in. The poetic text has just the right amount of repetition and adds an atmosphere of mystery and fun. But wait! What’s that approaching light? “That’s too loud, kids. Find a quiet game. The baby’s sleeping,” says Dad prosaically, abruptly ending the spell. From under their homemade cave (complete with chairs and blanket), the siblings try to find another game to play. Can they do it? Of course they can! The surprise twist is a nice touch, and the gentle suspense and willing belief of the characters are charming and realistic. This joyful, timeless exploration of play are sure to be an inspirational spark to young readers, who will then embark on their own imaginary games. Readers young and old will find much to appreciate in this celebration of the imagination. (Picture book. 3-6)

TINY STITCHES The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas Hooks, Gwendolyn Illus. by Bootman, Colin Lee & Low (32 pp.) $17.95 | May 15, 2016 978-1-62014-156-4

Hooks (The Noisy Night, 2014, etc.) and Bootman (Hey, Charleston!, 2013, etc.) illuminate the trials and triumphs of Vivien Thomas and his vital role in the development of children’s open-heart surgery. Unable to attend medical school due to the Great Depression, Vivien (as Hooks styles him) takes a job as a research assistant at Vanderbilt University under Dr. Alfred Blalock, who is so impressed with Vivien’s surgical skill that he insists Vivien accompany him when he accepts a new position at Johns Hopkins in 1941. Despite the constant prejudice of the segregated hospital, Vivien researches and designs an operation to correct the fatal child heart defect known as “blue babies” syndrome— an operation that would come to save thousands of children’s lives and for which Vivien himself can only serve as a coach because only white staff may perform surgery. After more than 26 years without public recognition for his revolutionary contributions, Vivien receives an honorary doctorate in 1976, realizing 100

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his dream at last. Told candidly with a touch of gravitas, Vivien’s story deftly presents complex social and medical issues along with the gently insistent message of perseverance. Bootman’s full-page watercolors and muted palette gracefully bring emotional life to Vivien’s personal and clinical scenes alike—never has hospital green been so poignant. Though a substantial bibliography closes the book, there is no specific sourcing for dialogue cited in the text. A good alternative to dense chapter biographies and a rousing tribute to a man unjustly forgotten. (notes, glossary, references) (Picture book. 7-12)

GOODNIGHT UNICORN A Magical Parody Horne, Pearl E. Illus. by Spanjer, Kendra Bailiwick Press (32 pp.) $16.95 | May 10, 2016 978-1-934649-63-3

A celebration of unicorns falls squarely under the heading of “camp” in this latest takeoff on Margaret Wise Brown’s best known work. Rather than a great green room, readers are taken to a “great green wood” where they meet its magical forest denizens. One by one, readers meet then bid goodnight to gnomes, fairies, dragons, and more until they see that all these things are just products of the imagination of a unicorn-loving child falling asleep in a very familiar-looking great green room. Backmatter consists of “facts” about unicorns. As for the writing, it’s unimaginative (a fact that is partly the fault of the format) and occasionally nonsensical: “Goodnight purple. Goodnight pink. / Goodnight colts and bashful wink.” Spanjer excels at rendering a horse’s form, but readers must wade through a fair number of eyelashes, rainbows, and prancing to appreciate it. There’s a thick layer of sugary frosting to the proceedings. Parents seeking horned pony fare would do better to indulge in Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Brigitte Barrager’s Uni the Unicorn (2014) or Dallas Clayton’s Lily the Unicorn (2014). For unicorn die-hards only—and they’ll have to brush their teeth after. (Picture book. 4- 7)

LIZBETH LOU GOT A ROCK IN HER SHOE

Howell, Troy Illus. by Carr, Kathryn Ripple Grove (32 pp.) $17.99 | May 3, 2016 978-0-9913866-5-9

A stone in a child’s shoe triggers an avalanche of small misfortunes. From a canoe-paddling cricket to a disgruntled trout to a hungry but thwarted bird—all have had a perfectly fine day ruined by the pebble’s erratic trajectory. It’s unfortunate that

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Howell’s narrative poem also meanders erratically. The meter ricochets from stanza to stanza as it collides with a rhyming pattern that hiccups and stumbles its way through this circular tale. “ ‘Whoa!’ said the cricket. ‘A boulder—I’m sunk!’ / He dumped it, it dropped... // on a trout with a clunk. / ‘Ugh!’ said the trout. ‘This is too tough to chew!’ // He spat it, it soared... // toward a duck’s good-as-new flowered / umbrella she’d brought to the zoo.” These and other sentence constructions defy most readaloud attempts. It’s unfortunate that they distract from Carr’s layered, cut-paper dioramas. The sepia-toned silhouettes convey remarkable depth of field, as in one double-page spread in which an ant pushes the boulder-sized pebble across a meadow, the field grasses in the foreground blurred while the ant and pebble in the rear of the image stand out crisply. Despite the issues with the limping narrative, the illustrations successfully hold the story together while conjuring a wistful air of yesteryear. (Picture book. 5-9)

FLORA AND THE PEACOCKS

Idle, Molly Illus. by the author Chronicle (40 pp.) $17.99 | May 3, 2016 978-1-4521-3816-9

While Idle’s previous titles (Flora and the Flamingo, 2013, etc.) feature her young, white dancer with a single avian partner, this story presents a pas de trois. The challenge, therefore, is how to manage balance: on the stage, across a double-page spread, among friends. The choreography creates the narrative in this wordless performance, with opportunities for audience participation via flaps. In the opening scene, a fan-wielding Flora poses alone; the peacocks are paired. Wispy willow branches form a proscenium arch atop the extravagant white backdrop. The dancers are arrayed in coordinated teal and green splendor with yellow highlights. When one bird crosses the gutter, a dance ensues on the verso, a drama on the recto. The birds’ parallel symmetry is now inverted: the partners reach up, the lone peacock disdainfully displays downward. As Flora plants a foot on each page, readers decide whether to make tails match or contrast. They are also the agents for a tug of war over the fan. Idle’s nuanced postures and expressions capture the peacocks’ wounded pride perfectly. When the fragile prop breaks in a climactic close-up, the despondent protagonist stalks off the page. The birds find a solution, and a glorious gatefold, measuring 18 by 33 inches, puts a joyful Flora at the center of a dazzling and harmonious display. Design, engineering, and art intersect to deliver a virtuoso interpretation of the pitfalls and pleasures of triads. (Picture book. 3- 7)

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RACCOON WANTS TO BE FIRST

Isern, Susanna Illus. by Salaberria, Leire Translated by Sinclair, Robin nubeOCHO (40 pp.) $15.95 | May 10, 2016 978-84-943691-7-9 Series: Somos8

A Spanish import delivers a lesson on boastfulness. Since he was little, Raccoon (inexplicably blue in the illustrations) has always been skillful; he is also rather arrogant and a bit of a showoff. He cavorts in the forest and works hard all day long to be the best at everything. There is nothing he loves more than the adulation of his friends. However this balance is upset by the arrival of a “foreign fox” who seduces Raccoon’s animal friends with exciting stories of heroic actions and adventures. Raccoon is miffed by this turn of events and plunges into a big sulk when he realizes Fox is actually better than him at many things. He refuses to take part in the annual mountain climb. When he sees Duck crying because he is afraid of being left behind, Raccoon stays behind to help him. His reward comes when, forced to go slower than usual, he notices his surroundings, and on finally reaching the summit with Duck on his back, he is welcomed and praised by his friends. There is more than one way to be a hero. Salaberria’s meticulous, soft-colored pencil illustrations of a surreal desert landscape and careful depictions of the animal friends, who resemble nothing more than a group of preschoolers, have plenty of detail to satisfy a curious child. A sweet, feel-good tale with a satisfying conclusion. (Picture book. 3-5)

DAYTIME VISIONS An Alphabet

Isol Illus. by the author Adapt. by the author & Elisa Amado Enchanted Lion Books (56 pp.) $17.95 | May 7, 2016 978-1-59270-195-7 Forget A is for Apple. Here letters appear alongside delightfully ambiguous artwork and phrasing, offering up multitudes of interpretations and variations of story. Readers know right away this isn’t a traditional ABC book. “THAT’S NOT AN ANSWER” appears on the letter A’s page, with a fierce cat hissing at a bird in flight. Cubist, mildly abstract artwork employs blocks of color, assured linework, and expressive brush strokes to deliver succinct, complex images with astonishing force and embedded meanings. Square pages and lavishly thick paper contribute to this immensely pleasing reading experience as well, nudging readers to run fingers across the beguiling matte illustrations as they revel in deciphering them. Phrases, fragments, exclamations, declarations, and

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angling adjectives accompany each picture, providing context and catalyzing imaginative analysis. N’s “A NIGHTMARE,” with a lurking animal, partially obscured behind trees, and a worried walker, dressed in red but with a hood looking much like an animal mask, provides ample fodder for decoding—and perhaps for nighttime visions too! Sometimes funny, occasionally eerie, often bizarre, such fantastic images keep readers alert, expectant, and excited. A visionary alphabet book that seeks to introduce not only letters, but nuanced narratives to eager, unfettered young minds. (Picture book. 3-8)

THE SKELETH

Jobin, Matthew Philomel (400 pp.) $17.99 | May 10, 2016 978-0-399-15999-2 Series: Nethergrim, 2 Wizards and monsters, peasants and lords, battles and spells, friendship and betrayal; all are packed into this second of a bleak fantasy series that began with The Nethergrim (2014). The young friends Edmund, Katherine, and Tom get little chance to celebrate their escape from the ancient horror of the Nethergrim before separating again. Katherine is torn from her beloved warhorses and swordplay to serve as a scullery maid. Runaway slave Tom seeks refuge with the legendary hero Tristan, only to find a decrepit old man with his castle besieged. Lovelorn Edmund, still tormented by the Nethergrim’s seductive evil, turns for tutoring to an apprentice wizard with her own dark secrets. And behind it all, Lord Wolland, in a treacherous bid for power, has loosed the demonic abomination of the Skeleth. Jobin again portrays a dark, squalid, and violent world, yet now it’s graced by more valor, loyalty, kindness, and simple good cheer than the previous title exhibited. Even after poor choices and painful disappointments, the three protagonists are maturing into their respective strengths. Their alternating viewpoints adroitly interweave into a dense, intricate plot, sustaining momentum despite expository infodumps and incessant forced cliffhangers. When the storylines finally collide in a rousing triumph, the three young friends have only a moment’s respite before all is upended once more. Gritty, complex, and self-consciously epic; a solid contender for the teen answer to Game of Thrones. (Fantasy. 11-15)

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THIS IS NOT THE END

Jordan, Jesse Medallion Press (360 pp.) $9.99 paper | Jun. 14, 2016 978-1-94254-630-6

A teenage outcast discovers he is the key to the world’s undoing. James Salley is a white teen without any support system. Something about James has always rubbed people the wrong way. He’s ignored by his endlessly busy parents, and the only person at school who pays him any attention is a bully. Then the new school librarian shows an interest in James, taking him under his wing and informing him of his true destiny. It turns out James is the Antichrist, the chosen one who will begin the War to end all wars. James’ world is soon turned upside down, with murderous zealots tracking him down and mythical creatures coming to his aid, and to top it all off, James’ crush is finally starting to pay attention to him. Jordan seamlessly weaves the high-concept weirdness with typical teen tropes and smartly fleshes out all of his characters with interior lives, making them leap off the pages and into readers’ imaginations and hearts. As James waffles between his conflicting desires to just be a regular kid and to make all who made him miserable pay, readers will probably be able to figure out what choice he will eventually make, but a last-minute twist on James’ dilemma is the cherry on top of this absurdly funny and affecting novel. A wickedly funny examination of what it means to choose your own destiny. (Fantasy. 14-17)

OLLIE’S ODYSSEY

Joyce, William Illus. by the author Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum (304 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | Apr. 12, 2016 978-1-4424-7355-3 978-1-4424-7357-7 e-book A cloth “teddy rabbit” and his beloved boy rescue one another from a

toy clown gone bad. Loading his latest plushy epic with precious observations— “In the realm of toys being favorited was a special distinction. It was as yum as it got”—and pop-culture references, Joyce pits 6 1/2–year-old Billy and his homemade companion Ollie against Zozo, a wooden carnival clown whose love for a ballerina doll named Nina has, after years of separation and physical neglect, transmogrified into hatred for all toys that are beloved of humans. When Zozo’s army of Creeps (“stunted, scroungy creatures” made from bits of trash) “toynap” Ollie, Billy sets out with his lightsaber and some snacks to rescue him. When the Creeps capture the little white boy, though, the roles reverse. With a band of recruits and inspired by a broken typewriter’s “Damn t e torpedoes, full speed a ead,” Ollie returns to subterranean

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The English setting (including frequent pub visits and colorful slang) adds a rich dimension, as do the well-rounded characters whose flaws make them all the more sympathetic. read me like a book

Dark Carnival Place for a brisk dust-up with the baddies. The narrative is printed on artificially age-stained paper and punctuated with large illustrations—of toys loved to shabbiness and genuinely sinister adversaries—that add golden-toned atmosphere to the “huge a-venture.” In the end, the message is no different from countless of its sentimental ilk: “It didn’t matter if something was pretend or real; if it was remembered, then it was true.” Velveteen Rabbit and Toy Story meet Phantom of the Opera. For better or worse. (Fantasy. 10-13)

THE GOLD MEDAL MESS

Kelly, David A. Illus. by Brundage, Scott Random House (128 pp.) $4.99 | $4.99 e-book | $12.99 PLB May 24, 2016 978-0-553-51319-6 978-0-553-51321-9 e-book 978-0-553-51320-2 PLB Series: MVP, 1 When a mysterious saboteur threatens to shut down their school’s Olympic games, five young athletes put on their detective shoes. Classmates Max, Alice, Nico, and twins Luke and Kat—a diverse crew, to judge from Brundage’s introductory portrait gallery and frequent, realistically drawn illustrations—are looking forward to their respective events in Franklin Elementary’s upcoming annual Olympics. But someone is sending threatening notes to the faculty organizers, and once the games begin, oiled grass on the relay route and a tug of war rope that is partially cut lead to dangerous falls. Who could the culprit be? Gathering fingerprints and other evidence, the young sleuths work together to eliminate one suspect and at last catch another red-handed. They are less successful in winning medals, but at the ensuing ceremony they earn a special “MVP” award for saving the games and decide to form a club. Along with plenty of sports action and sterling detective work to appreciate, Kelly offers readers a chance to ponder the contrast between the priorities of the culprit, a multimedalist from the previous year jealously unwilling to be upstaged, and Nico, who abruptly quits a race he’s about to win when he spots the saboteur at work. A quick set of facts and photos from the official Olympic Games cap this series opener. This series opener is a promising venture into early Matt Christopher territory. (Mystery/sports fiction. 7-9)

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RUN

Keplinger, Kody Scholastic (304 pp.) $17.99 | $17.99 e-book | Jun. 28, 2016 978-0-545-83113-0 978-0-545-83115-4 e-book Two small-town Kentucky high school girls run away together. Bo, whose voice narrates the story going forward from the night they steal Agnes’ sister’s car, is a sober bisexual virgin who’s widely considered the school slut. Most of her family members are drunk or in jail, her father ran off, and her mother’s addicted to meth. Agnes, whose voice in alternate chapters narrates the story in flashback from the beginning of her friendship with Bo, is legally blind from birth and chafing at the restrictions her well-meaning but hardly adventurous family puts upon her. She also drinks beer and has had sex with Bo’s cousin. The two narratives come at each other from a distance, then cross in a way that drains some of the tension out of the conflict: by the time readers understand the reason for the white girls’ sudden departure, they also know that Bo has made promises she never intended to keep, which puts the entire escapade in an uncomfortable light. A pat ending feels tacked-on, but Bo and Agnes’ unlikely friendship rings true and strong. Agnes can see lights and shadows, and she is competent at navigating familiar areas with the help of a cane; she can read with heavy magnifiers. Her blindness never feels stereotyped, nor does the sense of small-town suffocation. An ambitiously structured road-trip novel stumbles a bit but gets a lot right. (Fiction. 14-18)

READ ME LIKE A BOOK

Kessler, Liz Candlewick (304 pp.) $16.99 | Jun. 14, 2016 978-0-7636-8131-9

Life is messy, people are imperfect— but Ashleigh learns that love really is all you need in this bighearted story of honesty and acceptance. Parents who are fighting incessantly, a best friend whose path is diverging from her own, a boyfriend who wants their physical relationship to progress faster than she’s comfortable with—these are just a few of the things Ash is wrestling with. As if that weren’t enough, although usually an indifferent student, the white teen finds her new English A-level teacher, Miss Murray, inexplicably entrancing. A self-proclaimed “expert at skirting around anything that might resemble a genuine feeling,” Ash tries to ignore her problems in the vain hope that they will somehow go away, but instead she finds that the only thing that vanishes is her closeness to the people she loves. Taking risks both large and small—and growing from them—is a recurring theme of this

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INTERVIEWS & PROFILES

Jeff Zentner

LEAVING HOME SEEMS LIKE A GREAT IDEA IF YOU’RE A TEENAGER, UNTIL YOU ACTUALLY ESCAPE By Alex Heimbach Photo courtesy J Hernandez

I’ve never been to Tennessee, but listening to Jeff Zentner describe it, I’m about ready to pack my bags and buy a plane ticket: lush wildness bursting with green things; kind people who love telling stories; the smell of barbecue on the air. “But underneath that all, there’s this kind of haunted past where the South is trying to atone for its sins of the past,” he says, “and it’s trying to move on from its darker days.” This desire to escape your history runs through Zentner’s debut novel, The Serpent King (Mar. 15). His three main characters—Dill, Lydia, and Travis—are in their senior year of high school and trying to figure out how to transition into the next stage of their lives. None of the three quite fit into their small Tennessee town, Forrestville: Dill struggles with the legacies of his imprisoned preacher father and his troubled grandfather; Lydia dreams of pursuing journalism in New York; and Travis just wants to escape into his beloved fantasy novels. Zentner, on the other hand, is firmly rooted in the South: he’s lived in Tennessee for most of his life. He’s always been a reader and writer, as well, but he’s much newer to fiction. Throughout his 20s and early 30s, he found creative fulfillment not in prose but in music. Playing guitar and writing songs taught him a lot about his creative process and perspective. “I’ve got a viewpoint, I’ve got a way of viewing the world, that is going to come through in everything I write, in everything I make,” he says. His creative focus changed after he started volunteering at a summer music camp. “It was the first time since high school that I had been around teenagers,” he says, “and I was really impressed with their energy and particularly the way they interacted with the art they loved, the 104

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way they clung to it and let it define them.” He knew he wanted to make art that would speak to a teenage audience and realized that, since he wasn’t going to be invited to join One Direction, writing a novel was the best way to do so. Zentner has a very straightforward method of writing: “I just take everything that I’m really interested in and passionate about at any given time and mush it up into one single novel and hope it all kind of hangs together,” he says. The Serpent King combines his struggles with faith, his interest in how high schoolers are using the Internet to make their marks on the world, and his curiosity about the “blue-collar fantasy nerds” he saw all over Tennessee, to name just a few of the disparate elements that he drew on for the book. The seeming randomness of this approach belies the common threads that run through all of Zentner’s work. “I really love the beauty of the world, and that’s always going to come through,” he says. This attitude shines through the novel when the characters delight in watching trains or when Zentner describes a gathering storm. And throughout The Serpent King runs Zentner’s deep ties to his setting. “There’s this kind of ineffable melancholy or sadness to the rural South,” he says. “There’s this kind of beautiful decay to it, this rusty sort of glory, that I really, really love, and it speaks to me on a deep, visceral level.” Alex Heimbach is a freelance writer in California. The Serpent King received a starred review in the Dec. 15, 2015, issue.

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story, from Ash’s shoplifting on a dare with a rebellious friend to coming out to her parents on her 18th birthday. The English setting (including frequent pub visits and colorful slang) adds a rich dimension, as do the well-rounded characters whose flaws make them all the more sympathetic. With an absorbing plot and believable dialogue, this novel demonstrates respect for teens’ fears and desires, ending on a hopeful note that steers clear of unconvincing platitudes. (Fiction. 14 & up)

RUNNING FOR WATER AND SKY

Kring, Sandra Spark Press (282 pp.) $17.00 | $9.99 e-book | May 10, 2016 978-1-940716-93-0 978-1-940176-92-3 e-book A few anxious minutes feel like an eternity as 17-year-old Bless tries to reach her boyfriend after the sound of sirens makes her fear the worst. As she runs, the white teen flashes back to the six months leading up to this day. After years in her grandparents’ abusive home in small-town Nebraska, Bless’ father, a down-at-theheels mechanic named Shaky, shows up and takes Bless to live with his new family in Wisconsin. She takes nothing but a booklet of collectible pennies that her dying mother gave her. At her new school, she makes friends with Maylee and falls in love with Liam, a new student in town. A trip to a psychic convinces the girls that Liam’s life is in danger. Alternating time frames mask an unevenness in the depiction of two distinct parts of Bless’ life. Richly realized storytelling, setting, and detailed characters paint a vivid picture of Bless’ experiences in Nebraska. In contrast, her new life in Wisconsin not only seems disconnected from her early years, but revolves around several stereotyped characters and a thin, far-fetched storyline concerning the pennies and the psychic. Flash-forward to Bless frantically running, so distracted by her memories that she repeatedly steps into traffic, and the result is a sustained melodrama with no letdown from an intense plotline. Inconsistent but with enough romance to satisfy many readers. (Fiction. 14-17)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ALICE BABETTE

Kulling, Monica Illus. by Leng, Qin Groundwood (32 pp.) $16.95 | Apr. 1, 2016 978-1-55498-820-4

filled with surprises.”

When Alice Babette wakes up on her birthday, she’s certain “it will be a day

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Unfortunately, the first is that her best friend, Gertrude, with whom she lives, doesn’t wish her a happy birthday. It improves from there, as Alice wanders through Paris, riding a merry-go-round and watching a puppet show in the Luxembourg Gardens. Meanwhile, readers see that Gertrude is not as hardhearted as she seemed: she spends the day marketing for and preparing a grand birthday dinner for her friend and composing a birthday poem. Alas, Alice is the cook in this family, and all of Gertrude’s good intentions can’t turn her into one, particularly when the muse beckons. Kulling’s affectionate look at one fictional day in Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein’s life together is as rambling as her subjects’ separate peregrinations. Stein’s experimental writing is alluded to (only Alice “seem[s] to understand or appreciate her friend’s work”); the story’s focus is on the loving, complementary relationship between the two women—indeed, the pair feels like many a children’sliterature duo: Mouse and Mole, Frog and Toad, and George and Martha come to mind. Leng’s delicate watercolors depict two middle-aged white women in frumpy skirts, Gertrude stockier than Alice and with close-cropped hair. Her images of Paris, the women’s old-fashioned kitchen, and their poodle, Basket, charm. A rose is a rose, and loving friendship is loving friendship, as this sweet celebration makes clear. (Picture book. 5-8)

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF EMBER CROW

Kwaymullina, Ambelin Candlewick (432 pp.) $17.99 | May 10, 2016 978-0-7636-7843-2 Series: Tribe, 2

Six months after the events in series opener The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf (2014), the Tribe is thriving; then Ember Crow fails to return from a scouting mission, and Ashala and Connor, searching for answers, make a discovery that upends what they thought they knew about their friend and their own history. When rumors of a man claiming to be the Serpent, a rebel supporting the Illegals, reach the Tribe, they know he’s an imposter, a fictional decoy they’d designed themselves to mislead the government. Ember, who’s gone to check this story out, instead of returning, sends Ashala a memory message stone via her dog, Nicky, saying she thinks she knows the imposter’s identity. Should Ember fail to return, they are not to look for her. Ashala’s determined to help anyway, but it won’t be easy. Her Sleepwalking (active dreaming) ability is becoming unreliable, and her snake grandfather’s warning to “beware the angels” confuses her. Ashala will need more than her ability, he says; she must understand her power. Searching Ember’s lab presents new mysteries. When a strange young man arrives with a longer message from Ember, Ashala realizes it’s time to act. While this second act’s pacing is slower and the plot’s political machinations more complex than the first volume’s, it’s seasoned with

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enough intriguing speculation—what do we mean by “human”? When and why might we want to revisit that definition?—original worldbuilding, and sympathetic characters to hold reader interest. Fresh and fascinating. (author note) (Indigenous futurism. 12-18)

SUITE FOR HUMAN NATURE

Lampert, Diane Charlotte Illus. by Puybaret, Eric Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum (48 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | May 3, 2016 978-1-4169-5373-9 978-1-4814-6357-7 e-book A gentle parable of how Mother Nature introduced human foibles and strengths to the world. Based on a 2004 musical composition by renowned lyricist Lampert and jazz legend Wynton Marsalis, this glimpse into humankind is both fragile and deep. Puybaret’s acrylic illustrations on linen set a dreamlike mood. Mother Nature, draped in gossamer blossoms and reaching root tendrils, watches over all that grows and walks the Earth. She must also change the seasons—turning “noses red and cheeks rosy” during winter and being sure to shake “the sand from dreams” and “honey-up the bees” when the time is right. But for all her responsibilities, Mother Nature is lonely. She longs for children of her own. So she makes her first child, Fear (a name that is pleasant because it rhymes with “dear”). But when she looks to humankind to care for Fear while she is busy spinning the seasons, she sees cowardice has spread. To restore balance, she creates other children: Envy, Hate, Greed, and Fickle; each one no better than the last. Luckily, through wise council with the winds, she finally creates two tiny twins, both named Love. Though the prose has exquisite touches, some delicate moments seem buried in excess. However, Puybaret’s metaphorical illustrations are a good match, depicting a multicultural cast of humans aping the actions of Mother Nature’s ill-conceived children amid stylized backdrops. It is an earned triumph when Love prevails. (Picture book. 5-10)

SOME KIND OF HAPPINESS

Legrand, Claire Simon & Schuster (384 pp.) $16.99 | $10.99 e-book | May 17, 2016 978-1-4424-6601-2 978-1-4424-6603-6 e-book

staying with long-lost relatives for the summer, by a deep forest. Her mom and dad are “having problems” and “need some space to work it out.” Her father refuses to say why he stopped talking to his parents all those years ago, and clearly both house and family are full of secrets. Finley does her best to adjust and to get to know her relatives, and she begins writing fantasy stories about a deep forest and an orphan girl and a queen. Finley has a secret of her own. She’s living with depression and anxiety, and the stories she writes on paper help her defend herself against the painful stories in her head. Legrand has pulled off a difficult trick in this novel. She’s constructed a story-within-a-story fairy tale that’s utterly compelling but sounds as though it was written by an 11-year-old girl. Finley’s own story is even more compelling. Some of the family secrets are telegraphed too far in advance to be shocking, and some of the dialogue is too bluntly on-the-nose. But by the time the secrets are revealed, most readers will be too caught up in the story to stop reading. A layered, thoughtful exploration. (Fiction. 8-12)

CHICKEN IN SPACE

Lehrhaupt, Adam Illus. by Kober, Shahar Harper/HarperCollins (40 pp.) $17.99 | May 17, 2016 978-0-06-236412-8 It’s hard not to admire a chicken with dreams of going into space. Moreover, this chicken has a plan— and a pig. The text is dry and concise; the characters clearly represent familiar character types. Zoey, the would-be-astronaut, is supremely self-confident, even when adjusting her “plan” on the fly. Sam, the pig, is a little concerned about going into space before lunch, especially before pie, but he believes in Zoey and will follow her anywhere. The other animals have insurmountable reservations and may even lack imagination. The dog is content with the space he’s got; the mouse is too timid; the cow is too practical, pointing out that Zoey doesn’t have a ship. But helium balloons tied to a basket make a fine ship, taking the doughty protagonists higher than chicken and pig have gone before. Keen-eyed observers will have already spotted the balloons in several of the matte, pastel-colored digital illustrations. As the duo gains altitude, the perspective makes a slight change from horizontals to aerials. Space is perilous. When they crashland, Zoey and Sam tell the others tales of asteroids (a ball), comets (a kite), and aliens (birds). A moon-pie reward for Sam completes the adventure...until the next one.... What a flight of imagination. (Picture book. 3-5)

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While Lester sprinkles interesting metaphors and similes on nearly every page, Angel paints the story to life. the girl who saved yesterday

THE GIRL WHO SAVED YESTERDAY

Lester, Julius Illus. by Angel, Carl Creston (32 pp.) $16.99 | May 10, 2016 978-1-939547-24-8

In this age of automaticity, electronic immediacy, and carpe diem, this book delivers a rare exultation: remember the Ancestors. Silence, a child whom the villagers have cast out into the forest because she tried to climb the mountain to find her dead parents, now lives happily among nurturing trees. When the most ancient of the trees, Wonderboom, tells Silence she must return to the village to “save Yesterday,” at first she fails to understand how but reluctantly returns to the hostile village. Morning Star and Sun tell Silence what she must do, and with a scythe, she cuts a path up the mountainside, where the trees help her find glowing stones that she thinks must be her parents. Silence then shows the villagers how to honor their dead, for the Ancestors resent being forgotten. Lester sets this literary folk tale somewhere in Africa, where the villagers wear bright, patterned fabrics, the women wear beautiful head wraps, and all of the characters have dark brown skin. While Lester sprinkles interesting metaphors and similes on nearly every page, Angel paints the story to life with personified trees, an impressive array of topographies, and a girl who will stop at nothing to follow her instincts. When Silence speaks, change happens. A powerful tale that should help children of all ages embrace the fact that dead does not have to mean gone. (Picture book. 4-9)

LOUISE AND ANDIE The Art of Friendship

Light, Kelly Illus. by the author Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins (40 pp.) $17.99 | $9.99 e-book | Jun. 14, 2016 978-0-06-234440-3 978-0-06-245951-0 e-book

Louise and Art are back, bright-eyed and excited about their new neighbor. Louise clutches her drawing papers and bursts with hope that the new kid next door loves art as much as she does. Her little brother, Art (whose name’s affectionate double meaning was featured in Louise Loves Art, 2014), is eager too. They’re in luck: Andie, despite half-mast eyelids implying reticence or blasé posturing in contrast to Louise’s and Art’s wide-eyed earnestness, is an artist as well. Details such as pop-art dog portraits and a pyramid of Campbell’s soup cans invoking retro advertisements create energy and spark, even for readers who don’t know the references. The three pink-skinned kids gleefully draw and paint together, squabble, separate, and ultimately resolve the dispute with, fittingly, more art. Their round-framed |

eyeglasses—Louise wears red frames with clear glass, while Andie wears black frames with blue glass—figure heavily in the artistic solution to their fight. Light uses black pencils and mostly red, blue, and gray digital coloring in her inventively composed spreads. In one, 13 scenes of the characters scatter across a double-page spread, each on its own piece of drawing paper. In another, readers have a (roughly) floor’s-eye view of the girls propped upside down, heads on the floor, legs on the bed, while Art dangles beside them. Visually sophisticated in a totally accessible way. (Picture book. 3-6)

BLUE & BERTIE

Litten, Kristyna Illus. by the author Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster (32 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | Jun. 28, 2016 978-1-4814-6154-2 978-1-4814-6155-9 e-book Mismatched animals who become friends are a common theme in picture books, and this one is visual proof that a real friend is “true blue.” Every day is the same for Bertie and the other yellow giraffes. They nibble leaves from the treetops, drink cooling water at the water hole, and then snooze. That is, until the day when Bertie oversleeps and wakes up alone. Without the rest of the tower, he is lost. How will he find his way home? Just as he starts to cry, a shy creature steps forward—he’s just like Bertie, only blue! Not only does Blue show him the way home, but he draws Bertie’s attention to all kinds of unnoticed things, like rare flowers. Best of all, the other yellow giraffes love Blue, and from then on they all see things a little bit differently each day. Sound effects (“crunchity-crunch,” “sip, slurp,” “trit trot”) pepper the text, adding some liveliness. The giraffes are depicted with brown (or blue) polka dots and spindly legs, and the stylized flora in the background adds to the whimsy. One fanciful image shows the sleeping giraffes with their necks curled in loops; another, tall, vertical spread underscores the giraffes’ long necks. The theme of feeling different and finding a friend is predictable here, but kids will enjoy the colorful illustrations and laid-back delivery. A gentle story with a sweet message that doesn’t hit readers over the head. (Picture book. 4- 7)

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A MORNING WITH GRANDPA

Liu, Sylvia Illus. by Forshay, Christina Lee & Low (32 pp.) $17.99 | May 15, 2016 978-1-62014-192-2

Debut author Liu scores with a sweet story about the joys of intergenerational relationships. |

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an outrageous bear for an outrageous kind of reader

Poornima Apte is a Boston-area freelance writer and editor with a passion for books. I Am Bear was reviewed in the Dec. 15, 2015, issue.

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Photo courtesy Tom Medwell

Photo courtesy Ludwig Shammasian

When close friends—and fellow Londoners—Ben Bailey Smith and Sav Akyüz decided to collaborate on a children’s picture book, they already knew what they were looking for on the page. “Sav and I didn’t want the central character to be anodyne— we wanted to avoid that from the start—and that is why Bear is as outrageous as he is, because he reflects what we understand about children,” Smith says about the large, mischievous character who is the star of their first joint venture, I Am Bear (Mar. 8). Smith is a popular hip-hop artist who raps by the name Doc Brown; it’s inevitable that readers might look for evidence of his art in his picture book. But it’s Akyüz who has paid homage to the genre through a graffiti style that shows up in subtle ways, including in Bear’s B-Boy stance. Smith is weary of labels and says I Am Bear isn’t reBen Bailey Smith ally a hip-hop children’s book. “Not everybody likes rap or hip-hop, but everybody’s into Bear,” he points out. Akyüz adds that there was no conscious agenda, hip-hop or otherwise, going into the project. “After we wrote it we realized that not only children, but parents would love it,” he says. Smith’s older sister, Zadie Smith, is a bestselling writer, but Ben kept the project under wraps until it was ready. “To be fair, it’s such a different planet from what Sav Akyüz she does, but I have been excited to show it to her for two years now,” Smith says.

Some children bake cookies with their grandpas. Others play chess with their grandmas. Mei Mei and her grandfather, Gong Gong, find a special way to connect. “Tai chi is a martial art that sends good energy through your body,” explains Gong Gong. “Martial art!...I can do karate. HI-YAH!” replies Mei Mei. As Gong Gong demonstrates his graceful tai chi moves, Mei Mei interprets them using her own style and tempo. “Gong Gong conducted a quiet symphony. Mei Mei drummed the earth with hands and feet.” Next, Mei Mei teaches Gong Gong some yoga moves. Mei Mei sits elegantly like a mermaid “with one leg bent behind her and the other leg folded in front....a creature of the deep sea guarding treasures.” Gong Gong on the other hand, “twisted his leg this way and that and almost fell over. He was a fish in the water trying to escape a dangling hook.” Together, Liu’s lively text and Forshay’s playful illustrations effectively capture a true-to-life relationship that transcends cultures and generations. Vibrant colors, dynamic scenes, and bubbly expressions—cross-eyed Mei Mei sucking in her cheeks is a winner!— all add to the giggles. The love between the two shines through in both text and illustrations. The illustrated guide to tai chi and yoga poses that follows the story is a pleasing touch. A fine example of contemporary multicultural literature. (glossary, sources) (Picture book. 4-8)

FINDING WILD

Lloyd, Megan Wagner Illus. by Halpin, Abigail Knopf (32 pp.) $16.99 | $10.99 e-book | May 10, 2016 978-1-101-93281-0 978-1-101-93283-4 e-book The wild world can be found close by, even in the city. A light-skinned child with dark braids and another with blond hair venture into a green space near a subway entrance. The path through dense foliage leads to mountains and lakes, a winter landscape, a meadow in bloom, a rocky shore above blue water for swimming. Lloyd’s poetic, philosophical text poses and answers a question: “What is wild?” The answer, unrelated to Sendak’s dancing monsters, stays within the context of Earth, nature, and weather. Halpin’s digitally finished watercolor-and– colored-pencil drawings offer delicate leafy landscapes and bright flowers as well as evocative scenes of night and stormy skies. The author suggests ways that the wild world can be experienced. “Wild is full of smells—fresh mint, ancient cave....” It can be felt: “wild is forest-fire hot and icicle cold”; and it can be sweet: “honey from bees...and juice-bursting blackberries.” It makes noise: “it storm-thunders and wind-whispers.” When the children emerge from their adventure, the text carries a lament for the difficulty of finding “wild” in a place that is “clean and paved, ordered and tidy / ...[with] streets and cars and buildings so high, they hide the sky.” If the essence of “wild” remains elusive, perhaps that is partly the point—“wild” can’t be contained but is hidden and waiting to be discovered. (Picture book. 4-10)

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HOW IT ENDS

Lo, Catherine HMH Books (304 pp.) $17.99 | Jun. 7, 2016 978-0-544-54006-4 Debut author Lo explores the life cycle of a friendship, with alternating narratives that reveal how all stories have two sides. Jessie suffers from “terminal loneliness” and lives where “the light from popular would take a million years” to reach. She enters grade 10 hoping for invisibility; she’ll take her daily Prozac and endure her suburban Ontario high school. When she’s suddenly befriended by new kid Annie (seemingly fearless in the face of small-minded high school drama), anxiety-plagued Jessie feels her world expand and brighten. The two white girls form an opposites-attract bond: Annie (who’s lost her mother and struggles with her stepmom) envies Jessie’s intact home and academic abilities; timid Jessie admires Annie’s bold style and approach to life. Trouble in paradise arrives (somewhat predictably) when both fall for the same boy, but romance is refreshingly peripheral to Lo’s main subject: the complexity of close female friendship. Lo (who’s worked with at-risk teens) offers a nuanced exploration of stressors on this vulnerable population: the effect of social media, well-meaning parents with complicated agendas, and peer influence. She tackles—without condescending or simplifying—challenging subjects such as drug dependency and the consequences of sexual activity, offering an unflinching look at the emotional toll of abortion. A thoughtful depiction of teen friendship and the competing costs of concealing—and revealing—the truth. (Fiction. 14-18)

LORENZO, THE PIZZA-LOVING LOBSTER

Lordon, Claire Illus. by the author Little Bee (32 pp.) $16.99 | May 3, 2016 978-1-4998-0228-3

Will involving kids in the cooking process help them try new foods? Lordon uses pizza-making to entice in this venture into new tastes. After falling in love with a single slice of pizza, a lobster named Lorenzo tries his hand at re-creating the tasty treat. Unfortunately, Lorenzo cannot remember what was on the pizza, leading to repeated failures trying to recapture the treasured slice for his turtle friend Kalena. The absurd litany of unpalatable toppings includes sponge patties, jellyfish jelly, squid ink, and algae. Unsurprisingly, none of the combinations they try taste any good at all. The illustrations balance characters and scenery with speech bubbles, and they are engaging enough, although the main characters are a bit static, with cut-and-paste |

eyes and simple body shapes. When Kalena finds a real pizza pie, the duo surprisingly goes straight from zero to hero. “Let’s make a pizza with the correct ingredients. It’s so tasty I want more!” exclaims Lorenzo. The very next page depicts a backyard full of pizza-eating friends. Readers are never shown the process that results in the first successful pie, which leaves the author’s intent unclear: to promote pizza production? That seafood is bad? Instead, the message that pizza tastes better when shared with a friend is what remains. Look for stronger food and friendship books than this one. (Picture book. 3- 7)

INVISIBLE FAULT LINES

Madonia, Kristen-Paige Simon & Schuster (320 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | May 3, 2016 978-1-4814-3071-5 978-1-4814-3073-9 e-book Dazed by her father’s inexplicable disappearance, Callie spends the next several months searching for answers and adjusting to the new family dynamic that’s developing with her mother. Following her father’s disappearance, Callie finds herself imitating normal life, until driving by the construction site where her father was last seen makes her realize her dad has been missing for 39 days. Stunned at what feels like her complacency, Callie renews her efforts to solve the mystery of her father. Sadly, all she ever finds is her father’s abandoned backpack, which offers no new clues. But, while visiting a centenary exhibit of photos from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, Callie believes that she sees her father in one of the photos. She begins researching the earthquake and its aftermath, privately convinced her father may have been somehow transported back to that time period. Adding possible credibility to her theory are the evocatively detailed chapters featuring a nameless man with amnesia wandering around San Francisco after the 1904 earthquake. He vaguely senses he is missing something—could it be Callie and her mother in 2006? Ultimately Callie gains few answers, but her journey toward acceptance of both her father’s disappearance and her feelings of loss is painstakingly, sensitively rendered. A gentle, honest, and occasionally perplexing exploration of how people seek solace during anguishing situations. (Historical fiction. 14-18)

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MISSION IMPAWSIBLE

Maple, Daphne Illus. by Metayer, Annabelle Harper/HarperCollins (224 pp.) $6.99 paper | $6.99 e-book | May 3, 2016 978-0-06-232767-3 978-0-06-232768-0 e-book Series: Roxbury Park Dog Club, 1 In the first of a new series, seventhgrader Kim combines her talent and enthusiasm for working with animals with her need to undertake a community service project for school. She and her BFF, Sasha, are volunteering at a small local animal shelter. Kim’s vision for this experience is nearly spoiled when she discovers that Sasha’s new friend, Taylor, will be joining them, leaving her feeling “like a third wheel.” Taylor is described as “a tall girl with brown skin and a hundred little braids that ended in silver beads,” in contrast to floppy-haired white girls Kim and Sasha. Kim’s formulaic, jealousy-fueled struggles with the change in relationships are neatly, completely resolved when she uses her dog-whisperer skills to help Taylor deal with her fear of the larger animals, effectively eliminating that dog-eared conflict, but two others emerge. Kim struggles with her grades, threatening her work at the shelter, and more critically, the shelter is in financial trouble. Her scheme for an after-school dog club provides, improbably, the needed income stream, and her emerging sense of competence from navigating the bumps of a new business helps her out with schoolwork. Clunky back-story exposition, Kim’s unconvincing, authorial first-person voice, flat, predictable, and even stereotypical characters—Taylor’s dad is “famous” for his Southern-fried chicken and greens—all combine to create an unexceptional, vanillaflavored outing. Book 2, When the Going Gets Ruff, publishes simultaneously. Perhaps this effort will appeal to pet lovers. (Fiction. 9-12) (When the Going Gets Ruff: 978-0-06-232769-7)

DEVIL AND THE BLUEBIRD

Mason-Black, Jennifer Amulet/Abrams (336 pp.) $17.95 | May 17, 2016 978-1-4197-2000-0 Cass and Blue made a deal after their mother died of cancer: they would always talk on Mama’s birthday. Last year there was only a voicemail from Cass, and this year the call didn’t come at all. Blue, 17, knows she must find her older sister. This urgency drives the white teen to meet the woman in the red dress at a crossroads at midnight and make a deal—her soul in exchange for her sister. But the woman in red is more interested in a gamble than an even trade, so she steals Blue’s voice and sends her off on a surreal all-or-nothing quest in which the rules of the 110

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game, and sometimes reality itself, shift and bend. Hoping to find Cass along the way, Blue re-creates the journey that decades ago brought together her mother and Tish, her partner in music and life. Blue meets an assorted cast of characters on her odyssey, all wandering for their own diverse reasons. The woman in red is never far away, compelling Blue to keep moving toward the family secrets she must uncover in order to rediscover the voice that is authentically her own. Mason-Black’s poignant debut novel takes Blue from small-town Maine, “where lesbian musicians were an oddity, and gay kids still suffered at the hands of their peers,” on a tour of America’s marginalized, her mutism eliciting confusion, confessions, and sympathy along the way. A magical-realist adventure laced with folk guitar and outcast drifters unpacks the bonds of family—those we are born into and those we choose. (Magical realism. 14-17)

CLARA The (Mostly) True Story of the Rhinoceros Who Dazzled Kings, Inspired Artists, and Won the Hearts of Everyone... While She Ate Her Way Up and Down a Continent! McCully, Emily Arnold Illus. by the author Schwartz & Wade/Random (40 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | $20.99 PLB Jun. 7, 2016 978-0-553-52246-4 978-0-553-52248-8 e-book 978-0-553-52247-1 PLB

An orphaned rhinoceros, acquired by a Dutch sea captain in India, captivates 18th-century Europe during her 17-year continental tour. Capt. Van der Meer orders Clara hoisted onto his ship for the voyage around the Cape of Good Hope. The rhino eats hay, drinks water, and “adore[s] oranges and beer.” Fish oil is used to lubricate her hide. Once home in Holland, the captain plots logistics for Clara’s “grand tour.” McCully portrays a developing bond between Clara and her keeper, who “looked deep into his rhino’s eyes and felt calm. Clara might have been homely on the outside, but she had a beautiful soul.” The Prussian king, Frederick the Great, helps fund the tour, but Clara’s 5,000-pound appetite proves financially challenging. Louis XV dismisses the captain from Versailles when Clara’s not proffered as a gift for his menagerie. Paris is mad for Clara, though: she inspires composers, poets, sculptors, painters, scientists, and even hairdressers and dressmakers, as styles à la rhinocéros become the rage. McCully’s delicately inked watercolors span double-page spreads for expansive scenes, including one for Clara’s death. Smaller spots portray vignettes, as when Clara sprouts, then loses her horn. Oranges—so enticing to Clara—recur as a motif throughout. Endpapers map the sea and land journeys, and McCully’s note provides historical context for what would be considered an inhumane display today.

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The inventive tale is filled with a deftly balanced mixture of otherworldly effects, humor, action, and the confusing and recognizable emotions of middle school dynamics. sticks & stones

For all its problematic nature, a sweetly portrayed relationship. (author’s note, resources) (Picture book. 5-8)

I WANNA BE A GREAT BIG DINOSAUR

McKenzie, Heath Illus. by the author Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (32 pp.) $16.99 | May 17, 2016 978-1-4926-3299-3

A little boy finds out what dinosaurs do...and vice versa. The titular proclamation, delivered in oversized type by an overstimulated white boy with wide blue eyes, brings on a young theropod, also blue, who provides some not-entirely-necessary instruction: “And first, you must learn how to... / ROAR! / Next comes STOMPING!” With eating, though, the instruction begins to go two ways, as the kinetic kid introduces his carnivorous cohort to the wonders of cake and ice cream, spaghetti, and even sushi. And then on to reading, soccer, and video gaming. All of this leaves the toothy erstwhile tutor rumbling plaintively “I wanna be a LITTLE BOY!” A fine solution presents itself—“Let’s be BOTH!”—and in a final scene, the boy, with a homemade cardboard dinosaur suit strapped on, roars and stomps alongside a prehistoric pal clad in purple shorts and a boxy cap decorated to resemble a blond boy head. McKenzie scatters craft supplies underfoot in his minimally detailed illustrations as further prods to explore the pleasures of playacting. Something like a gender-switched companion to the author’s My Rules for Being a Pretty Princess (2015), but with more give and take between the roles. (Picture book. 6-8)

STICKS & STONES

Mlynowski, Sarah & Myracle, Lauren & Jenkins, Emily Scholastic (208 pp.) $14.99 | $14.99 e-book | May 31, 2016 978-0-545-80049-5 978-0-545-80051-8 e-book Series: Upside-Down Magic, 2 Nory and her friends are misfits in an alternate universe (Upside-Down Magic, 2015) where everyone has a magi-

Bax, the UDMs are threatened with the elimination of their program. The children draw closer together with the aid of caring teachers and coaches who encourage and believe in their capability to take control of their unusual talents and use them wisely. Nory leads the way as they solve the mystery and earn the respect of at least some of the other students. The inventive tale is filled with a deftly balanced mixture of otherworldly effects, humor, action, and the confusing and recognizable emotions of middle school dynamics. Nory is brave, determined, quick to take offense, kind, empathetic, and eminently likable. Appealing, warmhearted, and magical. (Fantasy. 8-12)

BREAKFAST WITH NERUDA

Moe, Laura Merit Press (240 pp.) $17.99 | May 16, 2016 978-1-4405-9219-5

Two kids are obliged to spend their summers working with the janitors to clean out the high school before it reopens in the fall. Michael didn’t mean to blow up the school. His plan was to blow up his ex– best friend’s car with those bundles of firecrackers. But authorities didn’t quite believe him, so he was sentenced to community service over the summer. Shelly smokes on school grounds— that’s her excuse, anyway, for the summerlong detention. The two white teens find plenty to talk about and plenty to hide as they grow close over the long days. They share a passion for reading, especially the poetry of Pablo Neruda, and they slowly reveal their secrets to each other. Together, Michael and Shelly confront the realities they’ve been dealt and struggle to move forward together. Moe uses lyrical language to introduce teenagers whose problems go beyond bullying or unrequited love. She treats Michael’s unusual home situation with realistic grace, while the relationship between the two teenagers is organic and interesting. Occasionally, the imagery is distractingly pat, as when Shelly overidentifies with two ducks far from water and says she and Michael are “kind of like those ducks....An odd pair of misfits, way out of our leagues.” A summerlong punishment becomes a sensitive, thoughtful novel. (Fiction. 14-18)

cal talent. There are Fluxers, Flares, Fuzzies, Flickers, and Flyers whose talents develop in a fairly predictable, established pattern. But brown-skinned Nory and the children in the UpsideDown Magic class, or the UDMs as they are called, are different. Their magic is wonky and totally out of control, causing mayhem wherever they go. The kids with normal magic torment and ostracize them, especially their nemesis, a mean white girl who, with her group of followers, bullies them without mercy. When a series of bizarre and inappropriate magical events disrupt school activities and seem to implicate Nory’s classmate |

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This acclaimed nature writer’s particular strength is that she’s not afraid to describe scientific drudge work, giving a rounded picture of what being a field scientist is like. the great white shark scientist

THE GREAT WHITE SHARK SCIENTIST

Montgomery, Sy Photos by Ellenbogen, Keith HMH Books (80 pp.) $18.99 | Jun. 7, 2016 978-0-544-35298-8 Series: Scientists in the Field “They’re laid back. They’re calm. They’re beautiful.” That’s shark researcher Greg Skomal’s assessment of great whites, the subject of Montgomery’s latest entry in the longrunning Scientists in the Field series. Here, she invites her readers to appreciate the glory of these much-feared sharks, first through the work of scientists who use video recordings and tags to identify and then track individual sharks who spend summers off Cape Cod, and then with a diving expedition off Guadalupe, Mexico. This acclaimed nature writer’s particular strength is that she’s not afraid to describe scientific drudge work, giving a rounded picture of what being a field scientist is like. She chooses examples carefully and structures her six smoothly written chapters to build to a crescendo of excitement, going from an unproductive day (and some dull but important safety details) to a very satisfying one and then to an up-close encounter with sharks from the vantage point of a shark cage. Informational segments, including some intriguing facts and surprising statistics, separate each chapter. She picks out details that will engage her middle school readers. Ellenbogen’s photographs, both close-up and from the perspective of a spotter plane, bring readers even closer to her experience. This appreciative introduction to a much-maligned species will thrill readers while it encourages them to see great white sharks in a new way. (maps, bibliography, Web resources, acknowledgments, index) (Nonfiction. 10-15)

COWPOKE CLYDE RIDES THE RANGE

Mortensen, Lori Illus. by Austin, Michael Allen Clarion (32 pp.) $16.99 | May 3, 2016 978-0-544-37030-2 That ol’ rascal Cowpoke Clyde is back in the saddle again for another rollicking ride on the range (Cowpoke Clyde and Dirty Dawg, 2013), this time on one of them newfangled machines called a bicycle. The lanky, white cowboy decides to trade in his horse, ordering up a shiny, red bicycle from a mail-order catalog, or “cat-y-log” in Clyde’s colloquial manner of speaking. The pitchperfect rhyming text is filled with amusing, old-fashioned expressions in Clyde’s strong cowboy voice, just begging to be read aloud with a believable twang. When Clyde takes off on his first ride, he’s followed by his trusty, dusty Dawg, a faithful Old English sheepdog in a red bandanna. In subsequent actionfilled scenes, they meet a “horny toad,” a hare, a porcupine, and 112

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some bighorn sheep, which the devoted Dawg chases out of his path just in time. Thoughtful art direction sets up each new critter encounter with dramatic pacing and a page turn to reveal the next animal obstacle, with the new creature’s name set in huge display type. Vibrant digitally produced illustrations give Clyde a distinct personality and meet the challenge of capturing a cowboy in motion on a bicycle, and close-up views of the prickly porcupine and bug-eyed bighorn sheep effectively animate the critters so they seem ready to jump right off the page. Another doggone funny cowboy caper chock full o’ chuckles. (Picture book. 3-8)

EVERYONE

Neal, Christopher Silas Illus. by the author Candlewick (32 pp.) $15.99 | May 10, 2016 978-0-7636-7683-4 Neal explores the well-trodden notion that everyone has feelings. “Sometimes, you just need to cry, and that’s OK,” assures the text after a brief survey of feelings experienced by a white child with short, tousled black hair. This reassurance is paired with an illustration of the child’s blue tears turning into blue birds and winging their way across the gray sky. With the turn of the page, it then declares, “When you cry, you are not alone.” The child is now standing amid blue raindrops, smiling. Children will be forgiven for wondering, how is the child not alone? Are they to understand that the raindrops are the tears/birds? Neal is ambitious in his visual metaphors, but that doesn’t make them easy to understand. The illustrations, in a limited, retro palette that includes shades of black, peach, and blue, range from faux childlike cartoons to the sophisticated and fantastic. The plotless text has a tone-deaf “we are the world” vibe that’s a simplistic disconnect with the illustrations. Even as it acknowledges that “everyone has feelings, and that’s OK,” it mystifies with murky assertions such as, “when you sing... / everyone listens.” Unfortunately, it looks as though “everyone” is watching blue shooting stars. There is no shortage of outstanding picture books that address children’s feelings of anger, frustration, anxiety, and joy. This is not one of them. (Picture book. 5-8)

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UNRIVALED

Noël, Alyson Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins (432 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | May 10, 2016 978-0-06-232452-8 978-0-06-232454-2 e-book Series: Beautiful Idols, 1 Three fame-hungry teens vie for a prize they can win by running nightclubs for an unprincipled mogul, while a young A-list star tries to avoid them. Layla dreams of going to journalism school, Tommy wants to be a famous musician, and Aster intends to become a famous actress. All three join a competition run by Ira, who wants to promote his string of nightclubs in Los Angeles. The three will try to increase traffic in their assigned clubs especially by attracting celebrities. Meanwhile, 18-year-old Madison, a real celebrity, wants to get out of her relationship with her official boyfriend, Ryan, whose TV series is on the verge of cancellation. Machinations and romantic entanglements ensue. When things blow up and Madison disappears, the teens must scramble to find out what’s going on. Noël aims for the celebrity-hungry chick-lit crowd and scores. Given that her characters tend to be struggling (unsuccessfully) with their already-thin morals, they are interesting if not always likable. With the exception of Iranian Aster, all the principals are white. While the plotting and intrigue keep things moving, the story’s basic premise—of adolescents promoting nightclubs—seems absurd. The cliffhanger ending sets up Volume 2 of this easy-reading and almost defiantly shallow series. Chick-lit gold. (Chick lit. 12-18)

CLOTH LULLABY The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois

Novesky, Amy Illus. by Arsenault, Isabelle Abrams (40 pp.) $18.95 | May 1, 2016 978-1-4197-1881-6 This biography of 20th-century French artist Louise Bourgeois explores childhood experiences influencing her work. Growing up beside a river that “wove like a wool thread through everything,” Louise observed a “web of stars” from the garden and slept to water’s “rhythmic rock and murmur.” She learned about form, color, and pattern as well as weaving and making dyes in the family business, which was restoring tapestries. “Useful as a spider” at the family’s work, Louise’s mother was also her best friend, teaching her to draw missing fragments of fabric like “thread in a spider’s web.” Studying math in Paris, Louise turned to art following her mother’s death, literally reworking the fabric of her life into original paintings, |

sculptures, drawings, cloth books, and tapestries reflecting the river, garden, weaving, spider, and mother motifs of her childhood. The evocative, hand-lettered text, peppered with quotations in red ink, provides an impressionistic portrait of the memories, colors, sounds, and images propelling Louise’s art. These motifs connect the imaginative ink, pencil, pastel, and watercolor illustrations, done in a palette of indigo, red, and gray. Bold, repetitive patterns of stylized flowers, woven crosshatches, spirals, giant spiders, and musical notes form the perfect background for the cloth lullaby Louise weaves for herself. Splendid visual and verbal introduction to little-known artist Louise Bourgeois. (author’s note; photos, sources) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

THE PERFECT DOG

O’Malley, Kevin Illus. by the author Crown (40 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | $20.99 PLB May 31, 2016 978-1-101-93441-8 978-1-101-93443-2 e-book 978-1-101-93442-5 PLB A white child in a dress and a bow lectures readers about how to pick the perfect dog. Portraits of different breeds of adorable dogs are the first (and last) things readers encounter in this ode to canines. The story begins as the young narrator tells readers that the family is about to get a dog, and of course, it should be perfect. Thus begins a pattern—“The perfect dog should be big... / bigger... // biggest! / Maybe not this big”—that continues throughout the book, substituting different adjectives and dog breeds to illustrate them: in this case, a chow chow, a German shepherd, a Saint Bernard, and a Great Dane, respectively. Use of various typefaces and fonts will help readers grasp the meanings of the adjectives and adds dramatic flair. Along with the varying dog breeds, the changes in adjectives are accompanied by changes in the narrator’s outfits. Playful chaos ensues in many spreads, adding humor to the general charm of the pooches. A page turn between the three escalating adjectives and the follow-up “maybe not” sentence would have added playful anticipation, but the pacing still generally works. By limiting backgrounds to two colors, O’Malley keeps the focus on the characters—and boy, are they full of character. The dogs are the true stars of this book, each with an immediately evident personality, though they’re all lovable. Sweetly, the perfect dog turns out to be the one who chooses the narrator. While this book doesn’t do anything new, it’s a shoo-in for lovers of dogs and humor: funny and charming. (Picture book. 3-6)

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THE LOST CIPHER

Oechsle, Michael Whitman (272 pp.) $14.99 | May 1, 2016 978-0-8075-8063-9

After being sent to a mountain camp for grieving teens, impoverished Lucas learns of a multimillion-dollar treasure that may be buried nearby and can be found only by breaking a difficult cipher. With his father recently killed in Afghanistan, his grandparents have decided to sell their beloved West Virginia mountain to strip miners. This tragedy, on top of the recent loss of his only parent, is almost unbearable for Lucas. At camp, the white country boy befriends cabin mates George, white, overweight, exuberant, and absolutely refusing to be bullied, and Salvadoran-American Alex, who is grieving for his dead mother. He also makes an immediate, persistent enemy of angry, even vicious, white rich-kid–stereotype Zack. On an overnight hike, the threesome spots a cave and sneaks off to look for treasure, then—as a consequence of Zack’s scheming—get lost in the wilderness. After Alex is injured, Lucas hikes down the mountain and enlists the reluctant aid of a surly recluse, Mr. Creech, who turns out to have just the clue needed to solve the mysterious cipher. Action-driven and with character development lagging, this fast-paced tale is based on a real, partially solved 19th-century cipher that could lead to actual treasure, adding a nifty element. Plucky kids, the spice of danger, the lure of treasure, and an ever-so-happy (if remarkably improbable) conclusion all combine to make this an enjoyable if undemanding read. (Mystery. 10-14)

THE SCREAMING STATUE

Oliver, Lauren & Chester, H.C. Illus. by Lacombe, Benjamin Harper/HarperCollins (368 pp.) $16.99 | $9.99 e-book | May 3, 2016 978-0-06-227084-9 978-0-06-227086-3 e-book Series: Curiosity House, 2 Sam, Thomas, Max, and Pippa are in danger of losing the only home they’ve ever known, in Depression-era New

York City. Their strange, unusual skills are valued at Dumfrey’s Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities, and Wonders, but the museum is struggling to survive. Several displays have been destroyed, and there is dissention that leads many of the inhabitants to jump ship amid mysterious accidents. When a beloved friend and supporter is murdered, the children are determined to find answers. They employed their skills in series opener The Shrunken Head (2015), but the stakes are even higher now. There are more murders, museum mayhem, skulduggery, kidnappings, 114

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and danger at every turn. All the while the four young heroes are concerned that their evil archenemy, Rattigan, is behind it all. A large cast of mostly one-dimensional, mostly white characters moves in and out of the tale, providing clues and hints as well as many red herrings in what turns out to be a distracting subplot. Oliver and Chester keep a somewhat tighter rein this time, allowing some insight into the children’s emotions and growing pains and providing one new character, newsboy Chubby, with a bit of substance. When all seems to be resolved, a very unlikely twist allows for yet another series entry. Strained and derivative, without sufficient depth to compensate. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

NEVER MISSING, NEVER FOUND

Panitch, Amanda Random House (320 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | $20.99 PLB Jun. 28, 2016 978-0-553-50764-5 978-0-553-50765-2 e-book 978-0-553-50766-9 PLB An abduction survivor encounters a girl who reminds her eerily of her five

years as a prisoner. Scarlett was swiped from the side of the road by a stranger when she was 8 years old and became the housecleaner in a brothel. There, she was beaten and cowed (but not prostituted) by a vaguely Eastern European woman, her only ally a fellow enslaved girl named Pixie. It’s been four years since she came home to her family—without Pixie. Now she’s got a summer job at a superhero-themed amusement park in New Jersey (Five Banners Adventure World, featuring such superheroes as Skywoman and Wonderman, cognates so thinly veiled as to be constantly conspicuous). Scarlett has friends for the first time since her escape, especially an attractive white boy with an inconvenient girlfriend. Most of her co-workers are cool, but who is the mysterious Katharina? She’s friendly enough, but is Katharina, dark-haired and olive-skinned like Latina Scarlett, truly a friend? With her similar coloring and familiar sayings, Katharina reminds Scarlett of nobody more than long-lost Pixie. With flashbacks that slowly reveal the terrible secret of Scarlett’s escape and Pixie’s fate, this psychological thriller evokes wellpaced fear. Although it participates in many of the tropes and clichés of kidnapped-kid stories, it also overturns certain narrative expectations, making for a pleasantly bumpy ride. A few unexpected twists and turns hold the contrivance all together for a pleasurably disturbing climax. (Thriller. 12-16)

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Peacock’s wonderfully paced, poetic text evidences strong understanding of the power of the page turn and how it can masterfully scaffold the storyline. the artist and me

PRINCESS JUNIPER OF THE ANJU

Paquette, Ammi-Joan Philomel (272 pp.) $16.99 | May 24, 2016 978-0-399-17152-9

A child queen seeks to extend her rule. Juniper was merely the princess of Torr until she requested and received a (temporary) country for her 13th birthday (Princess Juniper of the Hourglass, 2015). She and her subjects (a handful of kids) have worked for the past three weeks making Queen’s Basin an idyllic settlement. Now, tracking down horse thieves, Juniper comes face to face with the Anju, a tribe that was her late mother’s family, community, and culture. This “reclusive mountain tribe” has just lost its “chieftain,” and because Juniper’s a blood relation, she’s eligible to enter their competitive trials to become their new chieftain. The series’ central premise of Juniper-as-ruler—which in Hourglass reads harmlessly, charmingly like children’s playacting—goes too far here. While neither culture is specified as dark-skinned (and the cover illustration represents Juniper as white), Paquette’s indigenous coding of the Anju gives Juniper’s desire to rule them—and her success at winning that rule—a whiff of settler colonialism. Although Juniper’s half-Anju by blood, she’s an outsider by experience, and she plans to overrule Anju values by using this explicitly “peaceful tribe” as an “army” of “warriors” to oust Torr’s conquerors. In the end, Juniper decides not to keep the chieftaincy she wins, so even the Anju’s right to selfrule is Juniper’s decision. A story with old-fashioned flavor, not always in good ways. (Fantasy. 8-11)

IF YOU EVER WANT TO BRING A PIANO TO THE BEACH, DON’T!

Parsley, Elise Illus. by the author Little, Brown (40 pp.) $16.99 | May 3, 2016 978-0-316-37659-4

The voice of experience (about alligators at school) this time deals with her inability to leave her beloved piano at home while visiting the beach. Using her gift of hindsight, Magnolia clarifies for readers that “if your mom says to get ready to play at the beach, she means with a boat, or a Frisbee, or a shovel. / She is not talking about the piano.” Nonetheless, her mom doesn’t forbid it; she just tells her not to lose it. Once the piano is at the beach (a feat in and of itself) and it’s been tested to make sure it still works, Magnolia’s account quickly become reminiscent of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, one thing leading to another. Her lunch break |

attracts some gulls, the gulls poop, and therefore it’s time for a bath. (!) And the scallop shell she comes home with? It makes a great boat, a solid Frisbee, and a nifty shovel, but it ain’t a piano. Magnolia’s voice is wonderfully childlike, describing how “your legs will get draggy” while pushing the piano to the beach, but her facial expressions top all, perfectly capturing both her exuberance and her mood swings. In the digital illustrations, Magnolia could be Asian (or maybe Latina); her mother and little brother are white, and she has a black baby sister. A delightful demonstration of just one of many things not to take to the beach; the brainstorming possibilities are endless. (Picture book. 4-8)

THE ARTIST AND ME

Peacock, Shane Illus. by Casson, Sophie Owlkids Books (40 pp.) $16.95 | Apr. 15, 2016 978-1-77147-138-1

A low-key yet powerful picture-book evocation of the final days of an eccentric artist who was both a victim of his own demons and the target of village bullies. The outcast artist is Vincent Van Gogh. The thoughtful, unnamed narrator of this impressive first-person fictive confessional is an older man who was one of the boys who brutalized Vincent: “In the beautiful countryside in Southern France near the town of Arles long ago, I used to do an ugly thing. / I tormented someone.” In a way that’s neither ham-fisted nor didactic, the young boy’s inchoate fear of the Other in the person of the artist is balanced by his late-in-life regret and guilt. Peacock’s wonderfully paced, poetic text evidences strong understanding of the power of the page turn and how it can masterfully scaffold the storyline. Inclusive backmatter reinforces the impression that Peacock drew on solid scholarship, including Stephen Naifeh and Gregory White Smith’s well-received Van Gogh: The Life. The text is balanced with Casson’s sensitive, handdrawn images augmented with fluent Photoshop-layered colors (intended to evoke the silk-screen technique so admired in Van Gogh’s time). The spreads are given an additional intimacy via a final overworking with pastel. A brilliant collaboration: simple, resonate, superb. (biographical note, author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

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Cornelison’s illustrations play up the size difference between the two friends as well as Tiny’s reticence versus Penelope’s over-the-top verve. you ’re doing that in the talent show?!

SUMMER DAYS AND SUMMER NIGHTS Twelve Love Stories

Perkins, Stephanie—Ed. St. Martin’s Griffin (400 pp.) $19.99 | $9.99 e-book May 17, 2016 978-1-250-07912-1 978-1-4668-9175-3 e-book

Summer meets love in both fantasy and reality in this anthology featuring renowned writers of both teen and adult fiction. Punk-romance regret reigns in Francesca Lia Block’s richyet-minimalist “Sick Pleasures,” while the pressure of making life-changing choices underlies Libba Bray’s hilarious zombie horror “Last Stand at the Cinegor,” Veronica Roth’s “Inertia,” and editor Perkins’ heart-smart “In Ninety Minutes, Turn North.” In this summer companion to Perkins’ previous winter holiday romance anthology, My True Love Gave to Me (2014), characters are universally deftly drawn, and the language is typically distinct and compelling. Repeated themes include struggling with well-being, witnessing separation or divorce, or being left by one or more parents, as well as the impacts of those experiences on building trust and new relationships. While the collection holds variety in setting and genre, as well as in sexual orientation, the racial and ethnic diversity of characters isn’t as broad as one might hope. Yet this is a star-studded lineup that doesn’t disappoint, wisely capped by Lev Grossman’s brilliant “The Map of Tiny Perfect Things,” in which the protagonists experience time repeating in an endless loop—until it doesn’t. An intelligent beach read with heart, soul, and sizzle. (Short stories. 12-18)

THE LOST SWORD

Pitt, Darrell Text (286 pp.) $7.99 paper | $7.99 e-book May 10, 2016 978-1-925240-18-4 978-1-925095-98-2 e-book Series: Jack Mason Adventure, 5 Intrepid teen detectives Jack and Scarlet battle Japanese crime bosses and German Nazis—make that “damned Nazis”—to find a long-lost sword purported to have magic powers. Using as their cover a convention of scientists and world leaders gathering in Tokyo to sign a climate-change accord, the white, British teens join their eccentric employer, Ignatius Doyle, in seeking both the Kusanagi sword and Doyle’s missing scapegrace secret-agent brother, Edgar. In doing so, they become caught in the middle of an escalating conflict between Japanese Darwinists, whose Biomechanics technology is 116

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producing wonders like helicopter-sized dragonflies, and Metalists, who go for machinery—such as, for example, a gigantic, steam-driven dragon that levels parts of the city. In addition, the search is complicated by trench coat–clad Nazis who are also after the fabled sword. Never one to give his characters a moment’s rest, Pitt punctuates the action-heavy plot with sudden assaults, narrow escapes, hails of gunfire, corpses, no fewer than four cryptic parchment maps left atop hidden (sometimes booby-trapped) altars, and repeated rescues by a mysterious female ninja. The author also trots in Albert Einstein, Adolf Hitler, and other historical figures for cameos. In this episode, at least, Jack has more to do than Scarlet, who can deck an attacker at need but is chiefly along to scream, swoon, provide romantic tension, and be rescued from kidnappers. Not much for internal logic but certainly a headlong thrill ride. (Steampunk. 11-14)

YOU’RE DOING THAT IN THE TALENT SHOW?! Plourde, Lynn Illus. by Cornelison, Sue Disney-Hyperion (32 pp.) $16.99 | May 3, 2016 978-1-4847-1491-1

Exuberant Penelope and shy and retiring Tiny, the most oddball of friends, are back, this time trying to decide what they can do together in the school talent show. Fittingly, the book opens with Penelope letting out a loud “YIPPEE” in her excitement over the news and Tiny shushing her: “You’re making a scene.” Though Tiny has learned his lesson to let Penelope be her own hippo, the uptight mouse is still not comfortable being a part of what he sees as her extravagant ideas for a best-friends talent-show act: dance (ballet? Hula? Hip-hop?), a skit (“Rapunzel”? “Jack and the Beanstalk”? “Little Red Riding Hood”?), a circus act (trapeze? Clowns? Lion tamer?). But his idea—the chorus—just isn’t spectacular enough for Penelope. In the end, Tiny suggests that the two be in the show, just in different acts, and they can clap for each other. And when Penelope’s “ballet-Rapunzel-trapeze act” goes awry, her best friend is there to rescue her as if it were part of the act all along. Cornelison’s illustrations play up the size difference between the two friends as well as Tiny’s reticence versus Penelope’s over-the-top verve. Tiny’s thought bubbles are hysterical as he imagines lifting the hippo in a pas de deux or having her try to be the center of attention in the chorus. Best friends don’t have to do everything together, but they are there for one another, and Tiny and Penelope exemplify that. (Picture book. 4-8)

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THE FALL OF BUTTERFLIES

Portes, Andrea HarperTeen (400 pp.) $17.99 | $9.99 e-book | May 10, 2016 978-0-06-231367-6 978-0-06-231369-0 e-book See the girl on the train, the white one “with the frizzy red hair and funny mouth”? That’s 16-year-old Willa Parker. Willa has a simple two-point plan: move to the East Coast...and kill herself. Willa leaves her hometown of What Cheer, Iowa (you heard that right), to attend The Pembroke School and (presumably) go on to Princeton, because her wealthy economist mother (who divorced Willa’s father and left them with nothing) says she “should.” Willa’s plan is derailed when she meets the ultraprivileged, uber-hip Remy Taft (yes, related to the president), the oddly friendless queen of Pembroke. The girls develop a close friendship, complete with witty-cute banter, a late-night joy ride on a stolen golf cart, and frequent Ecstasy trips. As Remy pushes Willa out of her comfort zone, Willa forgets her suicide plan, but it soon becomes apparent self-absorbed Remy has several secrets of her own. As Willa tries to save her best friend from destroying herself, she’s also figuring out whether or not she’s neighboring Witherspoon Prep hottie Milo Hesse’s girlfriend. Surrounded by wealth, Willa often questions the unfairness of privilege; her scholarship status and Midwest origins often make her feel inferior and out of place. Her firstperson narration is self-deprecating, deeply thoughtful, and thoroughly funny, with a sometimes-chiding direct address that pulls readers into her confidence. Snarky and painfully astute. But in a good way. (Fiction. 15-18)

THIS IS MY DOLLHOUSE

Potter, Giselle Illus. by the author Schwartz & Wade/Random (40 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | $20.99 PLB May 10, 2016 978-0-553-52153-5 978-0-553-52155-9 e-book 978-0-553-52154-2 PLB Readers will feel right at home with this cozy tribute to imagination. In pitch-perfect, first-person narration, a young girl introduces readers to her beloved dollhouse, made from a cardboard box and decorated with crafted odds and ends. The toy family living there is made up of dolls and stuffed animals, including a mother doll and twin girl dolls, Grandma Mousey, and a stuffed bear Daddy. She delights in making props for them and tucks them in to sleep in one big bed. On a play date, she discovers that her friend Sophie has a pristine, fully accessorized dollhouse |

with a matching doll family. (All the human characters, both girls and dolls, are white.) Sophie rejects ideas for crafting decorations or adding characters to their pretend play, so once the family is settled into four tidy beds, the bored girls go outside to play. When Sophie comes to play at her house, the narrator is nervous that her friend will look down on her homemade dollhouse, so she hides it—but Sophie discovers it and is enchanted. The girls make many things to embellish the house and delight in pretend play. The childlike voice in Potter’s text is matched by her downright charming watercolor-and-ink illustrations, which invite close inspection and might inspire readers in their own dollhouse craft—particularly if they can access the inside of the jacket, which provides dollhouse-making instructions. A dollhouse for everyone. (Picture book. 4-8)

KEEP ME IN MIND

Reed, Jaime Point/Scholastic (336 pp.) $17.99 | $17.99 e-book | Apr. 26, 2016 978-0-545-88381-8 978-0-545-88383-2 e-book Ellia Renée Dawson cannot believe she is a junior in high school. Yesterday she was a freshman, because that’s all she can remember. Ellia and her athletic, brooding boyfriend, Liam McPherson, were the star odd couple at Léon High School until a traumatic fall snatched away any memory of the past two years of her life. In alternating first-person chapters, the black girl struggles to regain her sense of self while the white boy impatiently waits for his girlfriend to reappear. Ellia’s childhood best friend, Stacey Levine, and Liam’s scandalously young uncle, Wade McPherson, help them confront old ghosts and their strange new reality. Reed delivers solid high school romance with a twist. It is refreshing to see two characters that are both realistic and stray from the starry-eyed, misunderstood-WASP-youth trope. Apart from diverse backgrounds, this interracial relationship is devoid of the usual pitfalls. Ellia and Liam acknowledge each other’s differences, including skin tone, and deal with them; their relationship is not a colorblind fantasy. Reed injects immediacy and high-stakes emotions while sidestepping the usual angst-y histrionics teenage characters are subject to. The maturation of each character marches in time with the plot as each unexpected discovery challenges their convictions. Examining the power of memory and shifting the perceptions of teenage love, this novel delivers a powerful journey of self-discovery and rebirth. (Romance. 12-16)

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THE LAST FULL MEASURE

Reedy, Trent Levine/Scholastic (464 pp.) $17.99 | $17.99 e-book | Apr. 26, 2016 978-0-545-54877-9 978-0-545-54879-3 e-book Series: Divided We Fall Trilogy, 3 The Divided We Fall Trilogy series concludes with the United States on the brink of destruction. In Volume 1, 17-year-old Pfc. Daniel Wright accidentally fired a shot that led to armed conflict between the federal government and the conservative state government of Idaho. In Volume 2, the conflict became a civil war. Now, the state of Idaho has morphed into the Republic of Idaho, and the United States has split into several independent countries. Danny Wright feels responsible: “I sparked the Battle of Boise that ignited this whole war.” When stolen nuclear warheads are detonated and destroy Washington, D.C., and New York City, the United States as Danny knows it has ended, and the rest of the planet begins to fall apart. Israel threatens the use of nuclear weapons in its conflict, and the forces of the reconstituted Soviet Union are marching across Europe, occupying German cities and threatening Great Britain. It’s a projection into the not-too-distant future (the 2020s) of the current divisive nature of politics, the nullification crisis of the 19th century, and the legacies of two world wars that seems all too real...and all too scary. Reedy makes good use of political maps, italicized news reports, and lists of death totals to provide political context for his bleak look at a possible future. An action-packed tale of a future readers will hope never happens. (Thriller. 14 & up)

RAILHEAD

Reeve, Philip Switch/Capstone (352 pp.) $16.95 | $9.95 e-book | Apr. 1, 2016 978-1-63079-048-6 978-1-63079-049-3 e-book Starlight Express meets Trainspotting—as run through Reeve’s fertile imagination. Imagine: a world where solar systems are connected by mysterious train tracks. Onboard, you can rocket light-years in an instant, planet to planet, although some are mined-out wastelands and all are controlled by corporate families now that the Guardians—godlike Old Earth artificial intelligence—stay in the Datasea. Petty thief Zen Starling doesn’t think much of Guardians or corporate families; he does what he needs to to support his family. But when Raven, a strange pale man in a world where shades of brown are the norm for humanity, recruits him, Zen (with Motorik companion Nova, upgraded into an individual) finds himself impersonating a member of the Emperor’s family, stealing an 118

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ancient treasure, and possibly inciting world war. Reeve’s writing never flags, with moments of pathos and magic seamlessly interwoven. Dozens of characters collide—the sentient trains; the Motorik; the Emperor’s daughter Threnody and her boring but stalwart betrothed; Hive Monks; the Railforce agent who has tracked Raven across lifetimes—each one nearly as fascinating as the world Reeve has created (don’t miss the glossary at the end). As he did with the Mortal Engines series, Reeve has crafted something at once weirdly familiar and marvelously original. Thank the stars there’s at least one sequel planned already. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

PERFECT LIARS

Reid, Kimberly Tu Books (336 pp.) $19.95 | May 15, 2016 978-1-62014-273-8 Crime, intrigue, and deceit abound in this novel about a biracial teen embracing her criminal instincts in order to thwart a treacherous plot. High school junior Andrea Faraday seems to have it all: money, privilege, top grades at an exclusive prep school, and an unwavering can-do attitude. But things are almost never as they seem with Drea. Her facade of perfection is just one of many covers hiding her family’s secrets, but when her grifter parents disappear in the aftermath of a scandalous heist, Drea’s world unravels, and her true self begins to surface. When she goes so far as to break into the school to change a grade, her rookie-cop brother volunteers Drea to tutor juvie kids to show her that crime doesn’t pay. However, Drea finds herself drawn to the teen cons, particularly Xavier, the enigmatic and handsome Asian thief with whom she has more than she cares to admit in common, including a powerful enemy—one the teens will need all their criminal skills to defeat. Reid (Guys, Lies, and Alibis, 2014, etc.) presents an introspective, morally complex protagonist in Drea as well as an effortlessly diverse supporting cast. The characters establish an effective, if hasty, alliance that readers can’t help but root for as the author demonstrates her continued command of the mystery plot. Gripping, suspenseful, and refreshingly diverse. (Thriller. 12-17)

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Through Greg, the author shines a light on the many ways society fails those with mental illness, and readers are held captive in Greg’s psyche hoping for someone, anyone to notice that this boy needs a second look. alice and the fly

INCRIMINATED

Reyes, M.G. Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins (384 pp.) $17.99 | $9.99 e-book | May 24, 2016 978-0-06-228898-1 978-0-06-228900-1 e-book Series: Emancipated, 2 Six legally emancipated, culturally and racially diverse teens share a luxury house in Venice Beach, but the oncetightknit group is drifting apart, and their only hope for coming together is breaking through the multiple lies, coverups, and conspiracies twisting through their lives. In this sequel to Emancipated (2015), Reyes presents a slew of characters with a thickly woven fabric of stories to keep straight, and each of these characters has at least some element of a horrific past. While there’s enough story here for at least two books, Reyes is compact but artful with her writing, particularly with the dialogue, which naturally captures slang and diction from different cultures and manages not to seem forced or expository even when dealing with scenarios that may seem more befitting a vintage crime series than a modern teen novel. It’s sometimes confusing, sometimes difficult, with a tangle of plot threads that even includes one literal cliffhanger and a daring escape from quicksand, but it’s ultimately rewarding for its simply told complicated story. And though its tone and pace would be right at home with crime classics, the novel offers a more colorful world than can be found in most of those old books, drawing from the author’s knowledge of Mexico City, Manchester, England, and Los Angeles, and reflecting different nationalities, cultures, and different races within them, each with inherent humanity, and largely unburdened by tokenism. The juxtaposition of rounded characters with outrageous situations gives readers just enough of a base to stand on before the story runs off with them. (Thriller. 14-18)

HEARTLESS

Rhyne, Leah Polis Books (320 pp.) $18.95 | May 10, 2016 978-1-940610-87-0 A reanimated girl seeks answers. After a fight with her boyfriend, Jolene storms off into a blizzard at night. The next thing the white 19-year-old remembers is waking up in some sort of a morgue, unable to talk, no longer needing to breathe, and oozing stink. Those behind this, who have abducted and experimented on more girls than just Jolene, are luckily so laughably bad at security that she is able to walk out and simply run back to her college campus. She turns to her best friend, an ambassador’s daughter, for help, and the two decide to try to fix things on their own and |

tell only Jolene’s boyfriend. Early gross-out humor, jokes about Jolene’s rank stench, and the kind of inappropriate puns and jokes that emerge as a defense mechanism slowly evaporate into a never-ending stream of reminders that Jolene stinks. With the comedy and camp drained away, what’s left is a thriller rendered tensionless by inexplicably unintelligent characters, heroes and villains both, and baffling plot holes. Readers will be frustrated in particular by watching the heroes struggle to detect obvious villains. By the end of the book, both plot and conspiracy reach peak ludicrousness. There are late-occurring attempts to recapture the early camp, but by then most readers will likely have stopped caring—and they probably won’t care about the sequelbait ending either. Not so-bad-it’s-good bad—just bad. (Horror. 12 & up)

ALICE AND THE FLY

Rice, James Quercus (304 pp.) $16.99 | $16.99 e-book | May 3, 2016 978-1-68144-528-1 978-1-68144-528-1 e-book A schizophrenic English youth is destined for tragedy. Greg is a dysfunctional, shy, white teen with a severe lisp and a dark, muddled past. In an effort to make a connection, his English teacher asks him to write everything down in a journal. Rice’s debut novel is made up of that journal’s pages interspersed with police reports and interviews between officers and Greg’s acquaintances. As Greg pines for a girl he barely knows and rants about Them, spiderlike creatures that only he can see, readers will quickly realize that Greg is schizophrenic and in dire need of help. Through Greg, the author shines a light on the many ways society fails those with mental illness, and readers are held captive in Greg’s psyche hoping for someone, anyone to notice that this boy needs a second look. The interspersed police reports provide readers with their only glimpse of the world outside of Greg’s point of view, and the tragic tone these interviews take does little to give readers hope. These interviews muck up the book’s pacing a bit. Greg’s story is quickly revealed to end in violent tragedy, and after 200 or so pages of Greg’s brooding, many readers will be impatient. Supporting characters are poorly drawn, most given just one or two defining characteristics, and the police interviews don’t flesh them out. A flawed novel examining a worthy subject. (Fiction. 14-18)

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THE STONE THROWER

Richardson, Jael Ealey Illus. by James, Matt Groundwood (32 pp.) $18.95 | May 1, 2016 978-1-55498-752-8

An African-American football player is denied an American football career. Born in a segregated town in Ohio in 1950, Chuck Ealey, African-American, grew up to be a great football quarterback in Canada. His childhood was one of poverty and hunger, but Chuck found a pastime—throwing rocks at passing freight trains. His aim became so good that the school coach named him quarterback, a position that did not please his white opponents. Ealey’s daughter, who previously wrote an adult biography of Ealey also called The Stone Thrower (2012), here pens an inspirational story about her father. Unfortunately, though the author does not shy away from the hardships of Ealey’s youth, it is only in her brief afterword that readers learn that American football teams did not want an AfricanAmerican in the glamorous position of quarterback, often considered the team’s leadership spot. Ealey, despite stellar high school and college records, had to play in Canada. With sports biographies so focused on baseball players of color, it is a good thing to have a title about a football player, but it’s too bad the information about his career after college is not in the story itself. James’ pen, ink, and acrylic art on Masonite is richly saturated in color and captures each vignette in a lively fashion. An inspiring though incomplete story of adversity and discrimination. (Picture book/biography. 6-8)

TONE DEAF

Rivers, Olivia Sky Pony Press (256 pp.) $17.99 | May 3, 2016 978-1-63450-707-3 An abused, totally deaf teen runs away with a rock band. There’s just four months until her 18th birthday; can she make it? Ali had been a classical musician, a child prodigy who performed at Carnegie Hall, until the white girl lost both her hearing and her mother in one fell swoop. It’s been seven years since her world ended and she came to live with her alcoholic, physically abusive father. All she wants is to escape and go to Gallaudet, where she can actually join a Deaf community and meet others with hearing loss, but her dad is violently opposed. She wins the chance to meet her bestie’s biggest crush, Jace Beckett, “total jerk” rocker, and is underwhelmed despite her physical attraction to the attractive, ripped, white 19-year-old. Jace’s poor crumpled heart grows three sizes when Ali evokes memories of his own abusive upbringing as the child of mentally ill addicts. 120

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Perhaps, though he’s “broken,” Ali will be able to “fix him.” Jace and Ali share the narration in first-person, present-tense chapters. Neither the presentation of deafness nor of abuse is entirely convincing, and the ending is too tidy for belief. Ali’s ASL is phenomenal for someone who’s only ever signed with hearing tutors and one hearing friend, while her lip reading is near magical. The plot begs connection to Antony John’s richer Five Flavors of Dumb (2010); though Ali and Jace are likable, readers interested in Deafness and rock-’n’-roll are better served by the earlier book. (Fiction. 11-14)

SUMMER IN THE INVISIBLE CITY

Romano, Juliana Dial (320 pp.) $17.99 | Jun. 21, 2016 978-0-525-42917-3

The sights, sounds, and smells of New York are the backdrop for lessons learned. Sadie has a busy summer planned: she’s taking a photography class, she’s spending time with her best friend, Willa, and she’s looking forward to a visit from her father. She’s never had much of a relationship with the famous artist, but he did give her the camera that awoke her love of photography. And there’s Sam: a cute guy who just wants to be friends with Sadie. Since she’s still getting over Noah, the guy who took her virginity a year and a half ago, Sadie’s OK with being friends...at first. But then things start to go south. Sadie fights with Willa, her father mocks Sadie’s dream of going to art school—and Sam drops a bombshell: he’s moving away from New York. Sadie doesn’t know whom to turn to, and then Noah appears, suddenly interested in her again. Has Sadie learned from her past, or will she do something that will harm her future? The vivid descriptions of a New York City summer lose their luster when readers realize it’s an almost allwhite New York, with only a minor character and a shopkeeper identified as people of color. It’s disappointing that this otherwise-engaging story of a young woman growing up is so poorly reflective of reality. Skip. (Fiction. 14-18)

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Russo has written a story that many trans teens—and adults—have been wanting: a sweet, believable romance that stokes the fires of hope without devolving into saccharine perfection or horrific tragedy. if i was your girl

IF I WAS YOUR GIRL

Russo, Meredith Flatiron Books (272 pp.) $17.99 | $9.99 e-book | May 3, 2016 978-1-250-07840-7 978-1-250-07842-1 e-book After surviving a brutal attack, Amanda starts school in a new town. She plans to stay focused and get through senior year, but kind, attractive Grant causes a distraction that wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for

her deepest secret. Russo has written a story that many trans teens—and adults—have been wanting: a sweet, believable romance that stokes the fires of hope without devolving into saccharine perfection or horrific tragedy. There is friction, from fear born of the violence Amanda has experienced, from dangers to girls that most boys don’t feel, but Russo hasn’t written yet another horror story that readers must endure along with its protagonist. There’s confusion, levity, awkwardness, like any teen’s story. There is friction from within Amanda. As her friend and transmother, or mentor, Virginia, says, she’s “won the genetic lottery when it comes to passing.” When they’re deciding how to spend an evening, Amanda notes that Virginia’s jaw is a little too strong, shoulders a little too wide to keep them both safe from detection. This is just one of many conflicting, confusing truths that help reflect some trans people’s fear of violence and hostility in this moment in time—including the ones rightly called out when coming from others—such as the expectation of a perfect physical reflection of one’s truest gender. Above all, this is a necessary, universal story about feeling different and enduring prejudices, and it’s full of love, hope, engaging writing, and truth. (Fiction. 13 & up)

THIS IS NOT A PICTURE BOOK

Ruzzier, Sergio Illus. by the author Chronicle (40 pp.) $16.99 | May 3, 2016 978-1-4521-2907-5

A metafictive delight of a picture book. Alice would be pleased: despite Ruzzier’s title, there are plenty of pictures and ample conversation in this picture book. The titular book within the book, however, is illustration-free. This initially causes distress for the duckling protagonist (who oddly has a bellybutton, but that’s beside the point) who finds the book in the spreads before the title page. When a bug appears and asks, “Can you read it?” the duckling gives it a try. In a brilliant feat of page layout, the recto depicts a green landscape encroaching on the verso, with a log laid across a chasm as a bridge to the white space on which the duckling and bug stand. Their walk across the log is a visual metaphor for the duckling’s |

successful decoding of the text in its pictureless book. Whole worlds open up to them as the duckling reads aloud. Illustrations depict these worlds evoked by “wild words... / and peaceful words,” and the duckling ultimately declares that “All these words carry you away.” The satisfying conclusion is an affirmation of the transformative power of reading. In one outstanding design touch, the front endpapers tell the not-a-picture-book text in garbled type with transposed letters that one must strain to decode, while the text is clear in its entirety on the back ones. This is a (great) picture book! (Picture book. 4-8)

THE SLEEPING PRINCE

Salisbury, Melinda Scholastic (336 pp.) $17.99 | $17.99 e-book | May 31, 2016 978-0-545-92127-5 978-0-545-92132-9 e-book Series: Sin Eater’s Daughter, 2 A sensible young woman runs afoul of fairy-tale figures in this high-fantasy sequel set in a typical, white, medievalish kingdom. For four months, Errin Vastel has struggled to live in the rough-and-tumble town of Almwyk, dodging the attentions of an unctuous official, supplying the mysterious Silas with potions and poisons, and keeping her mother locked up and drugged. With her father dead and brother, Lief, missing, Errin longs for her former life as an apothecary’s apprentice in Tremayne but attempts to care for her mother, first mad with grief, now possibly morphing into a monster. Haunted by erotic, enigmatic dreams, Errin looks for companionship from Silas, but the always-hooded smuggler has his own agenda. Even fairy tales cannot comfort her, for the mythical Sleeping Prince—a man or god or alchemist whose origins are repeatedly but never definitively explained—has woken, killing King Merek, razing religious houses, and sending forth his army of golems and traitorous men. When Errin blackmails Silas into helping her escape, she instead falls deeper into a plot involving the Sleeping Prince, a religious fugitive, and a long-hidden colony of alchemists. In this second volume in the trilogy that began with The Sin Eater’s Daughter (2015), Salisbury delivers another complex protagonist, torn between science and magic and intent on survival but often overwhelmed with grief and guilt. Readers will be grateful for the map that helps them locate the many fantasy places that pepper the book. A tale of monsters—mortal and mythical—that intersects with the previous installment but offers no happily-ever-after conclusion. (Fantasy. 14-18)

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AS TIME WENT BY

illustrations portray Moose as a big-eyed, rather bumbling goof (in a wildly patterned and colorful sweater) next to his more delicate (and hapless in the case of Porcupine) friends, setting up the story nicely. A lesson in sharing that goes down as easily as, well, cake. (Picture book. 4-8)

Sanabria, José Illus. by the author NorthSouth (48 pp.) $18.95 | May 1, 2016 978-0-7358-4248-9

South American artist Sanabria offers a picture book about a ship and so much more. The story is broken up into three parts. In the first, watercolor-and-ink illustrations that evoke Maira Kalman’s style invite close inspection of a luxury liner “with very important people on board.” The deck of the ship dominates the opening double-page spread, and people in fancy clothes mill about. But a page turn reveals that “as time went by, the ship was sold to a merchant,” and its days of luxury are gone when it finally ends up “abandoned.” The second section depicts a similar downward spiral in the life of a wealthy family that loses its material wealth and ends up living in a village with other poor people until a powerful man tells them all to leave. In Part 3, the displaced people find the abandoned ship, and “with the help of a man who had loved the sea since he was a boy and knew a lot,” they fix it up so it can sail again and provide a new home for all. The careful, elegiac text uses the phrase “as time went by” as a leitmotif; though it may seem to imply inevitability, it also allows for intentional change. Careful readers will note that this man was depicted as a boy with a toy ship on the title page, and he appears in the first two parts of the picture book, as well. A lovely, rich book to spend time with. (Picture book. 4-8)

I LOVE CAKE! Starring Rabbit, Porcupine, and Moose

Sauer, Tammi Illus. by Rozelaar, Angie Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins (40 pp.) $17.99 | May 3, 2016 978-0-06-227894-4 A pig of a moose learns how to make it up to his friends when he missteps. Rabbit, Porcupine, and Moose are best friends who love to play together. Rabbit is good at being the boss, Porcupine is good at having fun, and Moose is just Moose (readers will quickly see that he’s a little sassy). On Rabbit’s birthday, all three are excited at the prospect of a party. But when Moose smells the cake baking, he follows his nose away from the festivities and into trouble with his friends. He denies it when they accuse him of eating all the cake, but a burp gives him away. He then tries to make light of what he’s done, but Rabbit (who’s “hopping mad”) and Porcupine (who’s getting “prickly”) won’t have it. Moose is left alone trying to figure out a way to make it up to them. His solution will not surprise readers, but it does surprise his friends, who at first have a hard time forgiving. And Moose seems to have learned his lesson: “I love cake! But... / I love sharing it with friends even more.” Rozelaar’s digital 122

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BOOK OF DRAGONS

Saxton, Patricia Illus. by the author Shenanigan (36 pp.) $14.95 | Jun. 1, 2016 978-1-934860-18-2

Scaly monsters preen, glower fiercely, and soar grandly in this introduction to dragon kind and care. Saxton (Book of Mermaids, 2005; Book of Fairies, 2009) mixes elaborately worked painted images with doses of dragon lore but not enough of either to provide more than momentary diversion. A promising opening scenario featuring a crusty old dragon hunter is abruptly abandoned. Following that comes a tally of dragon types by habitat (“Caelum Dragons” on mountains, “Terras Dragons” on sea cliffs, etc.) and then increasingly scanty notes on how dragons are recognized, slain, tamed, and used for medicinal purposes. (It’s no wonder they “went into hiding” some centuries ago.) Only fitfully are these factoids linked to the illustrations, which are not only placed more or less arbitrarily throughout, but tend to show dragon heads, claws, or other details rather than full-body views. Photographed or photorealistically rendered herbs, jars, and scraps of paper with notes or sketches serve as filler. Aside from a perfunctory section on “Dragon Whisperers” and some momentarily arresting visuals, there is little here to draw dragon lovers out of their lairs. Though flashy at first glance, barely a glimmer next to Dugald Steer’s Dragonology (2003) or Graeme Base’s Discovery of Dragons (1996). (Informational fantasy. 10-12)

WHERE DO STEAM TRAINS SLEEP AT NIGHT?

Sayres, Brianna Caplan Illus. by Slade, Christian Random House (32 pp.) $16.99 | $10.99 e-book | $19.99 PLB May 24, 2016 978-0-553-52098-9 978-0-553-52099-6 e-book 978-0-375-97471-7 PLB Sayres and Slade move naturally from their truck lullaby, Where Do Diggers Sleep at Night? (2012), to this nighttime serenade to all things train. In gentle scenes that reflect the colors of the setting sun or are lightened by the stars and moon under a dusky-blue sky, anthropomorphized trains prepare to bed down for the night.

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The rhyming, fast-paced text is packed with one-liners. hensel and gretel

“Where do snowplow trains sleep / after all the tracks are clear? / Do their moms say, ‘Plow your toys, kids— / bedtime’s almost here’?” The rhyming verse and illustration pair to make clear to readers the job of each train: the monorail’s heavy-lidded eyes look toward the airport it services, and the subway rests under a brightly lit and busy city street reminiscent of Times Square. Trains include steam, passenger, freight, fire, high-speed, and breakdown trains as well as trolleys, and the ending suitably places most around a roundhouse under their blanket of stars... before a turn of the page reveals a boy and a girl asleep in their twin beds, their toy trains and tracks laid out in an otherwise pristine bedroom. Pair this with Kevin Lewis’ Chugga-chugga Choo-choo, illustrated by Daniel Kirk (1999), for more train fun. Thanks to the popularity of Thomas the Tank Engine, hopeful engineers will want to be able to identify the many different types of trains, and their out-of-the-know adults will appreciate this inclusive primer. (Picture book. 3-6)

SPARK

Schindler, Holly HarperTeen (304 pp.) $17.99 | $9.99 e-book | May 17, 2016 978-0-06-222023-3 978-0-06-222025-7 e-book Quin hopes her drama-class senior project can save a local theater and change the course of history. “At Verona High, drama is for the shy.” Quin and her classmates in Advanced Drama are “senior nobodies” who would prefer to blend into the scenery. But their teacher (who happens to be Quin’s mom) wants to use their senior project to save the Avery, a local theater in their small town that was shuttered 70 years ago after a pair of star-crossed lovers, Emma and Nick, died on its stage. Reluctantly, the class begins to work on the project—a production of Anything Goes—with Quin as the director. At the same time, Quin learns that the Avery is somehow beginning to revive itself. She also discovers that her classmates Cass and Dylan are reliving the doomed romance of Emma and Nick. In Quin, Schindler has crafted a quick-witted, white protagonist who draws readers into her search for answers about her family’s past as well as the Avery’s. Scenes set in the past are rich with authentic voices and period detail, and Schindler’s crisp prose flows easily between the past and the present. Even when it seems impossible for the show to go on, Schindler’s imaginative story will have readers rooting for Quin and her classmates to “break a leg.” A tale of love, family, and friendship, tailor-made for readers who believe in the mystery and magic of the theater. (Paranormal thriller. 13-18)

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HENSEL AND GRETEL Ninja Chicks

Schwartz, Corey Rosen & Gomez, Rebecca J. Illus. by Santat, Dan Putnam (40 pp.) $17.99 | May 24, 2016 978-0-399-17626-5 The wolf from the first two of Schwartz and Santat’s ninja fairy tales (The Three Ninja Pigs, 2012, etc.) has finally learned to live peacefully—but the fox has yet to learn that lesson. Author and artist, this time joined by Gomez as co-author, take even greater liberties in this raucous retelling of “Hansel and Gretel.” After a fox steals their mama from the chicken coop, two chicks attend the 3 Pigs Dojo (right across from Wolf Yoga) to learn ninjutsu. When Hensel and Gretel return to the coop after class one day to find their papa gone too, the chicks track the fox’s trail through an ominous wood. The sight of a cornbread cottage distracts Hensel, and she is lured inside by a voice inviting: “My dear, come on in for a bite.” Hensel realizes her mistake when she sees Mama and Papa in crates. The rhyming, fast-paced text is packed with one-liners. Green, gold, and orange tones predominate in Santat’s distinctive artwork, which features big, bold, wide-eyed characters. Horizontal planes turn into dynamic diagonals when Gretel sneaks in and fights the fox, who knows a few moves of her own. That it’s a wok thrown by Mama that brings down the fox gets a bit lost, but that doesn’t diminish the unflappable bravery of the two chicks, who go on to fight birdnappers everywhere. Cheep thrills indeed! (Picture book. 5-8)

BUSY BUSY

Scott, Lucy Illus. by the author Creston (32 pp.) $15.99 | May 10, 2016 978-1-939547-25-5 A day in the life of a busy, busy toddler. Spread by busy spread, Scott provides a first-person overview of a brown-haired, pale-skinned child’s play-filled day. In an unusual move, the book opens with a nighttime scene of the weary, pajama-clad child denying that she is sleepy, and then it moves into a retrospective narration of her day. The colorful, playful, digital illustrations burst with the joy she takes in painting, feeding her many stuffed animals, building with blocks, and so on. The catchy refrain “I had a Busy Busy day!” concludes each double-page spread, but the text ultimately suffers a bit from its adoption of the first person, since some lines seem forced and aimed over the heads of children or else unnecessary. For example, the line “Mommy said she loved the paintings that were on paper but didn’t like the ones on the floor so much” might have been more effective and funnier had it ended with the word “paper,” since the illustration makes plain that there is abundant painting on the

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floor. The illustrations, however, don’t miss a beat in conveying the child’s experience. At book’s end, the nighttime scene that opened the book returns, but this time the child drifts off to sleep, and readers are rewarded with two concluding doublepage spreads revealing her fantastical dreamscapes. Busy, busy, fun, fun! (Picture book. 2-4)

DRAG TEEN

Self, Jeffery PUSH/Scholastic (272 pp.) $17.99 | $17.99 e-book | Apr. 26, 2016 978-0-545-82993-9 978-0-545-82994-6 e-book When the only exit from Floridian monotony is winning a drag contest, beggars can’t be losers. Why would 17-year-old JT Barnett want to live in the moment? His moment is a future assessing pesky love handles, pumping gas, dealing with despondent parents, and being left behind by his best friends in Clearwater, Florida. He wants nothing more after graduation than to go to college and become a writer and drag queen, but with grades as lackluster as a gown sans sequins, his prospects are flatter than a broken stiletto. When his too-goodfor-him, gorgeous boyfriend and best girlfriend convince him to enter a drag contest in NYC (even though he has only performed once with disastrous results), a road trip to Manhattan— and to learning some self-love—is born. JT has no issue with being gay, so this isn’t about the trials of coming out. Instead, it’s a learn-to-love-yourself odyssey in which a diversity of secondary and tertiary characters appears only after they’ve crossed through the Holland Tunnel. On his pilgrimage, self-deprecating JT’s conflicts tend to lead easily to solution (a rich benefactress materializes after a flat tire; one makeup lesson results in a skill no seasoned queens question), making his struggles more a series of mended broken nails than catastrophic ripped couture before curtain call. Even frothy fun needs a deep bass line that isn’t found here. (Fiction. 12-18)

GIRL ABOUT TOWN

Shankman, Adam & Sullivan, Laura L. Atheneum (336 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | May 3, 2016 978-1-4814-4787-4 978-1-4814-4789-8 e-book An over-the-top rags-to-riches story set in 1930s Hollywood. Lucille O’Malley and her family are just barely scraping by on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Her father is debilitated by physical and emotional injuries sustained in World War I, so her mother has abandoned a teaching career to launder 124

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the delicates of wealthy women. In a far fancier neighborhood across town, Freddie van der Waals is regretting his entire lavish life to date: everything looks right and feels wrong, including his glamorous new fiancee, Violet. When Freddie discovers the shrewd villainy that’s powered his father’s business success, he abandons wealth and ease for a life on the road. The same night, Lucille witnesses an alleyway murder and, for her silence, is granted an opportunity to become a film star. In alternating, coincidence-laden third-person chapters, the renamed Lulu Kelly and Freddie embark on opposite journeys—she toward luxury and success, he toward near starvation—and meet in Los Angeles, their fates intertwining when Lulu becomes the chief suspect in a shooting on a set where Freddie is an extra. This pair of highly self-possessed, thinly developed white teenagers falls in love and solves the mystery, against a backdrop of Hollywood intrigue featuring historical figures like gossip doyenne Louella Parsons and early it girl Clara Bow. The contrived plot and one-dimensional, outlandish characters broadly mimic, rather than evoke, the rich 1930s setting. (Historical mystery. 12-15)

THE MINISTRY OF GHOSTS

Shearer, Alex Sky Pony Press (256 pp.) $15.99 | $15.99 e-book | May 3, 2016 978-1-5107-0473-2 978-1-5107-0471-8 e-book The threat of imminent shutdown prompts a small government agency to hire a pair of young independent contractors to capture a ghost in this British import. On the way to a pleasantly tidy ending, Shearer delivers some comical chills and twists, but he takes too long to set them up. Driven by a blustering government cost-cutter’s ultimatum, the four (or five, counting the cat) remaining members of the antique Ministry of Ghosts—originally founded in 1792 to determine whether spirits are bunkum or real—decide a fresh approach is needed. The “help wanted” card they place in the dusty window of their ramshackle building draws two students from the local school: strong-minded Thruppence Coddley, daughter of a fishmonger, and timorous but game classmate Tim Legge, both white. The author salts his tale liberally with subtle clues and oddly quaint characters, and he eventually arrives at some startling (for unobservant readers, at least) revelations. But aside from brief mentions in a prologue, the two young people don’t even show up to get the ghost hunting under way until seven wordy introductory chapters have trundled slowly by, filled with eye-glazing exchanges and daily routines in an office where nothing much has changed in decades. Ghost-story fans won’t be disappointed in the end, if they can slog that far through all the low-wattage civil-service satire. (Fantasy. 10-12)

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Stella’s voice is winsomely matter-of-fact and authentically age-appropriate. scaredy cat

SCAREDY CAT

Sheinmel, Courtney Illus. by Bell, Jennifer A. Sleeping Bear Press (168 pp.) $9.99 | $5.99 paper | May 1, 2016 978-1-58536-919-5 978-1-58536-920-1 paper Series: Stella Batts, 9 Stella Batts, somewhat intrepid thirdgrader, is back for another adventure, and this time she’s worried about bad luck—and ghosts. It should be a fun, thrilling time, because her class won the sleepover-in-the–school-library contest, but first the white girl breaks a mirror, and then her sometimes-friend and occasional nemesis, Joshua, starts to play ghost-related tricks on her in the library—which is just a tiny bit creepy in the nighttime. She sees some frightening yellow eyes and discovers a book by another Stella B. that might be about a ghost. Even competent kids like Stella can get just a bit creeped-out in scary situations. The mother of one of her friends helps Stella cope with the scariness, and mundane but just-mysterious-enough explanations for all the creepiness later emerge to soothe her worries. Stella’s voice is winsomely matter-of-fact and authentically ageappropriate. She deals with minor issues that many readers will immediately recognize. Kind, wise parents and other mostly supportive adults complete the calmly predictable picture of Stella’s middle-class life. Bell’s numerous lightly sketched illustrations depict a class composed of both white and darker-hued children, and the Latino male librarian is a nice touch. Large print and ample white space make for an inviting format for emerging chapter-book readers. As in her other, now-numerous outings, Stella is a likable child; it’s pleasant to spend some time with her. (Fiction. 5-9)

THE HUNT

Shepherd, Megan Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins (368 pp.) $17.99 | $9.99 e-book | May 24, 2016 978-0-06-224308-9 978-0-06-224311-9 e-book Series: Cage, 2 After a failed escape from their enclosure, Cora and her friends fight to find a way out of alien control for good in this sequel to The Cage (2015). Locked in a cell, Cora yearns to know if her friends are safe. Soon Cassian, the Kindred she once trusted, appears with a plan: he’ll train her to face the Gauntlet, a test separating the intelligent species from the lesser. Not only might she be free— so could the rest of humanity. Armed with increasing telekinetic abilities, Cora agrees, but she doesn’t trust Cassian; she’s determined to trick him and the testers via mind control. But as her plan ramps up, so does the danger her friends face: a Kindred |

threatens to take away Nok and Rolf ’s unborn baby, Leon’s indebted to smuggler Bonebreak, and Lucky only has days before he turns 19 and the Kindred dispose of him. Through it all, Cora can’t help but wonder if she can trust Cassian, who claims he loves her—he may be her only hope. Nonstop action and intrigue follow Cora and her friends, making for a compelling, fast read. However, only Cora and Cassian shine; with so many characters, there’s little room to grow attached to anyone else. The intricate world of the extraterrestrials further unfolds, leaving ample room for exploration in the finale. A thrill ride in space with new danger and intrigue around every corner. (Science fiction. 13 & up)

ONE THOUSAND WORDS FOR WAR

Smoot, Madeline & Schultz, Hope Erica—Eds. CBAY (232 pp.) $9.95 paper | $4.99 e-book | May 1, 2016 978-1-933767-51-2 978-1-933767-52-9 e-book Nineteen rising stars answer a challenge to write in a distinctive narrative frame native to East Asian literature, offering visions of alien contact, escape from repression, and exploits in alternate, virtual, and extraterrestrial worlds. The editors begin their collection by loosely defining the four-stage form commonly transliterated as “Kishotenketsu” as storytelling in which conflict is just another element in the authorial toolbox rather than, as in Western conventions, central to plots and themes, inviting readers to see peacemongering as the common thread here. Though folding in violence either implied or explicit, most of the contributors work ingenious twists on this notion. Potential wars with aliens are headed off by new friends of different species who discover that the translation program their diplomat parents are using has been hacked (“In Other Words”) and also when a Pakistani village welcomes a pair of “Unexpected Guests” with tea. A transgender child crosses a personal “Threshold” by fighting off a bully at the boundary between this world and the magical Hidden Lands. Contrary to mythology, there is, it turns out, an afterlife “Beyond the Promised Land” for dead Viking heroes who weary of slaughtering one another over and over again in Valhalla. The stories range in length from short shorts on up, and if none of their authors are household names (yet), each is well-crafted and thought-provoking in both form and content. Useful fare for creative-writing classes but more significantly, an above-average set of takes on a worthy theme. (Science fiction/fantasy short stories. 11-14)

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MEET THE BOBS AND TWEETS

Springfield, Pepper Illus. by Caldwell, Kristy Scholastic (80 pp.) $9.99 | $9.99 e-book | Jun. 28, 2016 978-0-545-87072-6 978-0-545-94933-0 e-book Series: Bob and Tweets, 1

Bob Seven and Tweet Seven may seem to be in the wrong families, but they’re a perfect fit as friends. “A mob of Bobs lives like slobs, / A mob! / Of Bobs! / Oh, such slobs. // Seven Bobs are in the mob. / Can you see that six are slobs?” They make such a mess that they need to move. Mo the Realtor sends them to Bonefish Street. “Now meet the Tweets. / A fleet of Tweets. / Of seven Tweets, just six are neat.” They want to move to someplace where they can be even neater. Unscrupulous Mo sells them the house across the street from the Bobs. When the clans meet at the neighborhood pool, a brawl ensues. Dean (Bob Seven) and Lou (Tweet Seven) seek lifeguard assistance to quell the fight, but surely these neighbors are headed for more clashes. Springfield’s series starter tells a tale even those just starting chapters will be able to predict. Repetitive, simple rhymes make for easier reading, but the bland story and several hiccups in the meter will discourage repeated readings. Caldwell’s energetic, full-color, Sundaycomics illustrations are satisfyingly chaotic, doing their best to lift the story up; all Bobs and Tweets as well as Mo appear to be white. Final art not seen. Falls far short of the Seuss it attempts to achieve; here’s hoping Volume 2 can gain some traction. (Fiction. 5-8)

PRETTY MINNIE IN HOLLYWOOD

Steel, Danielle Illus. by Valiant, Kristi Doubleday (32 pp.) $17.99 | $20.99 PLB | May 3, 2016 978-0-553-53755-0 978-0-553-53756-7 PLB A white French girl named Françoise takes her tiny dog along when she accompanies her fashiondesigner mother to Hollywood to work on a movie in this second series outing (Pretty Minnie in Paris, 2014). Minnie is a pampered teacup Chihuahua who enjoys an opulent lifestyle with Françoise and her mother in their Paris apartment that has a view of the Eiffel Tower. They pack matching outfits for their trip, fly together on the plane (with the dog in her own seat), and enjoy first-class accommodations and sightseeing in Hollywood. Françoise and Minnie visit the movie set, where they meet a snarly pink poodle with a starring role in the film. The poodle acts up and is conveniently fired, so Minnie gets her part in the movie. The slight plot by bestselling author Steel is told in polished but predictable prose, with a perky, 126

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sparkly tone matched by the jewel-toned, oversized illustrations. Valiant’s detailed illustrations give Minnie an engaging personality that’s hard to resist, and young readers will enjoy Minnie’s tiny costumes and fancy accessories. The hotel staff and cast and crew of the movie include people of different ethnicities, including the film’s African-American director. Fluffy and shallow but sweet, with an exuberant effect, from the sparking glitter on the cover to the cast party with “Pupcake Cupcakes” at the end. (Picture book. 3- 7)

WITHIN REACH

Stevens, Jessica Spark Press (246 pp.) $17.00 paper | $9.49 e-book May 17, 2016 978-1-940716-69-5 978-1-940716-68-8 e-book True soul mates can’t be separated, even by death. Xan is dead at 17, but he can still see and hear his beloved as her life plays out before him like some kind of after-death cinema. Lila, however, can’t see him. Lost in the depths of despair, she stops eating and finds scant comfort with her longtime friend Jason. Lila can’t see what Xan does, that Jason is far more sinister than he appears. Xan helplessly watches as his nemesis moves in on Lila. With the help of a supernatural guide, Xan learns that he and Lila have known each other much longer than just this lifetime and they have been given one final chance to prove that they are worthy of eternity together. Xan must find a way to make Lila sense his presence so that she will understand he is still with her. However, the rules shift frustratingly, and there are other dark forces at work trying to steal their divine glow and keep them apart. The drama gets befuddled as aspects of Christianity, Buddhism, and the occult combine to create a rather higgledy-piggledy cosmic view. In alternating chapters, the present-tense, frequently purple narrative of the vividly drawn Xan and Lila is urgent, keeping the intensity taught. All the principals are white. An intense, at-times overwrought romance for genre fans. (Paranormal romance. 13-17)

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THIS IS MY BRAIN ON BOYS

Strohmeyer, Sarah Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins (352 pp.) $17.99 | $9.99 e-book | May 10, 2016 978-0-06-225962-2 978-0-06-225963-9 e-book Highly intelligent but awkward Addie attempts to prove that the experience of falling in love can be induced by subjecting people to a series of environmental conditions in this romantic comedy. |


Mottled, textured collage and mixed media in a gentle, subdued palette propel the story from the dark of night until dawn. before i wake up…

When Addie encounters cute, earnest Kris on a turbulent flight back to the boarding school they both attend, she doesn’t realize he’s one of a group of students who vandalized her lab the previous year but is quickly brought up to speed by her fiercely protective friends. Unsure what to think, she’s even more surprised when part of the reparations for his misdeed turns out to be serving as a test subject for an ambitious experiment she’s attempting in the hope of winning a much-needed scholarship to college. While this sets into motion a complicated weave of storylines that will keep readers guessing about who is actually at work behind the scenes of Addie’s project, there is never any real doubt about the outcome of the predictable romantic plot. Addie’s extreme literal-mindedness is used to appealing comedic effect, and the class issues that are touched upon due to her family’s relatively meager circumstances in juxtaposition to her classmates’ extreme wealth add some depth. Addie, Kris, and their close friends are white; there are some secondary characters who are Chinese exchange students, and another classmate is from India. Funny and engaging, if somewhat formulaic. (Romance. 13-18)

BEFORE I WAKE UP...

Teckentrup, Britta Illus. by the author Prestel (56 pp.) $14.95 | May 15, 2016 978-3-7913-7246-4

A child dreams of sailing across the sky and sea, accompanied by a favorite stuffed lion. Together they venture into the night in a bed carried along in a hot air balloon basket suspended from a yellow moon. They travel over a meadow and deep into the ocean, making friends with animals along the way. Author and illustrator Teckentrup owes something to Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are in the style of her illustrations as well as the book’s design. In full and partial double-page spreads, the companions float on the seas in a simple sailboat with a triangular sail. The dreamy, sparse text is frequently set opposite the illustrations, surrounded by white space. The story conveys both a sense of adventure and the comfort of a protective companion: “You make me feel safe, / you are always near. / That’s why I am brave, / without any fear....” Mottled, textured collage and mixed media in a gentle, subdued palette propel the story from the dark of night until dawn, the journey echoed in the endpapers. The lovely illustrations on matte paper are an evocative match to the simple prose, drawing readers into the child’s dream. Even the binding of this well-designed book adds to its success, as the large pages fall open with a satisfying sound. This charming bedtime read-aloud, a German import, assures children that a new day awaits them. (Picture book. 3- 7)

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PLEASE DON’T TELL

Tims, Laura HarperTeen (368 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | May 24, 2016 978-0-06-231732-2 978-0-06-231734-6 e-book Twin sisters struggle to find themselves in the wake of the death of the boy who nearly destroyed them. The summer before their junior year, sisters Joy and Grace agree to a summer of misdeeds. They’ll get drunk and high for the first time, and Grace will come out of the shell Joy’s always trying to pry her from. But when Grace develops a crush on Adam Gordon, things begin to spiral. Joy brings them together only for Adam to assault Grace and send her into a fugue; she won’t leave her room, let alone return to school. Then, in November, Adam falls to his death. It seems the monster haunting them may be gone for good, except Joy can’t shake the feeling that maybe she pushed him while drunk, that it wasn’t an accident. And then the blackmail letters claiming someone saw Joy murder Adam begin to arrive. As Grace retreats further into herself, Joy’s forced to follow the letters’ directions to keep the blackmailer from turning her in. When the truth comes out, it’ll either bring the sisters back together or tear them apart for good. The twins’ drama accelerates quickly, taking readers down shocking rabbit holes. However, the twist that ties it all together may be too far-fetched for readers seeking answers to questions about sexual assault rather than pulp fiction. High-octane drama that thrills but lacks much-needed emotional resolution. (Thriller. 14-18)

BEWARE THAT GIRL

Toten, Teresa Delacorte (336 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | $20.99 PLB May 31, 2016 978-0-553-50790-4 978-0-553-50792-8 e-book 978-0-553-50791-1 PLB Predators become prey in this private school novel. Kate O’Brien is the new scholarship student at Waverly Academy in New York City, but she’s also a seasoned con artist armed with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and she intends to do anything and use anyone in order to get away from her past and into Yale. Kate targets Olivia Sumner in order to get out of poverty and in with the popular girls, but she finds her cold calculations tempered by friendship. Kate’s first-person narration proudly details her manipulative methods (with flashbacks to a traumatic childhood that offers motive), while the third-person voice in Olivia’s chapters goes from detached to disjointed as she pops Ativan like Altoids but slowly spills her secrets. Kate

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Set in rural Minnesota in 1903, this evocative effort neatly weaves in period details. the search for the homestead treasure

and Olivia, both white, think they can swim with the sharks, yet both are outclassed when a man complicates matters, and only Kate can see the sociopath beneath the suave charm. Shallowly drawn schoolmates are also saddled with enough psychological issues to fill Kate’s beloved DSM but otherwise fulfill rich-girl, private school stereotypes and provide background color. Toten’s use of sexual predation and parental abuse as plot devices is problematic, but she also delivers a social-climbing satire with a ridiculous resolution, making for a reading experience that feels simultaneously riveting and like rubbernecking. A tense teen thriller that is half mind-game, half misery lit—call it 50 Shades of Grey Area. (Thriller. 14-18)

THE SEARCH FOR THE HOMESTEAD TREASURE A Mystery Treacy, Ann Univ. of Minnesota (176 pp.) $16.95 | May 19, 2016 978-0-8166-9956-8

Fourteen-year-old Martin must run the family farm after his father is seriously injured in an accident. The management of the homestead is all the more complicated because his mother, grief-stricken over the death of Martin’s brother, abuses patent medicines, rendering her more passive spectator than participant. Nevertheless, Martin takes on the challenge of getting a crop into the ground. He’s aided by a Roma boy, Samson, whom he befriends. Rumors hint at a family treasure lost on the farm. Martin discovers his aunt Cora’s diary, penned nearly 40 years before and ending with her childhood death. It contains clues to the treasure, if only he can step out of his self-focus to understand them. While he’s believably limned, other characters are less well-developed, diminishing their impact. Set in rural Minnesota in 1903, this evocative effort neatly weaves in period details. It reflects the demands of farming and the significant prejudice that was harbored by the white farmers against the Roma, documented both in the story that depicts their culture and in an informative author’s note. (Both story and author’s note use “Roma” and “Gypsy,” depending on context.) Although the story is focused on Martin’s coming-of-age and his evolving friendship with Samson, the treasure hunt subplot adds additional drama. A good bet for fans of historical fiction. (Historical fiction. 10-14)

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GOOD NIGHT, BADDIES

Underwood, Deborah Illus. by Kangas, Juli Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster (32 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | May 17, 2016 978-1-4814-0984-1 978-1-4814-0986-5 e-book Fairy tales and fractured fairy tales always focus on the good guys (or reform the bad guys). Finally, here’s a sweet bedtime story featuring the baddies. There is not a hint of menace in either Underwood’s gently rhyming verse or Kangas’ beautifully detailed watercolorand–oil wash illustrations. “Sun dips down; the day has gone. / Witches, wolves, and giants yawn. / Queen and dragon, troll and gnome: / tired baddies head for home.” Home is a stone castle, where they catch up on news, share a meal together (using good manners—even baddies need a break from being bad), undress and unwind from the day, and tuck one another in. It is both refreshing and comforting to know that baddies, no matter how vile they may be during the day, are human (-ish) at heart and have the same needs, wants, and fears as readers (sometimes literally—Giant is afraid a princess might lurk under his bed). (All the humanoid characters are white.) From striped and flowered pajamas to troll’s bubble bath and the books so many of the baddies are clearly enjoying, this is familiar and sweet, unlike baddies’ usual reputations, and children will delight in picking out familiar props and characters from beloved tales. Great for sharing with parents’ own baddies and fairytale lovers alike. (Picture book. 4- 7)

MY BOOK OF BIRDS

Valério, Geraldo Illus. by the author Groundwood (60 pp.) $24.95 | Apr. 1, 2016 978-1-55498-800-6

An album of North American birds from a Brazilian-Canadian illustrator. “I love the variety of birds, their colored feathers and their sense of freedom,” writes Valério in an introduction, and that affection is clear in this striking collection. The illustrations are collage, crafted from “old magazine paper, art paper, [and] gift wrap,” and though stylized, the birds are readily distinguishable. An osprey dominates one double-page spread, carrying a fish back to its nest across a heartbreakingly blue backdrop. Its paper components are cleanedged, layered in a fashion that both replicates the osprey’s distinctive markings and evokes individual feathers. The bird’s wing feathers are arranged with glimpses of blue between, giving a strong sense of airiness and loft. Each bird is labeled with both its common and Latin names, with a straightforward gloss that describes salient features and, often, another that provides a fascinating tidbit. In the case of the osprey, it’s on how the bird’s talons grip its prey. The book’s overall organization is

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haphazard—the golden eagle, the pelican, the osprey, and three types of swallow occupy the first four double-page spreads—but several spreads group bird families together; in addition to the swallows (purple martin, violet-green swallow, and barn swallow), the blue jay, the black-billed magpie, and the Steller’s jay appear together, as do five different types of warbler, for instance. A delight to browse, the book also provides resources to further engage budding ornithologists. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 8-16)

THE GATHERING STORM

Varian, H.K. Simon Spotlight (176 pp.) $17.99 | $6.99 paper | Jun. 14, 2016 978-1-4814-6617-2 978-1-4814-6616-5 paper Series: Hidden World of Changers, 1 Makoto “Mack” Kimura is suitably skeptical when his seventh-period independent study is revealed as training for Changers, or shape-shifters. But when the Changing Stone reveals his Changer form as a kitsune, a Japanese magical fox capable of flying, creating illusions, and controlling fire, he is intrigued. Now he and his three Changer friends must learn to master their powers. There is little time for the young heroes, however, as a warlock with the power to enslave all Changers and bend them to do his will is on his way. Mack’s Japanese-immigrant grandfather tells of an ancient evil who wielded the same weapon but was ultimately defeated by four young Changers, who, because of their age, were immune to the enchantment. It falls to Mack and his friends—Latina Gabriella, African-American Darren, and white Fiona—to fight the evil warlock, destroy the iron horn, and save the world. Mythology from Japan, Mexico, South Africa, and Ireland differentiates this adventure from other, similar shape-shifter tales. An intriguing mix of characters, all coping with complicated home lives and the politics of middle school, further infuses the narrative with energy. The open ending sets up future volumes. A fresh look at a familiar concept, with a consciously diverse approach. (Fantasy. 8-11)

CAMP DORK

Vrabel, Beth Sky Pony Press (240 pp.) $16.99 | May 3, 2016 978-1-63450-181-1 Series: Pack of Dorks, 2 Most of the titular gang from Pack of Dorks (2014) is off to spend two weeks at seriously-roughing-it–style Camp Paleo. Sadly, Lucy’s not-a-boyfriend, Sam, is going to gymnastics camp instead. |

That’s just the beginning of the bad news. Camp Paleo is hot, buggy, and fraught with emotional peril, as her friends behave in strange, inexplicable new ways. Most troubling is how April, previously, well, dorky, has now entirely “reinvented” herself and also has firmly bonded with the very annoying and unpleasant Kira. As feisty Lucy attempts to steer her friends into what she sees as the right directions for each, every matchmaking strategy backfires until she’s alienated almost every camper she cares about. Just as problematic is the fact that valuable personal possessions are going missing, and other campers are starting to think Lucy might be the thief. With good humor, Vrabel explores the pitfalls of emerging preteenhood. Not everyone gets there at the same time, leading to endless potential for humiliation, embarrassment, and, in the case of Sam and Lucy, awkwardness. Although not as clever and satisfying as the dorks’ multilayered first outing, this quick read nonetheless effectively delves into interpersonal pitfalls that will be familiar to most older grade schoolers, and Lucy’s developing insight may even provide a few hints for staying on the right path. Honest, funny, and entertaining. (Fiction. 8-12)

ROSCO VS. THE BABY

Ward, Lindsay Illus. by the author Simon & Schuster (32 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | Jun. 14, 2016 978-1-4814-3657-1 978-1-4814-3658-8 e-book A French bulldog learns to love the new baby at his house. Rosco is a “heavyweight champ,” a fierce protector of his territory. He barks at any perceived threat, illustrated by repeated streams of the word “Bark!” set in hand-lettered, flowing lines that cover an entire spread. Attractive, large-format illustrations in cut paper, watercolor, and pencil use a pastel palette and lots of white space to tell the story of the perceived matchup between bulldog and baby. At first Rosco is hurt and confused by the new, pink-skinned baby at his house, but then jealousy sets in, and the pair face off: “Two heavyweights. One house.” The story structure shifts to a boxing-match format, with dog and growing baby skirmishing in rounds one through eight, augmented by scores posted at the bottom of the page. By Round 8, the baby has grown into a toddler, and he and Rosco are pals, “totally knocked out” as they nap together. Boy and bulldog are then faced with new opponents: newborn twins. The final line of text ominously predicts, “This house wasn’t big enough for the four of them.” Though it may be amusing for adults, the boxing-match metaphor is on the ropes here, inappropriate and way over the heads of the intended audience. Showing a protective, jealous dog in an unsupervised setting with a baby sets up an unsafe situation that is presented as simply humorous. Call the ref—this bulldog and baby are down for the count. (Picture book. 3- 7)

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ANIMAL TALK Mexican Folk Art Animal Sounds in English and Spanish

Weill, Cynthia Illus. by Fuentes, Rubí & Broa, Efraín Cinco Puntos (32 pp.) $14.95 | Apr. 23, 2016 978-1-941026-32-8 Continuing her First Concepts in Mexican Folk Art series, Weill presents 15 animals and their sounds in both English and Spanish, accompanied by models crafted by Fuentes and Broa. Each double-page spread depicts a single type of animal represented by two different Oaxacan models facing each other across the gutter and placed on bright, harmonizing backgrounds. English is on verso, Spanish is on recto: “Roosters say / COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO / Can you? // Los gallos dicen / KI-KIRI-KI / ¿Puedes tú?” Each rooster is glorious, feet firmly planted, wings spread, and head extended to crow lustily. The English rooster is primarily blue and sits on a warm, orange background, while the Spanish rooster is orange on a yellow background. The type used to represent their vocalizations is printed in blue and orange, respectively. The pattern continues with minor variations throughout, presenting kitties/los gatitos, fish/los peces, goats/las cabras, tigers/los tigres, cows/las vacas, bees/ las abejas, horses/los caballos, dogs/los perros, frogs/las ranas, piggies/los porquitos, lions/los leones, snakes/las serpientes, turkeys/los pavos, and owls/los búhos. There may be regional differences in Spanish animals’ dialects that give individual readers momentary pause: do Spanish-speaking turkeys say, “gordo gordo,” everywhere? Some might feel that they say, “glú glú glú”; is “rahr” really what Spanish-speaking tigers say? The two-way pronunciation guide in the aftermatter is a thoughtful touch. A beautiful, playful, childcentric approach to language learning—and if it spawns conversations about dialects, so much the better. (Picture book. 2-5)

ON BIRD HILL

Yolen, Jane Illus. by Marstall, Bob Cornell Lab Publishing (32 pp.) $15.95 | May 10, 2016 978-1-943645-02-2 A young dog-walker recalls the memorable experience of watching a chick hatch. To inaugurate a new series created for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Yolen, who has often celebrated the natural world, provides a graceful poem reminiscent of the cumulative song “The Green Grass Grew All Around.” Illustrator Marstall sets this in a fantastical landscape with Seussian trees and surprising, pleasing tiny details, including humans, animals, oversized insects, and, far away, sailboats on an ocean. The dog-walker sets out just before sunrise; a waning crescent moon still shines when they reach Bird Hill. The tree is on the summit; a cutaway 130

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image on the bottom of the page showing the walkers’ path reveals its roots. Slowly, they close in on the tree, the limb, the twig, the nest, and the “bird at rest.” A striking spread shows a cloud of feathers and the barely visible chick, still in the egg. A later, wordless close-up of the emerging chick invites young readers and listeners to stop and wonder. There’s humor, too, when the hatchling fluffs his wings and stretches his legs. Then the point of view changes, moving from the observer to the chick, who looks around to see “the moon... / ...and me.” Carefully crafted rhyming couplets beg to be read aloud again and again. An imaginative and original depiction of one of life’s everyday miracles. (Picture book. 2-6)

PLACES NO ONE KNOWS

Yovanoff, Brenna Delacorte (384 pp.) $17.99 e-book | $20.99 PLB May 17, 2016 978-0-553-52263-1 978-0-553-52265-5 e-book 978-0-553-52264-8 PLB Complicated romance blooms between the perfect student and a sensitive burnout. Waverly Camdenmar works diligently to perfect the face she presents to the world: she’s white, a good student, popular, and a cross-country runner who’d do anything to win. But there’s another Waverly, the one who can’t sleep. Meanwhile, in another social stratosphere, Marshall Holt, also white, toils at the center of a broken family, choosing to get wasted rather than face the world, let alone his feelings. While Waverly’s emotions feel unreachable even to herself, Marshall’s are always too close to the surface for comfort. One night, Waverly lights a candle and counts backward, finally finding sleep only to discover she’s ended up in the path of Marshall’s actual, intoxicated evening. Only he can see her, but she’s corporeal as anyone to him, and it keeps happening. The two meet in dreams and reveal more of themselves than either dares show anyone else but resume their closed-off identities in the daylight; they may as well be strangers at school. But such a dream relationship can only exist so long before being brought to light. Alternating narration in the first person, Waverly and Marshall burn brightly in their individual, secret pain—both refreshingly flawed as they come into their own. Readers will forgo sleep themselves to witness their vibrant, achingly real story unfold. A brilliant romance that forces its protagonists to explore and accept themselves as they discover one another. (Fiction. 14-18)

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Readers who know the score and are willing to go along for the ride will find plenty to enjoy. a walk in the sun

A WALK IN THE SUN

Zink, Michelle Harper/HarperCollins (336 pp.) $17.99 | $9.99 e-book | May 3, 2016 978-0-06-243446-3 978-0-06-243449-4 e-book Lonesome, tenderhearted cowboy? Check. Grieving and fiercely independent young woman who’s sworn never again to open herself up to love? Check. An undeniable chemistry “like the charge in the air just before lightning cracks the sky?” Double check. Rose Darrow, a newly minted high school graduate, is neither college bound nor setting off to explore the world she longs to see. Instead, she will remain at home to run the farm where her family has lived for generations while grieving the loss of her mother and tending to her broken-hearted father. Enter 18-year-old Bodhi Lowell, a cowboy who left home at 14 and never turned back. Hired by Rose’s aunt as a summer hand, Bodhi arrives at the Darrow farm, and the inevitable sparks begin to fly. Though it’s predictable and rife with hyperbolic professions of love and longing, readers who know the score and are willing to go along for the ride will find plenty to enjoy. The white teens are both likable and damaged just enough to engage easy sympathy, and fans will surely find themselves rooting for Bodhi and Rose to get together and for their predestined (both figurative and literal) roll in the hay. Channeling the likes of Nicholas Sparks, Zink offers readers a formulaic, saccharine-sweet summer romance that will leave fans of the genre with racing hearts and others with their teeth aching. (Romance. 13 & up)

RISING ABOVE How 11 Athletes Overcame Challenges in Their Youth to Become Stars

Zuckerman, Gregory with Zuckerman, Elijah with Zuckerman, Gabriel Philomel (256 pp.) $17.99 | May 3, 2016 978-0-399-17382-0

Stories of 11 athletes overcoming adversity to become the cream of their sports, from Wall Street Journal writer Zuckerman and his two sons. Some of these athletes’ stories are well-known, how they excelled despite the most serious obstacles, be it having only one hand and dreaming of being a baseball player (Jim Abbott) or standing down the racism that attended tennis, as Althea Gibson did. Others may be more obscure. Soccer goalie Tim Howard had to struggle with Tourette’s and obsessive-compulsive behavior; Stephen Curry was small enough that he had to be a walk-on at Virginia Tech to even get a chance at basketball. There is poverty, sexual abuse, physical abuse, abandonment, |

illiteracy, and even civil war in Congo. While the subjects can carry almost any weight, the Zuckermans struggle to bring them to life. Often luck was the key to success: being in the right place at the right time and seen by someone who got and kept the ball rolling. And while it is never easy to explain transcendent sporting ability, quotes like “It was like I was floating on air,” from Tim Howard, or—without diminishing LeBron James’ mother’s influence—“He had his mother to love and comfort him” have little insight to offer. There is both solace and inspiration in these 11 heroes, but it doesn’t take much to imagine that for each of them, there were dozens who didn’t get the break. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

continuing series BLOODTRAITOR

Atwater-Rhodes, Amelia Delacorte (304 pp.) $17.99 | $20.99 PLB | Apr. 12, 2016 978-0-385-74307-5 978-0-375-99093-9 PLB Maeve’ra Trilogy, 3 (Paranormal romance. 12-16)

THE BERENSTAIN BEARS UNDER THE SEA

Berenstain, Mike Illus. by the author Harper Festival (24 pp.) $3.99 paper | Apr. 19, 2016 978-0-06-235011-4 Berenstain Bears (Picture book. 4-8)

PEPPA PEG AND THE CAMPING TRIP

Candlewick Candlewick (32 pp.) $12.99 | Apr. 12, 2016 978-0-7636-8741-0 Peppa Pig (Picture book. 2-5)

I SAW AN INVISIBLE LION TODAY Quatrains

Cleary, Brian P. Illus. by Watson, Richard Millbrook/Lerner (32 pp.) $6.95 paper | $26.65 PLB | Apr. 1, 2016 978-1-4677-9731-3 paper 978-1-4677-9342-1 PLB Poetry Adventures (Picture book/poetry. 7-11)

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TOO MUCH DRAMA

ELMER AND GRANDPA ELDO

Friedman, Laurie Darby Creek (184 pp.) $17.95 | Apr. 1, 2016 978-1-4677-8589-1 Mostly Miserable Life of April Sinclair, 6 (Fiction. 10-15)

McKee, David Illus. by the author Andersen Press USA (32 pp.) $17.99 | Apr. 1, 2016 978-1-5124-0569-9 Elmer the Patchwork Elephant (Picture book. 4-9)

THE FRIGHT IN THE NIGHT

NALA

Gardner, Lyn Illus. by Asquith, Ros Kids Can (148 pp.) $15.95 | $7.95 paper | Apr. 1, 2016 978-1-77138-130-7 978-1-77138-148-2 paper Ghastly McNastys, 3 (Adventure. 7-10)

Miles, Ellen Scholastic Paperbacks (96 pp.) $4.99 paper | Apr. 26, 2016 978-0-545-85723-9 Puppy Place, 41 (Fiction. 7-10)

SETTLE THE SCORE

BEAR & HARE—WHERE’S BEAR?

Morgan, Alex Simon & Schuster (128 pp.) $16.99 | Mar. 8, 2016 978-1-4814-5104-8 Kicks, 6 (Fiction. 8-12)

Gravett, Emily Illus. by the author Simon & Schuster (32 pp.) $16.99 | Apr. 26, 2016 978-1-4814-5616-6 Bear & Hare (Picture book. 4-8)

DEATH WEAVERS

Mull, Brandon Aladdin (512 pp.) $17.99 | Mar. 15, 2016 978-1-4424-9709-2 Five Kingdoms, 4 (Fantasy. 8-12)

THE SPY’S SECRET

Luper, Eric Illus. by Weber, Lisa K. Scholastic (128 pp.) $16.99 | $4.99 paper | Apr. 26, 2016 978-0-545-82209-1 978-0-545-82206-0 paper Key Hunters, 2 (Historical adventure. 7-10)

IT’S BACKWARD DAY!

O’Connor, Jane Illus. by Glasser, Robin Preiss Harper/HarperCollins (32 pp.) $16.99 | $3.99 paper | Apr. 19, 2016 978-0-06-226982-9 978-0-06-226981-2 paper Fancy Nancy (Early reader. 4-8)

INFINITY RIDERS

Magoon, Kekla Random House (208 pp.) $12.99 | $15.99 PLB | Mar. 1, 2016 978-0-385-38667-8 978-0-385-38669-2 PLB Voyagers, 4 (Science fiction. 8-12)

AMELIA BEDELIA ON THE JOB

Parish, Herman Illus. by Avril, Lynne Greenwillow (160 pp.) $15.99 | $4.99 paper | Mar. 8, 2016 978-0-06-233413-8 978-0-06-233412-1 paper Amelia Bedelia chapter books, 9 (Fiction. 6-10)

SECRET OF THE TIME TABLETS

Maihack, Mike Illus. by the author Graphix/Scholastic (192 pp.) $22.99 | $12.99 paper | Apr. 26, 2016 978-0-545-83868-9 978-0-545-83867-2 paper Cleopatra in Space, 3 (Graphic science fiction. 9-12) 132

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I DIDN’T DO IT!

SEA SICK

Ross, Tony Illus. by the author Andersen Press USA (32 pp.) $17.99 | Apr. 1, 2016 978-1-5124-0598-9 Little Princess (Picture book. 4-9)

Soderberg, Erin Random House (96 pp.) $4.99 paper | $12.99 PLB | Mar. 22, 2016 978-0-553-51176-5 paper 978-0-553-51177-2 PLB Puppy Pirates, 4 (Adventure. 6-9)

THE OTTER

CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET?

Rylant, Cynthia Illus. by McDaniels, Preston Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster (48 pp.) $15.99 | Mar. 15, 2016 978-1-4814-6045-3 Lighthouse Family, 6 (Fiction. 6-10)

Stine, R.L. St. Martin’s Griffin (288 pp.) $18.99 | Apr. 12, 2016 978-1-250-05894-2 Fear Street (Horror. 12-16)

MAYHEM

Warner, Penny Darby Creek (168 pp.) $16.99 | Apr. 1, 2016 978-1-5124-0304-6 Code Busters Club (Mystery. 8-12)

MONKEY AND ELEPHANT AND THE BABYSITTING ADVENTURE

Warner, Sally Illus. by Biggs, Brian Viking (176 pp.) $14.99 | Apr. 12, 2016 978-0-451-46913-7 EllRay Jakes, 9 (Fiction. 6-8)

THE HUNT FOR THE MISSING SPY

Salane, Jeffrey Scholastic (304 pp.) $17.99 | Apr. 26, 2016 978-0-545-45033-1 Lawless, 3 (Thriller. 8-12)

ELLRAY JAKES STANDS TALL

Schaefer, Carole Lexa Illus. by Bernstein, Galia Candlewick (48 pp.) $14.99 | Apr. 12, 2016 978-0-7636-6535-7 Monkey and Elephant (Early reader. 5-9)

CASE OF THE FEATHERED MASK

Webb, Holly Illus. by Lindsay, Marion HMH Books (192 pp.) $15.99 | Apr. 5, 2016 978-0-544-61993-7 Mysteries of Maisie Hitchins, 4 (Mystery. 10-12)

ATTACK OF THE KRAKEN

Sherry, Kevin Illus. by the author Scholastic (128 pp.) $8.99 | Apr. 26, 2016 978-0-545-85781-9 Yeti Files, 3 (Fantasy. 7-10)

THE EPIDEMIC

Young, Suzanne Simon Pulse (384 pp.) $17.99 | Apr. 19, 2016 978-1-4814-4470-5 Remedy, 2 (Dystopian romance. 14 & up)

CLAUDE IN THE COUNTRY

Smith, Alex T. Illus. by the author Peachtree (96 pp.) $12.95 | Apr. 1, 2016 978-1-56145-918-6 Claude, 6 (Fiction. 7-9)

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Fo r e ig n Influence Our preview of books first published overseas By Catherine Hickley

Müller, Herta Trans. by Boehm, Philip Germany: 1992 | Rowohlt Verlag U.K.: May 5, 2016 | Portobello Books U.S.: May 10, 2016 | Metropolitan Books

Photo courtesy Catherine Hélié

Charlotte Foenkinos, David Trans. by Taylor, Sam France: Aug. 21, 2014 | Gallimard U.S.: May 3, 2016 | Overlook

“This is my whole life.” With these words, Charlotte Salomon entrusted her autobiographical art to her doctor, aware that her life was in danger. Pregnant, she was gassed at Auschwitz in 1943, a terrible end to a tragic life haunted by the suicides of family members. Salomon’s art survived and was exhibited at London’s Royal Academy in 1998. Has Foenkinos added anything to her legacy with this book, written in a kind of free verse of simple one-line sentences? He has certainly increased her public—his book sold 600,000 copies in France. French reviewers were kinder than German critics, who suggested he would have been better leaving Charlotte’s own astonishing narrative to stand. The Süddeutsche Zeitung dismissed the book as kitsch and accused Foenkinos of arrogance in trying to present Charlotte as his personal discovery. Charlotte is reviewed in this issue.

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Barnes, Julian U.K.: Jan. 28, 2016 | Jonathan Cape U.S.: May 10, 2016 | Knopf

A Pravda editorial in 1936 accuses the composer Dmitri Shostakovich of creating “muddle instead of music” in Lady Macbeth of Mtensk. Terrified, he waits in the hallway of his apartment block night after night for interrogators to take him away, but they never come. Julian Barnes explores Shostakovich’s inner struggles as he suffers personal humiliations and scores musical victories in his quest for acceptance and recognition in Stalin’s Soviet Union. For the Telegraph, this slender novel is evidence that, at 70, Barnes has plenty more to offer; for the Independent, it was a disappointment after his Man Booker Prize winner, The Sense of an Ending. The Noise of Time was reviewed in the March 1, 2016, issue.

The Versions of Us Barnett, Laura U.K.: Aug. 12, 2015 | Weidenfeld & Nicolson U.S.: May 3, 2016 | Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Photo courtesy Charlie Hopkinson

Adina, a young schoolteacher, returns home to find the tail of her fox-fur rug has been lopped off. Then a leg is detached, and another. It is a sign she is being tracked by the Romanian secret police. Suspicion centers on her closest circle of friends, and heart-pounding fear penetrates her home. As with her extraordinary novel The Hunger Angel, Nobel Prize winner Herta Müller’s power is in the poetic observation she applies to the mundaneness and all-pervasiveness of fear in a life lived under a cruel regime. Set in the last months of the Ceaușescu regime, The Fox Was Ever the Hunter was published in German just three years after the dictator and his wife were executed on Christmas Day 1989. It is only now appearing in English. The Fox Was Ever the Hunter received a starred review in the March 1, 2016, issue.

The Noise of Time

Photo courtesy Alan Edwards

Photo courtesy Isolde Ohlbaum

The Fox Was Ever the Hunter

Cycling through Cambridge as a student, Eva swerves on her bike to avoid a dog. In Version 1, her tire is punctured on a rusty nail and a passing fellow student, Jim, rushes to her rescue. In the second, she cycles straight on and doesn’t meet Jim until much later. In the third, she gets together with Jim, but their relationship goes awry when she discovers she is pregnant by her previous boyfriend. From this starting point, Eva’s life takes three different paths—she has different marriages, children, and careers—yet the bond with Jim is a constant. The three strands can get confusing but it’s worth persevering—Barnett’s debut novel, a Sunday Times No. 1 bestseller in the U.K., is a clever and satisfying read. The Versions of Us was reviewed in the March 1, 2016, issue. Catherine Hickley is a Berlin-based arts journalist. Her first book, The Munich Art Hoard: Hitler’s Dealer and His Secret Legacy, was published by Thames & Hudson (except in North America) on Sept. 21.

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indie WALKER THE GOOSE The Search for a Family

These titles earned the Kirkus Star:

Blumer, Susanne Illus. by Berlin, Michelle Chickadilly Press (32 pp.) $9.99 paper | $1.99 e-book Nov. 25, 2015 978-0-9966164-5-4

RUINED by Ruth Everhart................................................................139 COME LIVE WITH ME by Barbara K. Kincaid.................................143

A goose longs for a place to belong in this rhyming, based-on-a-true-story picture book from Blumer (Wooly Meets

RUINED

Everhart, Ruth Tyndale House (304 pp.) $22.99 | $14.99 paper $14.99 e-book Aug. 2, 2016 978-1-4964-1392-5 978-1-4964-1316-1 paper

the Chickens, 2015). All Walker the Goose wants is to find a mate and start a family. When she lands on “the most pretty farm she’d seen in all the state,” she knows that this is where she wants to make her home. But how to start a family? In typical preschool picture-book fashion, the tale follows Walker as she meets the different animals on the farm: a cow, a sheep, and a pig. Walker asks each of them for a place to stay in a sweet and sheepish, slightly altered refrain: “I need a place to stay. / I won’t get in the way. / Could you kindly find a wee small space for me?” But each animal reminds her that she’s a goose, not a cow, a sheep, or a pig; if she desires her own family, she needs to find a gander. Mrs. Pig encourages Walker to hang onto her dreams and never give up, but the poor goose becomes heartbroken. She loves the farm, but she can’t find a mate. Luckily, Walker wallows in her despair for only a couple of pages before a handsome gander shows up. In an echo of Walker’s initial response to the farm, where she “fell in love with what she found,” the gander has the same experience—only the object of his affection is Walker. While it doesn’t offer much tension, this sweet, inventively rhymed story delivers plenty of opportunities for lap readers to chime in with animal noises. Walker’s clumsy antics—she lands on a sheep and crashes into the barn—should make young readers giggle. Berlin’s charming illustrations are semirealistic; while the animals have humanized expressions, they are definitely real creatures rather than cartoons (with the exception of the stars around Walker’s head when she hits the barn). Animal lovers should enjoy this farm title, and Walker’s story, told in a consistent AAB CCB rhyme scheme, is calm enough for pre-bedtime reading. An appealing tale of good things coming to geese who wait.

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best face forward When designing a book cover, keep in mind that the image—both full size and thumbnail—must stop readers in their tracks. “Ensure that it stands out on an Amazon page next to 10 other covers, all postage-stamp size,” said Guy Kawasaki, author of APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur—How to Publish a Book. “This means bold graphics, big sans-serif font. Don’t even bother looking at it 6” x 9” printed on paper. Hardly anyone will see it this way.” It’s not wise to skimp on the book’s face: “Don’t be tempted to design your own cover or edit your own book,” said David Gaughran, author of Let’s Get Digital: How to Self-Publish, and Why You Should. “The bass player in your band might ‘know how to use Photoshop,’ but that doesn’t make him a pro…. Presentation is everything, and, somewhat counterintuitively, covers are even more important in the digital world.” “My official cover designer has been Todd Engel,” said Johnny Townsend, author of Missionaries Make the Best Companions, named one of Kirkus’ Best Books of 2015. (Engel is contracted with BookLocker.com.) Townsend, whose covers are striking and genre appropriate, said that most of his cover images came from Dreamstime or iStock. “I can spend hours looking for just the right cover. I also learned along the way that it is important to have an image not only for the front cover, but one also for the back. The ones on the back are often just ‘texture,’ but having an image of some kind adds a richness to the feel of the book that I like.” Karen Schechner is the senior Indie editor.

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LOVE SICK

Bright, Autumn J. A Light Bulb Publishing (380 pp.) $15.99 paper | $2.99 | Jun. 5, 2015 978-0-9861923-1-9 Debut novelist Bright impresses with a nuanced tale of a woman who can’t break free of an abusive relationship. DJ Toni Jones may be a rising star on Charleston, South Carolina, radio, but her cool, professional exterior masks a troubled personal life. She and her suave husband, Marvin, are the ultimate power couple—she has a show on radio station Q101.5, and he’s part owner of the city’s hottest nightclub. But when Marvin’s dreams of a music production career collapse amid legal troubles, he turns violent, resentful of his wife’s success and jealous of the attention that she receives from other men. One of his vicious attacks nearly kills Toni, but she refuses to press charges and takes him back, much to her family’s dismay. Marvin cleans up his act (and skeptical readers may raise an eyebrow at this about-face), but the resulting period of domestic bliss is only temporary. His new job as a trucker keeps him away from home for days at a time, and soon, he’s romancing a sexy stripper named Angela. However, Marvin hasn’t lost his violent tendencies, and, eventually, Toni is forced to make a decision that will change her life forever. Bright’s fast-moving, engaging novel shows how even a strong, successful woman can find herself a victim of domestic violence. Subtle hints about Toni’s past illustrate how she learned to accept and justify violent behavior from men, and her rationalizations for taking Marvin back, though infuriating, make sense in the context of her character: “In the end, love and my determination to help him always overpowered me.” Marvin, for his part, is equal parts despicable and attractive; when he’s on his best behavior, it’s easy to see why Toni might be lulled into a false sense of security. He also has his own demons that help explain, but not justify, his behavior. The dialogue is spirited, and although some situations are overly dramatic, they never cross the line into unbelievability. A successful portrayal of the complex psychology of an abuse victim and a gripping story of a love gone sour.


HEAL THYSELF What You Can Do to Recover from Chronic Pain, Depression and Addiction

Carmichael, Sumter M. CreateSpace (236 pp.) $15.00 paper | $7.99 e-book Feb. 6, 2015 978-1-4827-8471-8

A psychiatrist draws upon years of professional and personal experience with pain and depression management in this brief yet thorough guide to well-being. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis as a young doctor in her 30s, Carmichael (HEAL, A Psychiatrist’s Inspiring Story, 2013, etc.) faced a personal battle with chronic pain and depression, which led her to organize a pain clinic. There, she discovered “that neither doctors, nurses nor their patients really understood what chronic pain was or what is needed to bring about recovery.” However, she says, “I found patients for the most part very resourceful once they understood what they had to do to get better.” Indeed, Carmichael as doctor-turned-patient unravels the true meaning of “physician, heal thyself ”—a phrase borrowed from Luke’s Gospel and which inspires the title of her own medical guide. Her breezy, common-sense book is a gold mine of information about pain, depression, addiction, and their treatments. In Part I, Carmichael offers her engaging understanding of pain treatment throughout history, including Chinese acupuncture and massage, opiates, and the power of spiritual belief, citing examples of miraculous healings at Lourdes. Early chapters discuss how pain works and provide solid background for the remaining review of pain and depression management and recovery modalities, from traditional medicines to laughter, exercise, nutrition, and spiritual healing. After starting with a quote from the likes of Einstein, Voltaire, and Buddha, each chapter concludes with “points to remember.” Blue boxes break up the text and offer medication tips and “try this” suggestions as well as recommended exercises and meditation practices. Along the way, the author discusses the historical evolution of pain theories, from religious to more mechanistic and scientific foundations, and includes studies that demonstrate a strong emotional component to the perception of pain. “Even for the scientist,” she says, “pain, anger, and fear are all emotions that tell us to wake up and do something different.” Engaging and practical advice for living well.

WIDOWMAKER

Carson, Charles L. KaleBoy Publishing (161 pp.) $2.99 e-book | Feb. 15, 2014 Attorney Jack McManus’ new gig at the Department of Justice finds him at the Shaolin Monastery searching for the culprits behind airplane crashes in Carson’s (Palmdale, 2011, etc.) latest thriller. The DOJ unfairly booted out Jack long ago, but now it wants him back. He leaves his San Francisco office and moves to Boston, with a new DOJ title, director of international operations. His first task is to locate those responsible for hacking navigational computers to crash planes last year, including hacker Ahmed Munuza and ringleader Ringo “Hyacinth” Rosselier. Jack and lawyer pal Ernie Aftergood get a lead on Ahmed at a monastery in China. Ahmed, however, may be doing more than hiding out: local Syrians in Chengdu are showing up at hospitals with fewer organs. Hyacinth, meanwhile, is also looking for Ahmed, believing the hacker and terrorist group the Muslim Brotherhood, which played a part in the aircraft assaults, tried to kill him. The Brotherhood further complicates matters by sending a trio of assassins to Chengdu, hoping to get in on the organtrafficking scheme. Jack knows that thwarting the organ harvesters will bring the DOJ closer to Hyacinth and Ahmed. But when a couple of SEALs, tagging along to protect Jack and Ernie, turn up decapitated, the two attorneys realize they’re not safe. The recurring protagonist takes a back seat for much of this series entry; he’s sometimes merely an observer, literally standing back and watching villains take out other villains. And while Jack’s predominantly clear of danger (other soldiers replace those SEALs), he’s unmistakably in peril by the rousing final act. There are likewise quite a few surprises, like the sudden disappearance of a character and a shocking incident near the end of the book. But the bevy of baddies remains the story’s electrifying centerpiece: some want revenge, others want to hijack the organ harvesting, and all are willing to deceive/kill to get what they want. The story’s likely aimed at readers who’ve perused the heavily tied-in series opener, but Carson provides enough back story for those unfamiliar with Jack’s previous exploits. An influx of antagonists nearly upstages the hero, but it’s fun to watch crooks do what they do best.

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The author seamlessly combines the general and the particular, making her own life a microcosm of universally relevant human dramas. socialism v. santa

NOMADIN

SOCIALISM V. SANTA Growing Up—Real Life in Socialist Yugoslavia—an Artist in US

Cormier, Shawn Pine View Press (296 pp.) $12.95 paper | $3.99 e-book Aug. 27, 2010 978-0-9740151-0-1 In this YA fantasy debut, a wizard’s apprentice must help stop a Necromancer from escaping his prison within a book. Twelve-year-old Ilien Woodhill lives in the town of Southford, on a world called Nadae. Before leaving on family business, his mother hires a wizard named Gallund as Ilien’s private tutor. Ilien never knew his father, but he does have a magical talking pencil that makes him the target of bullies Peaty and Stanley. Gallund fulfills his duty when he narrowly stops his ward from frying the bullies with a lightning spell. One day, a knight named Thessien visits Gallund with the news that a NiDemon has crossed over from Loehs Sedah—the realm of the dead. NiDemons are the sworn enemies of the Nomadin, the magical race to which Gallund belongs. Gallund decides to take Ilien to safety in the kingdom of Evernden. On the way, they encounter a Nihilic scroll, written in the language of the evil Necromancer Reknamarken. Though Gallund assures Ilien that the Necromancer’s soul has been bound within a book and guarded at Kingsend Castle for the last five centuries, it bodes ill that a pack of shape-shifting “wierwulvs” stalks the land and a menacing voice has invaded the apprentice’s dreams. Opening a trilogy that toys with fantasy conventions like prophecies and helpless princesses, Cormier ably writes for multiple audiences. His youngest readers should relish the talking pencils, maps, and dogs (like Kink and Crank), while fans of more action-oriented stories should enjoy a creature called the Groll, which excels at impaling its victims with a poison-tipped tail. For adults, there’s no shortage of marvelous wisdom on tap, like when Ilien’s magical Globe tells him, “Make up your mind who you want to be... or life will choose for you.” Throughout, the narrative accrues staple characters like Windy, a talented princess, and Anselm, a giant with an incredible secret. The author’s willingness to traumatize his cast and introduce some sly wrinkles makes the journey that much more emotionally resonant. This novel casts a fresh spell for fans of the boywizard genre.

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Diamant, Vlasta Applebite Works (258 pp.) $18.95 paper | Mar. 5, 2015 978-0-578-14200-5

A debut memoir places the author’s personal history in the panoramic context of world events. Memoirs have a tendency to collapse, failing to provide a justification to readers as to why they should care about the details of a particular life. Diamant weaves her own autobiography into the fabric of world history, furnishing a sweeping account of the troubled past of Yugoslavia. Having grown up in postwar Yugoslavia under Tito’s rule, the author portrays a nation struggling to discover, or invent, its identity. Diamant’s reflections on socialism, an ideology she eventually, if only partially, rebelled against, are philosophically provocative: “From the start, I was buffeted by contradictory influences. Socialism implanted in us notions of equality and justice for all, while everyday life demanded to either live accordingly or skirt those ideals.” She eventually left her homeland to study in West Germany, met an American in Munich whom she married, and moved to San Francisco, a hotbed of cultural vitality, in the 1970s. There, Diamant found her bearings as an artist, a development she doubted would have been possible if she hadn’t moved to the U.S. The author’s account includes nearly as much biographical information about her mother and grandmother as it does about herself, a testament to the extraordinary influences both women had upon her. (“Every child deserves a grandmother like mine,” Diamant writes. “She was never effusive, but everything said was meant and true.”) The author’s writing is clear and sharp, and her vivid anecdotal reports of her life are typically accompanied by meditative reflections on a wide range of issues, from geopolitics to poverty. The book describes her childhood as “poor but not miserable,” delivering a welcome counterpoint to Western depictions of life in postwar Yugoslavia that sensationally emphasize squalor and despair. The deaths of her mother and grandmother are poignantly discussed as transformative moments in her life, as is the dissolution of Yugoslavia, the three pillars of her self-conception. The memoir’s most satisfying aspect is the artful way the author seamlessly combines the general and the particular, making her own life a microcosm of universally relevant human dramas. In response to a postcard her uncle sent in 1938, she wrote: “What existential uncertainty—both personal and of the times.” The reader will likely feel the same about this affecting remembrance. A deep, vibrant recollection of a fascinating life lived in tumultuous times.


RUINED

THE RABBI OF RESURRECTION BAY

Everhart, Ruth Tyndale House (304 pp.) $22.99 | $14.99 paper | $14.99 e-book Aug. 2, 2016 978-1-4964-1392-5 978-1-4964-1316-1 paper A memoir offers extensive reportage of a sexual assault and a reflection on the author’s future course and evolving faith. Everhart (Chasing the Divine in the Holy Land, 2012) has been a Presbyterian pastor for more than 25 years. Being raped as a young woman sparked a bitter faith crisis and a long journey toward healing and the ministry. One night in November 1978, two masked African-American gunmen broke into the home she and five other female Calvin College seniors shared in a rough area of Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was ostensibly a robbery, but they also raped all but one hostage. Mini explanatory flashbacks give background about Everhart’s upbringing in the conservative Dutch Reformed Church and her unfamiliarity with blacks; rather than breaking up the narrative flow, these sections maintain tension throughout the incident. Admirably, the book faces ironies and grim realities head-on: when one gunman ordered her to strip, Everhart sucked in her stomach; she was menstruating heavily, so hospital staff administering a rape kit had to remove two tampons. She’d been raised to accept the Calvinist doctrine of God’s sovereignty, meaning nothing is random: was rape her punishment for having consensual sex during her summer job at Yellowstone? “I had bought into an idea of sexual sin that was unequal,” she remarks, with heavier punishment falling on women. This notion of being “ruined,” which intensified after her affair with a married man, haunted the author for years, even after the crime’s ringleader was sentenced to life in prison. Only gradually, through attending multiracial and women-led churches of other denominations, did she overcome her fear of African-American men and reclaim the possibility of biblical feminism. Incorporating trial documents (including transcripts of the prosecutor’s closing argument and a defendant’s and judge’s court statements) and an excerpted seminary essay, the perfectly balanced volume has equal relevance for readers of true crime and progressive theology. This consistently riveting book ends with Everhart’s tender letter to her daughters, reassuring them that a woman’s worth is not dictated by sexual experiences. “Love and suffering are tied together” through Christ’s incarnation, she insists, yet “we are all more than what happens to us.” Forthright, compassionate, and expertly crafted— everything readers should want from a memoir.

Goldsmith, Seth B. CreateSpace (354 pp.) $15.95 paper | $3.99 e-book Sep. 10, 2015 978-1-5150-9434-0 An unexpected tragedy in the life of a selfish man leads to sweeping changes. In his fiction debut, Goldsmith (Lost and Found, 2011, etc.) wastes no time in acquainting readers with the many personal shortcomings of one of his main characters, popular and successful South Florida plastic surgeon Marc Cohn, a narcissistic, unfeeling jerk. One positive force in Marc’s life, in the years before this story begins, was his wife, Cathy, beloved by everybody in her community. When Cathy suddenly dies of a brain hemorrhage, Marc is shattered—and left as the sole caretaker of their moody and problematic teenage son, Max. Marc is gingerly trying to reach out to his son (whose care he mostly left to his wife) when his brother Norman, a public prosecutor in Alaska, asks him to help cover the shifts of the prison physician. Transplanted and out of his element, Marc encounters Hannah “Chani” Weissfogel Kahn, the rabbi of Resurrection Bay, Alaska, whose back story readers get in a handful of slightly overlong early chapters. Gradually, in short and straightforward chapters told with a refreshing lack of artifice, Goldsmith expands the narrative as Marc and Chani begin to feel attracted to each other, Max starts to get interested in Alaska’s famous Iditarod race, and Marc decides to become involved in relief medical work in Africa. Goldsmith’s ear for dialogue is superb, and his careful plotting allows an otherwise slightly outlandish tale to unfold naturally. The subplot centering on Max feels a bit rote, but the story of Marc’s rediscovery of his own humanity—and the pivotal but unassuming role Chani plays in that process—is believable and absorbing, as are the book’s depictions of its various locations. In particular, Alaska’s vistas and people are evoked with obvious affection. The novel’s emotional payoff in its concluding scenes is smoothly and confidently orchestrated, emotional without being saccharine, and the expansions on Jewish life and culture never feel forced. This is an accomplished debut novel. A solidly uplifting story of a plastic surgeon seeking redemption.

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Even students who have never been to another country should identify with Junior’s struggle to belong—especially children targeted by bullies. anthills and racing feet

MANEUVER AND BATTLE IN THE MEXICAN REVOLUTION Rise of the Praetorians

ANTHILLS AND RACING FEET A Boy Leaves His Island Village to Live in Big City, New York

Janssens, Joe Lee Revolution Publishing (738 pp.) $39.95 paper | Nov. 20, 2015 978-0-9964789-0-8

A debut book provides the first comprehensive account of military operations during the Mexican Revolution to appear in English. For reasons both practical and ideological, history scholars have long neglected to rigorously study the Mexican Revolution as a uniquely interesting military event. Instead, it has been interpreted as little more than the stage for unsophisticated guerrilla actions. In this work, Janssens dismantles that longheld prejudice, arguing that the full spectrum of conventional warfare was on display, including genuinely masterly strategy. The book subdivides into three sections, or “volumes,” that neatly correspond to the three successive phases of the war: the initial rebellion spearheaded by Francisco I. Madero, the grandscale mutiny against the Huertista regime, and the final year, in which the revolution devolved into civil war. The author also challenges the prevailing view regarding the role the U.S. played in the revolution, acknowledging its significance as a source of influence but debunking the theory that it determined Mexico’s fate like a puppet master. This requires a searching examination of American policies and interests, which shift in various ways over the course of two presidential administrations. Finally, Janssens analyzes the fluid contours of what he refers to as the “Defense Establishment,” an investigation that hinges upon a historical understanding of modern warfare in general. The author was granted access to Mexico’s official defense archives—a rare coup—and the breadth of literature on the Mexican Revolution he considered is dizzying. Janssens, clearly intent on breaking new scholarly ground, spiritedly attacks the conventional theories regarding the genesis of the revolution; of particular interest is his discussion of the limitations of a reductively Marxist interpretation. The author openhandedly acknowledges that such a mountain of minutiae might exhaust the reader’s patience; it often seems as if the goal of comprehensiveness comes at the expense of readability. This is certainly not for the casual reader looking for a breezy introduction. The monograph, ambitiously designed to be both encyclopedic and iconoclastic, succeeds on both grounds. It is hard to imagine a study more sweeping in scope, more liberated from the regnant ideologies, or more scrupulously researched. It is unfortunate that its length (698 pages) and obsessive details will likely prove prohibitive to all but the most tenacious professionals. A remarkable examination of the Mexican Revolution that should be regarded as a watershed contribution to the field.

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Johnson, Karlene Illus. by Williams, Wade LifeRichPublishing (52 pp.) $8.99 paper | $3.99 e-book | Oct. 2, 2015 978-1-4897-0520-4

A boy from Jamaica has trouble adjusting to his new life in New York City until he finds a talent that others respect in Johnson’s chapterbook debut. Junior loves his home in Sunset Village, Jamaica, and his grandmother. He’s nervous about having to say goodbye to move with his mother and stepfather to New York. Will America change him? Will he be like Troy and David, friends who left the island and returned unwilling to be active or get dirty? Will he have to learn to talk funny? Worse, when he arrives in New York, it’s nothing like the “heaven” he expected: “There were not even any real trees or flowers....Here and there a strange, sick-looking growth pretending to be a tree leaned with determination away from the draft of oncoming city traffic like ‘One-leg Willie’ on a busy afternoon in Sunset Village.” He finds a friend in Doug, who was born in Guyana and shares some interests, but neighborhood children call the pair “those crazy West Indian kids.” Things at school are even harder, as Junior finds himself the target of a bully. But eventually Junior discovers two strengths that help him fit in: his skill as a runner and his courage, both of which he can express through track. Johnson’s voice rings true to the immigrant experience; she’s an immigrant, and Junior’s coming-of-age story is based on her son’s experiences. Junior’s first-person narration uses evocative imagery from Jamaica, and the cadence of his words feels authentic for a fourth-grader. Despite the tale’s focus on immigration, even students who have never been to another country should identify with Junior’s struggle to belong—especially children targeted by bullies. For those who have immigrants in their classrooms, this book provides an excellent way to start conversations about moving to another country and learning to adapt. Williams’ black-and-white illustrations perfectly match the tone of the chapters and capture Junior’s adjustments. A strong tale about an immigrant’s experiences for older elementary school readers.


THE SHIVA SYNDROME

LIFE GOES ON Journey of a Liver Transplant Recipient

Joshua, Alan Champagne Books (474 pp.) $18.95 paper | $1.99 e-book | Sep. 2, 2015 978-1-77155-206-6 A professor and parapsychology researcher discovers a key to mankind’s evolution or destruction in this debut thriller. Beau Walker is a man without a field. Teaching at a backwater university after being dismissed from a government project because of his ethical concerns and bureaucratic maneuvers on the part of a one-time friend, Walker is an academic pariah until two soldiers appear one day. His former friend needs Walker’s expertise, and the professor—who is haunted by both his empathic abilities and the memory of the one time they failed him—has little choice but to cooperate. In the Russian city of Podol’sk, a project partially based on Walker’s work has gone horribly awry, killing thousands and leaving traces of mysteries that threaten humanity’s scientific understanding. Discovering what occurred, and how to prevent it from happening again, falls on Walker and his new friends, who are initially perplexed (in a meeting, Walker confesses, “There’s something I can’t grasp, like trying to grab a slippery ball in a swimming pool. Always just out of reach”). But as secrets and revelations accumulate, the team’s combined knowledge and abilities may be inadequate to stop what’s coming. Throughout the investigation, Walker, a complex intellectual, struggles with the duality of his heritage—African-American mother, Mohawk father—as well as the divide between the rigorous scientific experiments in neurophysiology and psychopharmacology and the intuitive, imaginative aspects of his psychological and cultural studies. Joshua writes with a sure hand, managing to squeeze in many discussions and esoteric concepts, ranging from mythic structures to neuropsychology to remote viewing, while keeping the dialogue realistic and sharp. Although the author leans on slang a bit heavily at times, particularly with the British geologist Gareth (whose dialogue self-consciously uses British colloquialisms such as “munted” and “Bollocks!” at every opportunity), the pace rarely flags, and Joshua allows the surfeit of information to proceed naturally from the characters’ words and thoughts. Because of this fluidity, the characters react in believable ways even when the plot developments, which borrow from quantum physics, anthropology, and psychology, inspire incredulity. In addition, Joshua has crafted an appealing protagonist in Walker. Short-tempered, kind, thoughtful, yet impulsive, he is a flawed but ultimately heroic character and serves as a narrative linchpin throughout this absorbing story. Deft dialogue, crisp plotting, and a likable central figure make this multidisciplinary scientific adventure an exuberant and involving read.

Jowett, Christine FriesenPress (296 pp.) $32.99 | $20.99 paper | $12.99 e-book Jul. 27, 2015 978-1-46-026709-7 978-1-46-026710-3 paper

A memoirist spares no detail about her life with chronic liver disease. Jowett was in the eighth grade when her liver first acted up. Her “sick, jaundiced skin and glowing yellow eyes” were symptoms of what would eventually be diagnosed as autoimmune hepatitis, a debilitating condition she would battle well into adulthood. From a small town in Ontario to the University of Victoria to Arizona, Michigan, the Netherlands, and back to Canada, Jowett tried to live a normal life while managing her disease. She built relationships with gastroenterologists at each locale, had monthly blood tests, took lots of medication, struggled with her weight, and handled complicated health insurance issues, but for the most part, life was good. She got married, earned a nursing degree, and had a baby. It was during her second pregnancy that her disease took a dire turn, leading to incapacitating symptoms, hospitalization, and a harrowing birth. For the next six years, she endured worse and worse as she waited to become sick enough for a liver transplant. “My body and mind wanted to fight to live,” she says, “but with each illness I acquired, I felt my physical self become weaker and weaker.” Through it all, she never quit. When finally placed on the transplant list, she had just days to live. In her debut, Jowett doesn’t shy away from the tough stuff. With unabashed honesty, she describes gruesome details about what her body went through. Those unfamiliar with malfunctioning livers will be shocked to learn all the side effects, including an enlarged spleen, gallstones, and others; thankfully, Jowett aptly explains complicated medical procedures and biological workings. She doesn’t always focus on the disease, and many pages recount other anecdotes about her life. There are some interesting stories—how a hypnotist freed her of a needle phobia, life in Europe, etc.—but some details will likely be interesting only to loved ones. Readers learn, for example, that while Jowett was bedridden as a child, she mixed the colors wrong in a paint-bynumber kit. Toward the end of the book, several chapters provide background on how organ donation works, with stories of other transplant recipients. A frank, thorough read that proves the importance of organ donation.

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INTERVIEWS & PROFILES

Jasinda Wilder

IF SOMEONE TELLS YOU THEY’RE AN OVERNIGHT SUCCESS, THEY MIGHT BE…LYING By Poornima Apte Jasinda Wilder and Jack Wilder are pen names for a Michigan couple who turned to self-publishing as a way out of dire economic straits. They have written many bestsellers in the romance genre under the name Jasinda Wilder, and husband and wife each also independently write other novels. Jasinda Wilder’s titles, which include Alpha, Stripped, Wounded, and the No. 1 Amazon.com and inJasinda Wilder ternational bestseller Falling Into You, have hit the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal lists. What made you decide to go the self-publishing route instead of the traditional model? When did you start? Well, I actually started out as an indie, but now that I’ve partnered with Berkley to publish Madame X and the rest of that series, I’m a hybrid author. We took the chance on self-publishing and were fortunate enough to succeed. I say fortunate, because there’s always luck involved. But the real secret is that in order to succeed at anything, you have to put in the hours, sweat, blood, and tears. You have to earn your place by honing your skills, so that when luck strikes, you’re in a position to capitalize. Going self-pub was a risk, but for us, it paid off. Was there one single thing that you did that made the difference in your career? There is no such thing, in any industry, as an overnight success. When Falling Into You started blowing up, we began to be noticed by various media outlets. We were featured in a segment on CBS Evening News, telling the story of how close we were to losing our home and then, thanks to the success of our books, we were able to turn our fortunes around. That story was also picked up by various other news outlets even as far away as Australia. 142

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What’s kind of funny to us, though, is that while most people would say Falling Into You was our moment in the spotlight and that the success of that book helped catapult us to the next level—both of which are true—the truth is Falling Into You wasn’t our first book. It wasn’t even our third or fourth! And when that moment hit, we started working harder than ever to capitalize on the success. How do you market and promote your books? Do you find that to be a distraction? I wish I could include some kind of magic marketing pill, but really, nothing like that exists in my experience. Write the best book you can. Write outside the box. Know the rules of your genre, and then break them intentionally, with a specific purpose. In Falling Into You, not only did what appeared to be the main love interest die in the fourth chapter, we put that chapter on our website as a teaser. That broke a lot of rules. Try everything. If you were to give three pieces of advice for an author who is considering self-publishing, what would they be? The next book should always be your No. 1 priority. Never spend money on marketing unless you’re absolutely sure you’ll make your money back and then some. Always hire the best you can afford when it comes to cover art and editing services, but keep your formatting clean and simple. Try new things; that’s important. We partnered with a huge group of other successful indie and hybrid authors to create our own booth at BEA. It was pretty cool, and it gained us a lot of helpful networking connections. Poornima Apte is a Boston-area freelance writer and editor with a passion for books.


In vivid, graceful prose, [Kincaid] offers an honest account of the burdens of Alzheimer’s patients. come live with me

HELP YOUR DOG FIGHT CANCER Empowerment for Dog Owners

COME LIVE WITH ME A Memoir of Family, Alzheimer’s, and Hope Kincaid, Barbara K. CreateSpace (294 pp.) $11.99 paper | $7.99 e-book Sep. 30, 2015 978-1-5176-1343-3

Kaplan, Laurie JanGen Press (272 pp.) $29.99 paper | Feb. 1, 2016 978-0-9754794-3-8 This comprehensive guide to canine cancer delivers standard veterinary information and advice in language that average dog owners will understand. Kaplan (So Easy to Love, So Hard to Lose, 2010, etc.) has a background in editing veterinary school texts and writing about animals, but her experience caring for her late Siberian husky, Bullet, directly inspired this book. “About half of our dogs will have cancer in their lifetimes,” she learned, “yet most dog owners know little or nothing about caring for a dog with cancer.” Moreover, although some 10,000 dogs are diagnosed with cancer daily, she says, only 250 American veterinarians specialize in oncology. This book thus serves as a layman’s compendium about veterinary oncology, including information on diagnostic tests, treatment methods, side effects, and end-of-life care. As in humans, genetics and diet play a major role in canine cancer, but environmental carcinogens may be more influential, Kaplan says, as dogs are in closer contact with fertilizers and household cleaning products. Treatment options for dogs are also similar to those for people: surgery, followed by radiation or chemotherapy. Luckily, the author says, “Dogs tolerate chemotherapy better than people do,” with minimal hair loss and quick recovery. The book includes lists of symptoms and discussions of types of cancer along with italicized, often illustrated case studies from pet owners, which lend this informative text a personal touch. Kaplan also contributes heartfelt reminiscences of Bullet’s medical history; as a four-year lymphoma survivor, he was a successful outlier. She recommends comparing clinics’ fees and getting second opinions; to that end, she provides helpful sets of questions to ask one’s veterinarian. Getting chemo drugs directly from suppliers, she says, can cut costs, while complementary medicines and human-grade food can contribute to continued health. The book turns sappy when Kaplan discusses “pawspice” care and the “Rainbow Bridge” where departed dogs go—a whimsical shift after the preceding down-to-earth advice. Still, she reassuringly acknowledges that “the loss of a pet is like any loss. Grief is grief.” (Kaplan also mentions the Magic Bullet Fund she launched in 2004, which assists dog owners who can’t afford cancer treatment.) An invaluable resource for providing top-notch care for man’s best friend.

In this luminous debut memoir, a woman struggles to care for her Alzheimer’s-stricken mother, experiencing exhaustion, heartache, moments of joy, and a renewed connection to her loved ones. Kincaid, an only child who never married, spent a decade caring for her mother, Dixie Garrett Kincaid, after she began suffering from dementia, eventually taking her into her own Arlington, Virginia, home. As the disease progressed from forgetfulness to eccentricity to losses of reason, self-control, and language, the author found herself becoming a parent to her mother, whom she often characterizes as being as helpless and demanding as an infant yet big and mobile enough to cause chaos. Kincaid is unsparing about the realities of Alzheimer’s care, describing her mother’s hygiene problems and violent outbursts; her sometimes-charming, sometimes-infuriating habit of hiding clothes and household objects; and her recurrent medical emergencies, exacerbated by her inability to explain what was wrong. The author also describes her own sleep deprivation and her feelings of intense guilt when she had to deposit her mother in respite care to let herself recuperate. She cogently criticizes the nationwide Alzheimer’s-care network for its frequent lapses and callousness, castigates doctors for making cavalier treatment decisions without considering her mother’s circumstances, and accuses a nursing facility of making false medical claims to justify sending her mother back to the hospital. The author’s wrangles with HMO doctors to get treatment for her own serious ailments, including breast cancer, constitute an appalling health care horror story of its own. But there are also rewards here: her mother’s once-difficult temperament improves as she experiences happiness, satisfaction, and episodes of clarity, and Kincaid’s caregiving results in a deeper familial bond. The author sets the story of her care against descriptions of her fraught relationship with her mother before her decline and of the strong, inspirational women in her extended family. In vivid, graceful prose, she offers an honest account of the burdens of Alzheimer’s patients without losing sight of their importance in the lives of those who care for them. A cleareyed, moving portrait of Alzheimer’s and the family ties that transcend it.

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RISUKO A Kunoichi Tale

THIEVES NEVER STEAL IN THE RAIN

Kudler, David Stillpoint Digital Press (230 pp.) $26.99 | $12.99 paper | Jun. 15, 2016 978-1-938808-32-6 978-1-938808-34-0 paper

Labozzetta, Marisa Guernica Editions (198 pp.) $20.00 paper | Mar. 1, 2016 978-1-77183-050-8

In this YA historical novel set in Japan’s Sengoku period, a girl who adores climbing attends an unusual school. “Your mother sold you to me this morning.” With this, young Kano Murasaki, called Risuko (Squirrel) for her love of climbing, learns she’s to accompany imperious old Lady Chiyome’s palanquin. Risuko’s father was a samurai, a prestigious occupation in war-torn 16th-century Japan. After being disgraced, he had to find work as a scribe; he taught Risuko to read and write, but with him now dead, the family is near starving—and Risuko’s best option is to comply. The traveling party undergoes a cold and dangerous journey as it tries to dodge the fighting between rival warlords. Along the way, Risuko displays some of her abilities—not just climbing, but calligraphy, bird calls, and presence of mind when attacked. When they finally reach the Mochizuki compound, Risuko becomes a novice, believing that she’s being trained as a shrine attendant. There’s talk of initiates becoming kunoichi, which no one will explain: “you’ll just have to find out on your own.” At first, the novices perform only menial tasks, especially kitchen work, but they eventually receive lessons in music, singing, and dancing. But suspicion and intrigue (both political and romantic), plus attempted thievery and worse, tear apart the Mochizuki community, leading to a dramatic confrontation with the truth. Kudler (How Raven Brought Back the Light, 2014, etc.) draws on one of the most fascinating elements of Japan’s feudal period—the kunoichi, or female ninja. (Mochizuki Chiyome is a historical figure who trained young women as spies and assassins, using cover identities such as shrine attendants, servants, and prostitutes.) Also intriguing are the cultural details that Kudler weaves into his story, such as the Retreat, a small building where Mochizuki’s women stay during their periods. The characters are nicely varied and all the pieces fit into place deftly, such as how Risuko’s dance movements and kitchen skills can be used in fighting. A tight, exciting, and thoughtful first volume in what promises to be a fine series about a female ninja.

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A collection of short stories about the women in a tightknit family and the sometimes-supernatural difficulties they face. The Ficola women are the protagonists of this newest work by Labozzetta (Sometimes It Snows in America, 2013, etc.), featuring 10 stories that each explore a different challenge of marriage or motherhood. Joanna struggles to save her marriage after the death of her child, while Rosemary struggles to save herself after the death of her marriage. Nancy faces family-related illness and adoption simultaneously, Barbara works to redefine herself after her children grow up and move out, and Angie searches for confidence in her own body. Labozzetta gives each character her own quirks (Joanna is artistic, Barbara is a hoarder, and so on), though at times it seems they all share one indistinct narrative voice. Still, the author successfully weaves a web of interlocking stories, with each woman moving in and out of the lives of her family members. The best stories are those that the author imbues with an unsettling sense of the supernatural. In “Villa Foresta,” for example, Joanna becomes convinced that an Italian peasant girl is the reincarnation of her daughter, while her empirical husband begins to worry for her mental condition. The scenario itself is intriguing, but it’s the conflict between grieving husband and wife that drives the story forward. “The Birthing Room” is another supernatural standout, in which the author turns the story of a mother with an empty nest into a classic poltergeist story. Both tales reflect Labozzetta’s greatest strength: taking common material—parenthood, adultery, illness—and adding something slightly uncanny. At the same time, the formula also reflects some of the author’s weaker points. For example, her premises are often stronger than her prose; her dialogue, in particular, occasionally feels unvaried and overly explanatory. Nonetheless, the characters maintain a strong, distinctly female voice throughout. They’re world-weary and wiser for it, and readers will want to enter that world. Most of the 10 stories could stand alone, but they gradually coalesce into a comprehensive, compelling family portrait—a whole that’s greater than the sum of the parts. Warm, often engaging stories about the challenges of five women midway through their lives’ journeys.


IN HER OWN SWEET TIME Egg Freezing and the New Frontiers of Family

Lehmann-Haupt, Rachel Nothing But The Truth Publishing (312 pp.) $28.95 | $15.95 paper | $4.99 e-book Feb. 11, 2016 978-0-9963074-6-8 978-0-9963074-5-1 paper A journalist and single mom updates her memoir/social sciences book about emerging routes to parenthood. In 2009, Lehmann-Haupt (DIY Mom, 2014, etc.) published the first edition of this work. It intertwined her first-person memoir about being a 30-something, world-traveling journalist, wondering whether she should have a child on her own, with research and interviews regarding such techniques as egg and embryo freezing. At the end of the previous edition, the author, after several disappointing romantic breakups, decided to freeze her eggs, noting, “We have more options than ever; understanding them can empower us and, perhaps most important, turn panic into peace.” In this latest edition, she adds footnotes to her previous research, including new findings that showcase how egg-freezing and related technologies have risen in popularity. She also shares the latest news from her own life, including a move from New York City to the San Francisco Bay Area and, most significantly, her decision to have a son, Alexander, at age 40, by using her frozen eggs and an anonymous but highly vetted sperm donor. Now in her mid-40s, Lehmann-Haupt is hopeful that “my husband and Alexander’s adoptive father is out there,” and she marvels at how she and other people she’s met are “on the edge of where families are evolving, consciously and creatively.” In this new edition, she gracefully combines a revealing, engaging memoir with admirably nuanced social commentary. Although she celebrates the joys of being a “DIY mom,” she also depicts its consequences and challenges, such as the idea that a sperm donor may later have contact with his myriad offspring. Readers who are interested in exploring alternative routes to parenthood will, of course, have to do further research beyond this book. But Lehmann-Haupt tees up the topic quite nicely here, in a personable, relatable voice. Her fine-tuned prose is a particular strength, as when she grieves her grandmother’s death while in the arms of a less-than-ideal boyfriend: “as he holds me I feel the generations shift.” An accessible, insightful look at today’s modern families.

ALPHA BETA ZERO TO ZILLION WORD CODES FOR NUMBERS

Lekwuwa, Godwin AuthorHouse (192 pp.) $30.51 | $18.24 paper | $4.99 e-book Dec. 28, 2015 978-1-5049-9509-2 978-1-5049-9508-5 paper

Debut author Lekwuwa delivers a guidebook about a system for remembering numbers. Welcome to the Alpha Beta Zero to Zillion word-code system, a method that the author says “can be used to convert any given number to word code equivalents.” His book provides consonant abbreviations that can be used to denote numbers zero through nine; for example, the number 5 can be represented by either “L” or “V.” The idea is to then create a word that will encompass the number (or numbers) that one wants to remember. Vowels have no values in the system, so consonants may be joined with any vowel that’s convenient. As the author explains, “The consonants act as bricks in which numbers are inscribed. The vowels act as mortar which bond the bricks together.” For instance, one could represent the number 456 with the word “Files” (four is “F,” “I” is neutral, five is “L,” “E” is neutral, six is “S”) or, as the author suggests, “False” or “Flies.” Lekwuwa devotes the bulk of the book to similar suggestions (for example, 6063 may be remembered as “Sarasota” and 8634 as “Justify”), and once readers learn the basics, they could feasibly memorize all sorts of other numbers using words. Although the book’s initial premise of associating, say, the number five with the letter “L” isn’t necessarily intuitive, one need only learn a few rules to open up a world of numbered possibilities. The method may perhaps be clumsy for smaller numbers; wouldn’t it be easier to simply remember “456” than the word “Files” and a decoding system? However, the beauty of such a process comes from encoding and decoding larger numbers. Also, the encoder has great leeway in making words of their own choosing, which allows for a degree of elegance. The author is keen to point out that although he provides many suggestions, “users are entitled to use alternative words which are more appealing to them.” Those who are willing to learn the system’s foundation will have more than their share of bricks and mortar at their disposal. A number-remembering system that works, although mastering it may take some practice.

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Lewis writes with an enthusiasm for her subject in a style that is breezy, informal, and a joy to read. selling to heroes, villains and geeks

SELLING TO HEROES, VILLAINS AND GEEKS An Insider’s Guide for New Anime Vendors

CONSPICUOUS GALLANTRY

Linden, Daniel CreateSpace (320 pp.) $18.95 paper | $6.95 e-book Oct. 17, 2015 978-1-5089-5211-4

Lewis, Jill M. Anime Vendor (201 pp.) $19.95 e-book | Oct. 2, 2015 978-0-9964536-0-8

This book provides a comprehensive guide to becoming a vendor at anime, comic, and sci-fi conventions. Lewis likes to call herself a “vendorpreneur” who has carved out a very successful niche: selling products at conventions that appeal to pop-culture enthusiasts. In an instructive debut book supplemented with color photographs, Lewis painstakingly details a selling process to help the novice vendor establish a business, avoid pitfalls, and follow in her footsteps. The author begins with five “cardinal rules,” an overview of basic strategies concerning customer psychology, merchandise acquisition and selection, and pricing. Part 2 comprises the bulk of the book; here, Lewis offers a “Business Battle Plan Blueprint” that walks through every step, in sequence, a vendor needs to take to prepare for and attend a convention. Each phase, positioned as an “assignment,” includes simple step-by-step instructions, augmented when necessary by illustrative examples from websites as well as photographs. Phases include conducting online research, finding unique items on Japanese sites, investigating wholesalers, and crafting a merchandise plan. This portion of the book is sure to be of great value to the beginner and could help even experienced vendors improve their game plans. In Part 3, Lewis wraps up with a useful overview of convention registration requirements and logistics. She also uses photographs of her own booth to illustrate stall setup and merchandise placement. Throughout, Lewis sprinkles “Sensei tips,” short pearls of wisdom based on her experiences, as well as “Oops alerts,” which highlight “regrettable new-vendor decisions that led to disastrous sales results.” At the end of this entertaining book, the author appends a listing of “trusted suppliers” that should save the reader considerable research time. Lewis writes with an enthusiasm for her subject in a style that is breezy, informal, and a joy to read. Her merchandising expertise and knowledge of the subject matter shine through as she delivers on the promise of the volume’s subtitle: “An insider’s guide for new anime vendors.” Engaging, well organized and deftly written; a treasure trove of valuable information for those who want to sell at specialized conventions.

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A seriously wounded soldier wrestles with the trauma and guilt that haunt him in this novel. Sgt. Charley Cooper is a battle-hardened Marine whose life—and mind—is suddenly shattered by an IED while stationed in Afghanistan. He suffers from extraordinary burns— his body is considerably scarred from the incident, leaving him noticeably disfigured. Even worse, he’s afflicted by a debilitating amnesia, remembering very little of his wartime experiences (“He tried to see the face of his Company Commander, or Gunny Morrison but they would not materialize. He knew he should be able to see his platoon leader’s face, but the likable young, 2nd Lieutenant was gone”). This makes it nearly impossible to overcome the post-traumatic stress disorder that originates in horror he cannot confront. His wife, Annie, struggles to comfort him, but Charley withdraws into his own solipsistic paralysis, finding solace in lonely inactivity. But as the distance between them grows, and financial distress creeps in, Annie threatens to leave Charley if he can’t find a path to recovery. Charley calls his Uncle David, hoping to score some free firewood in advance of a cold Maine winter, and David comes to visit to help him log the territory. Eventually, David and Charley start a logging business together, and that purposeful labor and an experimental medical procedure help Charley chart the course back to both remembrance and self-forgiveness. Linden (The Content of Character, 2011, etc.) masterfully contrasts the defensive inwardness of both David and Charley; David has Asperger’s syndrome, and he, too, frequently retreats into the inner recesses of his mind to hide from life’s major and minor stresses. This dysfunction equips him, though, to deeply understand Charley’s tendencies, and he often remarks upon this with a bracing candor that many would not voice. David confronts challenges of his own, and the book provides flashbacks to the time he spent logging the property with his Uncle Bjorn, which helps him to assist Charley. The author’s prose, spare and direct, potently conveys the emotional angst of men not naturally predisposed to introspection. While the subject matter lends itself to a cloying sentimentality or a neat and uplifting denouement, Linden exercises admirable restraint in avoiding both. This brief work poignantly expresses the havoc combat wreaks on even the hardiest warriors. A powerful, unflinching examination of the psychological wages of war.


COWGIRLS AND INDIANS

ZENJI & THE MUZZY BUG The Mindful & Magical Sleep Solution

Lindquist, Nancy Ruth Manuscript

A young widow rides across Minnesota to attend a motorcycle rally in South Dakota, engaging in a spiritual journey of self-discovery along the way in Lindquist’s debut romance. Karen Dahl is a born-again Christian who decides to honor her late husband’s memory by participating in a pilgrimage of bikers to Sturgis, South Dakota, where her best friend and sister-in-law, Rita, lives. As the book opens, Karen is getting ready for a motorcycle class, as she struggles to master the vehicles that her husband had adored. Although she’s unsure if she’s ready, she finally hits the road, embarking on a multiday, harrowing journey aboard a vintage bike. Along the way, she questions the sanity of her plan and several times considers turning back. An inner voice propels her onward, though, and so she gets the opportunity to visit many quirky motels and rest stops along her route. At each stop, she encounters engaging characters, the most noteworthy of whom is an attractive man named Jack who’s also headed to Sturgis. They connect quickly and end up traveling in tandem for a chunk of the ride. Lindquist reveals how Karen’s evolving relationship with Jack triggers poignant flashbacks of her troubled marriage, as well as memories about how her enduring friendship with Rita developed. As Karen travels closer to Sturgis, she struggles with difficult philosophical and religious questions regarding the intent of the God who allowed her husband’s ghastly death as well as what she wants from her own future. Throughout this absorbing, intricate tale, Lindquist captures the reader’s attention with thought-provoking plotlines as well as lyrical, artful prose. The story is also peppered with intriguing geographical details about the sights and people to be found in small towns between eastern Minnesota and western South Dakota. Lindquist provides such a thorough, nuanced character study of her protagonist that readers can’t help but get attached to her as the story unfolds. A unique tale of one woman’s progress and redemption, perfect for readers who enjoy philosophizing about God and motorcycles.

Madden, Aisl DesignBOS (31 pp.) $10.00 paper | $8.00 e-book Oct. 12, 2015 978-0-9570626-1-0

A bright green, kid-friendly monster does visualizations to defeat a cold in Madden’s children’s series debut. The sick “buddabug” Zenji, with his green and teal fur, long wings, and pitiful expression, is sure to grab young readers’ attention from the first page of this book. The preschool crowd will identify with his ailments, too: “His chest was wheezy, his forehead was clammy, and his whole body ached. In fact he was feeling rather cranky indeed.” Stuck inside with no friends but his teddy bear, Zenji is bored until Karma, the “little voice that lives inside” his head, appears to help guide him through a mindfulness drill to help him sleep. After he’s relaxed, Zenji envisions himself traveling through his own body to fight off the “muzzy bug” that’s keeping him sick. The soporific text’s meditative nature is perfect for youngsters who have trouble going to sleep at night. However, the idea that meditation helps children to use “magic” to get rid of their colds may frustrate some sick children and their parents. Madden’s computer-generated illustrations are charming throughout, especially when they combine words and images, as when Zenji learns to breathe in good, healthy air and breathe out what’s making him feel bad. The repetition of words such as “down,” “smaller,” and “deep,” among others, will help adult readers deliver the text slowly to children. The book’s guided journey through each part of the body will be very helpful in introducing kids to this style of mindful relaxation. The amount of text per page isn’t overwhelming, and newly independent readers may do well on their own, particularly given the text’s occasional use of rhyme. The title will likely work best as a read-aloud when a sleepy child is already under the covers. A vibrantly illustrated, relaxation-focused sleep story that has plenty of appeal.

DEATH OF A MESSENGER A Koa Kāne Hawaiian Mystery McCaw, Robert B. Langdon Street Press (428 pp.) $21.99 paper | $3.99 e-book Dec. 1, 2015 978-1-63413-780-5

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Digging into family secrets proves surprisingly suspenseful, and the end packs a satisfying emotional punch. white flutters in munich

When Hawaii County Chief Detective Koa Kāne is airlifted to Pōhakuloa, an Army live-fire training area on The Big Island, he faces a mutilated murder victim and the most challenging case of his career as an investigator. The body, found inside a natural lava tube cave, bears the markings of a ritualistic sacrifice. The crime scene also surprisingly unearths a long-buried royal crypt within an ancient stonecutters’ quarry, which fits nicely into Kāne’s suspicions of a grave robbery or an illegal archaeological dig. The investigation ramps up when the son of retired-gumshoe–turned-fisherman Hook Hao is seriously hurt while exploring an unsecured military range on neighboring island Kahoolawe, south of Maui. Having developed personal discipline from years in the Army, Kāne is well-respected in the Hawaiian Island chain as a loyal, hardworking native, and he navigates the homicide with slick precision, undaunted by a string of messy leads and bumbling interlopers quick to jump on the scene. In between all of the diligent police spadework, McCaw, a veteran attorney, softens the protagonist’s hardboiled exterior with a subplot involving his striking, younger girlfriend Nālani, who struggles with sexual harassment at her job in Mauna Kea. As the mystery deepens, the author masterly displays a finely balanced mixture of detective work, local color, and interpersonal melodrama. This winning combination is typically the mark of a seasoned writer, so this debut novel may exceed the expectations of many readers. McCaw keeps the sure-footed plotline suitably tight. As the narrative plumbs the history of Hawaiian archaeology and incorporates fascinating ancient island regal rituals, the area’s precious artifacts, and indigenous Polynesian customs, a complicated host of coinvestigators and various suspects emerge. From a smarmy, exMarine archaeologist with good intentions to a secretive prince, a violent black market contraband dealer, and a star-struck astrologer, the suspects present Kāne with an arduous task. The pressure’s on the detective to sift through these individuals to find a common link, or discard them all to uncover the true villain before tragedy strikes again. This book’s vivid, thrilling conclusion is both unique and atmospheric in a whodunit featuring a resilient sleuth successfully defending his native tropical paradise. A tautly paced, impressively accomplished police procedural marking the beginning of a promising mystery series.

LUCKY BOY

Morfit, Cameron Elevate Fiction (192 pp.) $11.99 paper | $5.99 e-book Feb. 16, 2016 978-0-9964655-0-2 The arrival of a distant relative shakes up the Buras household in new and unexpected ways in this debut middle-grade novel. With bad teeth and a checkered past, Dwight “Dewey” Tomlinson has been kicked around by life. So when a tip from a telephone psychic 148

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convinces him that connecting with eighth-grader Max Buras will clear up his karma, the 44-year-old makes a beeline for Boise, Idaho. Max is initially skeptical of Dewey’s claims. After all, who has ever heard of “bio-harmonic convergence”—Madam Hagar’s mystical explanation for why two people can act as each other’s good luck charms. But soon Max is a believer. Dewey hits a “hot streak” on the video poker machine at his hotel. And before long, the unpopular Max—manager of the school golf team with a body “shaped like a bag of marshmallows”—starts to see his luck turn as well. Even more stunning, after going four years without speaking, Max’s 10-year-old brother, Gabe, begins to talk again. Everything, Max reasons, is tied to Dewey’s arrival. So when the revelation of a chilling incident from Dewey’s past sends the tall man packing, it’s up to Max and his sister, Sadie, to keep Dewey—and the good luck he brings—in their lives. Morfit invests deeply in his characters, and the move pays off. Although the book’s first two chapters are relegated largely to scene-setting, the reader, slowly but surely, gets to know (and love) Max and Dewey. And by the time the plot heats up, it’s impossible not to root for the two protagonists in this powerful coming-of-age tale. Morfit’s treatment of Max expertly encapsulates the adolescent experience. As the novel progresses, the formerly flabby teen ditches his Coke-bottle glasses and starts working out. When a friend’s father remarks on his new physique, Max is conflicted: “For some reason he felt sort of apologetic about it, about not being the same kid who’d been Andy’s best friend, who’d whiled away all those after-school hours playing Ping-Pong and Scrabble.” Heartfelt and utterly original; a book about an unlikely alliance that should touch readers of all ages.

WHITE FLUTTERS IN MUNICH

Mularz, Joan Wright CreateSpace (262 pp.) $12.00 paper | $2.99 e-book Nov. 1, 2015 978-1-5188-7160-3

The Madigan family relocates to Munich, where another long-buried mystery awaits them in the second of a series aimed at preteen readers. Fourteen-year-old Ellen Madigan senses there’s a mystery to be solved as soon as she enters the house her family has rented for the year in Munich. Ellen is learning to trust her psychic ability, awakened in her previous adventure, which connects her to people from the past. New readers to the series shouldn’t worry; Mularz (Upheavals at Cuma, 2014) gives enough background information to keep them from feeling lost. Ellen soon learns that two young women died in the basement of the house during a bombing raid in World War II. But when she begins dreaming of one of the women, Liesi Falke, Ellen senses there is more to her story. With the help of Basti Hofstetter, the handsome boy next door, Ellen discovers that Liesi and her friend were medical students helping transport young children to the countryside, out of the reach of the Nazis.


The two girls faked their deaths to escape Germany, but there the trail goes cold. As she tracks down clues to their fates, Ellen immerses herself in local culture, learning the language and trying new foods and traditions. Mularz sensitively addresses Germany’s Nazi history, emphasizing the complicated feelings of present-day Germans about their past. “Hitler haunts us,” Basti tells Ellen. Ellen’s dreams depict Nazi Germany and reveal a little-known aspect of the resistance movement. While she unravels the historical mystery, Ellen juggles her growing crush on Basti and her desire to become more independent. A confident girl who loves science, Ellen is a terrific role model, but her natural doubts and insecurities also make her relatable. Occasionally, her psychic abilities too conveniently reveal the next clue, but a hefty amount of old-fashioned detective work provides balance. Digging into family secrets proves surprisingly suspenseful, and the end packs a satisfying emotional punch. A captivating read infused with a sense of history and culture.

and homeopathy, in particular, attract negative publicity. To counter these rejections, Perlin includes an invaluable section called “Research Results” after describing each treatment type, providing details of relevant evidence-based studies that suggest health benefits. She also addresses potential side effects and gives helpful statistics and case studies—some featuring famous people, such as singer Michael Jackson and President John F. Kennedy—to show the range of experiences that people have had. The book concludes on a daring note, proposing a Pain Treatment Parity Act that would require insurers to cover all credible pain treatments equally, not just pharmaceuticals. Readers who are suffering and in need of instant solutions may not want to wade through all the research and industry information in this book. However, its all-embracing approach makes it suitable for laymen and health care providers alike. A book that makes a convincing health care case, supported by extensive footnotes and references to scientific journals.

THE TRUTH ABOUT CHRONIC PAIN TREATMENTS The Best and Worst Strategies for Becoming Pain Free Perlin, Cindy Morning Light Books (302 pp.) $17.95 paper | $4.99 e-book Sep. 30, 2015 978-0-9966862-0-4

A comprehensive, impeccably researched debut handbook that focuses on alternative treatments for chronic pain. Perlin, a licensed clinical social worker and the former president of the Northeast Regional Biofeedback Society, runs an Albany, New York–area practice. Her primary concern is for the estimated 116 million Americans affected by chronic pain, whose treatment costs upward of $560 billion per year. She writes that she believes that current pharmaceutical treatments are sometimes ineffective and that alternative methods are “actively suppressed by the medical establishment.” Drug manufacturers, she says, can hide side effects; she also says that there might be funding bias, noting that the wealthy Mayo Clinic refuted Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling’s findings regarding vitamin C’s role in fighting cancer. The book starts by discussing some well-known treatment options—opioids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and pain injections—but quickly branches into less-obvious territory. In comparison to pharmaceuticals, the author says, mind/ body treatments are safe, cheap, and effective. Yet promising alternatives that might mitigate back and neck pain, fibromyalgia, and post-traumatic stress disorder—such as massage, nutrition, herbs, exercise, acupuncture, energy healing, laser therapy, and even marijuana—are barely on the radars of doctors or insurance companies, Perlin laments. All too often, she says, they’re dismissed as placebos, and chiropractic

SEX, DEATH, AND THE END OF THE WORLD: STORIES

Perper, Timothy & Cornog, Martha CreateSpace (144 pp.) $10.95 paper | $7.99 e-book | Jun. 2, 2015 978-1-5077-8061-9 The afterlife and otherworldly landscapes are breeding grounds for comic antics in this short story collection. Perper and Cornog (Mangatopia, 2011, etc.) set the framework for this group of bizarre stories with the opening, “The Tale of Lady Ptish and the Marvelous Organ.” In it, Lady Ptish is imprisoned by priests, who likewise slay her husband, Lord Ptu. Fortunately, Lord Ptu’s severed phallus escapes its alabaster-jar confinement and returns to Lady Ptish, battling priests and monsters along the way. There’s an unmistakable theme running throughout this book of life beyond death, but always with a winking eye. It may be Judgement Day, for example, in “Twilight of the Gods,” but angels, saints, and gods of all creeds don’t leave one another much elbow room. Likewise, in “Hereafterburn,” the late Aunt Rhoda comes back, but that might not necessarily be a good thing, depending on which “Other Side” she’s returning from. The collection tackles a number of sensitive issues, from sex to religion, but never treats them cynically or derogatorily. Jesus, for one, makes at least a couple of amusing appearances but remains an upstanding guy each time. The authors also draw humor from supernatural beings by zeroing in on their human qualities. “The Ghost of Sula Turog” just wants to tell her story; aliens arriving on Earth would be divine for half-alien Elisa Rossi in “Of Certain Paternity” because she could finally meet her father; and in “Uncle Farkas and the Communists,” a vampire reveals that the world’s biggest threat is likely communism. The best of the bunch, however, is “Job Search,” |

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The author makes room for some thoughtful digressions concerning physics, metaphysics, sin, and forgiveness. minimize

in which Lucifer walks the Earth to tempt people into sinning. It’s an uproarious tale, portraying the devil as perhaps a bit antiquated: he’s miserable up here, unable to find a virgin and unaware of what today’s humans would consider a sin. Most of the stories are decidedly short, but even “And to All a Good Night,” featuring a distraught Santa Claus, manages a twist in a mere five pages. This is a posthumous publication for Perper, and his wife/co-author, Cornog, ends the book with some insight into each story, including recurring themes or characters from earlier writings. Tales that examine notions of death with buoyancy and endless wit.

LOGGERHEAD A Mary Fisher Novel

Peters, T. A. CreateSpace (342 pp.) $14.00 paper | $2.99 e-book Sep. 22, 2015 978-1-5169-9496-0

Secret lesbians battle monstrous bigotry in 19th-century Florida in this rambunctious historical melodrama. Peters’ (One Little World, 2016, etc.) sixth Mary Fisher novel finds the protagonist and her lover, Abigail Greene, taking a breather from trauma in the seaside town of Loggerhead, Florida. Abigail recently lost her hand in an alligator mauling, and Mary has weathered sadistic psychiatric treatments for homosexuality. It’s 1896, so they’re definitely not open about their relationship, but the tall, raw-boned, close-cropped Mary easily passes as the petite, green-eyed Abigail’s husband. They settle in for a happy sojourn, basking in the warm accommodations and marvelous indoor plumbing at the local boardinghouse and dining on oysters; there’s even an exciting diversion when they chase down a jewel thief. But deeper shadows emerge in Loggerhead after Mary and Abigail intervene to stop a mob from lynching a falsely accused African-American man. They soon confront a conspiracy that involves bank robbery, child molestation, and an underground movement to install a fascist neo-Confederate regime in the statehouse. As the plot turns dark and gory, Mary unleashes her meditative sixth sense and her mighty left hand, which has a mind of its own that’s constantly yearning for violence. Peters steeps this yarn in period detail that’s not spoiled too much by her characters’ anachronistic tendency to cuss like cable-TV thugs. (Mary’s thick Scottish dialect, though, is a bit harder to take.) The story sometimes feels clichéd; bad and good guys are forever turning and re-turning the tables on one another after interludes of trash talk. However, the narrative moves along briskly, and the scenes are well-staged when jawing turns to fighting. Mary makes for an intriguing heroine: naïve, awkward, mannish, yet entranced by the more assertive Abigail. Despite lyrical lesbian love scenes, though, Mary’s greatest passion is for mayhem: “Something came over me as the life bled out of him, and like some sort of madwoman I began to shriek 150

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and scream out in some twisted ejaculation of joy as I rode atop his flailing body.” Readers will find themselves rooting for this Valkyrie as she mounts up for battle. A lurid, improbable, but rousing saga of a love that dared not yet speak its name.

MINIMIZE

Reed, D.K. Manuscript

A special remote control allows a Greene sister to explore, transform, and rescue in this YA sci-fi/paranormal adventure sequel to Snap to Grid: The Stones of Bothynus Trilogy, Book One (2015). In Book 1, Sonia “Red” Greene obtains her eccentric Uncle Alistair’s STAG (Snap To Alternate Grid) control, a scientific device with seemingly magical properties made from ancient artifacts. With it, she solves some mysterious disappearances and rescues her uncle, a scientist, as well as Erik Wolfeningen, the attractive graduate student who’s now her boyfriend. Now, in Book 2, her younger sister Anya, called Annie, 15, swipes a STAG control for the summer she’s spending at her grandmother’s farm in Tennessee, hoping for excitement. The control allows her to enter a hidden cave filled with elaborately carved and jeweled sculptures. Their creator, a tall, glowing, “exquisitely enchanting,” half-angelic being named Aaan, is trapped in an ethereal state between reincarnations. Annie awakens new energy in him (“For the first time in many, many years, he found himself interested in something. He felt his limbs begin to gain energy, his whole body awakening. Yes, it was time to awaken again. His curiosity had been piqued”). And he stirs strong feelings in her. Rescue missions in Iraq and Italy then seek to retrieve kidnapped family members, drawing on the STAG control’s several powers and Aaan’s assistance. In Book 2, Reed pleasingly extends her exploration of the STAG control’s properties and shows how it can also be put to practical use during the several stages of the two rescue missions, which are deftly conceived. The author makes room for some thoughtful digressions concerning physics, metaphysics, sin, and forgiveness, with an emphasis on compassion; the main characters’ love and courage, which are genuinely moving, bolster the book’s exploits. Though the dual rescues bear similarities, the differences are sufficient to hold reader interest. And Aaan, with his combination of otherworldly beauty and guiltinduced, broody isolation, makes a perfect love interest for an emotional but inexperienced girl. Some matters are left unresolved, but all is well-prepared for Book 3. Science and mysticism blend smoothly in this second outing, which again offers appealing characters and an action-packed plot.


LOVE HURTS A Speculative Fiction Anthology

Reeks, Tricia—Ed. Meerkat Press (260 pp.) $16.99 paper | $9.99 e-book Dec. 1, 2015 978-0-9966262-2-4

In this anthology of short speculative fiction, debut editor Reeks gathers 26 stories about love—and the jealousy, sacrifice, and pain that can haunt even the most devoted hearts. “I’ve always had a taste for dark,” says Reeks in her introduction, and she goes on to prove it with a top-shelf selection of tales, 20 of which are original to this book. They run the gamut of sci-fi and fantasy subgenres: there’s the gory horror of Matt Leivers’ “The Ghûl” and David Stevens’ “The Boulevardier”; the quickly sketched dystopias of Steve Simpson’s “Jacinta’s Lovers” and Michal Wojcik’s “Iron Roses”; and the time-travel troubles of Michael Milne’s “Traveler” and G. Scott Huggins’ “Past Perfect.” Although most of the stories focus on heterosexual romance, Reeks also features LGBT authors, such as io9 editor Charlie Jane Anders, whose snarky urban-fantasy tale, “Fairy Werewolf vs. Vampire Zombie,” is as laugh-out-loud funny as the title implies, and A. Merc Rustad, whose beautiful story, “The Sorcerer’s Unattainable Gardens,” gets the anthology off to a strong start. She also includes tales about different types of love, such as Jeff Vandermeer’s “A Heart for Lucretia,” about a brother who’s willing to give up anything for his sister, even himself, and Mel Paisley’s short but heartbreaking “A Concise Protocol for Efficient Deicide,” in which a captive alien soothes a mutilated human child with dreams of escaping the scientists who hold them both, so they can go someplace “Where they could understand something without breaking it.” Other standouts include “Virgin of the Sands” by Holly Phillips, set in a World War II–era North Africa, where an army-intelligence group employs a necromancer; “Back to Where I Know You,” by Victoria Zelvin, in which two women struggle to prevent their memories of each other from being erased; and “While (U>I)I- -;” by Hugh Howey, a tear-jerker about an android who meticulously ages himself for the sake of his robot-hating wife. A well-organized, wide-ranging collection of consistently strong genre stories.

ZOE’S SIDEWALK

Robinson, Tiffany Illus. by Matsuoka, Yoko La Peche Books (58 pp.) $9.95 paper | $2.99 e-book | Oct. 13, 2013 978-0-615-89353-2 A little girl realizes she can’t help her grandmother until she helps her community in this moving debut by Robinson, featuring Matsuoka’s fantastic illustrations of a modern African-American family. Eleven-year-old Zoe is very close to her grandmother, which makes it particularly hard to cope with life after Gram’s heart attack. The doctors have said Gram needs more exercise to help her recover and be healthy. Gram proposes a walk after dinner, which Zoe thinks is a great idea—until her mother points out that, without sidewalks, Gram’s unsteady walking won’t be safe. Zoe’s worry grows until, at school, a visiting guest who works for the city tells the students they can submit photographs of things in their neighborhood that make it difficult to be healthy. The story follows a predictable, but nonetheless powerful, pattern as Zoe takes photos of her neighborhood’s streets, showing that the lack of sidewalks makes it difficult to be a pedestrian. (There are depictions of her taking the photos but no actual photos.) Her project is chosen to compete in front of the mayor, though Zoe doesn’t expect to win first prize. Along the way, Zoe has very few hurdles to overcome except waiting and doing her best. The lack of tension works well: the story shows young readers, especially those of disadvantaged communities, that with time, effort, and the right advocates, they can make a difference. Robinson, who has worked on Photovoice projects but is unaffiliated with the company, puts her real-world experience into an easy-to-grasp format. Zoe’s earnestness and willingness to work—all out of concern for a beloved grandmother—are easy traits to admire. Vocabulary is appropriate for middle graders reading upper-level chapter books, and the frequent full-color illustrations break up the text nicely. Cheerful art and an encouraging story of one girl’s hard work leading to real change.

BEING A CAPTAIN IS HARD WORK A Captain No Beard Story Roman, Carole P. CreateSpace (60 pp.) $12.99 paper | $1.99 e-book Dec. 31, 2015 978-1-5227-8178-3

Roman’s (If You Were Me and Lived in...Italy, 2015 , etc.) newest Captain No Beard adventure takes the stormy high seas to a new level. Captain No Beard and his crew are off on an adventure to Dew Rite Volcano, but there are clouds on the horizon. Although the captain’s crew expresses concern about possible bad weather, he dismisses them, claiming to be the resident |

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expert on clouds. Despite increasingly rough seas, he orders Polly to make chocolate pudding in the galley and baby Zach to raise the flag. The crew becomes more agitated as the weather worsens, but the captain still refuses to acknowledge their points, insisting that it’s his job to make decisions. It isn’t until he has to save Zach from being swept overboard that he finally realizes how dangerous the situation is. At first, he refuses to apologize, using his traditional lament that “Being a captain is hard work,” but his crew reminds him that it isn’t his job to know everything. As a team, they say, they can work together to make good decisions if they trust one another’s knowledge. Hallie wisely points out that he has “two ears and one mouth” because listening is more important than talking. The captain finally apologizes and admits that he doesn’t, in fact, know everything, and his team cheers his wisdom. As in all the Captain No Beard books, Roman weaves a powerful lesson into the adventure, teaching young readers about friendship, humility, asking for help, and forgiveness. It does feel slightly repetitive when the captain continuously disregards his crew’s concerns about the storm, but the raging seas and rising danger keep things moving along. The illustrations are clever and engaging, bringing Captain No Beard and his crew effectively to life. The roiling clouds and stormy seas also provide great images. Roman adds an extra bonus with the captain’s discussion of the This Issue’s Contributors # ADULT Maude Adjarian • Stephanie Anderson • Mark Athitakis • Joseph Barbato • Amy Boaz • Tobias Carroll Lee E. Cart • Derek Charles Catsam • Dave DeChristopher • Bobbi Dumas • Daniel Dyer • Lisa Elliott • Kristen Evans • Jordan Foster • Elizabeth Frank • Bob Garber • Megan Garvin • Devon Glenn Amy Goldschlager • Peter Heck • Natalia Holtzman • Robert Isenberg • Jessica Jernigan • Hannah Jocelyn • Sarah Kingsbury • Robert M. Knight • Paul Lamey • Chelsea Langford • Tom Lavoie • Louise Leetch • Judith Leitch • Angela Leroux-Lindsey • Elsbeth Lindner • Georgia Lowe • Joe Maniscalco Laura Mathews • Virginia C. McGuire • Don McLeese • Gregory McNamee • Brett Milano • Clayton Moore • Jennifer Morell • Sarah Morgan • Christopher Navratil • Liza Nelson • Mike Newirth • John Noffsinger • Mike Oppenheim • Derek Parsons • Jim Piechota • William E. Pike • Gary Presley Jessica Pryde • Margaret Quamme • Lloyd Sachs • Leslie Safford • Bob Sanchez • Marthine Satris Sarah Sawyers-Lovett • Lucas Schaefer • Gene Seymour • Rosanne Simeone • Linda Simon • Arthur Smith • Wendy Smith • Margot E. Spangenberg • Hank Stephenson • Rachel Sugar • Matthew Tiffany Michael Valinsky • Hope Wabuke • Steve Weinberg • Carol White • Joan Wilentz • Marion Winik Alex Zimmerman CHILDREN’S & TEEN Alison Anholt-White • Elizabeth Bird • Johnny Blackchurch • Marcie Bovetz • Kimberly Brubaker Bradley • Sophie Brookover • Louise Brueggemann • Timothy Capehart • Sandie Chen • Ann Childs Anastasia M. Collins • Julie Cummins • Maya Davis • Elise DeGuiseppi • Andi Diehn • Brooke Faulkner • Rodney M.D. Fierce • Laurie Flynn • Barbara A. Genco • Judith Gire • Jessie C. Grearson Heather L. Hepler • Julie Hubble • Shelley Huntington • Kathleen T. Isaacs • Betsy Judkins • Deborah Kaplan • Joy Kim • K. Lesley Knieriem • Thien-Kim Lam • Megan Dowd Lambert • Peter Lewis Lori Low • Wendy Lukehart • Meredith Madyda • Joan Malewitz • Michelle H. Martin PhD J. Alejandro • Jeanne McDermott • Shelly McNerney • Kathie Meizner • Mary Margaret Mercado Daniel Meyer • Lisa Moore • R. Moore • Sara Ortiz • Deb Paulson • John Edward Peters • Deesha Philyaw • Susan Pine • Andrea Plaid • Melissa Rabey • Rebecca Rabinowitz • Kristy Raffensberger Nancy Thalia Reynolds • Amy Robinson • Christopher R. Rogers • Erika Rohrbach • Ronnie Rom Leslie L. Rounds • Mindy Schanback • Katie Scherrer • Dean Schneider • Stephanie Seales • John W. Shannon • Karyn N. Silverman • Laura Simeon • Jennifer Sweeney • Pat Tanumihardja • Lisa Von Drasek • Bette Wendell-Branco • Gordon West • Kimberly Whitmer • Monica Wyatt INDIE Alana Abbott • Anna Perleberg Andersen • Kent Armstrong • Charles Cassady • Stephanie Cerra Michael Deagler • Steve Donoghue • Nora Dunne • Megan Elliott • Rebecca Foster • Jackie Friedland Colin Groundwater • Justin Hickey • Ivan Kenneally • Collin Marchiando • Brandon Nolta • Jim Piechota • Sam Power • Judy Quinn • Matt Rauscher • Sarah Rettger • Stephanie Rowe • Barry Silverstein • Jack Spring • Mary Stegmeir • Shannon Turlington

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different types of clouds, and a glossary at the end of the book provides a good recap for young readers wishing to learn more. A fantastic pirate adventure that mixes life and science lessons with danger, friendship, and triumph.

MARTIN MCMILLAN AND THE SACRED STONES

Russell, Elaine CreateSpace (228 pp.) $10.50 paper | $3.99 e-book Jan. 31, 2016 978-1-5194-4120-1

Russell (Montana in A Manor, 2014, etc.) offers another YA mystery featuring skateboarding trouble-magnet Martin McMillan. Only a month after their adventure in Thailand in Martin McMillan and the Secret of the Ruby Elephant (2012), 13-year-old Martin and his friend Isabel find themselves visiting Scotland. There, Isabel’s father, University of California, Berkeley, lecturer James Hoffman, and his girlfriend, Moira MacDonald, are researching her recently unearthed family documents. Moira writes historical novels, so getting these documents translated from Gaelic to English by professor Duncan of Edinburgh University would be a boon to her work. As the group discusses the work in a tea room, a pair of strangers sitting nearby rudely snaps a photo of the documents. Later, as Martin and Isabel tour Scotland’s castles and the infamous Loch Ness, they again see the same young man and woman. Martin, whose archaeologist parents back in Chicago want him to stay out of trouble, is happy just to skateboard and search for the Loch Ness monster, but Isabel is determined to follow a trail of clues that eventually points toward the secret knowledge of the ancient Druids. Author Russell’s latest is the most finely tuned entry in the Martin McMillan series yet. In it, she presents readers with historical facts that also provide dramatic context; for example, Moira learns that her ancestors were dispossessed by the English “clearances” of the 18th century, in which Scottish clans were evicted from their Highland properties. Throughout, Martin and Isabel’s banter is snarky and a joy to read; when she says, “We’ll be fine. Trust me,” he replies, “How many times have I heard you say that before?” Indeed, as fun as Martin’s adventures are, hints of Russell’s formula are sometimes evident; in this installment, for example, the Scottish terrier Macbeth follows a trail of cookies, and in the last book, a monkey followed a trail of bananas. The author nevertheless conjures Scotland’s mystique, which emboldens her narrative. New fans and old will be glad that Martin can’t stay out of trouble.


Fans of the adrenaline and gore of more traditional post-apocalyptic zombie fare will find themselves right at home here. hyenas

HYENAS

Sellars, Michael CreateSpace (274 pp.) $10.49 paper | $0.99 e-book Jul. 20, 2015 978-1-5151-5492-1 Sellars evokes both classic literature and classic horror in this post-apocalyptic debut novel. Five weeks after the collapse of civilization, Jay Garvey doesn’t know if he’s waiting out the end of days or just waiting for his own end. Cowering in an abandoned bookstore and hiding from the zombielike maniacs he calls hyenas, he doesn’t have much to hope for. But an encounter with another survivor opens up a world of new possibilities, starting with a plan to escape the decaying streets of Liverpool by boat. But what at first seems to be a run-of-the mill zombie scenario, somewhere between the films Dawn of the Dead and 28 Days Later, masks a dynamic portrait of literature and disability. Before the Jolt, as Jay calls it, he and the other survivors had some form of speech or literacy impediment, and while everyone else became ravenous monsters, the survivors found that, for the first time in their lives, they could read. Meanwhile, the hyenas, insensate, paw at and even eat pages from books and magazines. Unlike in a traditional zombie novel, the hyenas aren’t dead per se, but their spite and anguish call into question what life really is in the absence of words. “Language left,” the prologue reads, and there’s a powerful sadness in those words—and even in the hyenas’ ghastly, horrifying laughter—that seldom gets its due in post-apocalyptic fiction. Of course, it’s not all William Blake and Northrop Frye, and fans of the adrenaline and gore of more traditional post-apocalyptic zombie fare will find themselves right at home here. The hyenas embody a genuinely frightening take on those familiar themes, and they’re backed up by a colorful cast of characters and a host of other threats, including a Beatles-obsessed militia leader referred to as Sgt. Pepper. While the novel lacks some of the expansive, atmospheric descriptions that are a hallmark of post-apocalyptic stories, the entertaining quality of the subject matter and the depth of the underlying themes create a vivid world. The start of an exhilarating new series and a stirring addition to the zombie canon.

THE PINE SONG A Korean-American Journey Smith, Heok Kim

Smith explores the culture of death and her Korean roots in this debut memoir. Following the death of her father, Smith, a Korean immigrant, faced a crisis of purpose. Married, in her late 20s, and living in San Diego, the loss of her father and her resulting contemplations of mortality led her to understand that, although she was happy, she was unfulfilled. She decided to go to college (her husband did, too), where she was introduced to the world of art and art history and realized that she was “a creative being.” After a decade in academia, however, she needed more. Her gaze turned inward to her own history. After initially rejecting her Korean roots following her immigration to America, she came to embrace them as a bridge to her family and their history: her grandfather who opposed Japanese occupation; her parents who met and lived in the Chinese city of Harbin; her dead father; her mother, suffering from dementia. Knowing their stories became her creative project, and, with her husband, Smith traveled to Korea and China to learn more. What began as a book about her grandfather and the Korean independence movement quickly morphed into the biography of an immigrant family in three different countries and a memoir about how death can illuminate life with a new, profound brilliance. Smith is a talented writer, though she spends more time than necessary on her American period of prolonged postgraduate noodling, recalling influential professors, recounting books and movies that moved her, and attempting to figure out her vague but worthy calling. She attributes great meaning to the small signs she encounters in her daily life—she once saw five four-leaf clovers, which she determined to be a message from her dead father. Things pick up about 100 pages in, when the author explores Korea’s history and her family’s relationship to it. Her discoveries are genuinely interesting and lend a moving (if tardy) urgency to the book in the same way they lend increased meaning to Smith’s sense of herself. A memoir of self-discovery set against an immigrant’s investigation of her family’s past.

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RAILROAD COLLISIONS, A DEADLY STORY OF MISMANAGED RISK

Swimmer, George CreateSpace (258 pp.) $24.95 paper | $9.95 e-book Nov. 25, 2015 978-1-5171-0633-1

An impassioned indictment of the current system of rail safety in the United States. In this debut, Swimmer addresses the problem of fatal railway accidents, particularly those that occur at grade crossings where drivers and pedestrians share space with trains. He provides a detailed analysis of several collisions from the past two decades, along with their resulting investigations and policy effects. He draws on media coverage, interviews with transportation officials, and reports by state and federal agencies that regulate train travel. The book reveals a complex, consistent pattern of problems, including malfunctioning signals, a lack of clear authority (“you can’t run a train across Chicago without at least four different sets of rules, signals, or safety systems”), and work schedules that maximize train-operator fatigue and inattention. Although pedestrians, drivers, train operators, railway management, and government regulators all come in for criticism, the book saves its harshest judgments for the last two groups; the government, Swimmer says, prefers recommendations to mandates, and railroads require repeated lobbying before making changes as minor as instructing engineers to turn on all their headlights. Many collisions in this book took place near Swimmer’s home in the Chicago suburbs, a region with a disproportionate number of railroad fatalities. He draws clear portraits of the accident victims, often through interviews with surviving relatives, and

K I R K US M E DI A L L C # Chairman H E R B E RT S I M O N President & Publisher M A RC W I N K E L M A N Chief Executive Officer M E G L A B O R D E KU E H N # Copyright 2016 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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makes their personalities integral to the stories. The prose is often unpolished (including frequent use of the phrase “a accident”), and it tends to repeat information unnecessarily, such as the fact that railroad rest facilities aren’t intended to be places to sleep. However, Swimmer’s evident passion for and knowledge about the subject shine through, and he does an excellent job of making accident reports and unfamiliar geography understandable for railway novices. A thoroughly researched, often clearly explained story of transportation disasters and what can be done to prevent them.

THE ANUVI INCIDENT

Vincett, James CreateSpace (354 pp.) $19.99 paper | $2.99 e-book Mar. 11, 2015 978-1-5087-6890-6

The discovery of an ancient artifact may incite an interstellar war between humans and a rancorous alien race in Vincett’s sci-fi debut. The Snirr’s occupation of Earth ultimately drove humanity to fight back, nearly exterminating the hostile aliens. By the 27th century, Earth has formed the Hominin Union with five Hominin species populating various planets in the galaxy. The Treaty of Phoenix maintains peace between the Union and aliens called the Naati. It’s the humans’ scientific survey team, however, that disrupts the tranquility, landing on the habitable third moon of the planet Anuvi III. The team stumbles upon an ancient race’s device, but because the moon’s in the Neutral Zone, a nearby Naati vessel attacks, seeking to acquire the alien technology. Lt. Cmdr. Joshua McFinn of patrol craft HSS Talon responds to the team’s distress signal, and soon the Union’s Imperial Marines are engaged in combat against the Naati. McFinn has already managed to thwart a plot to smuggle weapons into the Neutral Zone, an attempt, as it turns out, to provoke the Naati into war. But others want the same thing, and some within the Union may be willing to kill their own to ensure that the battle on Anuvi III’s moon becomes something much worse. The novel is an ambitious tale, clearly the start of an epic series. Though McFinn’s the likely protagonist, the narrative shifts its focus among multiple characters. There’s not enough room to develop each one sufficiently, but getting some perspective on so many gives the inevitable deaths more gravity. Vincett isn’t invested in the technology; his characters still use tablets and get much of their information from smartphoneesque “pockcomps.” But details of the aliens are gloriously comprehensive, particularly the Naati, clawed creatures with red orbs for eyes and spines on the heads and backs, giving humans the oft-uttered epithet “spineys.” Specifics on the ancient alien race, too, lead to a satisfying explanation of the artifact and its intended purpose. Vincett sets the stage for a sequel, which will hopefully expand on elements such as the Snirr Wars and McFinn’s politically corrupt father.


LORD SOUFFLE

Readers should be eager to explore the author’s futuristic world in this impressive series opener.

Wiles, Vaughan CreateSpace (336 pp.) $13.75 paper | $2.99 e-book | Oct. 8, 2015 978-1-5147-8865-3

THE AGATHON

Weldon, Colin CreateSpace (344 pp.) $12.43 paper | $2.99 e-book Dec. 11, 2015 978-1-5191-3968-9 The unexpected, unexplained destruction of Earth sends an experimental faster-than-light starship careening into the cosmos on a desperate mission to save what’s left of humanity. As in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, this kickoff to an interplanetary sci-fi series opens with the callous obliteration of Earth. But this debut novel isn’t a witty satire. The spacegoing humanity of 2339 has spent 100 years studying a mysterious mirror-surfaced “Monolith” (possibly a tribute here to Arthur C. Clarke) found on the Mars moon Phobos, transmitting terabytes of indecipherable information into deep space. In a cave on the red planet itself is the only form of nonhuman alien life ever discovered, “the Black,” an ancient, enigmatic, dangerous pool of organic ooze that devours anything that touches it, including people. Suddenly, shockingly, the Monolith beams a high-energy gamma stream directly at Earth, causing the planet to explode. Left on their own, remnants of humanity scattered on spacecraft and colonies throughout the solar system try to pull together to survive. Their one hope is the Agathon, a newly developed, experimental faster-than-light starship. The audacious, risky scheme involves taking the untested Agathon on a deep-space voyage to locate an Earth-like world on which to relocate survivors—and, if possible, solve the deadly riddle of the Monolith and the Black and what triggered the action against Earth. Chief among the ensemble of characters are Mars explorer/commander John Barrington, designated captain of the Agathon, and his daughter Carrie, both secretly products of accelerated evolution and sharing a telepathic link (they mourn Carrie’s mother, one of the Black’s first victims). While the naming of certain individuals after established sci-fi/fantasy characters suggests a pastiche, this volume offers nail-biting action and pacing that seldom flags. And the astronomical body count, which doesn’t spare key characters, adds a proper sense of jeopardy (as if the near-annihilation of Homo sapiens did not). The Irish author endows the alien component of the yarn with a genuine awe and mystery (at one point, a geologist says of the Black: “We don’t know why the hell this ‘stuff ’ has been sitting here for millions of years, when its purpose seems to be to absorb organic and inorganic substances on contact”). Weldon concludes the cosmic tale with a cliffhanger promising more revelations ahead. A compelling sci-fi series that starts with a big bang.

A young graduate moves from South Africa to England to kick-start his career in Wiles’ debut novel. Nelson Leatherby has just earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and faces a fairly stifling future in the business world of his native city of Durban, South Africa. He fears that a career based on his old-school ties will become oppressive, despite the plush suburban lifestyle it could afford him. He decides to go to London, selling off his motorcycle and saying goodbye to his home country. The new city, however, turns out to be cold and expensive, and the pay at his job at a shipping company is meager. Meanwhile, Nelson is dying to lose his virginity, and there are a few girls around that interest him, including an Australian neighbor and an attractive English dispatcher at his work. When Rafferty Farnsworth, a male acquaintance from South Africa, surprisingly arrives, Nelson thinks that he may help him open some social and career doors. Rafferty is something of a self-styled playboy, and he’s never dull; unfortunately, he’s gotten himself mixed up with the Mafia, and Nelson is soon drawn into the resulting turmoil. Wiles does an admirable job of creating a young, ambitious character who has very little sense of entitlement. His version of Durban is a hot, teeming port city with smoky trains that “ferried the longsuffering citizens of the Natal south coast—Indians, Zulus, and Xhosas—between home and work,” while London, as the seat of the British Empire, is a place of infinite possibility. Wiles obviously knows South Africa as well as he does Europe, and he describes Nelson’s entry-level work experience in 1960s London with humility and a good deal of savvy about how the city works. This is more a crime novel than a coming-of-age story, though, and the inclusion of Rafferty and other characters gives the story the air of a lighthearted thriller. Some portions of the book could have been more concise, but often Wiles writes strongly about chairmen, aristocrats, and mobsters, placing the action in some appealing European settings. A wistful, brightly imagined tale of a young man on the make.

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As Willson unfurls more of her world, her series’ immense potential proves irresistible. a keeper’s truth

A KEEPER’S TRUTH

Willson, Dee Driven (378 pp.) $23.99 paper | $3.99 e-book | Apr. 1, 2016 978-1-925296-16-7 In this debut romantic fantasy, a widow tries to choose between a family man and a globe-trotting teacher, unaware that an ancient predator stalks her. Painter Tess Morgan lost her husband, Meyer, in a car accident five months ago. She and her 5-year-old daughter, Abby, live in the hauntingly wooded town of Carlisle, in Ontario, Canada. One day, while meeting with Abby’s kindergarten teacher, Tess waits for her friend Thomas, another single parent. Instead, she runs into Carlisle newcomer Bryce Waters, who’s there to meet his niece. Later, in a cafe, Tess experiences a vision of a woman being ravished by a tattooed man with needlelike teeth. The woman, Tess learns, is a local named Sonia MacKinnen who’s been missing for days. That she was recently seen with Bryce doesn’t stop Tess from going to a Halloween party at his lavish estate. She attends dressed as Tuatha Dé Danaan, an Irish fairy, and is smitten when Bryce, a traveling anthropology teacher, can converse about the mythological beings that she paints. Unsurprisingly, when Thomas and Bryce meet at a kindergarten Christmas pageant, they instantly dislike each other. Their competition for Tess sets off an avalanche of revealed secrets that tie the artist to the ancient people of Lemuria—and to the horrifying man from her vision. With a generous wit that readers should savor, Willson presents Tess as a damaged woman desperate to heal. She describes Tess’ childhood with a bipolar mother as “an endless roller coaster of maxed-out credit card highs and Titanic-worthy lows.” The author also spreads her love and knowledge of ancient civilizations on nearly every page. As Thomas and Bryce argue the merits of believing in Atlantis, readers learn that “Troy was myth until 1871, when a German archaeologist discovered it under layers of mountains in Turkey.” The narrative also tackles reincarnation, asking if whether, before humans appeared, souls existed in dinosaurs. In the final third, the point of view changes, somewhat telegraphing where characters might stand in the end. Yet as Willson unfurls more of her world, her series’ immense potential proves irresistible. A sensual novel about a painter, sparkling with mythological details.

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INDIE

Books of the Month DRIVING IN BUDAPEST

GIRL OF MYTH AND LEGEND

Moving, descriptive, and seductive urban tales.

An enjoyable, violent novel that delivers a strong-willed heroine and a brooding hero.

A STONE FOR BREAD

JAKE & CLARA

Giselle Simlett

Gary V Brill

David R. Stokes

Miriam Herin

A potent, nearly perfect brew of politics, murder, mayhem, and mystery.

A man long accused of fabricating a book of Holocaust poems reveals deeper and more complicated secrets in this absorbing novel.

THE STORMWATER DRAINS IN CANBERRA

MR. MAYHEM Jeff Widmer

Eccentricity at its finest in a detective story and proof that a flawed protagonist can still earn sympathy.

Paul Johan Karlsen

A frank, funny, immensely winning novel about a “sex pioneer” exploring the hinterlands of desire.

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Fi e l d No t e s Photo courtesy Chris Noble Photography

Photo courtesy Marion Ettlinger

By Megan Labrise

“What was so devastating was to witness on the centennial of our national parks that lands adjacent to Arches National Park are being sold for $2 an acre, and after the fact $1.50. These are America’s public lands that are being sold for less than a cup of coffee.”

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

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—Porochista Khakpour, author of The Last Illusion, in “ ‘You Will Be Tokenized’: Speaking Out About the State of Diversity in Publishing,” by Molly McArdle in Brooklyn Magazine. A follow-up article, “What Comes Next?: 23 Steps Toward Ending Publishing’s Diversity Problem,” includes the directives: “Pay your interns. Pay your interns. Pay your interns” and “Stop putting headless women on covers. Stop putting that one tree on covers. Stop putting white people on covers of books about characters of color.”

“What I love about this time right now is that there are a lot more Muslim writers. And what I love about that is that it’s not so much they’re writing about Islam, but they’re writing from the perspective of being a Muslim—or being a man or being a woman—and that says more. That actually gets to: what is a person’s experience? How do they perceive the world? And that gets closer to really understanding a Muslim rather than somehow talking about Islam. Photo courtesy America-Nicola Bailey

—Terry Tempest Williams, author of When Women Were Birds, “a writer revered for her poetic meditations on the interconnections between natural landscapes and the human spirit,” according to the Salt Lake Tribune. For just $1,200, Williams leased hundreds of acres of land northwest of Arches National Park with the intention to develop alternative energy sources in support of Keep It in the Ground, a movement calling for cessation of oil, gas, and coal extraction by the federal government from millions of acres of public land.

“My books really sold very few copies. I don’t know the exact numbers, but I know they were low. If I was somebody who was invisible—I would get it. But I’ve had reviews in major publications....So, what happens at that last moment in a bookstore? Why is it that the person doesn’t end up going to the register to buy it? That’s a question I constantly struggle with because I’ve had the great privilege of a huge amount of exposure. I think it’s impossible to say it has nothing to do with my ethnicity.”

—Rozina Ali, cultural critic at the New Yorker and Cairo Review, on “Muslim in America,” a panel discussion co-presented by WNYC’s The Greene Space and PEN America. Joining Ali in conversation were Muslim authors Ayad Akhtar (American Dervish) and Haroon Moghul (The Order of Light), and moderator Arun Venugopal of WNYC.

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Appreciations: Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 Turns 49+1

B Y G RE G O RY MC NA MEE

If God does not exist, writes Fyodor Dostoyevsky in The Possessed, then everything is permitted. And if everything is permitted, then nothing is illegal, a perfect scenario for the suburban California of Thomas Pynchon’s worst nightmares. Take San Narciso—Saint Narcissus, that is—which lies somewhere between San Francisco and Los Angeles atop buried farmland and countless skeletons. “Like many named places in California,” writes Where does this California freeway really Pynchon in The Crying of Lot 49, published in 1966, midway through the lead to? 1960s but early and pivotal in the ’60s, “it was less an identifiable city than a group of concepts—census tracts, special purpose bond-issue districts, shopping nuclei, all overlaid with access roads to its own freeway.” That freeway doesn’t lead much of anywhere, but plenty of oddball things happen in San Narciso all the same. Unassuming, sun-blasted, the city is the epicenter of a centuries-old struggle between two rival mail services. Down the road is the headquarters of another corporate giant: “High above the L.A. freeways,” runs the company song, “And the traffic’s whine / Stands the wellknown Galactronics / Branch of Yoyodyne.” Yoyodyne, whose name later turns up in another sci-fi–ish bit of Californiana, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, seeks its fortunes in the stars, while some of the lesser characters in the novel seek their fortunes as stars—pop stars, that is, singing pimply songs in faux British Invasion accents, spurred along by a used car salesman–turned–DJ with the redolent, goofily Pynchon-esque name of Mucho Maas. God may not be in evidence and everything might be permitted, but the people of San Narciso seek God all the same, some in the surf and the pine trees, others in misprinted postage stamps, others in the LSD that is then still legal. Mucho enjoys a good trip himself. His wife, Oedipa, is a little more straight-laced, but as the novel opens and she finds herself on the threshold of a very strange conspiracy, she of the deeply suggestive name finds the walls of her reality melting down all around her. It doesn’t help that her psychiatrist once plied his trade as a concentration-camp doctor or that certain people in San Narciso are scooping up copies of a Restoration play because it contains clues as to that very conspiracy or that, as the novel winds amiably along its short course, she falls in with a fellow who believes he has conquered entropy: it’s a weird scene, and it gets weirder as Oedipa finds herself at a postage-stamp auction where an object of unhealthy desire is going up for sale, being cried, as the auctioneers would have it, as part of a lot whose number we now all know. Pynchon revisited the unsettlingly paranoiac territory of The Crying of Lot 49, his second novel, in Inherent Vice, published 43 years later. The novel’s labyrinthine plot and obsessions with World War II, unintended-consequence technology, and the dangers of conformity are the stuff of Gravity’s Rainbow, which soon followed Crying. Everywhere, the swirl of weird words and lysergic images is trademark Pynchon. Fifty years on, it’s still a trip. Gregory McNamee is a contributing editor. |

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Congratulations, Sophie Blackall! 2016 CALDECOTT MEDAL WINNER 2016 CHARLOTTE ZOLOTOW HONOR BOOK AN ALSC NOTABLE CHILDREN’S BOOK A HORN BOOK FANFARE TITLE

★ “Impressive.” —Booklist

★ “Captivating.” —Horn Book

★ “Imaginative.” —Publishers Weekly

★ “Beautiful.”

—School Library Journal

Celebrate Jerry Pinkney! Winner of the 2016 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award and 2016 Coretta Scott King–Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement

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March 15, 2016. Volume LXXIV, No. 6  

Featuring 330 Industry-First Reviews of Fiction, Nonfiction and Children's & Teen; also in this issue: Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s debut, The...

March 15, 2016. Volume LXXIV, No. 6  

Featuring 330 Industry-First Reviews of Fiction, Nonfiction and Children's & Teen; also in this issue: Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney’s debut, The...