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

KIRKUS VOL. LXXXI, NO.

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REVIEWS

FICTION

Asunder

by Chloe Aridjis Dark and peculiar, simultaneously sinister and playful, Aridjis’ modern gothic vision will charm those prepared to linger in her cabinet of curiosities. p. 6

INDIE

Sergio de la Pava The talented writer has made a career thriving in both indie and traditional publishing. p. 126

No longer anonymous, no longer an amateur, bestseller Marisha Pessl returns with a dark, entrancing second novel. p. 14

CHILDREN'S & TEEN

Boxers & Saints

by Gene Luen Yang A graphic-novel tour de force looks at the Boxer Rebellion from both sides with clarity and empathy. p. 114

NONFICTION

Catastrophe 1914 by Max Hastings Among the plethora of brilliant accounts of this period, this is one of the best. p. 55


Anniversaries: Willa Cather’s O Pioneers! B Y G RE G O RY MC NA M EE

Wi l l a C a t h e r wa s n o f r i e n d t o a r c h i v i s t s . She destroyed drafts that displeased her, threw away whole manuscripts, tossed edited proofs, burned letters. Notably, she forbade the publication of her correspondence and other private papers. And she was ruthless in correcting and sometimes reworking whole books years after they were first published. One hundred years ago, she published a book that evidently pleased her—for, as the editors of the scholarly edition note, when the 1913 novel O Pioneers! was reprinted in 1937, she changed only 100 words, far more than the single correction that earlier editors had assumed but far less than she made to other of her books. O Pioneers!, the first of the so-called Prairie Trilogy (its other parts being The Song of the Lark and My Antonia), is a crystalline tale so well-constructed that it’s hard to imagine improving on it. As with Cather’s own family, who moved west from Virginia when she was 8, it tells of transplanted Nebraskans who set themselves to finding a place on the oceanic prairie. Wrote Cather to a friend as she was drafting the book while living in Arizona, “The West always paralyzes me a little. When I am away from it I remember only the tang on the tongue. But when I come back I always feel a little of the fright I felt when I was a child.” Alexandra Bergson surely feels more than a little trepidation when, upon her father’s death, she inherits her father’s farm. Other immigrants, mostly Swedish, are abandoning the prairie, in part because, as she says, “The rich men down there own all the best land, and they are buying all they can get.” Some of the ones who stay are “touched by God,” or perhaps the bottle, or cannot get away, or do not want to, rather like the people in Michael Polish’s luminous film Northfork, set on another part of the Great Plains in the century after Cather’s novel. Poor though her spread might be, Alexandra aims to beat the odds and the rich, to grow and prosper. At the same time, she wrestles with the problem of keeping the man she loves down on the farm when all he wants to do is see places even wilder than wild Nebraska, a place where, as Cather writes, “the rattle of her wagon was lost in the howling of the wind, but her lantern, held firmly between her feet, made a moving point of light along the highway, going deeper and deeper into the dark country.” Alexandra prevails, as tough as her creator; one suspects that this is the reason that Cather, so stern a judge of her own work, was satisfied with her book. Whip-smart and careful to a fault with her legacy, it would surely displease her to know that, a century later, once her last relative and executor had died, a selection of her letters was indeed issued and that much of the conversation around it concerned her sexual preference, which she had taken pains to keep her own business in life. What matters is her work—and O Pioneers! reveals a writer at one of her finest moments.

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This Issue’s Contributors

Elfrieda Abbe • Maude Adjarian • Mark Athitakis • Joseph Barbato • Joan Blackwell • Amy Boaz • Lee E. Cart • Dave DeChristopher • Kathleen Devereaux • Bobbi Dumas • Daniel Dyer • Lisa Elliott • Ian Floyd • Peter Franck • Bob Garber • Faith Giordano • Amy Goldschlager • Jeff Hoffman • BJ Hollars • Robert M. Knight • Christina M. Kratzner • Paul Lamey • Louise Leetch • Judith Leitch • Angela Leroux-Lindsey • Elsbeth Lindner • Georgia Lowe • Joe Maniscalco • Don McLeese • Gregory McNamee • Chris Messick • Carole Moore • Clayton Moore • Liza Nelson • Mike Newirth • John Noffsinger • Sarah Norris • Mike Oppenheim • Jim Piechota • Christofer D. Pierson • William E. Pike • Gary Presley • Sarah Rettger • Lloyd Sachs • Leslie Safford • Bob Sanchez • Sandra Sanchez • Joshunda Sanders • Michael Sandlin • Richard Z. Santos • Rebecca Shapiro • William P. Shumaker • Rosanne Simeone • Linda Simon • Elaine Sioufi • Arthur Smith • Wendy Smith • Margot E. Spangenberg • Andria Spencer • Pete Warzel • Carol White • Chris White • Joan Wilentz • Alex Zimmerman

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contents fiction

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

Index to Starred Reviews............................................................5 REVIEWS.................................................................................................5 Marisha Pessl writes what she wants to read .............14 Mystery..............................................................................................25 Science Fiction & Fantasy.......................................................... 33 Romance............................................................................................34

nonfiction Index to Starred Reviews.......................................................... 37 REVIEWS............................................................................................... 37 Wil Haygood elevates black history with elegance and verve.....................................................................52

children’s & teen Index to Starred Reviews.........................................................69 REVIEWS..............................................................................................69 Matthew Quick’s new novel spotlights a teen who carries a gun to school...........................................................86 interactive e-books...................................................................115 Continuing series.......................................................................117

indie Index to Starred Reviews........................................................ 119

Haunted by the baby he gave up, teen father Josh grapples with both past and future with the help of his martial-arts–obsessed uncle in Jo Knowles’ touching follow-up to Jumping Off Swings (2009). Read the starred review on p. 92.

REVIEWS............................................................................................. 119 Sergio de la Pava treads both sides of the track....... 126

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on the web Wilton Barnhardt’s Lookaway, Lookaway is a story of old Southern money—and older Southern secrets—that meets the new wealth of bankers, boom-era speculators and carpetbagging social climbers. Jerene Jarvis Johnston and her husband, Duke, are exemplars of the high society of Charlotte, N.C. Jerene presides over her family’s legacy of paintings at the Mint Museum; Duke, the college golden boy and descendant of a Confederate general, whose promising political career short-circuited, has settled into a life as a Civil War re-enactor. Jerene’s brother Gaston is a dissolute bestselling historical novelist who has never managed to begin his long-dreamed-of literary masterpiece, while their sister Dillard is a prisoner of unfortunate life decisions that have made her a nearrecluse. All the while, the four Johnston children wander perpetually toward scandal and mishap. Wilton Barnhardt talks to Kirkus in August about a family coming apart, a society changing beyond recognition and an unforgettable woman striving to pull it all together.

w w w. k i r k u s . c o m

Photo courtesy Nancy Crampton

Check out these highlights from Kirkus’ online coverage at www.kirkus.com 9 James McBride’s The Good Lord Bird is the story of Henry Shackleford, a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1857, when the region is a battleground between anti- and pro-slavery forces. When John Brown, the legendary abolitionist, arrives in the area, an argument between Brown and Henry’s master quickly turns violent. Henry is forced to leave town—with Brown, who believes he’s a girl. Over the ensuing months, Henry—whom Brown nicknames Little Onion—conceals his true identity as he struggles to stay alive. Eventually, Little Onion finds himself with Brown at the historic raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859—one of the great catalysts for the Civil War. McBride talks to Kirkus in August about The Good Lord Bird, a rousing adventure and a moving exploration of identity and survival.

9 In Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat, Claire Limyè Lanmè—the title is a translation of her name—is an enchanting child born into love and tragedy in Ville Rose, a small seaside town in Haiti. Claire’s mother died in childbirth, and on each of her birthdays, Claire is taken by her father, Nozias, to visit her mother’s grave. Nozias wonders if he should give away his young daughter to a local shopkeeper, who lost a child of her own, so that Claire can have a better life. But on the night of Claire’s seventh birthday, when at last he makes the wrenching decision to do so, she disappears. As Nozias and others look for her, painful secrets, haunting memories and startling truths are unearthed among the community of men and women whose individual stories connect to Claire, to her parents and to the town itself. Told with piercing lyricism and the economy of a fable, Claire of the Sea Light is a tightly woven tapestry that explores what it means to be a parent, child, neighbor, lover and friend while revealing the mysterious bonds we share with the natural world and with one another. Edwidge Danticat speaks with Kirkus in August about her upcoming novel.

And be sure to check out our Indie publishing series, featuring some of today’s most intriguing self-published authors, including best-seller Bob Mayer. Each week, we feature authors’ exclusive personal essays on how they achieved their success in publishing. It’s a must-read resource for any aspiring author interested in getting readers to notice their new books.

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fiction THE WISHING THREAD

These titles earned the Kirkus Star:

Allen, Lisa Van Ballantine (400 pp.) $15.00 paper | Sep. 3, 2013 978-0-345-53855-0

ASUNDER by Chloe Aridjis.................................................................. 6 LONGBOURN by Jo Baker.................................................................... 6 AN IMPENETRABLE SCREEN OF PUREST SKY by Dan Beachy-Quick............................................................................ 6 A COMMONPLACE KILLING by Sian Busby....................................... 9 WANT NOT by Jonathan Miles........................................................... 20 SUBTLE BODIES by Norman Rush......................................................22 LINEUP by Liad Shoham......................................................................23 RIVERS by Michael Farris Smith........................................................ 24 BITTER RIVER by Julia Keller............................................................ 29 THE ARRANGEMENT by Mary Balogh..............................................34

A COMMONPLACE KILLING

Busby, Sian Marble Arch/Simon & Schuster (304 pp.) $16.00 paper Sep. 17, 2013 978-1-4767-3029-5

The women of the Van Ripper family know that magic requires sacrifice as well as intention. What will they risk to save their own home? The Stitchery, a derelict architectural hodgepodge, replete with mansard garret and a tower, has been home to the Van Rippers since the Revolutionary War. Each generation has had a guardian, the woman who devotes her life to knitting spells for her neighbors. Aubrey, with her disturbingly iridescent blue eyes, is the new guardian. Her sisters, each holding her own secrets, have returned for the funeral of Mariah, the previous matriarch and the beloved aunt who raised them. Meggie left home at 18, becoming a nomad—but was she running away or searching for someone? Bitty arrives with her children, Carson and Nessa, but not her husband. Having rejected magic years ago, Bitty’s marital problems are compounded by her daughter’s instinctive interest in knitting and love for the Stitchery. But now Tappan Square and the Stitchery itself are in danger as unscrupulous developer Steve Halpern plans to raze the town and put up a shopping mall. Mariah had led the charge against Halpern, but her death—in Halpern’s office, no less—leaves the residents of Tappan Square unmoored. Aubrey is too shy to take the reins; Bitty and Meggie would rather sell; and slick newcomer Mason Boss seems too good to be true. Complicating matters is handsome handyman Vic Oliveira, the only man who can look Aubrey in the eye, the only man who makes her heart race, the only man who makes her question her allegiance to the Stitchery. In Allen’s debut novel, knitting becomes a rich metaphor for the power of women, of the disenfranchised, of the desperate. Steeped in the spirit of Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” this bewitching tale will delight fans of magical realism. (Agent: Andrea Cirillo)

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ASUNDER

Aridjis, Chloe Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (208 pp.) $13.95 paper | Sep. 17, 2013 978-0-544-00346-0 A self-effacing life devoted to obsessive minutiae is cracked open in this oblique, disturbing, yet oddly compelling tale. Surreal and haunting, Aridjis’ (Book of Clouds, 2009) understated second novel, set in London, traces a decisive phase in the life of Marie, a 33-year-old museum guard who has worked at the National Gallery for nearly 10 years. With her days spent almost invisibly among the visitors and paintings, her free time is passed in similarly low-key fashion, hanging out with a poet friend, Daniel, or working on a collection of peculiar sculptures—landscapes made inside eggshells. Marie’s hypnotic half-life is dotted with eccentric characters— a taxidermist; her flatmate, who is obsessed with moth strips— and brief yet telling descriptive sidebars about strange details, like the causes of craquelure (cracked varnish on old paintings) or the destruction of a famous work of art at the gallery by a suffragette, an act witnessed by Marie’s great-grandfather. Prisons, mental institutions and peculiar visions of decay crop up repeatedly, while actual events are few. But during a strange, vaguely unpleasant holiday in Paris with Daniel, a chance encounter in a dilapidated chateau pushes Marie over an invisible line. Dark and peculiar, simultaneously sinister and playful, Aridjis’ modern gothic vision will charm those prepared to linger in her cabinet of curiosities.

LONGBOURN

Baker, Jo Knopf (352 pp.) $25.95 | $12.99 e-book | Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-385-35123-2 978-0-385-35214-9 e-book An irresistible retake on Pride and Prejudice alters the familiar perspective by foregrounding a different version of events—the servants’. Daring to reconfigure what many would regard as literary perfection, Baker (The Undertow, 2012, etc.) comes at Jane Austen’s most celebrated novel from below stairs, offering a working-class view of the Bennet family of Longbourn House. While the familiar drama of Lizzie and Jane, Bingley and Darcy goes on in other, finer rooms, Baker’s focus is the kitchen and the stable and the harsh cycle of labor that keeps the household functioning. Cook Mrs. Hill rules the roost, and maids Sarah and Polly do much of the hard work, their interminable roster of chores diminished a little by the hiring of a manservant, James Smith. Sarah is attracted to James, but he is mysterious and withdrawn, and soon, her eye is caught 6

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by another—Bingley’s black footman, Ptolemy. James, though trapped in his secrets, has noticed Sarah too and steps in when she is on the verge of making an impulsive mistake. And so, the romance begins. Baker is at her best when touching on the minutiae of work, of interaction, of rural life. James’ back story, though capably done, offers less magic. But a last episode, moving through grief and silence into understated romantic restoration, showcases a softly piercing insight. Sequels and prequels rarely add to the original, but Baker’s simple yet inspired reimagining does. It has bestseller stamped all over it.

AN IMPENETRABLE SCREEN OF PUREST SKY

Beachy-Quick, Dan Coffee House (224 pp.) $15.95 paper | Sep. 10, 2013 978-1-56689-341-1

A marvelous novel, by turns lyrical, realistic, dreamlike, and philosophical but always intelligent and gorgeously written. The narrative opens at an academic cocktail party, with all the pretension that such a party traditionally entails. In his wandering away from the action, Daniel, the narrator, comes across a copy of Wonders and Tales, a book that had meant much to him as a child, at least in part because his father had forbidden him to read it. The book becomes both a catalyst for Daniel’s memory and an inspiration for his own struggles as a novelist trying to complete a manuscript (not coincidentally entitled An Impenetrable Screen of Purest Sky). Beachy-Quick periodically returns us to Daniel’s life as an academic, with his various literary loves (especially Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Ralph Waldo Emerson). In one splendid episode, Daniel substitutes for an indisposed friend and teaches a class on its final day of discussing Moby-Dick. Daniel shows himself to be, like Ahab, obsessed, though Daniel’s obsession is with the beauty and power of the novel. (At the end of the class, one of the students, a boy Daniel ultimately suspects might be his own son, comes up and introduces himself as Ishmael.) But Daniel’s academic career is only one of the narrative threads Beachy-Quick deftly weaves together. We also learn of Daniel’s relationship with Lydia, a physicist who loves and challenges him, of the elusive Pearl and her mother (an artful allusion to Hawthorne), and of his contentious ambivalence toward his father. Throughout the story, the narrator explores the philosophical ramifications of the self, of the slippery “I” who makes statements about the truths and distortions of fiction. Accomplished, self-assured and engaging.


RAIN DOGS

Birtcher, Baron R. Permanent Press (288 pp.) $29.00 | Aug. 15, 2013 978-1-57962-318-0 In this gritty, wide-angled, modern noir, sweeping changes in the Mexican drug trade in 1976 imperil the lives and fortunes of two small-scale marijuana growers and a pair of corrupt American border cops. The unnamed narrator and his partner, both Vietnam veterans, have been making major spending money growing weed in Humboldt County in Northern California and selling it to a friendly connection in Mexico. And the border cops have been doing well taking money to let groups of desperate Mexicans walk into San Diego. But as Colombian drug lords move into the area with their cocaine, partnering with corrupt Mexican officials, the rules of the game are violently rewritten. Ultimately,

both the narrator and the corrupt cops come up against Miguel Zamora, a self-proclaimed Mexican drug king who, fueled by coke, has become a brutal, sadistic monster who abuses his wife and thinks he can outsmart the Colombians and his Mexican partners. We’ve seen Zamora’s kind of megalomania plenty of times before, but this book, set against the backdrop of the United States’ intensifying war on drugs, overcomes clichés with its taut, powerfully controlled narrative. The first standalone novel by Birtcher, author of the Mike Travis series (Angels Fall, 2008, etc.), pulls no punches with its torture scenes and sudden deaths. The federales and banditos are equally fearsome. Both a convincing period piece and a timely effort in addressing drug and immigration issues.

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THE WEDDING GIFT

Bodden, Marlen Suyapa St. Martin’s (320 pp.) $25.99 | $11.99 e-book | Sep. 24, 2013 978-1-250-02638-5 978-1-250-02612-5 e-book A debut novel about slaves and masters, mistresses and wives, set in antebellum Alabama. Bodden’s debut features two narrators: Sarah Campbell, a young mulatto slave, and Theodora, wife of Cornelius Allen, owner of Allen Estates, a large cotton plantation worked by hundreds of slaves. Sarah is Allen’s daughter by his longtime slave mistress, Emmeline. Theodora, a gentlewoman, is at first in love with her new husband, but after the birth of their children (the youngest, Clarissa, is born shortly after Sarah), a combination of his alcoholism, increasingly violent behavior and infidelity quickly sours their marriage, and she takes refuge in the arts and her secret correspondence with a handsome poet. When Allen marries Clarissa off to Cromwell, a brutal plantation owner who can advance Allen’s business interests (as a sub rosa investor in the now-illegal slave ships), the stage is set for melodrama. Clarissa has become pregnant by a rival suitor, and after a hurried wedding, Cromwell agrees, in return for financial concessions, to acknowledge the child as his. He changes his mind when he realizes, at Clarissa’s “premature” birthing of a full-term son, that he cannot possibly be the father, and he sends Clarissa back home in disgrace. Meanwhile, Sarah, whom Cromwell seeks to coerce into concubinage as Allen did her mother, plots her escape. Thanks to Theodora’s tutoring, she learned to read and write and is an excellent forger of slave passes. Upon Clarissa’s return to Allen Estates, her enraged father takes away her child, and she dies of childbed fever shortly thereafter, whereupon Allen, knowing his good name is tarnished all over the South, drinks himself to death. As Theodora seeks her missing grandson, Cromwell threatens to sue and ruin the entire family. Sarah, in men’s disguise, is making her way inexorably toward the port of Mobile, dodging slave catchers at every turn. Plodding prose, leaden dialogue and a gratuitous trick ending undermine what is otherwise a fraught and entertaining story enhanced with convincing period detail.

THIS HOUSE IS HAUNTED

Boyne, John Other Press (224 pp.) $14.95 paper | Oct. 8, 2013 978-159051-679-9

Standard gothic fare, from the frisson of cold hands on one’s throat to creepy ghosts. It’s 1867, and teacher and narrator Eliza Caine is grieving the recent death of her father. She rather impulsively decides to leave her position as a teacher 8

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of young girls in London and pursue a governess’s position in Norfolk. The oddness begins when she finds out that the advert she’d responded to in the paper was placed by the previous governess rather than by the parents of the two children at Gaudlin Hall. When Eliza arrives, she finds two precocious children: 12-year-old Isabella and 8-year-old Eustace, both bright and both very strange. Eliza also discovers that there are no parents or guardians in sight, and the people in the village become downright uncomfortable when Eliza brings up this delicate topic. To her dismay, she also discovers that in the previous 12 months, she’s been the sixth governess to tend the children. Gradually and reluctantly, a few acquaintances open up about the goings-on at Gaudlin Hall. Eliza discovers that the first governess, Miss Tomlin, had been brutally beaten by Santina, Isabella and Eustace’s exotic and obsessed mother. In the same attack, she battered her husband beyond recognition, and in a bow to Jane Eyre—and for a time unknown to Eliza—the children’s brutalized father is found to be still living at Gaudlin Hall, tended by an irascible nurse. Although Santina was executed for the murder, her spirit still roams the hall, interfering with Eliza’s attempts to tend to her charges. Boyne saves a nice surprise for the last word of the novel, but otherwise, this is not edge-of-your-seat scary.

THE AFTERMATH

Brook, Rhidian Knopf (288 pp.) $25.95 | Sep. 17, 2013 978-0-307-95826-6

The ruins of post–World War II Germany provide the complicated emotional background to a sensitive but inconsistent story exploring the fallout from epic catastrophe and loss. Like Sadie Jones in Small Wars, Brook (The Testimony of Taliesin Jones, 2001, etc.) approaches history through the differing experiences of a married couple. British colonel Lewis Morgan has been so immersed in war that he has scarcely grieved the loss of his elder son. Now appointed governor of Pinneberg, in the fire-bombed city of Hamburg, and reunited with wife Rachael and younger son Edmund after a 17-month separation, Lewis is billeted in a luxurious art-deco mansion, saving its owner, cultured German architect Stefan Lubert, from eviction by allowing him and his rebellious daughter to live in an upstairs apartment. Rachael, still consumed by grief and “fragile nerves,” responds icily to Lubert, at first. Meanwhile, the British, trying to put Germany back on its feet while weeding out the Nazis, are caught between pressure from Russia and the struggle to satisfy the expectations of a victorious but exhausted nation at home. This promising scenario, drawn in part from family history, offers Brook the opportunity for insight and empathy in Lewis, but elsewhere, the psychology and plot developments are patchier. The open-ended conclusion could conceivably lead to a sequel. Uneven storytelling fails to do justice to a fascinating moment in history.


“A moody gem...” from a commonplace killing

A COMMONPLACE KILLING

Busby, Siân Marble Arch/Simon & Schuster (304 pp.) $16.00 paper | Sep. 17, 2013 978-1-4767-3029-5 A murder investigation centering on post-war London brings together two very different people in Busby’s last novel. Busby, who died in 2012 after a long illness, wrote her book while in the final stages of cancer. Reflecting the abject bleakness of daily life following World War II, when necessities were rationed and men newly returned from the front lines found there was no work to be had, Busby’s story simultaneously follows Lillian Frobisher in the last days leading up to her murder in a bombing and the longings of a police investigator for the kind of relationship that eludes him. Divisional DI Jim Cooper is assigned to solve the killing of a woman whose body is discovered by schoolboys, but her death only serves to underscore his own loneliness. Deserted when the war broke out by the woman he loved, Cooper finds his life sad and repetitive and despairs of ever finding love again. Meanwhile, Cooper and the policewoman who has been assigned to drive him around London in connection with the case are piecing together the events leading up to Frobisher’s murder one small bit at a time. When police identify her as the wife of a returned serviceman who cares for her elderly mother in a bombed-out home, they inch closer to finding out who actually killed the woman. The story of two desperately lonely individuals whose lives have become meaningless, Busby’s novel is based on an actual murder that took place after the war. Set against the bleakness of a London that’s short on everything and still in tatters from bombings and splintered relationships, the book captures the hopelessness and desperation of the times. Busby’s husband prefaces his wife’s book with a beautifully written tribute to his late wife and her talent, which makes the reading experience even more poignant. A moody gem of a novel that gives moving testament to the exemplary talent that is Busby’s lasting legacy.

HOW TO BE A GOOD WIFE

Chapman, Emma St. Martin’s (288 pp.) $24.99 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-1-250-01819-9

A mad housewife learns that her problems may not all be imaginary in Chapman’s disquieting debut. Somewhere in an unnamed Scandinavian country, in an isolated village, a middle-aged woman named Marta Bjornstad has gone off her medication, unbeknownst to her doting husband, Hector. The time is apparently the present, although there is not a smartphone in sight, and the Internet is only referred to once. Hector, a schoolteacher 20 years her senior, has always been an avuncular figure in Marta’s life, ever since he rescued her, as a recently orphaned young woman, from a desperate situation whose particulars are shrouded in a haze of amnesia. Marriage to Hector has, for the last two decades

CORR SYL THE

WARRIOR

By Garry Rogers

On an Earth where intelligence appeared long before humans, friction flares between humans and the ancient Tsaeb civilization.

“A beautifully written YA novel that will captivate environmentalists and sci-fi fans of all ages.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review) Contact Garry Rogers regarding film and publication rights: (928) 925-7191 • corrsylmail@gmail.com http://garryrogers.com

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or so, been pleasant but always overshadowed by hypercritical mother-in-law Matilda, who, despite her relief at Hector’s belated marriage, has always made Marta feel inadequate, however strictly she follows the precepts outlined in Matilda’s wedding gift, a retro guidebook entitled How to be a Good Wife. Now, however, Marta’s delicate equilibrium has been upset by emptynest syndrome: Her only child, Kylan, has left home for a job in the city and is engaged to Katya, who, disturbingly, reminds Marta of her younger, dimly recalled self. As the medication wears off, Marta begins to experience some startling visions. She sees a thin girl, apparently a ballet dancer, in dreams and in real time. Like a specter out of Sixth Sense, the girl beckons, seemingly desperate to tell Marta something. Gradually, it dawns on Marta and the reader that her hallucinations may actually be emerging suppressed memories. Without spoilers it’s impossible to specify further exactly how these snippets of recalled trauma reach critical mass. Suffice to say that the twist that propels expectations in a whole new direction is masterfully wrought. However, the outcome, driven by some highly improbable circumstances and a demonstrable lack of ingenuity on the part of the protagonist, will leave readers, particularly feminists and/or victims’ advocates, very dissatisfied indeed. Gripping but rather implausible.

conspiracy-theory lit.) More entertaining are Heller’s moments with investigative reporter Flo Kilgore, who’s working to expose the JFK plot. Their relationship is a fun gender switch, putting Heller in the typical girl Friday role, and their banter about sex and politics gives the narrative a needed spark. No threat to the Warren Commission, but a fun, light foray into alternative history.

THE SUITE LIFE

Corso, Suzanne Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster (336 pp.) $16.00 paper | Sep. 10, 2013 978-1-4516-9818-3 The next chapter of Samantha Bonti’s life unfolds in this sophomore effort from Corso (Brooklyn Story, 2010). Samantha thinks her life will finally begin when her abusive mob boyfriend is locked up and she meets with a publisher to discuss the memoir she’s written about dating him. But the ex-boyfriend makes some calls from jail and ruins her authorial prospects. Now, Samantha is living a solitary life in Brooklyn, working as an assistant in Manhattan and still dreaming of publishing her book. When she meets Alec DeMarco on the street one morning, she believes he’s her ticket to a posher, more secure life. He gets her attention by grabbing her shoulder and spinning her around (before telling her how beautiful she is, of course). Alec wines and dines Samantha, taking her through a whirlwind, no-expenses-spared courtship before proposing to her two months later. While unsure of many aspects of life with Alec, she agrees to marry him. For the next 10 or so years, she acts the role of Wall Street wife and mother while powerobsessed Alec becomes distant, drug-reliant, and emotionally, eventually physically, abusive. Samantha constantly prays on her rosary beads for greater peace and stability in her home life and dreams of the freedom she could attain by publishing her book, but for most of this novel, praying and dreaming are the full extent of her efforts. A more passive character would be hard to find. Entering into an abusive relationship might make sense for a character whose past consists of a string of abusive relationships, and obscene riches have been known to hypnotize many, but Corso is unable to reveal a deeper inner life for her heroine. She (and Samantha) seem to take more delight in descriptions of wealth or the corruption of Wall Street. An uninspiring rags-to-riches tale set in modern New York City.

ASK NOT

Collins, Max Allan Forge (320 pp.) $24.99 | Oct. 22, 2013 978-0-7653-3626-2 Collins (of Road to Perdition fame) wraps up his trilogy of thrillers on the John F. Kennedy assassination (Target Lancer, 2012, etc.), piling the conspiracy theories nearly as high as the corpses. As the book opens, superbly wellconnected detective Nathan Heller nearly becomes one of those corpses himself. It’s 1964, a year since JFK was killed, but there’s something about the mysterious man who almost ran down Heller and his son in Chicago after a Beatles concert that leads Heller to think the president’s death left some unfinished business. As he bounces from Chicago to Los Angeles to Dallas, Heller recalls his own place in JFK’s orbit—he was involved in an FBI and CIA plot to take down Fidel Castro, with Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby playing bit roles. Soon, he uncovers not just the convoluted plot to kill Kennedy (those who’ve seen Oliver Stone’s JFK will know its rough outline), but an effort to eradicate anybody who might leak how the assassination really went down. In Heller, Collins has mastered the tone of an old-school dick, though the clipped patter sometimes feels like reprocessed Dashiell Hammett and Mickey Spillane. (Echoes of Spillane aren’t surprising, since Collins has co-authored his books.) And the book often wears its research like a Mafia goon’s ill-fitting suit, with characters talking expansively about intricate details of the assassination plot. (The book’s pages of acknowledgments are largely filled with citations of 10

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THE FINAL CUT

uninhibited, flamboyant” Englishwoman and Guatemalan landowner. After validation by experts, the Fargos test the codex’s map’s accuracy by locating a previously unknown Mayan site. Gunfights ensue. Underwater escapes are made. Cussler’s tale is supported by historical and geographical factoids, cutting-edge tech gear and Tracy-Hepburn banter. Allersby next purloins the codex, but the Fargos jet to Spain to uncover a previously unknown copy secreted in de Las Casas’ papers. Later, in Guatemala, the Fargos clash twice more with Allersby, her violent minions, her drug-smuggling allies and villagers guarding an ancient Mayan redoubt. Chapters are short, cinematic and blinged-out with regular mention of the right stuff: Maybach sedans; linen tablecloths and Wedgewood china; Fendi and Dolce & Gabbana; and exotic foodstuffs polished off with Argentine Malbec. The relatively lightweight adventure ends in a shoot-’em-up after Sam calls on Apache attack helicopter–equipped compatriots from his former CIA-like, top-secret, quasi-military organization. Cussler connoisseurs will approve. Others can enjoy it as a stand-alone adventure.

Coulter, Catherine; Ellison, J.T. Putnam (464 pp.) $26.95 | Sep. 17, 2013 978-0-399-16473-6 The FBI and Scotland Yard combine forces to recover a famous jewel. Inspector Nicholas Drummond has given up his former life as a spy, and his thrill-seeking ex-wife, to join the Metropolitan Police. The murder of his colleague and former lover Elaine York, who’d gone to the Big Apple as one of the minders of the crown jewels being exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, sends Drummond to New York, despite orders to the contrary, to help the FBI track down the killer. When the Koh-i-Noor diamond is stolen from the heavily protected museum, Drummond teams up with attractive FBI special agent Michaela “Mike” Caine, who works with the renowned team of Lacey Sherlock and Dillon Savich (Bombshell, 2013, etc.), to recover it. Heading the private security team for the exhibit is Drummond’s uncle Bo, who needs all the help he can get to avert a public relations disaster of the first order. A preliminary survey of the evidence makes it look as if York may have been helping the thief. Digging deep, Drummond and Caine discover beneath a false identity a famous thief known as the Fox. The pair race through several European cities looking for answers. Coulter and Ellison have created a new son of Bond licensed to shine in future thrillers. Genre fans will find the action nonstop.

CONSEQUENCES

Djian, Philippe Simon & Schuster (208 pp.) $16.00 paper | Sep. 3, 2013 978-1-4516-0759-8 Djian (Unforgivable, 2010, etc.) provides further insights into what randy French academics are up to when they’re not deconstructing everything. Marc has long since accommodated himself to the fact that he’s a mediocre writer. Since those who can’t, teach, he’s settled into giving writing workshops at a French university and taking occasional students to bed. These little affairs of the heart are all part of the perks of being a professor, he tells himself, and things seem to go perfectly well until he wakes up one morning to find his latest conquest dead in his bed. In fact, according to Marc’s disturbingly affectless narration, things go pretty well after that, at least for a while. He disposes of the body in a deep, secret pool known only to himself and his sister Marianne; the police inquiries into the disappearance of Barbara, as Marc eventually remembers her name to be, are pro forma; and when Myriam Machinchose, Barbara’s new stepmother, shows up on campus to learn more about the stepdaughter she’d barely met, Marc ends up in bed with her with remarkably little fuss and even less reflection. The only cloud on the horizon, it would seem, is Annie Eggbaum, a hopeless writing student with a great body, boundless self-confidence and a father right out of The Sopranos. Annie keeps throwing herself at Marc, and the combination of her enticements, her threats and the beatings Marc gets from her father’s thugs is so persuasive that eventually, he’s bound to give in, despite the fact that he’s still continuing his affair with Myriam. The women in Marc’s life increasingly blend together in his memory and desire until the inevitable consequences. Bold, elliptical, fashionably inconclusive and very French.

THE MAYAN SECRETS

Cussler, Clive; Perry, Thomas Putnam (384 pp.) $28.95 | Sep. 3, 2013 978-0-399-16249-7

Cussler (The Tombs, 2012, etc.) drops treasure-hunting Sam and Remi Fargo into Mayan mysteries. Having found Attila’s tomb, the Fargos are spending a vacation on Mexico’s Pacific coast assisting in a marine biology project. News arrives from Tapachula, Mexico, of an earthquake. Loading their chartered yacht with supplies and physicians, the deep-pocketed, charitable Fargos sail to help. Stopping at damaged coastal villages, they hear of isolated indigenous people near Volcán Tacaná. They organize a relief party. In midtrek, Sam stumbles upon a Mayan tomb uncovered by the earthquake. In it, there’s a mummified aristocrat and an urn containing a Mayan codex. Only four other Mayan codices exist, treasures of mathematical treatises, astronomical observations and histories. This one had been secreted in 1537 with the help of Dominican Friar de Las Casas, a singular codex “worth a hundred” of any other. Fearing looters, the Fargos rationalize smuggling the codex to San Diego. In pursuit comes Sarah Allersby, a “beautiful, rich, |

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“Vividly atmospheric...” from seven for a secret

SEVEN FOR A SECRET

Klein joins the flow of refugees streaming across Europe on foot. His destination is Heidelberg, his hometown, but more importantly, it’s the hometown of Hans Seeler, a sadistic SS guard who tormented Jacob’s younger brother, Maxie, in the camp. As Maxie lay dying as a result of a particularly brutal beating dished out by Seeler, Jacob promised to avenge his death by killing Seeler. After arriving in Heidelberg, Jacob starts trading on the black market to make ends meet. One evening, he returns to his room to find a woman, Sarah Kaufman, sitting on his bed. She’d been given Jacob’s address by the mayor’s office, he being the only other Jew in town. Sarah had spent the war in hiding in Berlin but had returned to Heidelberg to keep a promise to meet her lover, who’d disappeared one night after going out to find food. As time passes, it becomes increasingly clear that Sarah’s lover won’t be returning, and she and Jacob fall in love. Jacob realizes that if he keeps his promise to his brother, he will likely be separated from Sarah, which significantly complicates his planned revenge. With an emotionally agile tone, Fletcher (Walking Israel, 2010, etc.) captures the chaos and desperation that followed the end of World War II in Europe. While some of the characters feel hollow, Fletcher does a particularly good job of bringing the titular character to life, imbuing him with a dark side brought to the fore by the horrors he’s experienced. An expressive and generally well-told story of love and hatred, revenge and recovery.

Faye, Lyndsay Amy Einhorn/Putnam (464 pp.) $26.95 | Sep. 17, 2013 978-0-399-15838-4 Bartender-turned–“copper star” Timothy Wilde returns in a second mordant historical mystery (The Gods of Gotham, 2012). It’s been less than a year since the fire that consumed his savings and scarred his face led Timothy reluctantly to join the brand new New York City Police Force that gets its nickname from its star-shaped copper badges. Now, on February 14, 1846, he’s congratulating himself for solving the theft of a painting when Lucy Adams bursts into police headquarters at the Tombs with the news that her sister, Delia, and son, Jonas, have been kidnapped. Lucy and her kin are free blacks from Albany, she tells Timothy, but “[s]lave agents care nothing for that, when the chance for profit is high enough.” When Timothy manages to rescue Delia and Jonas with the help of his brother Valentine, he learns that their abductors have powerful political protectors in the Democratic Party machine, of which Valentine is a loyal member. Furthermore, Lucy is secretly married to a white state senator whose associates in Tammany Hall have every reason for wanting to get her quietly out of town. Silkie Marsh, the evil brothel madam Timothy foiled previously, turns out to be centrally involved in both the abductions and the plan to eliminate Lucy—and Madam Marsh hates Timothy just as much as ever, while still pining for drug-addicted Valentine. The brothers’ relationship remains fraught but enduring as multiple plot complications ensue; Timothy’s loathing of slavery and friendships with several African-American activists give the novel its moral fire. As was the case in The Gods of Gotham, Faye folds a blistering indictment of prejudice and persecution of the defenseless within a satisfyingly complex mystery. Its resolution saves some of the innocent and punishes a few of the guilty without pretending that society’s basic injustices have been ameliorated. Vividly atmospheric; the thieves’ slang all by itself evokes 19th-century New York with wonderful specificity. Let’s hope Faye finds more dirty work for her intriguingly conflicted hero.

THE FINAL SACRAMENT

Forrester, James Sourcebooks Landmark (496 pp.) $14.99 paper | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4022-7272-1 Forrester brings his Elizabethan-era trilogy (Sacred Treason, 2012, etc.) to a fitting and dramatic close. William Harley, the Clarenceux King of Arms, is a Catholic who is loyal to the Protestant Queen Elizabeth. He unwillingly possesses a document that can destroy her reign and restore the Catholic Tudors to the throne. Worse, it can ignite a civil war. Unfortunately, enemies of the queen know he has the document and hound him relentlessly to give it up. But William, usually referred to in the story as Clarenceux, is a man of unflinching devotion to both his queen and his family. The ensuing conflict yields a good many dead bodies, often of innocent bystanders. Will his beloved wife and daughter be among them? Whom can he trust? He would like simply to destroy the document, but that entails dangers as well. Meanwhile, Forrester takes pains to authentically convey what life must have been like in days of yore. The smells, the muck and filth, the violence and the hangings for petty theft will all make the reader appreciate being alive today and not then. Yet there is a spirit binding Clarenceux to his family, his queen and his God that feels both pure and genuine—without being a cliché, he is a model of courage and honor. Now and then, the story’s dialogue has two Williams addressing each other by name, which can be confusing, but that’s a small matter. (The author’s note

JACOB’S OATH

Fletcher, Martin Dunne/St. Martin’s (336 pp.) $25.99 | Oct. 8, 2013 978-1-250-02761-0 A Holocaust survivor must choose between keeping the woman he loves and seeking revenge against the camp guard who beat his younger brother to death. After the liberation of the BergenBelsen concentration camp, survivor Jacob

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GODS OF THE STEPPE

mentions that, in the 16th century, most men were named John, Thomas or William.) Much more important is the intensity of the struggle, with its evenly matched combatants. For Clarenceux, it’s all about doing what’s right, no matter the obstacles. An enjoyable yarn. Sensitive readers might shed a tear or two at the end, so keep the tissues handy.

Gelasimov, Andrei Translated by Schwartz, Marian AmazonCrossing (316 pp.) $14.95 paper | Sep. 3, 2013 978-1-61109-073-4 During the final days of World War II, a 12-year-old boy dreams of becoming a soldier in this English translation of Russian author Gelasimov’s (The Lying Year, 2013, etc.) award-winning coming-of-age novel. Petka is a precocious boy whose vivid imagination compensates for his reality. Shunned by many in Razgulyaevka for his illegitimacy, he’s a target for bullies and spends most days on the receiving end of his Granny Daria’s stick for his boisterous behavior. But to Petka, verbal and physical abuse is merely part of his normal day, and he shrugs it off while plotting boyish fun: caring for a wolf cub, lobbing cow patties at “enemy” targets, stowing away in a barrel to steal alcohol and befriending

ACTORS ANONYMOUS

Franco, James Amazon/New Harvest (304 pp.) $26.00 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-0-544-11453-1 Actor Franco’s experimental first novel (Palo Alto: Stories, 2010) focuses on the field he knows best—acting. Part aphorism, part instruction manual, part reflection, part short story and, seemingly, part memoir, the narrative is a pastiche of forms and moods. We find a narrator who’s occasionally called “James Franco” and a reminder (in a footnote) that this work is a fictional creation. We also find an order of sorts, for he breaks the narrative into two major sections: “The Twelve Steps of Actors Anonymous” and “The Twelve Traditions of Actors Anonymous.” The first part is casually based on the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and includes steps such as “[We] turned our will and our ‘performances’ over to the Great Director” and “[We] made a fearless and searching moral inventory of our ‘character.’ ” The “Twelve Traditions” include “Every film ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside financing” and “We should remain forever artists, but we can employ technical workers.” As is clear from these rubrics, some of this advice is either overly obvious or to be taken with a grain of salt. Gnomic statements abound: “Your characters need to love something, otherwise they will be unlovable” and “The grammar of film is more complex than the grammar of text.” In the interstices, Franco (or his alter ego) presents his ideas through anecdotes and semiplausible fictional incidents, with plenty of inside references to Hollywood actors. Loosely structured in the extreme, the novel seems to have been written in odd moments while Franco was taking a break from his acting career—and it was probably more fun for him to write than it is for the reader to read.

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INTERVIEWS & PROFILES

Marisha Pessl

The best-seller returns with a novel that conjures the world’s dark corners By Richard Z. Santos process of writing,” she recalls. “I know I’ve done this before, but it was all a dim recollection.” Special Topics was both a commercial and critical success—it was named one of The 10 Best Books of 2006 by the New York Times—and Pessl forgot about the pressure by embracing the process and surrendering to her work. “Talking to other writers who are now on their 16th book, they feel lost all the time. Embrace the sense that you have no idea if you can pull it off,” Pessl says. “If you’re too rational, you’ll get stuck. The key is to be like water, to go around the rocks and embrace uncertainty.” Uncertainty and mystery lie at the heart of Night Film.The novel revolves around the mysterious Stanislas Cordova, a cult director whose movies have affected people in bizarre, even dangerous ways. Cordova fans, detractors and investigators tend to imbue him with such mystical power and vision that the line between reality and fantasy is blurred: They “believe him to be an amoral enchanter, a dark acolyte who led them away from what was stale and tedious about their daily lives deep into the world’s moist, tunneled underbelly, where every hour was unexpected.” Scott McGrath, the novel’s narrator, is an investigative journalist whose career fell apart after he made accusations of violence against Cordova on national TV. McGrath is pulled back into the director’s world after Ashley Cordova, the director’s beautiful, talented daughter, is found dead. Paired with Nora Halliday, an aspiring actress who just moved to New York City, and Hopper Cole, a young man with mysterious connections to the Cordova family, McGrath starts digging into Ashley’s death. Soon, all three investigators are pulled into an entrancing story involving black magic, mental hospitals, psychotropic drugs, people unwilling to talk and possible human sacrifice.

After speaking with Marisha Pessl for a few minutes, I have to make a potentially awkward observation. I clear my throat and confess, “For a writer, you seem really happy and excited.” Pessl laughs and admits, “I am. It’s very funny; just before writing Night Film, everyone said, ‘Good luck with that. Aren’t you nervous?’ My response was, ‘What are you talking about?’ ” Then, when she started writing her follow-up novel after the best-selling and much-lauded debut Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Pessl started to feel the nerves. “This was no longer me as an anonymous writer,” Pessl says. “It’s my career. I’ve gone from amateur to professional….When I sat down to write Night Film, it’d been such a long time since I wrote a long project, it took me a long time to get back into shape, into the 14

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Pessl loves feeling scared while reading. “There’s a question of whether we can feel real fear in this day and age, when it’s all been done before,” Pessl says. “We’re jaded. We know how the rabbit is pulled out of the hat. Where are the dark corners? Not only in fiction, but in the world?” Night Film is an engrossing novel that burrows under a reader’s skin, much like Cordova’s films. Pessl achieved this by immersing herself in both the research and the writing. “I wanted to find something to take me to the edge of my talent and see if I could hack my way out of it.” In a way, Pessl admits, McGrath’s long, difficult journey toward the truth mirrors her own journey writing this novel. “McGrath was going to extremes, and I felt I was going to extremes,” Pessl says. “Perhaps it was an obsession. There was a sense of submerging myself all in. It felt like I was in the dark and couldn’t see the way out.” Part of Pessl’s journey involved rendering Stanislas and Ashley’s world in precise if unseen detail. “I visited all the locations at night to get a sense of what it’s really like. So much of Manhattan is considered commercial, but there are dark places left,” Pessl says. The research and preparation for Night Film included not only mapping out the life stories of the characters, but filling three notebooks with sketches, photographs, songs for each character and more. Pessl even wrote out detailed outlines for all 15 of Cordova’s films. However, this detail-oriented approach wasn’t merely research. Newspaper articles, blogs, photos, emails, screen shots from websites and other nontraditional elements are scattered throughout the novel. “I wasn’t trying to do anything avant-garde,” Pessl says about the inserts. “I was following the simple idea of showing, not telling. Rather than Scott narrating, I thought it’d be so much better for the reader to sort through it all and draw his or her own conclusions.” After spending so many years shining light into murky places, no wonder Pessl seems so happy now. Night Film is bound to keep readers up late into the night, flipping pages, diving deeper into the mystery. “So many writers say this and I hate it, but write what you would want to read,” Pessl says. “This is a book. Lives are not at stake here. I’m not trading people’s 401(k)s. It’s art and some people will love it, and there will be people who can’t stand it. That’s the beauty of writing.”

Richard Z. Santos lives in Austin and is writing his first novel. His fiction, essays and nonfiction have appeared in The Rumpus, Nimrod, HTML Giant, the Texas Observer and many others. Night Film was reviewed in the May 1 issue of Kirkus Reviews.

NIGHT FILM Pessl, Marisha Random House (624 pp.) $28.00 | Aug. 20, 2013 978-1-4000-6788-6

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“...revelatory...” from the funeral dress

officers at a nearby POW camp. His one friend from the village is Valerka, a weak and sickly boy who deserts Petka whenever he’s allowed to join the bullies. While Petka engages in childish activities (which begin as mildly humorous but evolve into Dennis-the-Menace type antics that can best be described as idiotic), Japanese POW Miyanaga Hirotaro secretly writes a journal detailing his family history in hopes his sons in Nagasaki will someday read it. A man of honor descended from discredited samurais, Hirotaro’s often punished for alleged escape attempts when he leaves camp in search of herbs to minister to the wounded and ill. He tries to warn soldiers about the dangers of the nearby mine but is ridiculed for his efforts. On one of Hirotaro’s forays, he crosses paths with Petka, an encounter that’s fortuitous for the boy and painful for the prisoner. Hirotaro triggers a turning point in young Petka’s life: He begins to question actions, develop his own beliefs and take responsibility for the well-beings of others. Like his young protagonist, Gelasimov’s narrative launches with manic energy and quickly scatters in a thousand directions. Although fragmented prose may be representative of a young boy’s thought processes, the author fails to clearly connect events and characters and incorporate the elements into a credible, satisfactory conclusion. Perhaps quality of expression is diminished in translation, but Gelasimov’s coming-of-age story grows old quickly.

and although he rewrites an alternative death for Hasdrubal, the general defending Carthage, his work rings true. “Carthage must be destroyed” is the endgame of this novel, but the road to that Roman victory is the true reading enjoyment.

THE FUNERAL DRESS

Gilmore, Susan Gregg Broadway (352 pp.) $16.00 paper | Sep. 24, 2013 978-0-307-88621-7 A young woman in Appalachia battles poverty, discrimination and her own insecurity in this moving and memorable third novel from Gilmore (Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen, 2008, etc.). In 1974, when Emmalee Bullard gets a job sewing collars at the Tennewa shirt factory, the 16-yearold begins the escape from the miserable poverty in which she was raised. After her mother died years ago, her care fell to her father, Nolan, a handsome, angry drunkard who barely kept her fed or clothed (her schoolteacher took to bathing her in the janitor’s closet). At Tennewa, she is seated next to Leona, a secretive woman, broken from the death of her baby boy years ago. Childless, Leona and Curtis still live in the starter trailer they bought as newlyweds; she takes in extra sewing, and he devotes his life to their church. Leona is hard, but she is the closest thing Emmalee has had to mothering care in years, and so, when, three years later, Emmalee has a baby she calls Kelly Faye, Leona invites them to live at the trailer. Tragedy strikes the day before they’re to move in: Curtis and Leona are killed in a car accident. The funeral director allows Emmalee to sew Leona’s burying dress, so she drops Kelly Faye off at her uncle’s (his childless wife can’t wait to get her hands on the baby) and goes to the trailer to work on Leona’s dress. There, she sees the room Leona prepared: a bed and a crib, baby toys and books, small sweet clothes Leona sewed herself. Heartbroken, Emmalee sews the dress out of red damask and then becomes ill. When she goes to retrieve Kelly Faye, her uncle refuses to give her back, claiming the baby would be better off with them and all they can offer. Shunned by the community, Emmalee’s not sure she’s fit to be a mother, but then a surprising thing happens—the women of Tennewa begin to stand behind her. A revelatory novel that offers an evocative account of the lives of Appalachian working women.

TOTAL WAR ROME: DESTROY CARTHAGE

Gibbins, David Dunne/St. Martin’s (352 pp.) $25.99 | Sep. 3, 2013 978-1-250-03864-7

The long memory of an unfinished war drives this historical novel from archaeologist Gibbins. The novel is a companion piece to the computer game series Total War. Merchandising aside, Gibbins knows his history and uses arcane facts and vivid military sequences to tell the story of Rome before the emperors, presented through 22 years in the lives of two friends. This is a violent world: Greece, Egypt, Carthage, Celtic Europe and Rome are waypoints on the routes of trade, culture and the social advancement provided by war. Scipio and Fabius begin as teenagers in military training, their mantra—to finish the destruction of Carthage, defeated by Rome 55 years before by Scipio Africanus, the boy’s adoptive grandfather. Fabius is the fictional bodyguard of the historic Scipio, and theirs is a coming-of-age story on an imperial scale. Beginning at the academy in Rome, they march together through war in Macedonia and Spain until Scipio is at the forefront of a final confrontation, as Carthage has become a threatening force again. Social and political intrigue illuminate a mix of characters from the patrician families, whose motivations are best described by Polybius, Greek tutor of the young Scipio, who states that “Gods do not win wars, just men.” Gibbins delivers the last battle in superb scenes of the horrid surprises of war, 16

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has arranged her existence with exactitude. Although her cardiologist husband, Larry, long ago left her for an ever-younger succession of trophy wives, she is now content to live alone in her Manhattan brownstone, where she also sees patients and has recently taken up the piano. Her equilibrium is upset when a stranger—or strangers—comes to town. Her screenwriter son, Adam, his Moroccan wife, Rachida, a doctor, and their son, Omar, arrive from Detroit, and they will live with Myra while Rachida completes a residency. Myra’s daughter Caro, a preschool director with an eating disorder, is conflicted about her brother’s return. Until his marriage, Adam, who suffers from several phobias, was symbiotically dependent on his older sister. In need of domestic help, Myra hires Eva, recommended by a cousin in Peru. Eva, who comes from an abusive home (just how abusive will be a major plot determinant), is descended from Moroccan Jews, rubber traders who came to the Amazon and married native women. Although raised Catholic, Eva is seeking to reinforce her Jewish identity. Adam identifies with Eva’s quest, which jibes with one of his film obsessions, John Ford’s The Searchers. Secrets abound: Adam is also obsessed with gay

Girard, Geoffrey Touchstone/Simon & Schuster (352 pp.) $25.99 | Sep. 3, 2013 978-1-4767-0404-3 A former Black Ops soldier with a troubled history is called in after a deranged geneticist creates multiple clones of famous serial killers and then releases them into the world. When a group of six teens commit several ghastly murders while escaping from a facility for troubled boys attached to DSTI, a biotech company with ties to the military, Shawn Castillo is called in. It’s his first assignment after entering the civilian world following a long career of nasty covert work in the Middle East. Castillo soon learns that the kids are more than just troubled: They’re all perfect genetic clones of notorious serial killers. Sensing that the staff at the facility isn’t telling him the whole story, Castillo enters the home of Dr. Gregory Jacobson, the founder of DSTI who is also missing, where he discovers evidence of sadistic experiments being performed on the boys, and other boys, by foster parents selected and paid by DSTI, seemingly to help turn the boys into killers, just like their genetic predecessors. In the house, he also finds Jeffrey, Jacobson’s adopted son, a bright, quiet young man who happens to be a clone of Jeffrey Dahmer. Knowing that Jeffery will likely be “neutralized” if DSTI finds him, Castillo reluctantly brings the boy with him as he sets out to find the escaped clones and bring their inevitable murder spree to an end. But Castillo soon realizes that his boss may have ulterior motives, most likely trying to keep a secret involving a place called SharDhara, where apparently something unspeakably terrible happened, so Castillo has to set everything right before he himself becomes a liability. With a majority of the horrific acts depicted in gory detail, including thrill murder, rape, torture, necrophilia, etc., committed by and upon teens and young children, this book isn’t for every horror fan. The prose is clean and competent, but the dialogue is awkward. The characters, especially Castillo, are paper thin, but readers looking for a sadistic thrill will hardly notice. Mostly suited for horror fans with an interest in reallife serial killers and with exceptionally strong stomachs.

TINDERBOX

Gornick, Lisa Sarah Crichton/Farrar, Straus and Giroux (320 pp.) $26.00 | Sep. 10, 2013 978-0-374-27786-4 A Peruvian maid upends a household in Gornick’s complex psychodrama. For Myra, a psychoanalyst, order is the guiding principal of her life. The only child of austere, unloving parents, she |

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FIREFLY

porn magazines. Rachida is carrying on a lesbian affair with a colleague, and Caro still suffers the aftereffects of amorous adventures in Morocco (which led, indirectly, to her brother’s engagement). Emboldened by Myra’s professional empathy, Eva reveals that her father also loved porn, which prompted his molestation of Eva and led ultimately to her mother’s death. When Eva discovers Adam’s cache of smut, a catastrophe ensues that explodes the family’s carefully groomed complacency. But too many point-of-view characters, some in-your-face symbolism, and a soft-focus, partly redemptive ending dilute the impact of this psychologically authoritative second novel. Flares up but fizzles too soon.

Jenkins, Janette Europa Editions (156 pp.) $15.00 paper | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-60945-140-0 For her fifth novel, the British author offers a seductive snapshot of Noël Coward, that consummate man of the theater. Most of the action occurs during one week in 1971. The recently knighted Sir Noël is living in his tiny hilltop retreat in Jamaica, the eponymous Firefly, above his much larger, bustling home below. He divides his time between there and Switzerland, avoiding England for tax reasons. The great man is in poor health, suffering dizzy spells and leading a sedentary life (he will die two years later, at age 73). Down the hill, his unobtrusive partner, Graham Payn, takes care of business. What’s different about this week? Noël’s peerless manservant, Miguel, an older, married man who arranges everything just so, is away, visiting a dying relative. Standing in for him is Patrice, an exuberant 22-year-old. The relationship between the young blood with big dreams and the literary lion tugged back by memories is at the heart of the novel. Patrice hopes to move to London, to be a silver service waiter at the Ritz, and presses his employer for a reference. Noël tries to discourage him. “The Ritz is very white, front of house.” The playwright is affectionate and irascible by turns, cursing with abandon while enjoying the young man’s cheerful naïveté. Jenkins mixes in Noël’s memories (of childhood, of louche encounters, of the American boyfriend who stole his heart and other treasures) with his current socializing, much reduced. There are amusingly acerbic vignettes of visitors: an airhead movie actress, a pushy doctor. Still, it is the sparring with Patrice that keeps Noël in the present. His servant is boyishly insistent on pinning down his orientation: “So you are a definite homosexual, Boss?” A charming but unsentimental evocation of celebrity.

HUMAN REMAINS

Haynes, Elizabeth Harper/HarperCollins (416 pp.) $15.99 paper | Aug. 20, 2013 978-0-06-227676-6 British suspense novelist Haynes’ latest asks the question: How well do we know our neighbors? Initially, this book appears to be a routine murder mystery, but it evolves into a provocative examination of a controversial issue: the right to die. The story begins when Annabel, a police analyst, follows a strong odor into the home of her neighbor, who she thought had moved out long ago, only to come upon a horrific discovery: the woman’s decomposed body. She is aware that a number of dead bodies have been discovered in her part of town, so she analyzes the data and concludes that there has been a radical spike in these numbers. She believes an investigation is in order, even though all signs indicate that the victims died of natural causes. The ensuing story is told from the points of view of Annabel, who feels unappreciated at work, and Colin, who perceives himself to be a liberator of people whose lives have become empty of all but misery. Interspersed are chapters that juxtapose newspaper articles about the discovered bodies with the voices of the deceased, articulating why they wanted to end it all. An artfully woven tapestry of stories that delves into what familial disapproval, social rejection, infidelity, abandonment, loneliness and lack of self-esteem can do to people.

O, WHAT A LUXURY Verses Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic & Profound

Keillor, Garrison Grove (192 pp.) $20.00 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-8021-2161-5

A companion volume of light verse for fans of the radio host’s A Prairie Home Companion. All poetry depends on voice, even more so in this first collection of poetry by Keillor (Life Among the Lutherans, 2009, etc.), whose sonorous, incantatory tone balances the whimsy of the page. The reader will likely hear the writer’s voice in his ear when scanning this verse and will recognize that these limericks, rhyming jokes and more bittersweet meditations are better consumed one by one than many at a 18

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THE THICKET

single sitting. That same voice, of course, distinguishes Keillor’s prose as well, underscoring everything from his attitude to his subject matter—the droll, deadpan delight in the thoroughly Midwestern perspective—but the imperative to rhyme (which almost all of these short poems do) gives him license to be a little sillier than usual. His template suggests the influence of Ogden Nash, fellow New Yorker writer (and Midwestern native) Calvin Trillin and Roy Blount Jr., but it also has plenty of Chuck Berry (including a mashup of Berry and a fellow St. Louis versifier on “T.S. Eliot Rock”), old blues songs and jazz standards, and bawdy ballads that don’t seem so naughty when it is Keillor expressing “A sudden urge / to merge.” And there are couplets that seem to exist simply for the sake of rhyme: “I’m not a Mormon, nor are you, / Neither was Harmon Killebrew.” His verse takes him far from his native Minnesota, typically as the tourist in Seattle, San Francisco or Manhattan, while never forsaking his common-sense pragmatism or keen eye for the absurd. Readers drawn to this will know exactly what they are looking for, and they will find it.

Lansdale, Joe R. Mulholland Books/Little, Brown (352 pp.) $26.00 | $12.99 e-book | Sep. 10, 2013 978-0-316-18845-6 978-0-316-24875-4 e-book If the Coen brothers’ film version of True Grit gave readers an appetite for more underage period Western bounty hunting, Lansdale (Edge of Dark Water, 2012, etc.) is eager to oblige. “[O]ne thing for sure, this ain’t your day,” the retiring deputy of Sylvester, Texas, tells Jack Parker. He doesn’t know the half of it. After Jack’s parents are carried off by smallpox, his grandfather packs Jack, 16, and his sister, Lula, 14, onto a wagon and heads for their Aunt Tessle’s in Kansas. The wagon makes it only halfway across the Sabine River on a suspiciously expensive new ferry when three men spoiling for a fight shoot Caleb Parker and the

AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A CORPSE

Krzhizhanovsky, Sigizmund Translated by Turnbull, Joanne New York Review Books (272 pp.) $15.95 paper | Nov. 5, 2013 978-1-59017-670-2 Eleven new translations of stories by one of Russia’s great writers, virtually unknown in his time. Krzhizhanovsky (1887-1950) was exiled to obscurity under Soviet oppression. To this day, no one knows where he is buried. Just a sampling of the writer’s early-20th-century writings (Memories of the Future, 2009, etc.) offers a wealth of strange pleasures. In the title story, a remote journalist becomes obsessed with the autobiography of his room’s previous occupant. “In the Pupil” is another odd tale of an affair and a man’s journey into his lover’s eye. “Human love is a frightened thing with half-shut eyes: it dives into the dusk, skitters about in dark corners, speaks in whispers, hides behind curtains, and puts out the light,” Krzhizhanovsky writes. Some stories are both literal and fantastic; in “The Runaway Fingers,” a world-class pianist’s fingers run off to spend a night sleeping rough in the streets. In “Yellow Coal,” the world’s energy crisis is resolved by harnessing the world’s spite: The titular energy source is bile. Still others are distinctly Russian fairy tales. In “Bridge Over the Styx,” an albino Stygian toad asks an engineer to construct a bridge to Hades. This collection isn’t quite a revelation but definitely qualifies as buried treasure. Funny and pointed satire from one of literature’s lost souls.

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“Gripping, cerebral, intriguing, enigmatic—like a puzzle you enjoy working on but may never solve.” from let the old dreams die

THE DEAD RUN

ferryman, leave Jack in the river and ride off with Lula. Jack’s obligation to rescue his sister is clear, but the means aren’t, until he runs into tracker Eustace Cox—part black, part Comanche, and maybe a hint of Parker mixed up in him—and his buddy Reginald Jones, a philosophical dwarf everyone calls Shorty. Offering to swap the deeds for his family’s land for some timely assistance in dealing with “Cut Throat Bill,” “Nigger Pete” and “Fatty Worth,” Jack interests the unlikely pair in his quest. Soon enough, they’re joined by Jimmie Sue, a whore with a heart of flesh; Winton, exrancher, ex–bounty hunter and ex-sheriff; Spot, his assistant back in the Sylvester jail; and Hog, Eustace’s hog. The many shaggy conversations, anecdotes and back stories that emerge among the group gradually reveal to Jack what he’s going to have to do to rescue Lula, what sort of allies he’s enlisted for the job and what sort of person he is himself. Alternately violent and tender, with a gently legendary quality that makes this tall tale just about perfect.

Mansbach, Adam Harper Voyager (304 pp.) $25.99 | Sep. 24, 2013 978-0-06-219965-2 A badass convict and a jaded Texas sheriff go head-to-head with an ancient Aztec demon in the latest from Mansbach (Rage Is Back, 2013, etc.). The novel is just as screwball and even more propulsive than the author’s previous works. Jess Galvan is a smuggler who gets busted on the wrong side of the Tex-Mex border by a federale named Pescador while trying to raise 50 large to pay for a custody lawyer. Rotting away in prison, Galvan is chosen by El Cucuy, the ancient high priest of an evil Aztec order, to carry the magical beating heart of a slain virgin to El Cucuy’s son Seth deep in the Montesajo Caverns. The only thing standing between Galvan and his team of fellow convicts is an army of threatening, dead virgins. Yes, this is certifiably some Weird Stuff. Meanwhile, a girl named Sherry Richards has been kidnapped by this cult, and she and a classmate are soon on the run from their murderous pursuers, with a tough Texas lawman named Nichols not far behind. Mansbach’s enormous gift for language and a dedicated understanding of the genres involved—noir, horror, thriller and other tropes come into play here—make this wobbly machine work surprisingly well. This could have easily come off like a From Dusk Till Dawn rip-off, but it’s far better than readers might be expecting. Galvan talks like Jules Winnfield out of Pulp Fiction, sure, but the plot is as hard-core as an episode of Breaking Bad, and Mansbach’s desiccated prose is first-rate. A head-spinning mashup of genres, with a cast that includes bikers, hookers, demons and corrupt cops. It works. (Author appearances in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. Agent: Richard Abate)

LET THE OLD DREAMS DIE

Lindqvist, John Ajvide Dunne/St. Martin’s (400 pp.) $26.99 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-312-62053-0

The Swedish author offers sequel stories to Handling the Undead (2010) and Let the Right One In (aka Let Me In, 2007; adapted for film in Sweden and in the U.S.). “Final Processing” adds an intense, moving coda to Handling the Undead; the psychically gifted Flora, aided by musician/hauler Kalle, seeks final peace for the zombies imprisoned in a government facility. The title story is a quiet little tale that may confuse people who haven’t read Let the Right One In and may not entirely satisfy readers hoping to learn more about Oskar and his vampire friend Eli. But the collection provides other treasures, particularly the perversely sweet “The Border,” in which an ugly, lonely customs agent who can literally smell deceit finally discovers where she fits, and “Equinox,” concerning a compulsively nosy crossword writer with low self-esteem who makes a gruesomely attractive discovery in a deserted house. The spare, poetic quality of Lindqvist’s translated prose and the inexplicable dream logic that drives so many of his stories recall the work of Jonathan Carroll or Ray Bradbury in his less baroque moments. Even at its darkest, the collection affirms the importance of love: Its presence and its lack cause people to do strange things, terrible things, heroic things, with horrible and/or exultantly beautiful consequences. Gripping, cerebral, intriguing, enigmatic—like a puzzle you enjoy working on but may never solve.

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WANT NOT

Miles, Jonathan Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (400 pp.) $26.00 | Nov. 5, 2013 978-0-547-35220-6 Miles’ panoramic second novel (Dear American Airlines, 2008) is structured around differing definitions of waste. In a novelistic stratagem that has become increasingly prevalent in recent times, several characters relay the narrative until their voices and paths coalesce, more or less neatly, at novel’s end. In Miles’ version, the convergence is somewhat less wieldy but no less enjoyable. Elwin Cross Sr., an octogenarian historian now confined, due to Alzheimer’s, in a nursing home on Henry Street in Manhattan, is stuck on page 235 of his treatise on genocide as a byproduct of civilization. Elwin Cross Jr. is a linguist who |


SOUTHERN AS A SECOND LANGUAGE

has been summoned to assist in a federal project to devise a warning sign (for a nuclear waste dump) that humans will still understand 10,000 years hence. This presents a conundrum because Cross Jr., whose specialty is language death, knows that no mere verbiage can survive that long. Micah, a dreadlocked 20-something nature child who was raised in the wilderness by a religious fanatic, has brought her lover, Talmadge, from Burning Man to a squat near Henry Street, where they Dumpster-dive for all of life’s necessities. Their idyll is threatened when Matty, Talmadge’s skateboarding best friend from Ole Miss, shows up fresh out of prison. Sara, whose trader husband died on 9/11, was robbed even of the consolation of grief when she learns of the torrid affair he was carrying on. Since marrying the unscrupulous and sexually insatiable Dave—who has profited hugely by collecting from the country’s most vulnerable and gullible debtors—Sara has grown increasingly alarmed by the cynical affinity Dave has cultivated with her teenage daughter Alexis. Emotionally stunted by her father’s erasure from her life, Alexis may be pregnant but doesn���t want to know for sure. Tethered by the sheer weight of back story—each of these characters could merit a whole novel—and disquisitions on disposables of every kind, the novel eventually achieves exhilarating liftoff. For readers who relish extravagant language, scathing wit and philosophical heft, Want Not wastes nothing.

Patton, Lisa Dunne/St. Martin’s (304 pp.) $24.99 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-1-250-02065-9 Patton’s third novel featuring Southern belle Leelee Satterfield (Yankee Doodle Dixie, 2011, etc.) is rich on atmosphere and charm if short on plot. After her husband, Baker, convinced her to move from ancestral Memphis to Vermont to follow his dream of owning a B&B and then left her for the artificially enhanced owner of a ski resort, Leelee is happily back home in Memphis and on the verge of opening her own restaurant. Chef Peter Owen (who was at her inn in Vermont) is working with Leelee to make the transplanted Peach Blossom Inn the finest French restaurant in Tennessee. They are also working together on a soul-mate kind of romance, although his Yankee directness takes some getting used to, as does Leelee’s Southern politeness (or lying, as Peter would call it). Leelee is finally taking some ownership for her life, which is a big step for someone raised to be a daughter and a wife. Thankfully, she has Kissie for guidance, Leelee’s old nanny who is now looking after her daughters, Sarah and Issie, doling out mammy-style wisdom and sassiness in equal measure. Then Leelee gets a cease and desist letter from a lawyer: the current owner of the Peach Blossom Inn in Vermont (the evil Helga) has copyrighted the name, and Leelee’s restaurant can’t open until everything is sorted out. When ex-husband Baker comes scooting back for reconciliation, Leelee considers it for the sake of the girls, though it drives Peter away. Patton has a large cast of loopy characters, offering all the comedy in the story. If only there were a little bit more story. Fans of the Leelee novels (and of Kissie) will be happy to find their heroine’s life happily resolved, though the occasional slog through insignificant details may test their patience.

BETWEEN A MOTHER AND HER CHILD

Noble, Elizabeth Berkley (448 pp.) $15.00 paper | Sep. 3, 2013 978-0-425-26793-6

A work of fiction based on the 2004 Indonesian tsunami. British author Noble weaves multiple narrative threads into the family saga. Maggie, an Australian girl, gives up her Olympic dream to marry Bill, a British boy traveling around the Pacific, when she discovers she is pregnant. Maggie leaves her beloved sister, Olivia, in Australia to move to England with Bill. After their beloved child, Jake, is born, they have two more children: a daughter, Aly, and a son with special needs, Stan. When Jake, with his father’s encouragement, decides to take a year to travel the Pacific Rim countries with friends before attending university, his family is happy for him. But then he dies on a beach during a tsunami, leaving the family devastated. Maggie and Bill subsequently grow apart. Then, Bill meets a young widow, Carrie, in a grief support group, and they fall in love. Olivia, herself involved with someone, comes to England to help her older sister. Enter Kate, a woman hired to act as caregiver to a now fractured family. Naturally, Kate has a story all her own. Sacrificed dreams and buried feelings collide in this U.K. best-seller.

THE GOOD WIFE

Porter, Jane Berkley (432 pp.) $15.00 paper | Sep. 3, 2013 978-0-425-25367-0 A novel about marriages, sibling relationships and parenting, from Porter (Flirting with Forty, 2006, etc.). This is the final book in the author’s Brennan Sisters Trilogy. The story follows Sarah Brennan Walker, the youngest Brennan sister, married to a famous baseball player, and Lauren Summers, once seduced, then abandoned, by another famous baseball player. The action begins when Sarah’s family gathers for her mother’s funeral. |

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We learn, via flashbacks, that Sarah, the good wife of the title, gave up her dreams of going to law school to marry Boone and bear their children. She loves her family dearly even though Boone once cheated on her with a baseball groupie. In Lauren’s case, her boyfriend, with dreams of becoming a famous athlete, abandoned her when she became pregnant at 16. Her parents helped raise the baby, who grew into a young man with athletic talents of his own. Then tragedy struck, and Lauren lost her son. It is during Lauren’s devastation over his death that she enters the story, while catering the Brennan funeral. The book explores themes of love and loss, anger and guilt. Too much information about Sarah and Boone’s sex life sometimes interrupts the far more interesting emotional and psychological developments. On the whole, though, the story is believable, insightful and marked by witty dialogue. A novel that may inspire readers to examine their own family relationships.

further. The emotional and physical injuries mount, driving inexorably toward a surprising climax. A compelling tale of the deceit, violation and anguish that undergird the myth of suburbia.

NEW MONEY

Rosenthal, Lorraine Zago St. Martin’s (336 pp.) $24.99 | Sep. 10, 2013 978-1-250-02535-7 A modern Cinderella finds herself the heir to a fortune, two nasty step-siblings and a struggling writer from Queens for a Prince Charming. Charleston native Savannah Morgan is stuck: At 24, she has a degree in literature but a thankless job as a library assistant. She had a great guy but let him loose when he wanted to start a family. She has a stack of rejection letters for her short stories and a load of worries about her BFF Tina’s penchant for loose men and drunken nights. But then a New York lawyer calls to inform Savannah that she is the late Edward Stone’s daughter and heir to much of his media empire. Her mother has some explaining to do: The story had been that Savannah was the product of a wild youth, but now it seems Savannah is the result of a heartbreaking romance, and all those gifts from a distant aunt over the years were from Edward. Although Edward has two other children, Ned and Caroline, he’s left the bulk of his fortune to Savannah, with the stipulation that she stay in New York and work for Stone News. Her stepsiblings are furious, but Ned’s wife, Kitty (her hip fairy godmother), makes Savannah an editorial assistant at Femme magazine. Savannah is given a driver, a stunning apartment and a beginning allowance of $10,000 a week. What could intrude on this fairy-tale concoction? Lots. Will her fairy godmother pull through? Rosenthal tackles some contemporary issues in the midst of an agreeable fantasy.

HUSH LITTLE BABY

Redfearn, Suzanne Grand Central Publishing (368 pp.) $15.00 paper | Oct. 8, 2013 978-1-455-57320-2 Jill Kane lives in a suburban dystopia. Beneath the Little League games, the lovingly packed school lunches, the manicured lawns and scrubbed kitchen floors lie the family secrets. Working hard to maintain the facade of the perfect family, Jill is a talented architect who has risen to become the youngest vice president of Harris Development, the third largest design firm in the nation. Her husband, Gordon, is a well-respected cop, a devoted father to 8-year-old Drew and 4-year-old Addie, and a violently abusive husband. Afraid and ashamed, Jill hides bruises beneath her expensive blouses, popping emergency contraception after each attack. The pressure builds until Jill bolts. Her flight—and the reawakening of her affair with Jeffrey, a client—provokes even more persecution from Gordon. Jill swiftly finds herself battling not only for custody of her children, but also for her own reputation, as Gordon exploits his power within the police force to cast doubts upon her sobriety, as well as her fitness to parent. More sinisterly, Jeffrey turns up dead. Briefly finding refuge within a remote Native American community, Jill realizes that she cannot endanger others to protect herself and her children any longer. To truly escape Gordon’s control, she will have to destroy Gordon’s reputation, and her best friend, Connor, in-house counsel for Harris Development, is eager to conspire. Complicating matters, though, are her new pregnancy and a devastating diagnosis. Redfearn’s debut ratchets up the tension page by page, as husband and wife try to inflict the most damage on each other without harming the kids. Every character hides something, and each surprising revelation torques the plot 22

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SUBTLE BODIES

Rush, Norman Knopf (256 pp.) $26.95 | Sep. 10, 2013 978-1-400-04250-0

Rush’s third novel is an outlier—a slim book not set in Botswana—but his concerns with our carnal and intellectual lives remain pleasurably, provocatively intact. The modern classic Mating (1991) and its 2003 follow-up, Mortals, were hothouse experiments in human behavior: Take a bright couple, drop them in a foreign milieu, and watch their primal instincts slowly emerge. This book does much the same thing, though it’s set in Rush’s native United States. At its center is Ned, a middle-aged activist who has hastened to |


the castlelike home of his college friend Douglas, who has died in a riding-mower accident. Following close behind is his wife, Nina, who is outraged at Ned for leaving just as she reaches the peak in her fertility cycle; she wants to conceive. Its life-and-death themes settled fast, the novel largely explores the personalities of Ned and three other friends of Douglas who have arrived for the memorial. Douglas was a lifelong provocateur, and in college, this clan was hellbent on undoing social norms, but reconvened, they largely have memories of old bons mots and a widow who’s trying to stage-manage the memorial to the last utterance. The setting is funereal, and Rush dwells much on the futility of warring against our natures, yet this book abounds in wit, particularly in its exploration of Ned and Nina’s marriage; alternating between their perspectives, Rush pingpongs their thoughts about lust, love and accomplishment. The brevity of the story highlights its contrived setup—the everybody-stuck-in-the-castle arrangement has an unintentional whiff of an Agatha Christie mystery—and a subplot involving Douglas’ troubled teen son is left frustratingly unresolved. But this is a weaker novel only in comparison to Rush’s earlier triumphs. His skill at revealing our interior lives is undiminished. Easier to lug around than its predecessors but with plenty of heft regardless. (Author tour to Boston, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.)

marriage. What begins as a crime thriller becomes the story of a detective’s search for redemption. This book marks the author’s U.S. debut. Let’s hope he gives us many more stories like it.

THE ENGLISH GERMAN GIRL

Simons, Jake Wallis Skyhorse Publishing (352 pp.) $24.95 | Sep. 3, 2013 978-1-62636-074-7

Simons (The Pure, 2012) tells the World War II story of a young German-Jewish émigré in England. In 1930s Berlin, Jewish surgeon Otto Klein and his family—wife Inga, eldest child Heinrich, toddler Hedi and middle child Rosa—are increasingly aware of the anti-Jewish sentiment sweeping the country and are subject to the government’s restrictive laws. But Otto refuses to believe this is a lasting threat. Even when police official and family friend Wilhelm Krützfeld tries to warn the family they’re on a list to be targeted, Otto refuses his help. Subsequently, on Kristallnacht, Otto and Heinrich are rounded up and detained in a concentration camp. Inga and the girls escape, although Rosa barely avoids capture when she flees from a former family employee. After Otto and Heinrich are freed (thanks to Krützfeld’s help), Otto knows he needs to find a means to get his family out of Germany. After trying to obtain visas at various embassies, to no avail, Otto and Inga seize the opportunity to secure a seat on a Kindertransport train to England for one of the children. The parents choose 15-year-old Rosa, who bears the responsibility of finding safe passage so the rest of the family can join her. Once in England, Rosa is sponsored by Otto’s ultrareligious cousin Gerald and his wife, Mimi, who treats Rosa like a servant. Unlike his parents, 18-year-old Samuel is more sympathetic and tries to help Rosa in her effort to seek employment and visas for her family. After fruitless months of searching, she finally travels to the home of Baron de Rothschild, who agrees to help. What follows are definitive moments in Rosa’s life as she taps into her own strength of character, pursues her dreams, weathers personal losses and endures the inevitable hardships of war. Simons provides excellent details that enhance the credibility of his plot and provide substance to his characters. Simons’ compassion, sincerity and subtle style impress.

LINEUP

Shoham, Liad Harper/HarperCollins (320 pp.) $25.99 | Sep. 3, 2013 978-0-06-223744-6 Israeli author Shoham’s gritty crime thriller set in Tel Aviv. An elderly woman witnesses a rape as she scans the street with her highpowered binoculars, but at first, she decides not to get involved. The victim’s father helps identify a suspect named Ziv Nevo, and Detective Eli Nahum believes he has an easy case. Nevo has been found at the crime scene with no plausible explanation. He is innocent of the rape, but his real reason for being in the neighborhood is even worse. He is—well, it has to do with the Mafia. Detective Nahum is experienced, confident and careless, ready to take shortcuts and get the case over with. Under interrogation, Nevo is afraid to explain what he was doing at night in a strange neighborhood. In fact, he thinks he’s been caught for what he was really doing. Once he caves and admits he did it, he finally learns what “it” is. His protestation that he didn’t rape anyone can’t keep him out of prison. Meanwhile, Nahum gets caught carrying on an affair with a woman in the chief ’s office. Nahum’s career and his marriage collapse at about the same time he realizes what shoddy police work he has done. The good news? Now he has plenty of time to exonerate Nevo, learn his secret and—perhaps hardest of all—rebuild his own |

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“...expertly executed.” from rivers

RIVERS

fake letters to disingenuous shills for Christian Swingles, a dating site. Lloyd is fueled by heroin, his maintenance drug after a career of “Plexiglas-cut crack, questionable E, bathtub crank.” It’s only self-destructive until he’s conned into a fake robbery by Swingle cohorts and then exiled by Greyhound from Tulsa to LA. In transit, he meets Nora, a “buxom bad-attitude pixie...and...wannamartyr.” Nora’s paranoia seduces him into murder; her addicting sexuality prompts him to commit another. In LA, Lloyd signs on as a writer specializing in sexual perversion deaths for the CSI franchise. What appears to be a sendup of big pharma, television from Bruckheimer to Oprah, genetically modified organisms, Christian dating, Oral Roberts and the greeting card industry then veers into eco-surrealism. Nora claims pregnancy, the sire, a high-powered CEO, and after a quick segue into the foibles of Occupy-rallying LA hippies, Nora begins ingesting chemicals— “half the sprays and solvents in the household cleaning aisle, along with enough of the Physicians’ Desk Reference to fill the trunk of a Buick.” Nora intends to birth a mutant baby—“a message, a global warning, a kind of toxic inoculation of the entire species.” No cheers are due Lloyd or Nora, and supporting characters are equally deformed, including former Christian Swingle workmates Jay and Riegle, a Rosencrantz and Guildenstern pairing fantasizing about riding Nora’s pregnancy into reality television wealth. A grotesque and lurid allegorical tale, this is not for the faint of heart. Bukowski spawned the School of Dirty Realism. Consider this Dirty Surrealism, social satire as aberrant hipster irony.

Smith, Michael Farris Simon & Schuster (352 pp.) $25.00 | Sep. 10, 2013 978-1-4516-9942-5 A man attempts to put his past behind him and start a new life in the lawless society left behind in a stormwracked post-societal Gulf Coast. When a series of ever more intense storms causes widespread devastation along the Gulf Coast, the U.S. government creates the Line. North of the Line, there is safety, security and the rule of law. South of the line is a lawless, storm-lashed no man’s land where supplies are short, life is cheap, and might makes right. Cohen, who was born and raised near the Gulf, stayed on after almost everyone else evacuated, kept in place by memories of his dead wife and unborn child, who died during the unfolding environmental disaster’s early days. One day, on his way back from a supply run, Cohen is ambushed by a young couple, who proceed to steal his Jeep and leave him for dead. When he eventually makes his way back to his home, he finds the place has been ransacked, his supplies have been looted, and, most troubling of all, his remaining mementos of his past life with his wife have been taken. With all that he cares about gone, Cohen heads out to recover his lost memories and to seek revenge against those who stole from him. Instead of revenge, though, he finds what may just be a reason to go on living. But in order to go on living, he’s going to have to head north, and there are many obstacles to overcome before Cohen can safely cross the Line to start a new life. Smith’s vision of a post-apocalyptic society left behind by civilization is expertly executed. This world is chilling—all the more so for its believability—and it is peopled by compelling, fully realized characters, some of whom only exist in the form of ghosts. In contrast to this bleak world, Smith’s prose is lush, descriptive and even beautiful. A compelling plot, fueled by a mounting sense of tension and hope in the face of increasing hopelessness, will keep readers engrossed to the very end. Tense, moving and expertly executed. (Agent: Peter Steinberg)

SANCTUARY LINE

Urquhart, Jane Quercus (240 pp.) $24.95 | Sep. 3, 2013 978-1-62365-016-2

In Canadian Urquhart’s latest (A Map of Glass, 2006, etc.), a grown woman returns to the abandoned family farm where she experienced her happiest and most emotionally troubling moments. A year after her cousin Mandy’s death while serving in the military in Afghanistan, 40-ish Liz returns to the Ontario farm once owned by Mandy’s father, Liz’s maternal uncle Stanley, until he disappeared 20 years ago. The abandoned orchards Stanley once tended with the help of migrant farm labor from Mexico have gone to seed and decay. Now a scientist, Liz has come back to the area to study the annual migration of monarch butterflies between Mexico and this Canadian edge of Lake Erie. Liz talks some about her butterfly study, but mostly, her thoughts meander over her family’s history, particularly her own childhood migration to the farm each summer from a lonely existence with her widowed mother, Stanley’s sister, in Toronto. Stanley was charismatic yet vulnerable and slightly mysterious; his moods controlled the family. The Mexicans who worked the orchards every summer stayed mostly apart, but Stanley tried to get his two sons as well as Mandy

HAPPY MUTANT BABY PILLS

Stahl, Jerry Perennial/HarperCollins (272 pp.) $14.99 paper | Oct. 22, 2013 978-0-06-199050-2

Stahl’s (Pain Killers, 2009, etc.) eighth novel trips through the travails of Lloyd, copywriter and heroin junkie. And what a trip it is: ribald, tumbling through a don’t-look-back narrative, laced with rude, wicked and beyond-the-edge social observations. Lloyd is “[a]nother doomed DeLillo with a day job,” a career path spiraling downward from writing sanitized pharmaceutical side effects warnings through Penthouse Forum 24

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and Liz to include one Mexican child, Theo, in their play so he could learn English. The boys were cruel to Theo, Mandy was oblivious, but Liz bonded with him. Not only were they both outsiders, but they both were being raised by single mothers— Theo’s mother, Delores, supervised the other migrant workers. Although Liz knew little about Theo’s winter life in Mexico, by adolescence, romantic sparks developed between the two. Then an ugly tragedy destroyed what had been a kind of Eden for everyone. As Liz reveals that tragedy and its aftermath in bits and pieces, she also ponders Mandy’s more recent death and the secret affair Mandy was carrying on with a high-ranking officer. While Liz’s own adulthood remains mostly a blank, Urquhart sensitively portrays her limited perceptions in childhood. Heavy with literary allusions and overt symbolism, Liz’s ruminations make for a ponderously slow if finely tuned read.

THE DARLING DAHLIAS AND THE TEXAS STAR

Albert, Susan Wittig Berkley Prime Crime (320 pp.) $25.95 | Sep. 3, 2013 978-0-425-26058-6

Even the Great Depression can’t keep the Darling Dahlias down for long. In addition to their efforts to beautify the town and plant a large vegetable garden to help feed their less fortunate neighbors in Darling, the members of Alabama’s best-loved garden club have developed quite a reputation as sleuths (The Darling Dahlias and the Confederate Rose, 2012, etc.). The star of the 1932 Watermelon Festival, which the Dahlias are running, is famous aviatrix Lily Dare, aka The Texas Star. Before Lily even gets to town, trouble looms. Local newshound Charlie Dickens, an old friend of Miss Dare, tells a few of the Dahlias that her plane has been sabotaged, though she still hopes to arrive in Darling on time. The beautiful Miss Dare has been careless with other ladies’ husbands, one of whom may be wealthy Roger Kilgore. Roger’s wife, Mildred, a Dahlia member, admits to club president Liz Lacy that she has received unsigned letters accusing Roger of romancing Lily Dare, who’ll be staying in her house during the festival. Liz, asked by Charlie to keep an eye on Lily, enlists Dahlia treasurer Verna Tidwell to stay with her in the adjoining room, where they get an earful when Mildred’s jealous confrontation with her guest results in a pair of black eyes. In addition to riding herd on this circus, the Dahlias try to ferret out the background of the fabulous new cook who rescued diner owner Myra May Mosswell from disaster when Myra’s regular cook left them in the lurch. The ladies have their hands full making the festival a success and keeping their star attraction alive. Another Mystery Lite stuffed with Southern charm and authentic Depression-era recipes.

GOAT MOUNTAIN

Vann, David Harper/HarperCollins (256 pp.) $25.99 | Sep. 10, 2013 978-0-06-212109-7 Vann’s third novel is his most visceral yet: a grinding examination of killing, God and the unnamable forces that create a dynasty of violence. An 11-year-old boy, his father, grandfather, and his father’s best friend, Tom, make the trip to Goat Mountain, a vast family ranch, for their annual deer hunt. When they arrive, in the distance they see an orange-vested hunter sitting on a rock, a poacher on their land. The father spies on the stranger through the scope of his gun. He calls his son over to have a look. When the boy sights the poacher through the cross hairs, he pulls the trigger and shoots. The man is obviously dead—a giant hole through him—and now nothing will be the same. The boy, now a man, narrates this story in a staccato of images, as if remembrance is impossible when accessing the mind of a child, and says “[s]ome part of me was not right, and the source of that can never be discovered.” The men call him a monster, but what can be done? The father throws the body into the back of the pickup, drives to their campsite and strings the man up as they do deer, year after year. The boy is so remorseless, he seems an innocent, and the grandfather wants him murdered (even tries to kill him one night). Tom wants to head back and tell the police, but the father doesn’t know what to do, and so, in his moral inertia, he continues the hunting trip, making meals, flushing out game, sleeping at night, all as the dead man hangs and festers. The narrator meditates on the Bible and its glorification of violence, of our inescapable murderous legacy, and that “[t]he act of killing might even be the act that creates god.” Nothing that begins so badly can end well, yet there is also something comforting in the inevitable; when a gun is loaded, the bullet yearns for a home. This book is as all of Vann’s fiction: provocative and unforgiving. (Author events in San Francisco)

GONE WITH THE WOOF

Berenson, Laurien Kensington (304 pp.) $24.00 | Aug. 27, 2013 978-0-7582-8452-5

Melanie Travis’ offer to render professional assistance to a retiring dogshow judge turns into much more for a mother returning to work. When Melanie agrees to help Edward March write his memoir, she assumes that Edward will be highlighting his life as a judge of dog shows. But Edward has something else in mind. He immediately launches into |

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THE DEAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL

a tell-all of his life and loves, which are far more prolific than Melanie would have expected of the aging, otherwise reclusive former businessman. Melanie has already told her husband, Sam, of her confusion about why her Aunt Peg recommended her for the job in the first place when the nature of the assignment changes abruptly. Andrew, Edward’s adult son, is struck and killed by a car while jogging, and Edward insists that Melanie take responsibility for investigating whatever the police might have missed. Since Edward and Andrew were alike in their rather cantankerous ways, Melanie is stuck wading through a long list of potential suspects from both the business and dog-show worlds. Meanwhile, she uncovers more than she anticipated about Edward’s background, and the knowledge she gains puts her own safety at risk. Berenson (Doggie Day Care Murder, 2009, etc.), who has a nose for balancing fun and fright, devises another story that will appeal to dog aficionados and cozy lovers alike. (Agent: Meg Ruley)

Crane, Cheryl Kensington (304 pp.) $25.00 | Aug. 27, 2013 978-0-7582-5890-8

A Hollywood insider turns investigator to keep her boyfriend’s sister out of jail. Nikki Harper may be a Hollywood realtor rather than a movie star, but as the daughter of legendary Victoria Bordeaux, she’s in the crowd at any Tinseltown gathering. Plus, she’s got an irresistible smile that gets her whatever her famous name won’t. Nikki’s not one to abuse her power, but she’s not above using that smile when her boyfriend Jeremy’s sister Alison tops the suspect list of Lt. Detective Thomas Dombrowski. The officer, whom Nikki knows as Detective Cutie-Pants, is looking into the matter of Ryan Melton, a Hollywood househusband killed in the privacy of his own sprawling mansion. Ryan’s actress wife, Diara, is cleared of suspicion because she was busy on her latest movie set when the deed went down. Not so for the unfortunate Alison, who, as Ryan and Diara’s dog walker, had unrestricted access to the house. Against Jeremy’s wishes, Nikki tries to help Alison, even though she can’t help wondering if it’s worth the barrier it creates between her and Jeremy, especially when it becomes clear that Alison has more to hide than most dog walkers. Hollywood insider Crane, daughter of actress Lana Turner, has lived Nikki’s world in real life and fiction (The Bad Always Die Twice, 2011, etc.). She infuses her tale with humor and nuances that overshadow a middling plot. (Agent: Evan Marshall)

ROBERT B. PARKER’S DAMNED IF YOU DO

Brandman, Michael Putnam (288 pp.) $26.95 | Sep. 10, 2013 978-0-399-15950-3

Brandman’s third installment of Parker’s second-string franchise springs a pair of seriously malnourished cases on Paradise, Mass. The Jane Doe found in bungalow 12 of the Surf and Sand Motel was barely old enough to vote when someone stabbed her to death. Convinced that the victim was a prostitute, Paradise police chief Jesse Stone (Robert B. Parker’s Fool Me Twice, 2012, etc.) asks mobster Gino Fish to work his connections in order to identify her. Gino sends Jesse to Boston madam Clarice Edgerson and her associate Thomas Walker. Although Jesse and Clarice are clearly playing opposite ends of the street, they develop a surprising mutual respect. Not so for Walker, who tells his competitor Fat Boy Nelly that he’d love to see Jesse dead. Nor is Walker the only one, for the sad shape in which Jesse’s found his retired accountant, Donnie Jacobs, has pitted Jesse against the Golden Horizons Retirement Village, whose director, Dr. Benedict Morrow, is dealing with Donnie’s dementia by drugging him insensate and tying him to his bed. Jesse mobilizes Paradise’s fire, health and buildings departments against Golden Horizons, revealing hundreds of code violations and threatening to get the place condemned. Both Morrow and Philip Connell, the head of Amherst Properties, the cut-rate firm that recently purchased Golden Horizons, swear vengeance against Jesse. So who’ll get a piece of the police chief first—the mobbed-up pimp or the nursing-home executive? After two rounds of wondering whether Brandman can ape his master’s style and structure and learning that he basically can, it’s uncanny to see him toss off a lazy, lowstakes, low-tension entry that’s so similar to so many of Parker’s own lesser efforts. 26

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HERITAGE OF DARKNESS

Ernst, Kathleen Midnight Ink/Llewellyn (360 pp.) $14.99 paper | Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-7387-3698-3 Murder is the latest exhibit in a Norwegian folk-art museum. Together with her boyfriend, police officer Roelke McKenna, and her mother, Marit, Old World Wisconsin curator Chloe Ellefson is visiting Decorah, Iowa. She and Marit are staying with an old friend while Marit renews old friendships and teaches a class in Rosemaling, the Norwegian art of decorative painting. Chloe signs up for the beginner class to try to forge a closer bond with her mother, who’s a gold medalist in Rosemaling. Roelke has tagged along to spend more time with Chloe. Their Christmas vacation plans go awry when Chloe discovers the nearly lifeless body of Petra Lekstrom in a hand-painted trunk in the Vesterheim Museum. When Petra dies, Roelke is roped into helping the local police by providing behind-the-scenes information when he’s not busy with his |


“...fast-paced, highly professional evening’s entertainment. With all due respect, hasn’t Francis earned the right to have his famous father’s name removed from the franchise?” from dick francis’s refusal

DICK FRANCIS’S REFUSAL

chip-carving class. The ever-curious Chloe, who has the ability to read vibes from inanimate objects, picks up some bad ones in the museum. Since Petra was a sly, competitive and manipulative person always trying to get an advantage over her fellow painters, it’s no surprise that she had more enemies than friends. Several of her original group of artists have had bad luck over the years, but a series of attacks on them now makes Chloe eager to dig into the past many of them shared at Luther College long ago. Chloe’s fourth (The Light Keeper’s Legacy, 2012, etc.) provides a little mystery, a little romance and a little more information about Norwegian folk art and tales.

Francis, Felix Putnam (368 pp.) $26.95 | Sep. 9, 2013 978-0-399-16081-3

Francis fils brings back his father’s favorite hero for a jaundiced look into a rash of rigged steeplechases. Retired by a crippling injury from his first career as a jockey and retired by fears for his family and his peace of mind from his second as a private eye, Sid Halley just wants to be left alone with his biologist wife, Marina, and their daughter, Saskia, 6. But trouble keeps finding him. First, Sir Richard Stewart, chair of the British Horseracing Authority, urges him to look into a string of nine races he’s convinced were fixed; then a mysterious caller with a Belfast accent demands that he sign a report saying that he’s conducted an investigation and found nothing to Sir Richard’s charges. Readers who know Sid (Under Orders, 2006, etc.) won’t be surprised to hear that the prickly, one-handed investigator refuses both commissions. But he has to think twice about the first request when Sir Richard dies the day after his visit in a staged suicide that would fool no one but the police and about the second more peremptory command when Saskia is taken from school and Sid’s two guard dogs are captured and released on the M6, 80 miles from home. Sid’s tormentor, soon identified as murderous ex-commando Billy McCusker, is obviously implacable, and whether or not Sid puts his name to the whitewash and sends it to BHA security chief Peter Medicos, it’s obvious that he’ll have no peace of mind until he’s dealt decisively with McCusker. Although the jockeys McCusker has intimidated into throwing their races offer little help, Sid burns to go mano a mano with his nemesis, and once he reunites with his ex-colleague Chico Barnes, readers know it’s just a matter of time. Not as original as Dick Francis’s Bloodline (2012) but still a fast-paced, highly professional evening’s entertainment. With all due respect, hasn’t Francis earned the right to have his famous father’s name removed from the franchise?

GRAPES OF DEATH

Folger, Joni Midnight Ink/Llewellyn (288 pp.) $14.99 paper | Sep. 8, 2013 978-0-7387-3752-2 The financial woes of a Texas vintner soon pale in comparison to murder. Elise Beckett has a lot on her mind. She’s far from certain that the new hybrid variety of grape she’s developed will rescue her family winery—Elise’s brother Ross is the business manager, and her sister Madison runs the family’s special-events facility—from its financial problems. Elise’s boyfriend, Stuart, has offered her a dream job in organic horticultural research five hours away in Dallas. Their long-distance relationship is suffering problems that the move might fix, but Elise is loath to desert her family. Although her mother, Laura, inherited the vineyard, her father’s short-tempered and financially strapped brother Edmond, who thinks he should have gotten at least part of it, is pushing Laura to give him a section of the land. Elise wonders if she really loves Stuart, since she can’t keep her eyes off hunky sheriff ’s deputy Jackson Landry, her brother’s best friend and the man all her friends think is perfect for her. Her romantic musings take a back seat when Edmond is found dead in the river that flows through the vineyard, and Jackson has to consider the Becketts as primary suspects. Despite Jackson’s stern warnings, Elise, convinced that a bit of sleuthing would help her family, makes some discoveries about Edmond that reveal several other suspects and put her square in the killer’s sights. Folger’s debut provides more romance than mystery but introduces enough suspects to keep like-minded readers off-guard.

FLASHPOINT

Gorman, Ed Severn House (192 pp.) $28.95 | Sep. 1, 2013 978-0-7278-8300-1 Skullduggery-cum-homicide threatens yet another of Chicago political consultant Dev Conrad’s clients. Robert Logan may be the incumbent senator from Illinois, but his eye for the ladies makes him vulnerable to all sorts of family-values innuendo and worse. The loyalties of his wife, Elise, and his coed daughter Maddy, already tested by a fling he had years ago, are stretched to the limit by his fascination with |

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Tracy Cabot, the mysterious glamourpuss who turns up at one campaign event after another. Tracy obviously represents some sort of trap for the candidate, but her true potential for sowing havoc isn’t realized until she turns up beaten to death in Logan’s fishing cabin in rural Linton. The campaign immediately goes into entertaining overdrive to protect the candidate from the heaviest mudslinging. Dev gets hotshot attorney Ben Zuckerman to fly into Linton, bribes hotel bellman Earl Leonard to let him turn over Tracy’s hotel room, and churns the waters looking for material to use in a counterattack against Logan’s opponent, folksy insurance-exec millionaire Charlie Shay. The candidate goes on TV to offer condolences to Tracy’s family and blandly assure the voters that he had nothing to do with her death. In short, it’s all business as usual. Even Dev’s contact with Howie Ruskin, the political saboteur with whom Tracy was working to bring down Logan, seems familiar as well, at least until Ruskin gets shot. Even so, it’s hard getting worked up over rumors of a conspiracy against Logan when so many of the cast members are conspiracy theorists and when it’s pretty obvious that at least some of them are onto something. A lesser installment in the colorful career of Dev (Blindside, 2012, etc.), who sounds perfectly sincere when he maintains that “[p]olitical consultants pray every waking moment.”

Hall, Patricia Creme de la Crime (224 pp.) $28.95 | Sep. 1, 2013 978-1-78029-046-1 A temporary assignment with a fashion photographer sets Kate O’Donnell on the cutting edge of murder. Ken Fellows, proprietor of Ken Fellows Photography, finally trusts Kate’s skills enough to send her for a month to Andrei Lubin’s studio, ostensibly to learn to take the edgy fashion shots that are all the rage in London. But Kate soon questions the value of this tutelage. Lubin seems more at home photographing debutantes in twin sets than the miniskirted models dominating the current fashion press. And Lubin’s partner, Ricky Smart, is way too interested in Kate’s physical assets. Kate thinks she’d be better off working with Andrei’s cousin Tatiana, an aspiring designer who worships at the font of Courreges and Mary Quant. Ken wants Kate to hang in at Lubin’s, which she does, even after model Sylvia Hubbard confides that she’s pregnant by either Andrei or Ricky—who keeps track of partners in the Swinging ’60s?—and that Lubin will fire her if he finds out. Sylvia’s sad tale leads Kate to a string of young girls, all recruited out of high schools in the East End, who work as models for a few months, then are quickly discarded. Predictably, they find work “on the game.” DS Harry Barnard, Kate’s sometime boyfriend, is interested in these girls, too, especially after the body of one of the young prostitutes, Jenny Maitland, turns up in an alley outside The Jazz Cellar. Harry and Kate work, not quite together but not at cross-purposes, to find out who’s running these girls and, more importantly, who’s killing them. Telling Harry’s and Kate’s stories in parallel costs Hall’s third some of the punch that her two earlier entries (Death Trap, 2012, etc.) packed.

PLUM DEADLY

Grant, Ellie Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster (304 pp.) $15.00 paper | Sep. 3, 2013 978-1-4516-8955-6 A banker returns to her small town, rediscovers her roots and gets to the bottom of things. Maggie Grady isn’t just let go from her high-powered banking job in New York: She’s accused of embezzlement, gets fired and loses everything. Looking for a landing place, Maggie winds up in Durham, N.C., the home of her Aunt Clara Lowder, the woman who raised Maggie from childhood. Though Maggie doesn’t expect much, she loves life at her aunt’s Pie in the Sky shop, in spite of the disrepair the pie shop has fallen into since Maggie’s Uncle Fred passed away. Maggie loves life, that is, until Louis Goldberg, her old boss, shows up. Lou tells Maggie that he has evidence of her innocence, though he doesn’t tell her what it is. Hours later, poor Lou is dead, and the police suspect foul play. Now Maggie has two mysteries to solve. Can she find out who killed Lou while clearing her own name? Luckily, she’s got the assistance of local reporter Ryan Summerour, who Aunt Clara hopes can be more than just a helping hand for Maggie. The husband-and-wife duo writing as Grant debut with a cozy that’s as sweet and simple as pie.

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WORTHLESS REMAINS

Helton, Peter Creme de la Crime (240 pp.) $28.95 | Sep. 1, 2013 978-1-78029-047-8

An artist/investigator hired for private security on a television set wonders whether the star is really in danger or just being dramatic. Security isn’t really Chris Honeysett’s main gig. He’s more of an artist than anything else. But a move away from abstract paintings has temporarily turned away his last patron. So Chris is open to doing any job to survive. When the star of Time Lines, TV archaeologist Guy Middleton, requests Chris to handle personal security for Guy’s latest episode, Chris’ girlfriend, Annis, brokers Chris a great fee to serve on what should be a low-key set in Bath, England. The cast and crew of Time Lines are set |


OUTSIDE EDEN

up in retired rocker Mark Stoneking’s mansion for filming, and Chris anticipates a quick and easy check—that is, until he gets to know Guy a bit better. Not only is Guy convinced that someone is out to get him, the more Chris comes to know him, the less he’s surprised that someone would want to attack the sour star. If only the danger were all in Guy’s mind. A few unlikely coincidences convince Chris that there may indeed be trouble afoot. Now he must protect the high-maintenance star on an archaeology dig where someone intends to make Guy history. Helton’s hero (An Inch of Time, 2012, etc.) has a biting wit. If only his supporting characters had the same amount to contribute to the story.

Jones, Merry Severn House (224 pp.) $28.95 | Aug. 1, 2013 978-0-7278-8264-6 An archaeologist runs afoul of a millennialist cult on a dig in northern Israel. Iraq War veteran Harper Jennings (Winter Break, 2013, etc.) has plenty on her mind. In Jerusalem while her geologist husband, Hank, attends an international symposium on water rights, Harper spends her days trying to entertain her toddler, Chloe. But the desert landscape brings flashbacks of wartime trauma. These only increase when Harper witnesses the stabbing of a man in the shuk of the Old City. Hoping that a change of scene will help, she volunteers for a dig outside of Tel Megiddo. But Harper is shaken, first by Chloe’s quick abandonment of her English vocabulary in favor of Hebrew and later, by the constant and nerve-racking vigilance of Hagit, Chloe’s nanny, against plots hatched by the Evil Eye. It doesn’t help that all the other volunteers on the dig are members of a Christian sect led by charismatic pastor Ramsey Travis. Nor does it set Harper’s mind at ease when her digging partner, Lynne, confides that Travis has the extraordinary power to decode secret messages in the Bible and that he’s discovered that Tel Megiddo is actually a corruption of the word Armageddon, which will take place at that site on the ninth day of the Hebrew month Av, only five days away. As Travis’ flock prepares for the End of Days, Harper tries to alert the Israeli authorities, but they ignore her concerns. So she does what any red-blooded female Iraq War veteran would do, launching an assault against the Evil Eye far beyond anything Hagit can imagine. Right up to the point that Harper turns GI Jane, Jones’ fourth Jennings saga maintains a nice balance among mystery, travel writing and domestic drama.

CITY OF MIRRORS

Howe, Melodie Johnson Pegasus Crime (352 pp.) $24.95 | Sep. 15, 2013 978-1-60598-468-1

The powerful father of a young leading lady motivates an older actress to stretch her talents to investigating. Still reeling from the death of her mother last week, Diana Poole tries to maintain a professional face at work, though she feels that she’s the only one. Young actress Jenny Parson is being a bit of a nightmare on set, and Diana’s director encourages her to befriend Jenny in hopes that some of Diana’s professionalism will rub off on her. Diana, who chose her marriage to Colin above her career, is perfectly happy, now that Colin is dead, to showcase her talent even if she’s too old to play leading ladies. Difficult as Jenny is for Diana to work with, she’s much more difficult to deal with when Diana finds her hastily disposed corpse. Though they weren’t close, Diana becomes embroiled in finding out who killed Jenny. Her quest is simultaneously helped and hindered by Hollywood fixer Leo Heath and by continuing, strong threats from Jenny’s powerful and far-reaching father. Diana is determined to get to the truth in a town built on smoke and mirrors, even if it means shattering a few of the mirrors in her own life. Howe (Beauty Dies, 1994, etc.) creates a Hollywood where no one can be trusted, with much of the action taking the form of mob-rooted violence.

BITTER RIVER

Keller, Julia Minotaur (400 pp.) $25.99 | $12.99 e-book | Sep. 3, 2013 978-1-250-00349-2 978-1-250-02245-5 e-book A tough prosecutor in a small West Virginia town battles criminals and inner demons. Bell Elkins grew up poor in Acker’s Gap, made a success of her life against all odds, married a local boy, made good and moved on to a high-paying job in Washington before giving it all up and returning to her mountain town. Now, her teen daughter is living with her father in D.C. after her involvement with one of Bell’s cases almost proved the death of her. Bell, who loves her job and her beautiful, dirt-poor hometown, is waiting hopefully for her sister, who killed their father in order to protect Bell, to come back home after her release from prison. While she waits, she and her friend Sheriff Nick Fogelsong have a |

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A DARKNESS DESCENDING

tough case to solve: the murder of a promising high school student, Lucinda Trimble, who refused to give up her unborn baby. Lucinda’s mother is a flower child who ekes out a living selling folk art to tourists, her father a high school bad boy, always in trouble, who still cares for the daughter he deserted years ago. The high school sweetheart Lucinda was set to marry becomes a suspect, along with the members of his disapproving family. Meanwhile, Bell’s latest romantic interest loses a leg when the town’s popular restaurant is blown to smithereens (accident? bomb?), killing several of her friends. And she must cope with an old friend, a former CIA interrogator, who needs to spend some time in a peaceful setting but may be bringing his dangerous past with him. A worthy follow-up to Bell’s debut (A Killing in the Hills, 2012): a literate, gritty, character-driven tale with another surprise ending.

Kent, Christobel Pegasus Crime (400 pp.) $25.95 | Sep. 15, 2013 978-1-60598-536-7

A Florentine investigator seeks the reason for the suicide of a politically connected woman. Sandro Cellini’s life has settled down since his dismissal from the police force (The Dead Season, 2012). His wife, Luisa, has survived breast cancer, his assistant Giuli has beaten her drug addiction and become a clever helper, and he has enough business to keep him busy. Now a new case comes calling through unexpected channels. Giuli and her computer expert boyfriend, Enzo, are involved with a green political party called Franzione. When party leader Rosselli’s partner Flavia kills herself at a seaside hotel, leaving Rosselli with their newborn son and a bitter mother who hated Flavia, Sandro is asked to investigate. Since Italian politics are notoriously rife with corruption and violently diverse views, Sandro wonders whether Flavia’s death was politically motivated or if there was a more personal reason for the intelligent 40-year-old beauty to kill herself. All the while, Sandro is depressed by the fact that his former partner Pietro is avoiding him. But then something happens that brings them together again: Pietro’s college-age daughter Chiara suddenly moves out of her parents’ house to live with a man they’ve never met and know nothing about. Luisa, Giuli and Pietro’s wife, Gloria, quietly try to discover Chiara’s whereabouts after Luisa sees her on the street. Little do they know that finding the reason for Flavia’s suicide may just lead them to Chiara. Those looking for fast-paced thrills will not find them in this literate, cerebral, decorously paced mystery that nevertheless holds readers’ interest to the end.

THE BEAST

Kellerman, Faye Morrow/HarperCollins (384 pp.) $26.99 | Aug. 6, 2013 978-0-06-212175-2 Kellerman puts her LAPD detectives to the test in a most unusual outing, even by West Coast standards. Although billed as another Decker/ Lazarus novel, Kellerman’s story is less about them and more about the detective team of Marge Dunn and Scott Oliver, who work with Decker. Decker’s wife, the Lazarus of the pair, plays a peripheral and virtually negligible role in this story, which limps along on a very silly premise. When neighbors in an ordinary apartment complex complain, responding police find what they believe to be a big cat and some very bad smells coming from one of the apartments. After breaking in, they discover the decaying body of a reclusive multimillionaire, guarded by his Siberian tiger. But that’s not all they uncover; as the mystery deepens, they discern that their dead man suffered from both a bashed-in head and a gunshot wound. In addition to being doubly dead, he was also doubly eccentric in a not-so-good way, as the detective team finds when they delve into Hobart Penny’s personal life. An ex-wife, a couple of grown children, a wildlife sanctuary director, prissy next-door neighbors, a belligerent super and assorted ladies of ill-repute add to the growing list of suspects in the case. In the meantime, the author supplements the murder with a side story that grew out of her previous work and involves a gifted, musical teen who has become Decker’s foster son and the love the boy has for a girl he can’t possess. The sappy romance adds nothing to the storyline, and Kellerman’s main tale, with lions and tigers and bears, is often so silly that readers will have to suspend their incredulity in order to go the distance. Except for the snappy dialogue and excellent grasp of police procedure, this Kellerman vehicle has little to redeem the hard-to-swallow plot, extraneous and unremarkable love story, and odd fashion minutia, which seems designed to function mainly as page filler. 30

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THE BONES OF PARIS

King, Laurie R. Bantam (432 pp.) $26.00 | Sep. 10, 2013 978-0-345-53176-6

The dark side of Jazz Age Paris. Harris Stuyvesant didn’t think any more of Philippa Crosby than of most of the young women he bedded. Their fiveday fling certainly wasn’t long enough to count as an affair. So when Pip goes missing and her uncle Ernest, knowing of Stuyvesant’s past experience with the FBI, asks him to find her, the man’s in an awkward position. Already nagged with guilt over his failure to protect his former lover Sarah Grey from criminal horrors three years ago (Touchstone, 2008), he takes the case and proceeds to make inquiries, beginning with Pip’s tearful Southern California roommate, Nancy Berger. In no time at all, Stuyvesant is up |


“...colorfully detailed...” from the impersonator

THE IMPERSONATOR

to his spats in period detail, celebrity walk-ons (Sylvia Beach, Bricktop, Cole Porter) and distinctly kinky intimations. Pip’s acquaintance with artist/provocateur Man Ray, who photographed her in a highly suggestive pose, is only the tip of the iceberg. Sarah’s boss, Comte Dominic de Charmentier, is intimately connected with the “death pornography” of the scandalous theatrical productions that made the Grand-Guignol a trademark for grotesquerie. King presents Stuyvesant’s tour of the lower depths of the Parisian avant-garde in terms both decorous and creepy. By the time Sarah and her brother Bennett, a human lie detector who retired from working with Stuyvesant to a Dorset farm, return to his life, his suspicion that Pip’s was only one of a long line of disappearances has made him a changed man who has to admit that “the odors of life are not always pleasant”—even in 1929 Paris. Evocative period detail and challenging aesthetic adventures compensate for a mystery more suggestive than believable and a climactic sequence that seems to have been lifted from King’s last tale of Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes (Garment of Shadows, 2012). (Agent: Linda Allen)

Miley, Mary Minotaur (368 pp.) $24.99 | Sep. 17, 2013 978-1-250-02816-7

In a mystery set during the Roaring ’20s, an actress takes on the role of a lifetime—if someone doesn’t kill her first. Actress Leah Randall has been on the stage for so long that she no longer has a fixed name. Now Leah has an offer of another name: Jessamyn Carr. Seven years after Jessie disappeared from her home in Dexter, Ore., her uncle Oliver Beckett proposes that Leah impersonate her and divert part of Jessie’s considerable inheritance to him. When Leah agrees, she leaves the vaudevillian world of kiddie acts and cat circuses for a luxurious life in a seaside Dexter mansion with the Carr family. She finds little welcome, much hostility and murderous intent at Cliff House. As Leah weighs self-preservation against a spiritual connection to Jessie, she risks everything to learn the truth about Jessie and herself. Leah is presented as brave, appealing, self-sufficient and smart, but the story depends on her making stupid choices. A late-entry hero, an obligatory house of doom, plot devices like a lucky train ticket and an unlucky bee sting, and a penultimate revelation worthy of Tom Jones also work against plausibility, though not necessarily against enjoyment. Historian Miley, winner of the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award, presents a colorfully detailed mystery that partially succeeds and a heroine whom readers will want to see succeed even more.

SHOTGUN MOON

McRae, K.C. Midnight Ink/Llewellyn (312 pp.) $14.99 paper | Sep. 8, 2013 978-0-7387-3684-6 A woman with a past sees it come back to haunt her. Merry McCoy’s returned to her hometown of Hazel, Mont., after being released from the Texas jail where she spent four years for killing her rapist. It would have been ruled justifiable homicide if her ex-husband had only believed that his best friend could rape her. Now that her cousin Lauri’s in a similar situation, Merry’s not about to see her railroaded by the same good-old-boy network, especially if she didn’t even pull the trigger. It’s true that the self-indulgent Lauri was stalking her former boyfriend Clay and even went so far as to trash the apartment of the nurse he was dating, but Merry can’t see her shooting him. Although Merry already has a nasty town cop on her case looking for an excuse to catch her on a parole violation, she’s fortunate to have a parole officer who’s known her for most of her life and a former boyfriend, police officer Jamie Gutierrez, who has her back even though his wife doesn’t much like Merry. Clay’s pothead roommate is a suspect in his killing. So is that nurse. But hunting down clues is not Merry’s only preoccupation. Someone’s determined to buy the ranch her mother left her, and the neighbor who’s been renting the property will no longer do so. A fire and homicide at another neighbor’s and Merry’s suspicions about a medical relief program put her square in the sights of the killer. In a departure from her lighthearted crafting mysteries (Deadly Row to Hoe, 2012, etc.), McRae pens a darker story filled with repressed anger and sexual tension.

ALMOST TRUE CONFESSIONS

O’Connor, Jane Morrow/HarperCollins (336 pp.) $14.99 paper | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-06-124094-2

An elusive writer is murdered in spite of the tameness of her latest tell-all. Although Miranda “Rannie” Bookman has been carefully instructed by her former police officer boyfriend, Tim Butler, that she’s absolutely not allowed to get involved in any more trouble, it’s difficult to keep to the straight and narrow now that Simon & Schuster has given her more free time by letting her go. When senior editor Ellen Donahoe offers Rannie some freelance work copy editing a topsecret new release and Rannie signs the appropriate disclosure agreement, she’s thrilled to find out the gig is editing Ret Sullivan’s latest. Ret is known for digging the dirt on celebrities; that’s what got her in trouble years before, when she uncovered a particularly juicy tidbit about a star who got revenge in a personal way. Rannie expects Ret’s book to be an exposé, especially because it’s about wealthy, little-known Charlotte Cummings. But the biography is definitely more tame than Ret’s other work. |

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MYKONOS AFTER MIDNIGHT

When Rannie shows up at Ret’s and finds the reclusive writer tied to the bed and strangled, she’s all the more shocked since she knows that Charlotte’s family would have no reason to exact revenge on Ret. Rannie feels an obligation to understand what happened to Ret, and she suspects it’s related to a mysterious dedication in Ret’s latest work: to “Audeo.” If only Rannie can figure out Audeo’s identity, she may have the key to the murder. O’Connor (Dangerous Admissions, 2007) definitely has an insider’s view of the publishing world, though she doesn’t make the romantic aspects of Rannie’s life nearly as interesting.

Siger, Jeffrey Poisoned Pen (274 pp.) $24.95 | $14.95 paper | $22.95 Lg. Prt. Sep. 3, 2013 978-1-4642-0181-3 978-1-4642-0183-7 paper 978-1-4642-0182-0 Lg. Prt. On Mykonos, Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis plays a deadly cat-and-mouse game with a volatile crime kingpin. After failing to show up for his morning coffee for several days, nightclub owner Christos Vasilakis is discovered by his Yugoslavian maid bludgeoned to death. Tongues wag about Christos’ new girlfriend, Anna, a 20-year-old Ukrainian pole dancer. Formerly an impoverished, rugged paradise, the island has recently been overrun by developers and turned into a playground for the rich and famous, to the disapproval of most locals. The reader learns that Anna is indeed responsible for the crime, along with the dangerous, charismatic criminal Sergey and his henchmen. Anna is deeply, blindly in love with Sergey. Absent any signs of forced entry, investigators Costas and Tassos identify her as the prime suspect, a conclusion they share with their boss, Andreas, head of Greece’s Special Crimes Division, while they also offer best wishes on his recent marriage to the lovely Lila. When Sergey kills Anna, the investigation hits a pothole. Far from feeling a need to flee, Sergey sets out immediately to muscle his way into the role of king of the island’s nightlife. Teacher, a mysterious female financier with a dark past, has given him carte blanche. She allows him to eclipse her island factotum, a local nicknamed Wacki, who’s content to wait for his opportunity. From the easy banter of its three cops to its clutch of unpredictable villains, Kaldis’ fifth (Target: Tinos, 2012, etc.) reads more like an Elmore Leonard caper than a whodunit.

THE HANGING OF SAMUEL ASH

Russell, Sheldon Minotaur (320 pp.) $25.99 | Aug. 20, 2013 978-1-250-00101-6

A tough railroad detective won’t let a dead war hero be buried without a proper investigation of his killing. Walter “Hook” Runyon’s day gets off to a sour start when he loses his badge. The railroad bull, who’s been on the lookout for pickpockets, is stopped and cuffed by a pair of uniformed cops. It’s the 1940s, and the one-armed tough, with his scrappy dog, Mixer, does look more like a casualty of the Depression than an officer of the Santa Fe railroad. Once this misunderstanding is resolved and Hook is released from custody, he and Mixer rush to attend to a broken crossing signal, where they find a body hanging from the cantilever, blocking the signal arm. Most everyone sees this as mainly a nuisance, and Hook goes back to work, extending a bad-luck streak by letting a team of slick thieves get away from him. The coronoer, Dr. Broomfield, reports that while he found no identification on the corpse, he did have a Bronze Star for valor. Was the victim a war hero or a thief? Hook feels duty-bound to find out. Getting the man’s name—Samuel Ash—gives his probe a solid start. Unfortunately for him, but not for the story, encounters with various miscreants complicate his search, which eventually leads him to an orphanage, where there’s a hint of romance with the equally prickly Celia. Gritty, Hemingway-reading outsider Hook makes a most engaging hero. His fourth big case (Dead Man’s Tunnel, 2012, etc.) has a Dickensian feel, both in its colorful supporting cast and its numerous and welcome digressions.

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DECEIVED

White, Randy Wayne Putnam (352 pp.) $26.95 | Sep. 3, 2013 978-0-399-16207-7 Her second case finds Sanibel PI Hannah Smith (Gone, 2012) just as attractive, just as game and just as clueless. You know your day isn’t off to a good start when a giant tarpon lands on the deck of your fishing boat and sweeps your two latest clients into the shark-infested waters. But even after Hannah fishes out Delmont Chatham and Joel Ransler, things continue to go wrong. Her difficult mother, Loretta, is even more fretful than usual because she hasn’t heard from her old friend and bingo partner Rosanna “Pinky” Helms. Loretta’s new neighbor, Dr. Alice Candor, seems determined to harass both Loretta and Hannah, maybe even to the point of getting |


Loretta’s house condemned and Loretta committed. And since Dr. Candor and her ineffectual CPA husband, Raymond, have already pled guilty to a slew of felonies concerning their house-of-cards health care empire back in Ohio, her enmity is serious business. There are bright spots along the way. Ransler, unmasked as a special prosecutor for neighboring Senatee County, hires the inexperienced Hannah, who inherited her private eye’s license from her uncle Jake, to investigate Fisherfolk, a charitable organization so patently bogus that Pinky’s noaccount children, Mica and Crystal, are listed as directors along with Levi Thurloe, the mentally challenged giant Hannah protected from bullying when they were in school together. And Hannah enjoys a few sweet nights with longtime series hero Doc Marion Ford (Night Moves, 2013, etc.) before he takes off for Venezuela and leaves her with only Deputy Liberty Tupplemeyer for help. The two strong women bond affectingly, but they’re no great shakes as detectives. More interested in giving its heroine good scenes and good dialogue than a good mystery or the skills to solve it. The pace is so relaxed readers may find themselves nodding off.

FATAL TIDE

Wiehl, Lis with Nelson, Pete Thomas Nelson (336 pp.) $26.99 | Sep. 17, 2013 978-1-5955-4946-4 A plague of demons threatens humanity, and there’s only a small team of the devout, backed up by some angels, to stop them. In a world threatened by demons and protected sometimes by angels, a young man is driven away from St. Adrian’s Academy after he seeks shelter in his neighbor’s house. Reese Stratton-Mallins sought refuge at football player–turned-neurochemist Tommy Gunderson’s East Salem, N.Y., home after his twin, Edmond, was separated from him at school and chosen for an elite school group, the Selected, whose members are given nefarious tasks for purposes unknown. Suddenly, the car Reese is riding in is attacked. Although Reese doesn’t fully understand who or what the attacker is, he does know that he’s the only survivor and that he’s terrified. Tommy offers Reese his protection and introduces him to allies in the fight against demons, like Tommy’s girlfriend, Danielle Harris, and Linz Pharmaceuticals employee and spy Quinn McKellen. Dark forces are evidently conspiring to create mayhem, and the mysterious new drug Provivilan may be on its way to achieving its creators’ goal, if only Tommy and his team can find out what that is. Though usually known for memorable characters, Wiehl and Nelson lose the trail and the reader when what should be the climax of their East Salem trilogy gets bogged down describing the rules of the supernatural world and reciting the story developments since the second installment (Darkness Rising, 2012). |

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AUNTY LEE’S DELIGHTS

Yu, Ovidia Morrow/HarperCollins (288 pp.) $14.99 paper | Sep. 17, 2013 978-0-06-222715-7 She looks like a sweet little old lady, but she probes like a pit bull. The first body that washes up on Singapore’s Sentosa Beach sets Aunty Lee’s detective antennae quivering. Owner of the small cafe that bears her name, she’s already notorious throughout the industry for exposing fraud among local food suppliers. Aunty Lee remembers that this beach used to be called Pulau Blakang Mati, the “Island of Death.” True to form, she speculates all day about the corpse while preparing for an evening dinner party at the cafe, a mix of business and pleasure. Her stepson, Mark, and his pretentious wife, Selina, will be in attendance, along with a handful of others. Strangely, Mark and Selina’s friend Laura Kwee, slated to help with wine and collecting money, fails to attend or even call. Another expected guest, Laura’s friend Marianne, is also a no-show. The party is still plenty lively, with a colorful guest list. Plump Lucy Cunningham and her husband, Frank, are excited to have an authentic Shanghai experience; former flight attendant Cherril Peters is excited to have left husband Mycroft at home. Not long after, police arrive to tell Aunty Lee that Laura’s body was the one found on the beach. When it is followed by a second corpse believed to be Marianne’s, Aunty Lee springs into full investigative mode, often outshining the frumpy police. This delightfully anachronistic series debut from playwright and occasional novelist Yu (Miss Moorthy Investigates, 2012, etc.) boasts buoyant prose and a colorful cast, led by the lovably unstoppable sleuth herself.

science fiction and fantasy MONSTERS OF THE EARTH

Drake, David Tor (368 pp.) $25.99 | Sep. 3, 2013 978-0-7653-2080-3 Series: Books of the Elements, 3

Third installment in Drake’s new four-volume fantasy cycle (Out of the Waters, 2011, etc.) whose milieu is Carce, a fictionalized early Imperial Rome. This time, Drake plunges into the story with little hesitation. Among a number of exotic African science fiction & fantasy

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animals captured for use in the arena are a group of lizardlike humanoids who appear sentient—or so observes Corylus, a half-dryad soldier and friend of the noble scholar Varus. Just then, Varus is seized by one of his psychic episodes in which he converses with the Sibyl; the vision seems to show giant crystalline worms devouring the entire world. He also witnesses massive horse-headed Ethiopes fighting, and ultimately defeating, the lizard-men, or Singiri. Soon involved in the adventure are Varus’ adoptive mother, Hedia, sword-wielding sister Alphena and wise old Greek tutor, Pandareus. According to the wizard Lucinus, nephew of the poet and mage Vergil, the worms may be stopped by the power of the Book, written by Zabulon and hidden on a magic isle. Another powerful mage, Melino of England, says the same—but according to Lucinus, he’s possessed by a demon. And what of Paris, the sinister Etruscan priest? How do the Singiri fit in? Once again, our heroes will divide up to pursue separate lines of enquiry and resolve the various puzzles. Drake’s involving and satisfying narrative closely adheres to a familiar formula while avoiding the pitfalls of being formulaic, with recognizable characters, original supernatural elements and unpredictable plotting. A treat for series regulars which, while independently intelligible, will encourage newcomers to return to the inaugural volume.

what of the mysterious creature known as the angel? Is he the mathematical genius from the future who may, or did, or will, invent time travel? It’s impossible to summarize how Jeschke weaves both the theory and practice of time travel into rich, vivid overlapping narratives and characters that appear, collapse, reappear and metamorphose much as the alternate realities do. Sometimes, however, the narratives get bogged down in superfluous detail. A remarkable and utterly convincing work whose construction mirrors and illustrates the concepts it so meticulously and logically develops out of respectable scientific ideas.

r om a n c e THE ARRANGEMENT

Balogh, Mary Dell (400 pp.) $7.99 paper | Aug. 27, 2013 978-0-345-53587-0

After running away from home to escape his family’s matchmaking, Vincent Hunt, Viscount Darleigh, is nearly caught in another marriage trap, then decides to marry the unassuming woman who rescues him. Vincent never expected to inherit a title. In fact, he’d expected to live his life as a soldier. But after being wounded in battle, he was only beginning to learn how to live life as a blind man when he’d learned he was a lord. Now, four years later, he is surrounded by women who want to make his life easier, and they are convinced the best way to do this is to get him married. When it becomes clear his mother and sisters have invited a suitable young woman to his estate with the purpose of matching them up, he flees, first to the Lake District and then to the village where he grew up, hoping to stay quietly undiscovered for a short time. Those plans are dashed, and Vincent is nearly forced into marriage to the daughter of an obnoxious family who takes advantage of his blindness. Realizing her relatives’ intentions, their niece Sophia intercedes to rescue him, then is turned out of their home for her troubles. Hearing of Sophia’s plight, Vincent convinces her to marry him, since it will solve both their troubles: She will be cared for, and he can never be forced into marriage to a woman he can’t abide. However, in convincing her, Vincent has built in an end-date for their arrangement, and as the days pass, both Vincent and Sophia wonder if they could ever survive in a world without the other—and how they can make sure that day never comes. This sexy, touching book revisits the marriage-of-convenience plot, joining two heroic, conflicted characters who are navigating their own versions of darkness and delivering them to the redemptive power of love.

THE CUSANUS GAME

Jeschke, Wolfgang Translated by Benjamin, Ross Tor (544 pp.) $25.99 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-0-7653-1908-1

First novel to appear in English translation from Czech-born German writer/ editor/publisher Jeschke since The Last Day of Creation (1984). By 2052, economic and political meltdown threatens the entire planet. A nuclear disaster in Germany has rendered huge swathes of Northern Europe uninhabitable; vital plant species are becoming extinct. Nanotechnology may be creating more problems than it solves. A top-secret research program sponsored by the Vatican—now relocated to Salzburg—known as the Rinascita Project aims to preserve the future by exploiting the past. Time travel, it seems, may be possible using solitons, standing temporal waves that susceptible persons can ride from present to past and back; the kicker, though, is that multiple branching realities result. Botanist Domenica Ligrina, one of the Rinascita recruits, proves extraordinarily sensitive to the solitons, and what she fears are hallucinations may be an ability to sense other realities and other Domenicas. Her destination is the 15th century, where her task will be to gather specimens of the extinct plants. As she studies the period, she becomes fascinated with German philosopher, theologian, jurist and astronomer Nicolaus Cusanus. In the past, meanwhile, Nicolaus receives strange reports of a highly educated witch who claims to have seen the future. And 34

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Regency best-seller Balogh once again takes a standard romance trope and imbues it with heart, emotional intelligence and flawless authenticity.

on this particular night, the most eligible bachelor in Chicago is present and decides to take pity on her when she tosses a begging look toward his darkened bidding room; his winning bid keeps her out of the clutches of a veritable Jabba the Hutt. Noah is rich and gorgeous, and while he tells himself and her that he will treat her like a plaything, he never really does. He takes her to his palatial home, where she proceeds to veer back and forth between acting like a shrew by treating him like a villain and falling rapturously into bed with him. While Delaine’s decision to sell herself is well-motivated, it’s about the only thing that really is for the rest of the book. Apparently, Noah is supposed to be a wounded alpha hero masking a heart of gold, but he generally comes across as a wimpy, dark-hero wannabe who won’t stand up to the harpy he paid a fortune for. Despite selling herself to a man who now essentially owns her, under contract, Delaine basically behaves like a spoiled 12-year-old in her first relationship, punishing him for having had the audacity to buy her. The plot is linear and simplistic, and the characters do unpleasant and annoying things for no particular reason. Even the sex, which should be erotic, becomes mind-numbing when there seems to be no real character development behind it. A tiresome, vexing shadow of the Fifty Shades phenomenon. (Agent: Alexandra Machinist)

UNDER A TEXAS SKY

Garlock, Dorothy Grand Central Publishing (384 pp.) $30.00 | Aug. 6, 2013 978-0-4465-4023-0 Anna Finnegan is plucked from Depression-era obscurity to star in a famous producer’s epic film. Her life is further turned upside down when she travels to Texas, faces a saboteur on set and meets the man of her dreams. Since her childhood in the Chicago slums, Anna has known she can’t depend on anyone but herself. Running away from her abusive father and brother, she makes a living as a street entertainer then moves through the ranks to become a theater actress. On her first night as a leading lady, she is discovered by star producer Samuel Gillen, who is convinced she’s the perfect soon-to-be star for his next film on location in Texas. Whisked away cross-country to the middle-of-nowhere West Texas, Anna faces hostility on set as well as a nameless villain who seems to be sabotaging the production. However, she also meets local blacksmith and hardscrabble loner Dalton Barnes, who is suspicious of the demanding Hollywood interlopers but still feels an intense if unwelcome connection to Anna. As the two grow closer, and the attacks against the movie grow more menacing, Dalton must keep his family’s livelihood intact and his new love alive, despite the fact that her success could mean the end of their relationship. Garlock has delivered a novel that sounds great in synopsis but doesn’t live up to its potential. The book is bogged down by too many plot elements that will leave readers shaking their heads, as well as a writing style that lacks punch. Tepid and disappointing.

THE WEDDING PLANNERS OF BUTTERNUT CREEK

Perrine, Jane Myers FaithWords (384 pp.) $15.00 paper | Nov. 5, 2013 978-0-89296-903-6

The Widows of the Butternut Creek Christian Church have successfully paired pastor Adam and Gussie Milton, and now they are determined to plan their wedding, while also matching Adam’s earnest sister with Gabe, the basketball coach; head Widow Birdie is far too busy to take care of herself or find time for romance. Adam knows Gussie is the woman for him, but getting her to commit is more difficult and nerve-wracking than expected. He has pressure from the well-intentioned but meddling Widows of Butternut Creek and also has to deal with the problematic return of Hannah, his intense physician sister, from Africa. Adam has a lot of issues to juggle, and being a pastor doesn’t seem to help in navigating his own personal problems. However, if love and faith can help smooth choppy waters, Adam must believe everything will turn out OK. For the first time in her life, Hannah feels adrift. Missing Kenya, but overwhelmed by the shattering hopelessness of the situation there while recovering from a serious illness, she is struggling with her faith and her life path. When Adam’s friend Gabe, a seriously gorgeous ex-NBA player and the local high school basketball coach, takes a surprising interest in her, she is unnerved yet fascinated by the unaccustomed attention. Torn between the life she thought she wanted and the confusing relationship suddenly in front of

A MILLION DIRTY SECRETS

Parker, C.L. Bantam (368 pp.) $15.00 paper | Aug. 27, 2013 978-0-345-54876-4

To save her mother’s life, a beautiful virgin sells herself to a wealthy millionaire at an auction. When her mother is dying, Delaine Talbot swears she’ll do anything to raise the money the family needs for care and surgery. The opportunity arises when she learns of an erotic club in Chicago that auctions women off to wealthy bidders. Delaine is pretty enough, but she’s also a virgin—a highly desired commodity in that market. So she puts herself on the block to make the necessary cash to save her mother. How fortunate she is that |

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“Both sexy and touching, with the humor, heart and emotional depth romance fans expect from Ross.” from castaway cove

her, Hannah must find the courage to take stock, examine her core values and fight for the perfect future. Meanwhile, Widow Birdie is so busy trying to engineer everyone else’s life in Butternut Creek, she fails to notice the warning signs of danger in her own. The third installment of the Butternut Creek series of inspirational romances allows a continued glimpse into the quirky, eccentric citizens of this small Texas town. Perrine offers a pleasant, meandering glimpse of love and courtship in Butternut Creek and a sweet, faith-based romance that combines humor and emotionalism. Generally well-crafted and engaging for the right reader, with funny, authentic characters, the book is slightly marred by occasional writing missteps. An affable and entertaining romance for the inspirational audience.

CASTAWAY COVE

Ross, JoAnn Signet (400 pp.) $7.99 paper | Aug. 6, 2013 978-0-451-24000-2 Former military DJ Mac Culhane has come to Shelter Bay to heal from physical and emotional wounds while raising his daughter. Meeting store owner Annie makes him believe that redefining family may be what they all need to find happiness. Mac made a mess of his marriage, and after a deadly accident in Afghanistan makes him reassess his priorities, he decides to focus on family. Coming home, he is stunned when his wife leaves him and his daughter, and he decides to move to Shelter Bay, the halcyon coastal town where his stepfather and grandfather live. Settling in to a late-night job for the tiny local radio station is a grand step down from his military gig, but he is surprised to find contentment in so many aspects of his new life. When he meets Annie, a local scrapbook store owner, there is no question that the two share chemistry. She also loves his daughter and his grandfather, so he can’t figure out why she won’t admit she wants a forever package with the lot of them. As for Annie, she has a bit of healing to do herself and a few secrets that she knows should be deal breakers for Mac, but she’s far too cowardly to tell him the truth, since he and his family are all she’s ever wanted. Ross’ newest addition to the Shelter Cove series mixes powerful elements of loss and redemption with a tender love story that crackles with sexual tension. From the sweet fantasy of a phone relationship with a midnight DJ to the awkward fits and starts of a would-be affair and then romance between two authentically drawn characters, plus the engaging cast of secondary characters—including Mac’s family, Annie’s friends and some Shelter Cove “regulars” whom fans of the series will be happy to see—Ross has created a tale readers will care about, set in an idyllic town where many would love to live. Both sexy and touching, with the humor, heart and emotional depth romance fans expect from Ross.

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nonfiction FOURTH AND LONG The Fight for the Soul of College Football

These titles earned the Kirkus Star: THE BLOOD TELEGRAM by Gary J. Bass...........................................38

Bacon, John U. Simon & Schuster (336 pp.) $26.99 | Sep. 3, 2013 978-1-4767-0643-6

ON THE FRONT LINE by Marie Colvin............................................ 44 CATASTROPHE 1914 by Max Hastings.............................................. 55

A true believer in the traditions (even sanctity) of the college game gnashes his teeth about the corrosive, corrupting influence of money. Bacon, who has taught at the University of Michigan (and maintains his devotion to the Wolverines) and has written a half dozen previous works, mostly about athletics (Three and Out: Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines in the Crucible of College Football, 2011, etc.), returns with a paean to the college gridiron, a song whose continual refrain is almost Animal Farm-ish: “College sports good, Pro sports bad.” Repeatedly, we hear about the assiduous “college kids” who play for Michigan, Penn State and elsewhere, as well as how the fans of college football are more noble and pure-hearted than pro fans. Bacon’s framework is the 2012 college season—the Big Ten, in particular—and he deals with the fallout of the Penn State disgrace (“the worst scandal in the history of modern sports”), the smaller scandal that ended in the ouster of Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel and the attempt of Northwestern to rise from the ashes of mediocrity. Bacon attended numerous games and watched others on TV. He interviewed coaches, players, fans and a couple of barbers; he tailgated, drank and yelled at the screen. Game summaries appear in most chapters. His villains are the “suits,” the MBAs and the greedy and the profit-driven guys who are despoiling Eden with seat licenses, advertising and other Mad Men cupidity. So fierce a fan is he that he can barely mention the brain-injury issue, and his umbrage about money seems odd: Many of these players have full scholarships, live in the best accommodations on campus and enjoy perks unknown to actual students. A fan’s notes rather than a critic’s analysis.

THE RAINBOROWES by Adrian Tinniswood.................................... 64

CATASTROPHE 1914 Europe Goes to War

Hastings, Max Knopf (672 pp.) $35.00 Sep. 24, 2013 978-0-307-59705-2 |

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“A deeply incisive lesson for today’s leaders and electorate.” from the blood telegram

THE BLOOD TELEGRAM Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide

Age-related ailments are the author’s evocative madeleine in his search for times past in the American heartland: Cataract surgery on the day his mother died results in a warm recollection of her life; an echocardiogram for tachycardia brings forth more rural family history; in his knee, a torn meniscus carries memories of the girls for whom young Bauer pined. The author remembers the kitchen aromas, the tractor growls, the working Iowa weekdays and the quiet Sundays in a genial, gentle manner. It’s as homely as checkers, modest as an outhouse, and, too, elegant and cleareyed. With his narrative artistry, Bauer renders the commonplace uncommon. He ably brings to life his forebear farmers and their diligent wives, the mean-tempered coal-miner grandfather in his bib overalls and his wife, and the corpulent grandmother. Bauer reimagines his parents’ youthful romance and paints, as well, their later, more fraught relationship. His mother always admired well-maintained farm tillage, and his father grew more taciturn as their bond became more caustic. After he died, her memory of married life became anodyne again. Early in his writing career, Bauer was befriended by the notable food critic and essayist M.F.K. Fisher, who, in important ways, seemed to become another maternal influence. And so the answer to the rhetorical question of this work’s title is clear. As the memoir reaffirms, we live and love, and the years pass, to be relived in memory of those who follow. It’s fortunate, then, to be memorialized in essays like these. A literate, thoughtful memoir/essay collection from the heartland.

Bass, Gary J. Knopf (528 pp.) $30.00 | Sep. 27, 2013 978-0-307-70020-9

A thoroughgoing, long-overdue excoriation of the actors behind the humanitarian crisis that propelled the creation of Bangladesh. Bass (Politics and International Affairs/Princeton Univ.; Freedom’s Battle: The Origins of Humanitarian Intervention, 2008, etc.) largely lets the words of President Richard Nixon and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger from White House tapes reveal their perfidious actions on the world stage during the PakistanIndia crisis of 1971-1972. Nixon’s deep distrust of India—which he viewed as an ungovernable cauldron of Soviet-leaning liberals, lefties and hippies—and his longtime support of the military in Pakistan disastrously steered his and Kissinger’s resolve not to stay the hand of Gen. Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan against a dissenting East Pakistan in March 1971. In the terribly divided nation, reeling from a cyclone that had caused a massive loss of life, the democratic elections had trounced Yahya and overwhelmingly elected Mujibur Rahman and his Awami League, who had hinted at autonomy if not succession for the East Bengali entity. Yahya’s ensuing military crackdown instigated a bloodbath against Bengalis and Hindus that was witnessed and carefully documented by the horrified staff at the American embassy in Dacca. Led by ambassador Archer Blood, whose cries of “genocide” were baldly dismissed by Nixon and Kissinger, the embassy sent a collective “dissent cable” to Washington chronicling their alarms. These leaks allowed Sen. Edward Kennedy and others to expose the truth of Nixon’s illegal military supplying to Pakistan. In his tremendously lucid analysis, Bass reveals the cold cunning of all sides in the face of the killing and fleeing of millions of refugees into India, including Indira Gandhi, who turned the humanitarian disaster into political profit. By revisiting these tapes and other primary sources, Bass holds these leaders to a much-needed reckoning. A deeply incisive lesson for today’s leaders and electorate. (8 pages of photos)

UNSCROLLED 54 Writers and Artists Wrestle with the Torah

Bennett, Roger—Ed. Workman (384 pp.) $18.00 paper | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-7611-6919-2

Some young writers and artists offer, to varying effect, their original takes on traditional study of the Hebrew Bible. The Torah, the Jewish holy scripture, is composed of the Five Books of Moses. It is divided into 54 segments from Genesis through Deuteronomy; for millennia, it has been read in sequence and studied assiduously each week of the Jewish calendar. That continuing scholarship is fundamental to the religion in all its forms. Bennett, the co-founder of the Jewish organization Reboot, enlists 54 writers, most with day jobs in the media/showbiz world, for comment on each particular portion. “Consider this...as a book of unorthodox Divrei Torah,” he writes, “offered up in the spirit of the rabbinical assertion that there are infinite interpretations of the Torah and that everyone who stood at Mount Sinai saw a ‘different face’ of the text.” Unfortunately, the exercise in casual exegesis doesn’t equal the sum of its parts. The amateur theologians, undeniably talented in other venues, demonstrate that biblical hermeneutics is a special calling, one not usually using sophomoric shtick, no matter how sincere. Each portion begins with a summary of the

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? Matters of Life and Death

Bauer, Douglas Univ. of Iowa (160 pp.) $17.00 paper | Sep. 15, 2013 978-1-60938-183-7

Bauer, a Boston-based writer and teacher (Literature/Bennington Coll.; Prairie City, Iowa: Three Seasons at Home, 2012, etc.), was once an Iowa farm boy. In these deeply personal essays, he celebrates his family’s life in the Hawkeye State. 38

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original narrative—most entertaining, perhaps, for newcomers to the Old Testament—followed by contributions of short stories, dramas, comedies, graphic novellas, poems, monologues, photos, memoirs, riffs, takes and bits. The humor often comes in the format of a script for a show unlikely to be seen anywhere. Certainly, there are a few short stories that might stand alone and some heartfelt kernels in all the chaff. But what may be aimed at a market for lightweight gift books contains scant insight and less teaching. Among others, some of the big-name contributors include Aimee Bender, Rebecca Dana, Joshua Foer, Adam Mansbach, Sloane Crosley, Sam Lipsyte, Ben Greenman, A.J. Jacobs and Dana Shapiro. Sketchy Bible study with a self-indulgent, frisky class.

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FIVE BILLION YEARS OF SOLITUDE The Search for Life Among the Stars Billings, Lee Current (304 pp.) $27.95 | Oct. 3, 2013 978-1-61723-006-6

Science writer Billings debuts with this examination of the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence and the surprising perspective it provides in thinking about mankind and the deep-time history of Earth. The author bases his work on interviews and discussions with leaders from successive generations of the quest to find extraplanetary life. Frank Drake, who was an organizer of the original 1961 conference that set parameters for the project, concluded that “the universe, on balance, was a rather hospitable place, one that surely must be overflowing with living

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worlds.” Among the participants was Carl Sagan, who would go on to popularize the search through his PBS show Cosmos. In 1989 and 1990, Sagan showed that the technological methods then employed could discriminate the Earth from the moon using the scanning devices on NASA probes. Billings’ interlocutors include, among others, Greg Laughlin, who worked on “the wealth of Neptune-mass planets” revealed by NASA’s Kepler project, and James Kasting, who developed models that could assist in the extrapolation of information about the composition of exoplanets, planetlike objects orbiting distant stars, from data received. These scientists have extended technology’s frontiers and enabled motion at a scale of 1 meter per second on the surface of a star many light years away to be detected and analyzed. Now, exoplanets can be cataloged in the thousands, their compositions analyzed. Billings’ accounts of arguments about inferences drawn, and even the existence of objects apparently observed, are fascinating. Kasting and Laughlin both provide insight on the geological and biological history of Earth, as well as current thinking about how life, and intelligence, may have developed. Billings documents how arbitrary changes in political priorities and funding reductions have wreaked havoc with the research. A great outline of the subject, bringing what’s often treated as science fiction down to Earth, where it can be understood.

UNPRECEDENTED The Constitutional Challenge to Obamacare Blackman, Josh PublicAffairs (368 pp.) $26.99 | Sep. 13, 2013 978-1-61039-328-7

A young legal scholar delivers an impressive blow-by-blow account of the court battle to defeat the Affordable Care Act. “Unprecedented,” writes Blackman (South Texas College of Law) about the president’s health care initiative, “a monumental and transformational law” critics derisively branded “Obamacare,” a label the president later happily embraced. Unprecedented, too, was the legislative process that enacted it without a single Republican vote, the widespread and swift mobilization of citizens’ groups to oppose it, and the legal challenge to overturn it. Blackman provides a helpful legislative history underlying Obamacare’s enactment, charting the major parties’ shameless shifting of positions on the individual mandate, and he explores the extralegal machinations surrounding the litigation. He focuses, though, on the court duel, the uncommon 26-state coalition opposing the law, the tortuous progress of the health care cases through the lower courts, and the noteworthy three days and over six hours the Supreme Court devoted to oral argument in NFIB v. Sebelius. Employing a theory roundly ridiculed before any litigation began, the plaintiffs argued that neither the Commerce nor the Necessary and Proper Clause permitted the government to require individuals to purchase health care 40

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insurance. Remarkably, a majority of the court agreed, but in an opinion worthy of the wily John Marshall, the chief justice found the law constitutional under the government’s power to tax. As the implications of John Roberts’ controversial opinion play out in the court’s future jurisprudence and as the realities of Obamacare’s provisions unfold in our daily lives, historians will look to this wild and, yes, unprecedented moment, when legal experts seriously wrangled over whether the federal government could require a citizen to buy broccoli. With his strong connections among the conservative and libertarian lawyers who mounted the constitutional challenge and his talent for translating arcane legal-speak, Blackman more than capably captures this dramatic constitutional showdown.

GOLIATH Life and Loathing in Greater Israel

Blumenthal, Max Nation Books/Perseus (400 pp.) $26.99 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-56858-634-2

A rich, roiling examination of “the State of Israel during a period of deepening political and societal crisis.” From the gory details of Operation Cast Lead, when Israel pummeled the Gaza Strip with laser-guided missiles in late 2008, through the right-wing election sweep soon afterward of Bibi Netanyahu and the unleashing of racist, nationalist elements and rushes for new settlements, Blumenthal (Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party, 2009) tracks the escalating rhetoric and violence in episodic fashion. Having established himself in various parts of Israel over the ensuing years to observe and flush out the action—he recognized he could sail through airport security since, as an Ashkenazi Jew, he “would be automatically afforded special rights according to the designs of Zionism”—Blumenthal is an enterprising reporter, finding lessons in vanished Palestinian neighborhoods, such as oncethriving Jaffa, before the Israelis drove out the residents, razing homes and appropriating land; and hanging out at the Knesset, which he sarcastically calls the “Fortress of Democracy,” where he chased down various cronies of right-wing Avigdor Lieberman’s party to explain a series of alarming proposals enacted to suppress Palestinian expression. With acquiescent support of the left as well as the general Israeli public, the legitimization of (to Western readers) frightening cultural concepts like homogeneity and Judaization has instigated what Blumenthal and some of his left-leaning interviewees call fascist measures in a once-lively democracy, where a dissenting version of the official narrative is not permitted. Government officials, young educated Arabs, border police, journalists, Army refuseniks and rabid nationalists: Blumenthal taps them all in this vivid and relentlessly negative portrait of Israel. Dense, in-the-trenches reportage revealing details that go from grim to grimmer.

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“Acclaimed historian Burleigh returns with a feisty review of two decades of decolonialization.” from small wars, faraway places

FROM EXILE TO WASHINGTON A Memoir of Leadership in the Twentieth Century Blumenthal, W. Michael Overlook (384 pp.) $29.95 | Oct. 3, 2013 978-1-4683-0729-0

Memoir/history of the political leadership of the 20th century, from the former secretary of the treasury under President Jimmy Carter. Blumenthal’s (The Invisible Wall: The Mystery of the Germans and the Jews, 1998) childhood in Nazi Germany and his family’s exile in the Shanghai ghetto produced a perceptive man who would watch and report the changes of the 20th century. Shanghai’s thousands of refugees managed to fend for themselves (they “were expected to administer their own affairs”) with doctors, a hospital, music, theater, libraries and a few different newspapers. Young Blumenthal spent his teenage years absorbing the various languages of Shanghai, learning the life of the streets and understanding that nothing would ever come easy. Throughout the book, he chronicles the vast changes that took place in the world and especially in Germany and China. Taking advantage of the state’s free education, he took a degree at Berkeley and moved on to Princeton’s Public Affairs program. His assignments in the Kennedy and Carter administrations, his work as trade representative and his many years as a corporate CEO allowed him to meet with leaders around the world. This is his memoir, so he can include what he likes, but his successes in the corporate world aren’t nearly as interesting as his opinions of world leaders. He views Hitler, Stalin, FDR, Churchill and Deng Xiaoping as the most influential leaders of the 20th century. His dealings with and impressions of world leaders such as Menachem Begin, the shah of Iran and Zhou Enlai are only part of his diverse insight into 20th-century history. Blumenthal’s astute understanding of history allows him to ably demonstrate the significance of good leadership. (31 b/w photos)

the Potomac.’ ” The former colonial powers, ruined by the war, could no longer afford the expenses of empire when increasingly assertive nationalism in the colonies required additional military spending, and the Americans did not want these costs to impede the economic redevelopment of Europe. The Europeans’ aim was to buy time to effect a transition of their colonies to a nominal independence that would still allow them to control local economies and resources. They sought American aid for their efforts to repress nationalist movements by fostering a fear that the movements were infiltrated by communists eager to seize power upon independence; sometimes this was the case. As the author observes, many of the issues faced during this period, from effective military responses to insurgencies, remain newsworthy today. With flair and panache, Burleigh surveys a dozen or so of the period’s “small wars,” including conflicts in Palestine, Malaya, the Philippines, Algeria and Kenya, and shows how the interplay of waning colonialism and the Cold War led to the Cuban missile crisis and the Vietnam War. The author’s coverage is serious and thorough, but he also has an eye for the striking detail—e.g., “When naked husbands and

SMALL WARS, FARAWAY PLACES Global Insurrection and the Making of the Modern World, 1945-1965

Burleigh, Michael Viking (608 pp.) $36.00 | Sep. 12, 2013 978-0-670-02545-9

Acclaimed historian Burleigh (Moral Combat: Good and Evil in World War II, 2012, etc.) returns with a feisty review of two decades of decolonialization. This was “a crucial transitional era in which power tangibly passed from European capitals to the ‘World Capital on |

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FAMILY TROUBLE Memoirists on the Hazards and Rewards of Revealing Family

wives took the [Mau Mau] oath, they were bound together by the intestines of goats.” Along the way, the author delights in deftly skewering hypocrisy, incompetence and delusional thinking on the parts of all participants in this saga. Entertaining, informative and refreshingly devoid of partisan advocacy, Burleigh offers a persuasive explanation of how America assumed the mantle of policeman of the developing world.

Castro, Joy—Ed. Univ. of Nebraska (232 pp.) $25.00 paper | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-8032-4692-8

A chorus of noteworthy memoirists reflects on the ethical consequences of airing dirty laundry. “With family stories, the stakes are always high,” writes Castro (English and Ethnic Studies/Univ. of Nebraska; Island of Bones, 2012, etc.), who published her harrowing experiences as the abused child of fundamentalist parents. Naturally, she has firsthand knowledge of the memoirist’s internal struggle: a personal obligation to convey an honest narrative while straddling the thin line between authenticity and oversharing. This conundrum of writing within the “self-disclosing genre of our reality-hungry era” is pondered throughout 25 reflective essays from a wide-ranging group of writers. The four-part collection opens with essays personifying the ethical boundaries authors like emergency room physician Paul Austin must skirt when divulging a life working in a high-pressure environment while raising a disabled child. Novelist Paul Lisicky discusses the fragile “line between life and art” after his published remembrances became surprisingly offensive to his aunt, a reaction similar to that of gay memoirist Rigoberto González’s grandparents to his poignant, revelatory autobiography. Wrestling with artistic integrity, despite the pain caused to others, is also a theme running through the collection, along with the expected preponderance of the matriarchal mother figure. Several authors who share their experiences are also creative writing instructors, and they offer advice on crafting an effective, epiphanic memoir. All of the entries deserve attention, though some are disappointingly brief, while others excessively agonize over unresolved emotional baggage. “Such is the calamity of authorship and authenticity in revealing secrets,” writes Allison Hedge Coke of her process in exorcising personal demons onto the printed page. Other contributors include Ariel Gore, Alison Bechdel and Dinty W. Moore. A well-balanced panoply of family-centric musings from authors conflicted between responsibility and retribution.

GOING DEEP How Wide Receivers Became the Most Compelling Figures in Pro Sports

Carter, Cris with Chadiha, Jeffri Hyperion (304 pp.) $25.99 | Aug. 1, 2013 978-1-4013-2485-8

NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver Carter (co-author: Born to Believe, 2000) offers his take on the position’s growing importance to professional football and why it attracts and creates some of the game’s biggest personalities. The evolution of the NFL has seen massive changes in the way the game is played, from old-time smash-mouth, runningbased football to the modern, passing-oriented spectacle we see today. Along with these changes, cultural and financial shifts have changed the lives of players off the field as well. NFL stars, like most professional athletes these days, are often in the news, not always for their game-day accomplishments. Many of the larger-than-life football stars of this new era seem to be wide receivers, and Carter, who has become a well-known TV commentator in his post-playing days, sets out to explore why. What might seem to be a flimsy topic for a full-length book is filled out with Carter’s outspoken thoughts on his career and the careers, and controversies, of others who played, and still play, the position, including Jerry Rice, Michael Irvin, Terrell Owens and Randy Moss. Though Carter’s analysis offers nothing groundbreaking, and he occasionally has to stretch a bit to make his point, his candid style and insider knowledge will keep most readers entertained. The author does not hold back from expressing his opinions on the mistakes made by other players, but he applies the same lens to himself, speaking openly of his own problems with drugs and alcohol early in his career and offering advice to others on how to make the most of their talent. A mix of autobiography, cautionary tale and footballgeek analysis that will provide die-hards with some insight into one of the sport’s most prominent positions.

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AN AMERICAN BRIDE IN KABUL A Memoir Chesler, Phyllis Palgrave Macmillan (256 pp.) $27.00 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-230-34221-7

A renowned psychotherapist’s richly compelling memoir about how her experiences as an Afghan man’s wife shaped her as both a feminist and human rights activist. At 18, Chesler (Psychology and Women’s Studies, Emeritus/ City Univ. of New York; The Death of Feminism: What’s Next in the Struggle for Women’s Freedom, 2005, etc.) fell in love with the scion of a wealthy family from Afghanistan. She was Jewish, and her “prince,” Abdul-Kareem, was Muslim. Their affair was as unexpected as it was unlikely and led to an even more improbable marriage. Dreaming that she and Abdul-Kareem would travel the world “like gypsies or abdicating aristocrats who have permanently taken to the road,” they went to Abdul-Kareem’s home in Kabul. A starry-eyed Chesler soon found herself stripped of her passport and a prisoner of her husband’s family. Using diaries, letters, interviews, and research and other writings about Afghanistan and the Islamic world, the author offers an illuminating depiction not only of her time as a harem wife, but also of the “gender apartheid” under which Afghan women must live. Chesler could go nowhere and do nothing, including see a doctor, without her husband’s, or other male relative’s permission. She also found herself at the mercy of a maniacal mother-in-law who forced her to convert to Islam and a husband-turned-tyrant bent on keeping his wife in Afghanistan by any means necessary, including pregnancy. A life-threatening illness eventually moved her father-in-law to get her an exit visa to the United States. Chesler managed to get a divorce only after great difficulty. Yet her contentious relationship with the man whom she once saw as her spiritual “twin” endured. Intelligent, powerful and timely.

skull was occupied by “a tiny monkey playing a tiny pipe organ.” Stricken with sudden neurosensory hearing loss, a maddening syndrome with undiagnosable causes ranging from genetics to stroke, Coleman was understandably grief-stricken, given his profession. He punctuates his journey to his new existence with memories of his old one, the grim upbringing of a boy born in 1960, with many flashbacks focusing on the girl whom he loved from afar. The medical segments are harrowing, as Coleman describes in intimate detail procedures like having steroids injected directly into his inner ear. Early on, he broached the topic of assisted suicide with his wife, who told him, “Don’t you DARE talk to me like that.” The teenage autobiographical segments are readable but unremarkable, but Coleman’s selfexamination of his identity via music and his new interpretation of it are thoughtful and complex, recalling something of David Byrne’s rich How Music Works (2012). “What was really interesting was that, as I sat there shuddering and trickling, I began to hear the music better,” he writes. “Melody, metre, a little bit of timbre, the puffiest cloud of harmony. Yes, yes: that’s a trombone all right, not just a note. And I began to sense the tiniest

THE TRAIN IN THE NIGHT A Story of Music and Loss Coleman, Nick Counterpoint (304 pp.) $26.00 | Sep. 10, 2013 978-1-61902-185-3

One of the most widely read music journalists in the U.K. loses his hearing and very nearly his mind. Not quite an autobiography, nor a focused memoir of illness, this tragic recollection by prolific rock journalist Coleman examines a lifetime’s worth of choices in the wake of a devastating illness. In his mid-40s, the author experienced a form of tinnitus so severe that he imagined the inside of his |

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“More than just a war story; a harrowing examination of the tolls of the world’s conflicts.” from on the front line

ON THE FRONT LINE The Collected Journalism of Marie Colvin

swelling of architectural form in my head. You wouldn’t have called it the Taj Mahal, but equally, this was no papery squiggle.” A disquieting but ultimately resilient reflection on the sound and the fury.

Colvin, Marie HarperCollins 360 (560 pp.) $19.99 paper | Oct. 15, 2013 978-0-00-748796-7

EXODUS How Migration is Changing Our World

A small but crucial sampling of war reporting by one of the finest journalists of her generation. Marie Colvin (1956–2012) was one hell of a reporter, right up to the point where she was killed by an IED while under intense shelling by the Syrian government. This collection only scratches the surface of nearly 20 years of war reporting for the Sunday Times, but it’s a remarkable portrait of the raw wounds of conflicts that burn on, even in times the Western world considers to be “peace.” The collection is sensibly divided into both chronological and geographical sections, and it spans the globe. If there was a hot spot in the world, Colvin seems to have gotten there, from the war in Libya to the genocides in Kosovo to the disproportionate response of Moscow to the Chechen uprisings. There are unusual interviews with figures like Yasser Arafat and Muammar Gadhafi, but one of Colvin’s many gifts was ferreting out the story of the common people suffering through unimaginable horrors—e.g., the girls raped as the result of systemized terror under Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe; the untrained, illiterate forces of the Afghani military expected to take over for the full force and fury of the American incursion. If journalists are expected to suffer for their stories, Colvin paid the full price for capturing these stories: Her nose was broken by a rock thrown by Palestinian demonstrators while she was posing as a Jewish settler; her eye was punctured by shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade in Sri Lanka, an event that led to her iconic eye patch. In her 2001 acceptance speech for a humanitarian award for courage, she pondered whether the stories were worth the damage: “Simply: there’s no way to cover war properly without risk. Covering a war means going into places torn apart by chaos, destruction, death and pain, and trying to bear witness to that.” More than just a war story; a harrowing examination of the tolls of the world’s conflicts.

Collier, Paul Oxford Univ. (336 pp.) $27.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-19-539865-6

An economist and expert on the world’s poorest populations analyzes who migrates, why and the effects on host societies. Collier (Economics/Univ. of Oxford; The Plundered Planet: Why We Must—and How We Can—Manage Nature for Global Prosperity, 2010, etc.) considers migration from poor to rich nations and what immigration policies are most appropriate. Eschewing the emotional responses often associated with his topic, he insists that “Is migration good or bad?” is the wrong question. Rather, he focuses on how much is best, hoping that his evidence-based study will help governments manage the flow. “[H]igh emotion and little knowledge” have created huge differences in migration policies (Japan is closed to immigrants), with most officials making value- rather than evidencebased judgments. Collier writes at length about the critical roles of diasporas, which make the cost of migration fall and provide much-needed help to the newly arrived. As diasporas grow (chiefly in big cities, in the United States and elsewhere), more migrants are likely to come, and fewer are absorbed into mainstream society. He notes that migrants are winners in the process. Mostly young, able to afford the high costs of migration and willing to take the risks, they tend to succeed. They do not compete closely with indigenous workers, writes Collier, but their earnings are driven down by the arrival of additional immigrants. The biggest losers are the people left behind in poor, mainly African nations, which lose their brightest and most talented, gaining somewhat from remittances. In all, migration does not have significantly adverse effects on host societies, writes the author, but nations must set ceilings on the sizes of diasporas. That way, migration will achieve a sustainable rate and not accelerate to a point where it becomes damaging. Valuable reading for policymakers.

JAMERICA The History of the Jam Band and Festival Scene Conners, Peter Da Capo/Perseus (288 pp.) $25.99 | Sep. 1, 2013 978-0-306-82066-3

A meandering oral history of the modern jam-band landscape. Conners (White Hand Society: The Psychedelic Partnership of Timothy Leary & Allen Ginsberg, 2010, etc.) is no stranger to these misty mountain hops, 44

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having already chronicled his latter-day tenure as a Deadhead in his memoir, Growing Up Dead (2009). Here, the author borrows the oral history form of history-making championed by the likes of Legs McNeil and dozens of lesser rock ’n’ roll historians. Although the narrative does get us, finally, to the present day, the book is very much rooted in the post–Jerry Garcia vacuum of the early 1990s, into which countless improvisational musicians stepped. Speaking of the infamous H.O.R.D.E. festival that originated in 1992, John Popper of Blues Traveler says, “We wanted to call it Lollapatchouli. But we wanted people to take it seriously, and my fantasy, being into Attila the Hun, was: it’s a cold day someplace in Kansas when, in from the south, comes Widespread Panic Fans consuming everything in their way, and from the north are Phish fans, and from the east comes Blues Traveler, and from the west comes Béla Fleck.” Conners includes interviews with all of these and more, including festival icon Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction and Mickey Hart and Bob Weir from the Dead. Some of the other bright lights, like Trey Anastasio of the seminal (and cult-inspiring) jam band Phish, seem to have been conveniently plucked from interviews in magazines like High Times. There’s some substance here in the debate over concert recordings, but Conners guides most of the conversations to talking about the vibe, that mystic connection between fans that may be lost on anyone who isn’t a serious devotee of this scene. A coda of comments from fans with bon mots like “Festivals are church for the open minded” ends the book, for better or worse. A mostly superfluous volume that will nonetheless appeal to fans of the scene. (16 pages of b/w photos)

WHAT’S SO FUNNY? My Hilarious Life

Conway, Tim with Scovell, Jane Howard Books/Simon & Schuster (288 pp.) $25.99 | Oct. 29, 2013 978-1-4767-2650-2 The celebrated funnyman on his frictionless life and times. With the assistance of veteran coauthor Scovell (Samuel Ramey, American Bass, 2010, etc.), Conway breezily recounts his career in show business, especially his 11 years on the Carol Burnett Show. The author is pleasant company, but the jokes are pitched to raise a wry grin rather than evoke belly laughs, the showbiz anecdotes are free from salaciousness and scandal, and the personal history yields neither engagement nor insight. The result is a relentlessly genial and inconsequential catalog of mild pranks, warm friendships and highlights of a comfortable career as a midlevel, familiar TV performer. To his credit, Conway realizes his status as a solid supporting player and is charmingly self-effacing about his lack of success as a leading man, but the lack of dramatic stakes eventually produces a soporific effect. The author heaps praise and affection on co-stars like Carol Burnett and Harvey Korman, but he declines to analyze the comedy or production of the immensely popular Carol Burnett Show, and the |

material reads more like a testimonial than a behind-the-scenes look at a comedy institution. There are chuckles to be had at Conway’s misadventures in the Army, on the golf course and at the racetrack, but the book’s richest material concerns his early upbringing in Ohio and his eccentric immigrant parents. The author paints affectionate portraits of his hapless Irish father and dynamic Romanian mother, a quirky yet loving couple and perhaps a more compelling subject for a memoir than the agreeable but toothless entertainment memoir on offer here. Mildly amusing and affable to a fault, Conway’s tome joins the massive pile of inessential showbiz memoirs.

PATRICK LEIGH FERMOR An Adventure

Cooper, Artemis New York Review Books (480 pp.) $30.00 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-1-59017-674-0

A fondly admiring account of the English wayfarer captures his enormously infectious spirit. An author of nonfiction travelogues not well-known on this side of the Atlantic, Patrick Leigh Fermor (1915–2011) made his swashbuckling reputation during World War II when he and his fellow British Special Operations Executive agent W. Stanley Moss and Cretan resistance fighters abducted the Nazi general of the occupation of Crete. Subsequently, Leigh Fermor was hailed as a Greek hero and was even graced by a 1957 Hollywood film version of the escapade, Ill Met by Moonlight, based on Moss’ memoir of the same name. British author Cooper (Writing at the Kitchen Table: The Authorized Biography of Elizabeth David, 2000, etc.) was well-acquainted with the personable, loquacious Leigh Fermor and has edited his Words of Mercury, deriving much of this material from his own extensive memoirs as well as from interviews. What emerges here is the energetic, devouring spirit of the intrepid traveler, who never had the money to be a true bon vivant but who managed to find plenty of well-connected ladies to pay his bills. Channeling a restive youth between ill-suited parents who lived, separately, in India and London, “Paddy” resolved to postpone entry into the army in order to make a yearlong trek by foot through Europe starting in December 1933. It would prove his education, coming-of-age and entree into life as he forged many of the acquaintances that would direct his future, such as that of Princess Balasha Cantacuzene, a mysterious older painter of Greek-Rumanian extraction who took young Paddy in during the next several years. The war scattered many friends, yet his notoriety prompted continual interest in his travels. A solid biography that should introduce more readers to Leigh Fermor’s work. (16 pages of photos)

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“A story rich in musical history and poignant with dramatic irony.” from kansas city lightning

BAND OF ANGELS The Forgotten World of Early Christian Women Cooper, Kate Overlook (320 pp.) $27.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4683-0740-5

A distinguished ancient historian’s elegant study of the extraordinary women who helped lay the foundations of the early Christian church. Most official historical writings about the early church have focused on how its male founders institutionalized biblical teachings and established hierarchies. As a result, the more humble, but no less important, contributions of women have largely been overshadowed. Cooper (Ancient History/Univ. of Manchester; The Fall of the Roman Household, 2008, etc.) offers a provocative glimpse into the lives of early Christian women by examining the legends and theological texts that, unlike the histories that were “preserved with institutional politics” in mind, served as tools for spiritual guidance. The earliest of these documents (from the first and second centuries) offer only fragmentary evidence of female contributions. Yet Cooper is able to weave compelling stories about such forgotten mothers of the church as Lydia, the “purple-seller” who helped the apostle Paul deliver his Christian message to people within the gentile community; the Galilean women Mary of Nazareth and Mary of Bethany, both of whom became the Gospel writer Luke’s symbols of enduring “commitment and loyalty” to Jesus; and the martyr Thecla, who defied a family imperative to marry so that she could spread the word of God. Later, third-century histories offer more detailed portraits of other historical women. Cooper suggests that these females, who were usually from the upper classes, used their wealth to found spiritual communities that would become models for the monasteries that would emerge as the church grew more institutionalized. In the fifth century, Byzantine Empress Pulcheria exerted enough influence on the church to help enshrine a Marian cult that would remain in place until the Ottoman conquest of Byzantium in 1453. Engaging reading for specialists and general readers alike.

and whose books have earned widespread critical appreciation, is uniquely qualified to guide readers on this tour. He begins in Des Moines, Iowa, where Parker, 21, was touring with the Jay McShann Orchestra. Here, we get an early hint of troubles to come when Crouch notes that Parker’s “disappearing acts were his specialty.” Hard drugs would limit Parker’s ascension and eventually bring him down. But Crouch’s agenda comprises not just the story of the early Parker. He tells the tales of towns (New Orleans, Kansas City, Chicago, New York), of ragtime and jazz legends (Scott Joplin, King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Art Tatum and others of lesser name but considerable significance), and of families and friends. We see Parker’s impecunious struggles to learn his instrument (alto sax), his repeated visits to the pawn shop (morphine was not free), his experiences of having to borrow other players’ instruments, his gift as a musician, his ferocious work ethic (striving to find his own sound) and his transformation into a dweller of the night. We learn, as well, about his youthful love affair that eventually became his first marriage. He became a father and then left his family to pursue his dreams, which no longer included them. Crouch takes us with Parker to Chicago and then to New York City, where he was just about to make it when the story stops. Crouch is a phrasemaker, and the text is chockablock with memorable lines. A friend’s death “was like drinking a cup of blues made of razor blades.” A story rich in musical history and poignant with dramatic irony. (Two 16-page photo inserts)

FINDING THE DRAGON LADY The Mystery of Vietnam’s Madame Nhu Demery, Monique Brinson PublicAffairs (280 pp.) $26.99 | Sep. 24, 2013 978-1-61039-281-5

An independent scholar’s engagingly provocative account of her encounters with the once-reviled former first lady of South Vietnam, Madame Nhu. Demery’s obsession with the infamous “Dragon Lady” of Southeast Asia began when she was a child. As an adult, she came to realize that the glamour that had captivated her also encapsulated a very contemporary problem for women involved in politics. Apart from what she actually accomplished, any powerful female who also looked good would always be a media target. Not surprisingly, little of substance had been written about Madame Nhu, who went into seclusion in 1986; yet Demery managed to track her down to an apartment in Paris. For more than five years, the two carried on a conversation via phone and email that often seemed like an elaborate game of cat-and-mouse, with Madame Nhu constantly testing Demery and holding herself “just out of reach.” The young scholar still managed to learn that Madame Nhu grew up an unloved and neglected child. But shrewd personal choices allowed her to outdo either of her coddled sisters and marry the brother of the first South Vietnamese president, Ngo Dihn Diem. Fiery and theatrical, Madame Nhu seized the

KANSAS CITY LIGHTNING The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker Crouch, Stanley It Books/HarperCollins (448 pp.) $35.00 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-06-200559-5

A veteran cultural critic and jazz historian tells the simultaneous stories of the rise of jazz and the emergence of one of its brightest comets, Charlie Parker (1920–1955). Crouch (Considering Genius: Writings on Jazz, 2006, etc.), whose journalism has appeared in just about every major venue 46

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opportunity to play an important role in her future by “launch[ing] herself into the political vacuum created by a distant pen-pushing prime minister and his furtive brother.” Not only did she take on the traditional “hostess” responsibilities of first lady, she also helped enact legislation to uplift the status of women while working behind the scenes to stave off coup attempts from rebel communist forces. However, her beauty and outspokenness worked against her in conservative Kennedy-era America, which eventually supported the uprising that killed both her husband and President Diem. Smart and well-researched, Demery’s biography offers insight into both an intriguing figure and the complicated historical moment with which she became eternally identified. A welcome addition to the literature on Vietnam.

THE TRAGEDY OF LIBERATION A History of the Chinese Revolution 1945-1957 Dikötter, Frank Bloomsbury (448 pp.) $30.00 | Sep. 24, 2013 978-1-62040-347-1

A further catalog of horrors courtesy of Mao Zedong. In this prequel to his Samuel Johnson Prize–winning Mao’s Great Famine (2010), Dikötter (Humanities/Univ. of Hong Kong) mines the Communists’ grisly early slog to power through the lives of everyday people. The victory of the Communists over Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists proclaimed on October 1, 1949, was supposed to bring liberation for everyone. A new orthodoxy had to be instilled in the masses, gleaned from Soviet training and Nationalist holdover ideas—e.g., a more rigorous registration of households and individuals according to class labels that would stick with them forever: good (revolutionaries, peasants) or bad (landlords, capitalists). As the police moved in to purge subversives, people scrambled to declare their allegiances to the new regime, “reeducate” themselves and denounce one another. As he did in his previous work, Dikötter wades deep into the grim reality, starting with the establishment of land reform, which helped whip up class hatred in the countryside so that laborers turned against the village leaders and traditional bonds were broken in favor of party loyalty. Poverty prevailed, the economy shut down, and suspicion was rampant: Mao warned of “secret agents and…bandits” still lurking and struck at the imperialist enemy on the Sino-Korean border in October 1950. The Great Terror ensued, followed by the suppression of foreigners, religious people, and even rats and vermin (due to a hysteria over germ warfare). The implementation of collectivization, based on the Soviet model, would seal the coffin for the masses, introducing famine and starvation. Dikötter marshals his meticulous research to show how Mao continually set up expectations only to mow them viciously down. Under the “shiny surface” of Mao’s propaganda, the author ably reveals the violence and misery.

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A MAYOR’S LIFE Governing New York’s Gorgeous Mosaic

Dinkins, David N. with Knobler, Peter PublicAffairs (416 pp.) $29.99 | Sep. 17, 2013 978-1-61039-301-0 A former New York City mayor recounts his personal journey from humble roots to running America’s most iconic metropolis. With the assistance of Knobler (co-author: Fairy Tales Can Come True: How a Driven Woman Changed Her Destiny, 2003, etc.), Dinkins (School of International and Public Affairs/Columbia Univ.) reflects on his unexpected path from poverty to the mayor’s office. At 18—after a childhood spent enamored with the entrepreneurial spirit—Dinkins traded in his business ventures to enlist as a Marine. After being honorably discharged when the war ended, he returned stateside to face the same racial discrimination he had known before. When he was refused service in a bar, Dinkins learned the power of the legal system, deciding to become a lawyer soon after. With memberships in the Harlem Lawyers Association, the Urban League and the NAACP, among others, it wasn’t long, however, before Dinkins became “part of the fabric of New York politics” as well. In 1985, Dinkins was elected Manhattan borough president, a position that gave him good footing for the mayoral office, a post he won in 1989. After defeating Democratic incumbent Ed Koch in the primary and Rudy Giuliani in the general election, Dinkins became the first African-American to hold the office. Despite the historical first, his tenure as mayor was not without its difficulties. Though he attempted to tackle New York’s crime problems, racial strife continued to plague the city. No example better illustrates this strife than the mob-induced murder of Yankel Rosenbaum, a Jewish man killed at the hands of African-Americans. Though the story’s complexities run deep, the result was a borough more racially divided than ever—feelings that soon reverberated throughout the city and cost Dinkins his re-election bid. “Of course I wish it never happened,” Dinkins writes. “But I never did, nor will I start now, blame anyone else for what occurred on my watch.” A frank, unique look at the many challenges in New York City politics.

THE ASYLUM A Collage of Couture Reminiscences Doonan, Simon Blue Rider Press (288 pp.) $25.95 | Sep. 3, 2013 978-0-399-16189-6

High-fashion hijinks from the outspoken “Creative Ambassador” for Barneys New York. kirkus.com

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After spending much of his life working with reed-thin models and quick-tempered designers, raconteur Doonan’s (Gay Men Don’t Get Fat, 2012) skewering of the couture world comes from a place both of witnessing the industry’s stylistic evolution and playing a key part within it. If readers are to believe the author’s melodramatic musings, fashion designers date hustlers and porn stars, and models are “legendarily cheap,” yet each plays an integral part of the fabulous “flock.” Spliced between cleverly narrated bits about his window dressing days, “fashion superdeity” Anna Wintour, urine drinking, and his best friend, a psychologist (whose work “in a nuthouse” resembles life in the fashion industry), are colorfully realized profiles of iconic designers like visionary couture doyenne Diana Vreeland, Coco Chanel, Tom Ford and Doonan’s Fire Island “beach neighbor” Michael Kors. Some of his earlier recollections nod fondly at Manhattan’s pre–Rudy Giuliani halcyon days in the 1980s when he rubbed elbows with “illustrious fashionrati” like Madonna, Calvin Klein and Marc Jacobs at the Gaiety, a Times Square gay male burlesque theater. Collectively, Doonan’s writing here is less biting than previous forays and, to his credit, more concerned with sharing an engaging memory than being snarky. The author often pauses midstream in a digressive retreat from critical (but no less hilarious) commentary on particular people (style show host Elsa Klensch) or places (Japan) to remark on a genuine fondness for them. Though he quips, “you have to admit, my sweeping generalizations are always so much more exciting than facts,” these snappy essays find Doonan surprisingly more sincere and charming than ever. A gossipy, voyeuristic and reliably campy romp down the catwalks of the fashion asylum.

Ecko is a sort of anti-Trump, using human frailty instead of unattainable omnificence to educate the next generation of dreamers. The author delivers a sobering inventory of screw-ups, ill-advised team-ups, lots of overexposure and overextension, as well as generous dollops of hubris and flat-out boneheaded maneuvers. Still, he stubbornly adheres to his philosophy of authenticity while sticking it to the clueless “gatekeepers.” “My business plan for Ecko Airbrushing might have been technically naïve, but it did have this much going for it: my personal brand was massively authentic and relevant,” he writes. Ideas about authenticity run deep throughout the book. Criticized throughout much of his career for allegedly co-opting established cultural touchstones, Ecko argues that what he has been doing all along is something more akin to sampling— just like the best MCs have done on their way to creating something legitimate and pure. A compelling how-to guide that also reads like a saucy celebrity exposé.

THE BOY AT THE GATE A Memoir

Ellis, Danny Arcade (320 pp.) $24.95 | Sep. 3, 2013 978-1-61145-892-3

An Irish singer/songwriter’s powerful debut memoir about growing up at the notorious Artane Industrial School for orphaned and abandoned boys in Dublin. When Ellis began writing the lyrics for his 2009 album, “800 Voices,” he found himself unexpectedly overwhelmed by memories of his years at the Artane school for boys, an institution known for mistreating its unfortunate charges. He was just 8 years old when his alcoholic mother left him with the priests who ran Artane. She told her son she would take him home one day; instead, she left for England with a lover and never returned. In a story that alternates between his successful present and harrowing past, Ellis details how he survived the years of savagery at the hands of the school’s sadistic, whip-wielding priests to become a critically acclaimed musician. A combination of street-honed canniness and steadfast friendships with other boys saved him from the at-times bloody extremes of physical victimization. But it was the Artane Boys Band that saved his soul and gave him a place to express the anger, pain and confusion that roiled inside his “fighting Dublin heart.” A priest encouraged him to take up the trombone, an instrument on which Ellis was able to hone his gift for music. By the time he was 15, his skill and talent attracted the attention of a respected Irish musician who helped the young trombonist get work on the Irish show-band circuit after he left Artane. That Ellis uses the narrative to unearth a deliberately forgotten past makes for compelling reading. But what makes his work even more affecting is the way he uses his story to liberate the voices of otherwise forgotten children who endured “one of the most abusive and brutal institutions in Ireland.” Heartbreak at its most bittersweet. (20 b/w photos)

UNLABEL Selling You Without Selling Out

Ecko, Marc Touchstone/Simon & Schuster (304 pp.) $30.00 | Sep. 17, 2013 978-1-4516-8530-5 The man behind the iconic rhino logo weaves an interesting story employing alternating threads of entrepreneurial advice and autobiographical confession. When he was younger, few could have dreamed that the chubby kid busily aping graffiti culture in the garage of his parents’ New Jersey home would one day rise to become one of the top purveyors of hip-hop cool in the country. But that’s exactly what Ecko managed to accomplish in just a few scant years. From slinging airbrushed T-shirts in high school to hobnobbing with the Tommy Hilfigers of the world, Ecko and his partners—sister Marci and buddy Seth—built a clothing empire that still remains a sartorial force on the streets, even if the core group has fractured. Though he’s taken more than a few wrong turns, the author doesn’t flinch when laying down his entrepreneurial expertise. In fact, his “guts to skin, skin to the world” philosophy about self-branding is more potent given all the mistakes. In his role as entrepreneurial guru, 48

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“A witty and often profound look at human behavior and all its absurdities, contradictions, obsessions and phobias.” from sister mother husband dog

SISTER MOTHER HUSBAND DOG Etc.

Ephron, Delia Blue Rider Press (272 pp.) $25.95 | Sep. 17, 2013 978-0-399-16655-6

When Ephron’s humorous essay “How To Eat Like a Child” appeared in the New York Times Magazine, her first “big success,” she knew she had found her calling. In this new collection of essays, she displays that sharply funny and compassionate voice. The author, who co-wrote the screenplay You’ve Got Mail and the play Love, Loss, and What I Wore with her sister Nora, has written novels for adults and teenagers (The Lion Is In, 2012) and essay collections (Funny Sauce, 1986). Here, her keen observations about family, friends, work and life’s small indignities and deep sorrows leave readers laughing out loud one moment and tearing up the next. In her loving essay “Losing Nora,” she grapples with grief, the complexities of sisterly love and sibling rivalry while paying tribute to her brilliant, fun-loving, tough-minded sister, who died in 2012. “Am I Jewish Enough?” describes the Ephron “sect of writers.” Her parents were Hollywood screenwriters, and all three of her sisters became authors. In their religion, “Laughter was the point, not prayer, and the blessing, ‘That’s a great line, write it down.’ ” In “Why I Can’t Write About My Mother,” Ephron reveals her madcap family’s dark side. Her parents took to alcohol like Nick and Nora Charles, and nights were often filled with “drunken brawls and raging fights.” In this alcoholic haze, her emotionally distant mother became even more elusive. Ephron knows a few things about her—e.g., she abhorred conformity and insisted her daughters would have careers—but she can never break through the surface of this accomplished woman who wore oneliners like armor. A witty and often profound look at human behavior and all its absurdities, contradictions, obsessions and phobias.

THE TRAUMA OF EVERYDAY LIFE

Epstein, Mark Penguin Press (256 pp.) $25.95 | Aug. 19, 2013 978-1-59420-513-2

A practicing physician and Buddhism expert examines trauma as a natural part of life. Psychiatrist Epstein (Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis/New York Univ.; Going on Being: Life at the Crossroads of Buddhism and Psychotherapy, 2008, etc.), a prolific author on Buddhism, invites readers to learn from the example of Buddha and deal with trauma through direct engagement and Zen mindfulness rather |

than distancing or dissociating from negative life experiences. Although the Buddhist wisdom he imparts isn’t always necessarily layman-friendly, the connections he makes mostly steer clear of spiritualist mumbo jumbo or, for that matter, clinical psychobabble. However, some readers may get the sense that his main thesis—which could probably be summed up in the line, “If one can treat trauma as a fact and not a failing, one has the chance to learn from the inevitable slings and arrows that come one’s way”—is stretched a bit too far and isn’t quite enough to effectively carry an entire book. Rather than rely on his own experiences and philosophies, Epstein uses an anecdotal approach to illustrate his points about how regular people have used the teachings of Buddha to come to terms with their trauma, as well as how Buddha educated himself along the so-called “middle path,” which was marked by many instances of traumatic events that were unique to him. No matter how many different examples the author provides from the life of Buddha and others, ultimately, everything contained in Epstein’s book circles back to more or less the same idea of accepting daily traumas instead of burying them in one’s subconscious mind, which can toe the line between obsessively driving home a major point and simple redundancy. Useful and coherent but not as deep a study as it clearly wants to be.

RUNNING WITH MONSTERS A Memoir Forrest, Bob with Albo, Michael Crown Archetype (304 pp.) $26.00 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-7704-3598-1

A walk on the wild side of Los Angeles rock, as a junkie musician-turned– celebrity rehab counselor tells the story of his recovery, while suggesting that he still has some issues. In 12-step programs, these stories of hitting bottom and bouncing back are informally known as a “drunkalogues.” This is more of a “drugalogue,” though there was plenty of alcoholic excess in the boyhood of Forrest, who fronted cult band Thelonious Monster while sinking deeper into the abyss of his heroin addiction. “I was on an endless rehab roller coaster, and the cure never took,” writes the author, now 15 years clean and better known as the sidekick on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. “I just loved drugs too much.” Yet the overdose death of actor River Phoenix (a night vividly described here), the ravages suffered by fellow musicians and the downward spiral of his own life finally brought the author to a point where his survival instinct and self-loathing overpowered his love of drugs. After more than 20 attempts at getting clean, he finally found himself on the path to sobriety. It was apparently a good career move, as he tells about his TV salary of “$5,000 a week with a 10 percent annual increase.” Yet Forrest admits that “much of the recovery industry is riddled with corruption” and that he has a “difficulty with that Hollywood glitzy, exploitative aspect” of the kirkus.com

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reality TV recovery series. He also doesn’t express a whole lot of remorse for impregnating one 16-year-old and introducing another to heroin: “What can I say? The truth is I like younger women. I always have.” In what passes here for a happy ending, after warning of the risks of two addicts in recovery becoming involved and telling how one counselor lost his career by sleeping with a patient, he relates how he lost a job but gained a wife after romancing one of his own patients. An adequate recovery memoir.

ALONE TOGETHER My Life with J. Paul Getty

Gaston, Theodora Getty with Diehl, Digby Ecco/HarperCollins (416 pp.) $26.99 | Sep. 3, 2013 978-0-06-221971-8 A society girl–cum–torch singer’s entertaining but overly sentimentalized memoir about the years she spent living with and loving America’s first billionaire, J. Paul Getty. Gaston met oil tycoon Getty at a New York nightclub in 1935. From the first moment they danced, the otherwise independent young singer felt like “[she] wanted to belong to this man [she] knew nothing about.” Getty, a four-time divorcé and patron of the arts, wooed the much-younger Gaston with ardor and encouraged her to pursue a career in opera. He invited her to Europe, where he put her in contact with legendary vocal teachers like Blanche Marchesi and introduced her to a glamorous world of elegance, royalty and artistic refinement that went beyond anything she had known in New York. Getty married Gaston in Rome on the eve of World War II and demanded she break off her studies to return home with him. Gaston remained in Italy to finish her studies, only to become a prisoner of war. She endured hardship and privation for more than two years but also experienced passionate love with a handsome Turk. When Gaston returned to the States in 1942, it was to an increasingly stingy husband who now spent most of his time working, traveling and having affairs that he denied. The couple moved to California, where Gaston gave birth to a son, who died before reaching his teen years. The child brought the drifting partners together only briefly before Getty abandoned his family to pursue the wealth and power that became his governing obsession. Sweeping in scope, the book, which draws throughout from Gaston’s and Getty’s letters and diaries, offers a glimpse into a privileged world where all that glittered was far from being gold. An epic personal saga for the Harlequin Romance crowd.

FOCUS The Hidden Driver of Excellence

Goleman, Daniel Harper/HarperCollins (320 pp.) $28.99 | Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-06-211486-0

Goleman (Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence, 2011, etc.) argues that the ability to focus is “a littlenoticed and underrated asset” that can help overcome problems like “zoning out” and “mind wandering,” among many others. The author explains that attention span can be compared with a “mental muscle that we can strengthen by a work out,” with memorization and concentration being the forms of exercise that work the “muscle.” Showing how much time is spent in day-dreaming and mind wandering—up to 40 percent of the day, according to some estimates—Goleman identifies the changes in psychological and mental habits and activities that he believes will contribute to effectively addressing important contemporary issues like climate change and global warming. Quick, default reactions, which focus on the short term and “favor now in decisions of all kinds,” prevent concentration on the long-term objectives that such issues demand. Goleman also believes that such a transformation will require new methods of leadership working through new kinds of institutions. The success of future leaders will depend on their ability to maintain focus on long-term goals and improvements for the widest circles their influence can reach. The author supports his arguments with a psychological framework drawn from the contemporary field of neuroscience. He refers to a Nature magazine study on the ambiguous effects of playing computer games—from “Minesweeper” to poker—and stresses that “face-to-face interactions…pick up a multitude of signals which help us connect well, and wire together the neurons involved.” Unfortunately, “during thousands of hours spent online,” he writes, “the wiring of the social brain gets virtually no exercise.” A lively personalized account of the science of attention, which “ripples through most everything we seek to accomplish.”

HUNT FOR THE JEWS Betrayal and Murder in German-Occupied Poland

Grabowski, Jan Indiana Univ. (312 pp.) $35.00 | Oct. 2, 2013 978-0-253-01074-2

An intensely focused, heavily statistical study of the widespread denunciation of Jewish refugees among Polish gentiles during the Nazi occupation. The salvation of the Jews who managed to escape the ghettos and the death trains was largely left in the hands of the Poles, 50

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“An ‘only in America’ story with Horatio Alger as a rapper and neo-soul singer.” from everybody ’s brother

“who failed this test of humanity,” writes Grabowski (History/ Univ. of Ottawa) in this grim, compelling work of research. He concentrates on the rural county of Dabrowa Tarnowska, just 50 miles east of Krakow, chosen due to the wealth of records available (survival accounts, testimonies, court documents) and its rural character, with a prewar census of 66,678 people, including 4,807 Jews. The author followed the fates of 337 Jews who tried to survive in the county, of which 51 managed to hide until liberation, while 286 died between 1942 and 1945. Grabowski touches on the prewar relations among the Jews, Polish peasants and Catholic clergy, only to suggest that where they once worked alongside each other in small villages, the relations steadily deteriorated with the rise of economic dissatisfaction and anti-Semitic political propaganda. The Nazis introduced “draconian regulations,” and Jews were put into ghettos and terrorized by violence, coinciding with the opening of the Belzec extermination camp in March 1942. Those who escaped ran into the forests or found refuge among Polish neighbors, often protected only until their ability to pay ran out. The next stage in the Jews’ destruction was the horrific Judenjagd, the hunt, during which the German “evacuation commandos,” Polish “blue” police, youth construction service and the Jewish police worked to flush out their victims. Grabowski breaks down each group with meticulous research. A significant, scholarly study that may be arduous for nonacademic readers.

THE RED AND THE WHITE A Family Saga of the American West Graybill, Andrew R. Liveright/Norton (352 pp.) $28.95 | Oct. 7, 2013 978-0-87140-445-9

From the birth of the fur trade through the establishment of reservations and boarding schools to the present day, a touching portrait of race relations

on the frontier. Graybill (History and Southwest Studies/Southern Methodist Univ.; Policing the Great Plains: Rangers, Mounties, and the North American Frontier, 1875–1910, 2007, etc.) traces the history of relationships between Indians and whites by telling the story of Malcolm Clarke, a failed military man and fur-trading pioneer, and his Piegan Blackfoot wife, Coth-co-co-na, as well as three generations of their descendants. Beginning with the introduction of horses in the 1730s, the Blackfeet experienced European colonization as an unremitting avalanche of cultural change, which drove them from their position as the undisputed masters of the Northern Plains to a small, economically depressed reservation. Thomas Jefferson saw intermarriage as “the key to peaceful frontier absorption as well as the eventual assimilation of Indians into mainstream Anglo-American society,” but the reality was rarely so clean-cut. Utilizing primary sources at the Montana Historical Society and interviews with |

the Clarkes’ living relatives, Graybill uncovers a forgotten history culminating in the Marias Massacre, an epochal event for the Blackfeet but so obscure today that no marker commemorates its location. Evocative details and a close attention to the arc of its subjects’ lives lend Graybill’s narrative emotional heft. The family’s descendants include the remarkable Helen Clarke, a successful Broadway actor and Montana’s first female elected official, and John Clarke, deafened in infancy by scarlet fever, who became a world-renowned sculptor. Despite their fame, they never achieved financial stability or full social acceptance; the received knowledge was that “peoples of mixed ancestry... fomented dissension by manipulating their supposedly slowwitted relatives of pure [Indian] blood.” An entertaining and insightful exposition of an unjustly ignored facet of the American social fabric. (35 illustrations; 3 maps)

EVERYBODY’S BROTHER

Green, CeeLo with Big Gipp; Wild, David Grand Central Publishing (304 pp.) $27.00 | Sep. 10, 2013 978-1-4555-1667-4 An entertaining memoir that captures the voice of an artist who hasn’t necessarily accomplished enough to warrant the telling of his life story. Musical memoirs have become a hot commodity, and Green is a brash and savvy-enough entertainer to know to strike while the iron is hot. He made his breakthrough as the singer of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” which he followed with the viral solo hit known to some as “Forget You.” He then parlayed that into TV exposure on The Voice. Even for those aware of his musical back story with the Goodie Mob, such a career might be covered in a long magazine profile. But if the ebullient entertainer born Thomas DeCarlo Burton is mainly a legend in his own mind, he seasons that legend with plenty of spice in a book that (written with journalist Wild) shows how, “in the epic journey that has been my life, there are good guys and bad guys, heroes and villains, beautiful princesses, shape-shifting mutants, and pretty much everything in between.” Green also provides an inspirational mandate: “I write this book not just to celebrate my own voice and to revel in my own success story, but to encourage the next generation of underdogs to listen closely to the voices in their own heads….May we all find our voices and keep rising together.” For all his grandiosity, CeeLo (who seems to be moving toward single-name status) is a funny guy with a colorful story to share, from his proto-gangster days as a petty criminal in his native Atlanta through his musical redemption. The most revelatory parts concern the creative tension in his teaming with Danger Mouse as Gnarls Barkley, “a couple of crazy mutants who met in the dark and created a spark of something bigger than both of us.” His showbiz ambitions culminate in a Vegas review, “CeeLo Is Loberace,” inspired not only by Liberace, but Elton John. An “only in America” story with Horatio Alger as a rapper and neo-soul singer. kirkus.com

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INTERVIEWS & PROFILES

Wil Haygood

The veteran journalist is a witness to history, just like the people he writes about By Joshunda Sanders Journalist and biographer Wil Haygood has made a career of elevating historic black figures with elegance and verve. This summer, he adds to an already impressive body of work with a slim, potent story that inspired Lee Daniels’ new film, The Butler: A Witness to History. Haygood, a reporter for the Washington Post, is an Ohio native renowned for combining his flair for capturing the call-and-response cadence of African-American culture with preternatural discipline and attention to detail. He has worked as a journalist since the ’70s and along the way has written a family memoir, The Haygoods of Columbus, and a trilogy of awardwinning biographies about Adam Clayton Powell Jr., Sammy Davis Jr. and Sugar Ray Robinson. The Powell biography, King of the Cats, was named as one of the 100 Notable Books of 1993 by the New York Times. In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis Jr. won a handful of awards, as did his first book, Two on a River, a Mark Twain–inspired trip. He has won notable journalism and book awards, including the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Music Biography Award, the Zora Neale Hurston-Richard Wright Legacy Award and the Nonfiction Book of the Year Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. But awards alone don’t express the delight Haygood’s writing evokes. Haygood’s deep affection for storytelling and dogged reporting combine to offer readers history through a comprehensive lens that recreates eras, contexts and personalities. His old-school, journalistic approach and plain curiosity have spurred him to craft a varied career. He wrote his first biography as a college graduate from a poor Photo courtesy author

family who couldn’t have made it through college without student loan legislation (actually, legislation that Powell’s Labor and Education Committee championed). His old-school, journalistic approach and plain curiosity have spurred him to craft a varied career. He wrote his first biography as a college graduate from a poor family; he couldn’t have made it through college without student loan legislation (actually, legislation that Powell’s Labor and Education Committee championed). “I woke up one day and said, ‘I owe Adam Clayton Powell a debt. I’m going to write a book about him,’ ” Haygood recalls. “I started dreaming of it in 1984.” That was perhaps Haygood’s first lesson in publishing: The book wasn’t released until 1993. After his first biography, he moved on to the theatrical figures he loved. “There were all these layers to Sammy Davis Jr., and when I was growing up in the early 1960s, there were not a lot of black faces on TV. But Sammy’s face you could count on. He was one of those figures that made you happy to at least see a black face….I’ve always been interested in figures who have had something of an edge to their lives,” Haygood says. The scope and unique depth of his work underscore an eloquence and elegance that suggest he has been committed to being a storyteller all of his life. As a reader, one can sense his admiration for the sartorial choices and the stubborn pride of each of the men in his biography trilogy. He has an innate appreciation for the cultural and personal tensions that add to the dramatic narrative arcs of some of history’s most enigmatic figures. But Haygood once had other dreams—including one of becoming an actor. After graduating from Miami University, Haygood moved to New York to pursue that dream, but he quickly learned that he wasn’t cut out for it. He also worked at a food bank hotline and a

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social services agency and ended up becoming a “low, low-level executive” at Macy’s before he got fired after about a year. Haygood decided after some soul-searching that he would become a journalist. “I think if I’d come into the industry through journalism and journalism schools, I would have listened to everyone else tell me how to carve my journalism career,” Haygood says. Instead, he took the first job offered as a copy editor in Charleston, W.Va., and through a discipline that would later allow him to produce several books while also working as a fulltime reporter, he hustled his way into feature positions by writing stories on his days off. After writing his way out of West Virginia, Haygood worked at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette before he was hired by the Boston Globe and, later, the Washington Post. Haygood is currently working on a biography of Thurgood Marshall. Earlier this year, he was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship to help with the research and writing of the book. He has also just completed a script for the movie version of Sweet Thunder, his 2009 jazz-infused biography about Sugar Ray Robinson, which Kirkus starred. It’s an extraordinary volume of work for someone who continues to work as a full-time journalist, but Haygood says, “I’m very disciplined and focused, and that helps.” He has also devoted his life and his storytelling talents to telling the engaging, complete stories of African-American life that would otherwise be lost to history.

The Butler:

A Life Sworn to Secrecy That Needed to Be Told The Butler: A Witness to History is the story of Eugene Allen, who worked as a butler for eight presidents and lived long enough to see the first African-American man become president of the country he had served behind the scenes for decades. The book has been made into a movie with a star-studded cast that boasts the likes of Lenny Kravitz, Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda and many more. Lee Daniels’ The Butler will be in theaters nationwide on August 16th. The story began with Haygood’s search for a living link to history on the precipice of the 2008 election of President Barack Obama. Haygood had been assigned to write about the campaign for the Washington Post and got the idea to search for a black employee inside the White House. After a thorough journalistic search, Haygood found Eugene Allen. “It’s almost like a fable,” Haygood says. “Nobody, least of all me, knew that this guy existed.” “This guy” turned out to be a sweet gentleman living with his wife in a home with the photos and invaluable memorabilia they had collected over the years. “He never wanted to write a story about his life,” Haygood says. But Allen’s wife was encouraged by Haygood’s presence—enough to tell her son that someone was finally going to write about “my Eugene,” and then she went to bed and died in her sleep. “It’s almost spiritual,” Haygood says. In a Washington Post story that traveled around the globe (as in the longer version of Allen’s story told in The Butler: A Witness to History), Haygood conveys the elegance in a job perceived to be delineated by indignities. In the book, Haygood’s tenderness and affection for the Allens is tangible and compelling. “I’m very fortunate to have found both of them. Fifteen months after I knocked on their door, they were both gone.” Allen died in 2010.

Joshunda Sanders is a writer based in Austin. The Butler: A Witness to History was reviewed in the July 1 issue of Kirkus Reviews. THE BUTLER: A Witness to History: Haygood, Wil Atria (112 pp.) $18.00 | Jul. 30, 2013 978-1-4767-5299-0

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THE SECRETS OF THE NOTEBOOK A Woman’s Quest to Uncover Her Royal Family Secret

Serra (1713–1784), a Spanish Franciscan Friar missionary who founded missions throughout California. He was christened Miquel Joseph Serre in the village of Petra, Spain, a spiritually devout locale the author paints lushly and in great detail as a “breeding ground for Catholic missionaries.” While little is known of Serra’s childhood, Hackel postulates that he was likely raised “at the edge of poverty” by a strict father and matured swiftly and with increasing piety. This spiritual dedication would manifest throughout the remainder of Serra’s life. Just before he turned 17, he joined the Franciscan Order, adopting the name Junípero to honor the sanctity of Brother Juniper, a follower of St. Francis. Hackel tracks Serra’s next moves with great dexterity as Serra sacrificed a decade of devoted effort as a theology professor and priest for the calling of New World missionary. In Mexico, Serra embarked wholeheartedly on converting Indians to Catholicism and became a “field agent” for the Spanish Inquisition. Recognized for his “lively, logical, and focused mind,” he successfully expanded the Franciscan order across California, establishing missions from San Diego to Monterey amid widespread Spanish colonization and periods of resistance. Hackel’s impeccably honed facts, while delivered in the straightforward prose of a textbook, incorporate a celebratory aura for a major figure in history who changed the landscape and the culture of California. Serra’s legacy was given due honor, as he was one of two Californians commemorated in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall, and he was beatified by the Catholic Church in 1988. A consummate archivist of California history, Hackel has produced a definitive Golden State biography indispensable for academic historians, Californians and classroom study. (16 pages of b/w illustrations; 4 maps)

Haas, Eve Arcade (320 pp.) $22.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-61145-906-7

A German Jewish woman’s story of how an heirloom family notebook led to the discovery of her connection to a forgotten hero of the Napoleonic wars. World War II had just begun when Haas’ father decided to show her a notebook he told her had belonged to his greatgrandfather Prince Augustus of Prussia but had been written by Augustus’ daughter, Charlotte. The 16-year-old Haas was full of questions; her father warned her against looking for more information because “there [was] nothing more to find out.” The book finally came into her hands 30 years later, igniting her old curiosity. She had to find out how “this romantic sounding prince [had come] to be with a Jewish tailor’s daughter” named Emilie. Haas began an odyssey that would take her from her home in London to archives in East Germany that no one from the West had entered in more than 40 years. The information she found not only offered exciting glimpses into a bygone world, but also revealed that Augustus was a social progressive who supported Jews during a time of fierce anti-Semitism. Haas also discovered that Emilie was neither Jewish nor poor and that Augustus was under royal edict to leave behind no legitimate heirs. After his death, Emilie deliberately entrusted Charlotte to Augustus’ tailor so that the child would remain safe from possible assassination. The twists and turns Haas discovered in her family’s past mirrored her actual journey and included a bizarre offer to spy for the East German government in exchange for microfilmed copies of archive documents. The author’s enthusiasm for probing the secrets of Augustus’ notebook is evident throughout the narrative, but she does not always plumb the complexity of her own feelings toward the journey, which took her to places with often painful associations. A mostly pedestrian treatment of an intriguing topic.

LIKE DREAMERS The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation Halevi, Yossi Klein Harper/HarperCollins (608 pp.) $35.00 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-06-054576-5

JUNÍPERO SERRA California’s Founding Father

The story of the Israeli 55th Paratroopers Reserve Brigade, which was instrumental in the victory in the 1967 Six-Day War. In the ensuing years, the members of the 55th came to represent the deep political, cultural and religious divisions in Israel. Shalom Hartman Institute scholar Halevi (At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew’s Search for God with Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land, 2001, etc.) relates the history of Israel from 1967 to the present by focusing on a handful of individuals from the old 55th and interweaving their divergent and arresting stories. There are, of course, somewhat detailed accounts of wars (1967, 1973—maps included), terrorist attacks, the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, and negotiations with the PLO and others, but for the most part, Halevi allows his cast members to

Hackel, Steven W. Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux (352 pp.) $27.00 | Sep. 3, 2013 978-0-8090-9531-5

A comprehensive biography of California’s sovereign settler. Hackel (History/Univ. of California, Riverside; Children of Coyote, Missionaries of Saint Francis: Indian-Spanish Relations in Colonial California, 1769-1850, 2005, etc.) chronicles the life and work of Junípero 54

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“Does the world need another book on that dismal year? Absolutely, if it’s by Hastings. After many accounts of World War II, the veteran military historian tries his hand, with splendid results.” from catastrophe 1914

tell their stories. Among them are Yisrael Harel, who became a journalist; Avital Geva, who eventually had a career in art that dovetailed with his kibbutz life; Yoel Bin-Nun, a Zionist and kibbutz leader; Arik Achmon, whose career varied from aviation to business consultation and politics; Meir Ariel, who became “the greatest Hebrew poet-singer of his generation” then segued into religious studies; Udi Adiv, who became an active anti-Zionist, spent 12 years in prison and then earned a doctorate in London before returning to Israel to teach. Halevi also follows the personal lives of his principals, covering marriages, divorces, family relationships, and children, and he shows how some of them became political and religious opponents. Among the most divisive issues: the surrender of lands (the Sinai, the West Bank) gained in 1967, the issue of settlements in disputed territories, and the debate about “peace at any cost” and Zionism itself. An artful, affecting blend of history, biography, political science, and religion and an illustration of how small lights can illuminate a large landscape. (8-page b/w photo insert; 7 maps)

MY BROTHER MY SISTER Story of a Transformation

Haskell, Molly Viking (224 pp.) $26.95 | Sep. 5, 2013 978-0-670-02552-7

Feminist film critic Haskell (Frankly, My Dear: Gone with the Wind Revisited, 2009, etc.) delves into the dramatic, deeply personal tale of her brother’s transformation, in his early 60s, from a

man into a woman. Haskell’s story opens in 2005, when her younger brother, Chevey, confessed, “For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt I should have been born female. And now I’m going to become one.” Stunned, the author struggled to reconcile her knowing Chevey as a conservative and “manly” guy with his impending transsexuality. A semiretired financial adviser, Chevey appeared to be happily married to his wife of more than 20 years, but his desire to live as a woman had grown so fervent, he claimed that he would rather die during gender reassignment surgery than continue living in the wrong body. During the course of the book, Haskell’s brother, her only immediate family other than her husband, becomes Ellen, the name Chevey called himself in his fantasy life. The difficult transformation required numerous surgeries, including multiple facial reconstructions, numerous other procedures and a move across the country to start fresh as Ellen. Haskell’s journey was obviously less arduous than Ellen’s, but the two are equally compelling, in part due to the ways in which Ellen’s choice acts as a catalyst for Haskell’s initial discomfort, growth and acceptance. With candor and sly humor, the author questions her ideas about womanhood and considers the relationship between gender and identity as they relate to Ellen, herself, and myriad films and other aspects of popular |

culture. At the heart of this intelligent memoir lies the process through which Ellen’s transsexualism became, then faded from being, the primary fact of the siblings’ respective lives. A discerning, vital memoir.

CATASTROPHE 1914 Europe Goes to War

Hastings, Max Knopf (672 pp.) $35.00 | Sep. 24, 2013 978-0-307-59705-2

Does the world need another book on that dismal year? Absolutely, if it’s by Hastings (Inferno: The World at War, 1939– 1945, 2011, etc.). After many accounts of World War II, the veteran military historian tries his hand, with splendid results. Most readers will be familiar with many of the facts. When Austria mobilized to take revenge on Serbia for its role in the June 1914 murder of Archduke Ferdinand, Russia protested. Austria’s ally, Germany, warned it to keep its hands off. Russia’s response was only mildly threatening, but it wasn’t mild enough for the pugnacious German general staff. Deciding war was inevitable, they convinced a dithering kaiser, and the dominoes fell. Who’s to blame? Hastings loves Barbara Tuchman’s 1962 classic The Guns of August but agrees that her verdict—everything got out of hand; it was no one’s fault—is passé. Hastings shows modest respect for the German school, which blames Germany; historian Sean McMeekin, who emphasizes Russia’s role; and even Niall Ferguson, who believes that Britain should have remained neutral. He concludes that national leaders (mediocrities all, with a few frank dimwits) focused with paranoid intensity on selfish interests, that stupidity trumped malevolence, and that German paranoia won by a nose. World War I historians deplore the slaughter at the Somme and Verdun, but these pale in comparison to the final months of 1914, when modern weapons mowed down armies who still marched in dense masses led by mounted officers with colors flying and bands playing. Readers accustomed to Hastings’ vivid battle descriptions, incisive anecdotes from all participants, and shrewd, often unsettling opinions will not be disappointed. Among the plethora of brilliant accounts of this period, this is one of the best. (21 maps; 40 pages of photos. First printing of 100,000. Author tour to New York, Washington, D.C., Boston, Chicago)

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FURIOUS COOL Richard Pryor and the World that Made Him

Henry, David ; Henry, Joe Algonquin (320 pp.) $25.95 | Nov. 5, 2013 978-1-61620-078-7

Biography of the comedic genius, anticipating the authors’ in-the-works film script on Pryor’s work and hard times. Pryor was a careful autobiographer, as witness the revelations in his popular concert films from the early 1980s. He was also a brilliant improviser and actor who would single-handedly “populate his stages with upward of eight or ten characters who he permitted to flirt with, mock, con, love, hate, enchant, and begat each other.” The Henry brothers, one a screenwriter, the other a music producer, do not add materially to what Pryor has told us about himself, except to note that his frequent protestations that he had quit drugs were lies. Indeed, on many matters, they rely too heavily on the memoirs of Pryor’s ever-patient friend Paul Mooney. What adds value to this book is the authors’ expert sociological constructions, some of which they do not follow as closely as they might have. For instance, it is a noteworthy observation (though not original to the Henrys) that Pryor, more than any other single source, may have brought the “N-word” into common usage in popular culture; they could have explored it more. Along the way, they venture useful notes on the influence of Dick Gregory, the frequent betrayals (including Pryor’s assumption that Mel Brooks was going to cast him as the sheriff in Blazing Saddles, a good bit of which Pryor wrote), and of course, Pryor’s incessant drinking, drug use and sad demise. The book is a touch slapdash at times—the spelling is Sandy Koufax, not “Kofax”; someone from Wales is Welsh, not “Welch”; Moms Mabley never worked a room clean if she could help it—but it’s mostly insightful and often entertaining all the same. A mixed bag but worth reading. Those who do will be inspired to give Pryor’s concert films fresh screenings.

depending on whether you’re John Steinbeck or not). These handpicked students, Hirsh tells us, are brilliant, but they’re not without quirks that at times make us feel like stranding them on a panga without a paddle. Some are smart-alecky, some nerdy, some neo-hippieish. All are there, as far as this book is concerned, to serve didactic roles toward the students’ project: namely, to tell healing stories about damaged places, “the places we live and know [that] have been scorched and destroyed.” Hirsh and his scientific colleagues tell stories with a hard nose about such things as speciation, the CAM cycle and the tragedy of the commons. Sometimes these tales afford great scientific insight into the nature of things: as for whales, for instance, “the average number of generations we have to go back in time before two individuals share a female ancestor is (most likely) equal to the number of breeding females in the population.” Sometimes the tales are as arid as the landscape, donnish and remedial (“An element, you’ll recall, is a kind of atom, placed on the periodic table according to the number of protons it has in its nucleus”). Sometimes the stories reveal the self-satisfied slipperiness of the academic mind (“Such compression makes certain deviations from facticity unavoidable”). Sometimes—but not often enough—they’re just right, as with one passage that contains a meaningful payoff in the line, “It’s a fucking sea cow.” A mixed bag that strives to blend science and literature, of some interest to aficionados of Baja and of popular science writing.

DREAMS OF OTHER WORLDS The Amazing Story of Unmanned Space Exploration Impey, Chris; Henry, Holly Princeton Univ. (432 pp.) $35.00 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-691-14753-6

Although less sexy than manned space travel, satellites, probes and landers have produced a scientific bonanza with more to come. Impey (Astronomy/Univ. of Arizona; How It Began: A Time-Traveler’s Guide to the Universe, 2012, etc.) and Henry (English/California State Univ., San Bernardino; Virginia Woolf and the Discourse of Science: The Aesthetics of Astronomy, 2003) team up for an enthusiastic account of a dozen programs. When the technologically primitive, glitch-prone Mariner 4 flew past Mars in 1965, sending back 21 grainy black-and-white photographs, the world exulted. Within a decade, two Viking landers settled on Mars, sending back far superior pictures and some unsettling news: Maybe there is life beyond Earth, but maybe not. Two Voyager craft, 35 years after their launch, are still returning data from far outside the solar system after passing close to Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Probes have visited comets, gathered their dust and returned to Earth. Readers aware that that the Hubble telescope produces vastly sharper pictures than terrestrial observatories will learn that other space telescopes named Spitzer, Chandra and Wilkinson produce even

TELLING OUR WAY TO THE SEA A Voyage of Discovery in the Sea of Cortez Hirsh, Aaron Farrar, Straus and Giroux (432 pp.) $30.00 | Aug. 6, 2013 978-0-374-27284-5

A look at what scientists do on their summer vacations, with hurricanes and sea cucumbers to break up the doldrums. For the last decade, Hirsh and his wife, biologists at the University of Colorado, have led a field institute on the central coast of Baja California, the one facing not the wild, cold Pacific but the comparatively quiet Gulf of California (or Sea of Cortez, 56

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better images due to their increased sensitivity to infrared, X-ray and microwave radiation blocked by the atmosphere. Countless readers are fascinated by the existence of planets around distant stars; the sprinkling turned up by Earth-based telescopes turned into an avalanche with the 2009 launch of the Kepler satellite. Few deny that manned space exploration is inevitable and that a great nation must lead the way; however, since Congress is unwilling to foot the bill, that great nation is likely to be China. The authors’ largely uncritical, gee-whiz approach is entirely appropriate since these programs were not only technological marvels, but produced dazzling, quantumleap discoveries. (16 color illustrations; 41 halftones; 13 line illustrations)

ALL IN ALL An Actor’s Life On and Off the Stage Keach, Stacy Lyons Press (256 pp.) $26.95 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-0-7627-9145-3

An actor’s autobiography that emphasizes the hard work more than the lush life. Not that the life Keach has led— including romances with some famous and talented women, most notably singer Judy Collins; a highprofile drug bust, trial and jail term in London in 1984; and quality time hanging with celebrities like John Huston, Orson Welles, Paul Newman and others—isn’t worthy of higher billing. But Keach, while sharing plenty of amusing anecdotes and interesting insights about his peers, doesn’t linger on those details. Instead, he takes us into the fertile mind of an intelligent, envelope-pushing artist of stage, screen and any other format where actors ply their trade, and he methodically (and with charming immodesty) lays down the outline of his amazing career, examining the thoughts behind the choices that shaped it. That may sound dull to the average nonactor, but the career in question belongs to one of America’s most talented classically trained actors who has played the most significant roles of Shakespeare—Hamlet, Richard III, Lear and Falstaff (once as a young actor in a fat suit and again 40 years later under the weight of life fully lived)—almost always to great acclaim. While pursuing his first love of theater (from classical to experimental), he also pushed himself to take risky roles in film (memorably in End of the Road, The New Centurions, Fat City, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean and American History X, to name a very few) and developed indelible, often hard-boiled characters for TV (including Mike Hammer for CBS and Ken Titus on the short-lived Fox sitcom Titus). Nonactors should find this relatively short, fast-moving memoir a pleasure to read, but drama, media and film students will find Keach’s insights invaluable, particularly his coda (“Curtain Call”), which shares the fundamentals learned over a lifetime of honing his craft.

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SYDNEY AND VIOLET Their Life with T.S. Eliot, Proust, Joyce and the Excruciatingly Irascible Wyndham Lewis Klaidman, Stephen Talese/Doubleday (320 pp.) $27.95 | Sep. 3, 2013 978-0-385-53409-3

An engaging account of an author and his editor wife who may be obscure even to critics of modernist literature. Here is a biography in which the supporting cast generates most of the interest. Klaidman (Coronary: A True Story of Medicine Gone Awry, 2007, etc.) recognizes that it was a challenge proposing such a book when “only a small number of scholars and aficionados of the modern period had ever heard of the Schiffs.” Yet Sydney and Violet Schiff were wellknown to the likes of Proust, Eliot, Joyce and Picasso, with whom they socialized and corresponded. They hosted a literary salon, and they served as patrons of the arts. They were also literary figures themselves, he the author and she his editor of A True Story, a Proustian series of autobiographical novels that were praised at the time by their famous friends but have since succumbed to obscurity. It isn’t necessarily Klaidman’s intent to generate interest in work he believes has been unjustly neglected, but to explore the literary London of a century ago—when it was “the undisputed capital of the literary world…the baptismal font of modernism”—through the experiences and particularly the letters of a couple in the midst of its social swirl. Some dismissed them as “rich poseurs” and “fawning acolytes” (particularly toward Proust), while Eliot once wrote after a visit that they were “very nice Jews.” The book builds toward the savage skewering of the Schiffs by Wyndham Lewis, a painter who had accepted both their friendship and their money, in his novel The Apes of the Gods, “published in 1930 and…almost immediately forgotten because most of it is hopelessly obscure unless you are intimately familiar with the lives of the real people who were its hapless targets.” Few readers will be, though they’ll know more about the Schiffs after finishing this book than almost anyone knew before. An enjoyable extended footnote to the lives of the better known.

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“A vivid depiction of full-tilt folly that is sure to have its narcissistic cast poring through it for their own names.” from this town

THIS TOWN Two Parties and a Funeral— Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking!—in America’s Gilded Capital Leibovich, Mark Blue Rider Press (400 pp.) $27.95 | Jul. 16, 2013 978-0-399-16130-8

What happens when a Washington political journalist stops being polite and

starts getting real? If you read the metacoverage, you would think all hell had broken loose in the aftermath of this Beltway tell-all by Leibovich, the chief national correspondent for the New York Times Magazine. In the light of day, his observations on the state of the capitol scene aren’t nearly as scathing as has been reported, nor as morbidly salacious as the infamous Game Change (which perversely earns its own chapter here). In fact, this amalgam of embedded reporting and cutting humor is largely a fascinating read devoted not just to the movers and shakers, but also to the machinery that makes the broken clockwork sort-of work. Leibovich captures all of his salient theses—the rise of new media, the immovable entrenchment of the Washington establishment dubbed “The Club,” and a portrait of “the modern cinematic version” of “Suck-up City,” warts and all. And when the author goes off-book, he can be startlingly funny. In the wake of the BP oil spill, he writes, “Washington becomes a determinedly bipartisan team when there is money to be made—sorry, I mean a hopeful exemplar of Americans pulling together in a time of crisis.” Moreover, his portraits of figures ranging from fellow journalists to socialites to the president are disarmingly candid. Harry Reid is portrayed as a former street fighter–turned-fixer. A scathing indictment of the system comes in the story of Kurt Bardella, an ambitious congressional aide who rises and falls and rises again. A kid from Rolling Stone brings down a U.S. Army general. From the elections to the absurdity of TV news, this litany of socialites, power brokers and fallen icons makes for a hell of a read while Rome burns. A vivid depiction of full-tilt folly that is sure to have its narcissistic cast poring through it for their own names.

and dapper father, who, as Mailer wrote, “had the gift of speaking to each woman as if she was the most important woman he’d ever spoken to.” Mailer himself was fairly obsessed with women, though his quest was often thwarted—as he recalled, particularly at Harvard, where he served something of an apprenticeship. Mailer came into adulthood with a noticeable chip on his shoulder and some well-aired grievances, and he kept the pattern up throughout a long and productive life. As Advertisements for Myself (1959) proclaimed, for instance, he maintained running feuds and rivalries with all manner of writers—and, as Lennon reveals, even took Ernest Hemingway by the horns, occasioning an apology from Papa some years later. He also battled editors and critics from the start, though Hemingway helpfully instructed on the matter of reviews, “Try for Christ sake not to worry about it so much. All that is poison.” Lennon ably reveals the always-contentious Mailer but also a man who could be generous and very smart. Lennon is also a shrewd literary critic, commenting on the origins and fortunes of Mailer’s works, notably his study of Marilyn Monroe, which laid bare “his narcissism, born of early spectacular success.” Mailer possessed an outsized ego well before then, of course, but the point remains: Though he seems to be little read now, Mailer was of central importance in postwar American writing, as he would have been glad to tell you. Detailed and anecdotal without being gossipy (a yarn concerning a nicotine-addicted cat notwithstanding) and a must-read for students and admirers of Mailer’s work.

COUNTRYMEN

Lidegaard, Bo Translated by Maass, Rob Knopf (432 pp.) $28.95 | Sep. 20, 2013 978-0-385-35015-0 How a Danish national “we” kept the Nazis at bay—and largely saved its Jewish population. In this passionately argued study, former Politiken editor in chief Lidegaard (Defiant Diplomacy, 2003, etc.) takes on the complicated creation of the “model protectorate” and discusses why Denmark was able to resist Nazi actions against their Jews when other occupied countries could not. The author combines fine research with specific examples of Jewish families—e.g., pediatrician Adolph Meyer and his children, as they were affected by the events that played out between April 9, 1940, with the abrupt and total occupation of the country by Nazi Germany, through the action taken against the Jews on October 1, 1943. With King Christian X’s decision not to resist the Nazi assault, Denmark entered a “peaceful occupation,” surrendering the export of its substantial agricultural production to Germany in exchange for upholding its neutrality and regard for constitutional democracy. It was an “unparalleled” arrangement, especially regarding the status of the Jews, protected as citizens under Danish law. A move against the Jews, Christian and

NORMAN MAILER A Double Life

Lennon, J. Michael Simon & Schuster (928 pp.) $40.00 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-1-4391-5019-1

Appropriately sprawling biography of the larger-than-life writer, brawler, provocateur and bon vivant. Norman Mailer (1923–2007), writes archivist and authorized biographer Lennon, grew up in a reasonably happy family, with a strong mother 58

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others had warned, would be seen as an abuse of Nazi power and stir trouble into this working cooperation. Early on, readers may feel they are being fed a dreamy tale of Danish exceptionalism, but Lidegaard meticulously pieces together the myriad facets to this incredible story, including Hitler’s special envoy in Denmark, Werner Best, a committed Nazi who managed to play it both ways until the order for a Jewish action could no longer be delayed; Sweden’s open-door policy toward the Danish refugees; and the enterprising Jewish families who quickly had to go into hiding, relying on a goodwill network of friends and fishermen to shuttle them to safety in Sweden. A fascinating story about how the “Danish Jews were protected by their compatriots’ consistent engagement.”

THE STORY OF THE HUMAN BODY Evolution, Health, and Disease

Lieberman, Daniel E. Pantheon (480 pp.) $27.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-307-37941-2

Six million years of biological evolution have produced a human body illadapted to the diets and lifestyles that cultural evolution has wrought since modern humans emerged. That is the core message of this massive review of where we came from and what ails us now. Lieberman (Human Evolutionary Biology/Harvard Univ.; The Evolution of the Human Head, 2011, etc.) writes authoritatively about the fossil record, crediting bipedalism as the driver that freed hands to learn new skills, enabled foraging for diverse diets and chasing prey, and ultimately built bigger brains. In time, humans spread across the globe in hunter-gatherer groups. Thus we remained until the agricultural and industrial revolutions spurred population growth, changed diets, and introduced new infectious and chronic diseases—while little altering our hunter-gatherer anatomy and physiology. Lieberman examines energy balance—calories taken in vs. calories expended—and good shape. Analyzing today’s creature comforts, processed food (with addictive amounts of sugar, salt and fat) and lack of exercise, it is no wonder we are seeing rises in obesity and risks for heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and the like. Lieberman calls these diseases of “mismatch” (of biological evolution and culture) and medicine’s emphasis on treating symptoms, “dysevolution,” which means perpetuating the diseases instead of preventing them. The repeated emphasis on all the bad things humans do is wearying. By no means does Lieberman discount all the good that modern society has achieved, but that message is nearly drowned by the constant admonition to do right by your body. Alas, he is the first to admit that changing human behavior is notoriously hard. At best, he offers a “soft paternalism”—e.g., government controls of children’s environments (more physical education and better lunches) and taxing the unhealthy choices of adults. |

Readers have likely heard this song before but perhaps not so exhaustively and well-referenced as in Lieberman’s opus. Would that industry and governments take heed.

SOCIAL Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect

Lieberman, Matthew D. Crown (288 pp.) $26.00 | Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-307-88909-6

Lieberman (Psychology, Psychiatry, and Biobehavioral Sciences/UCLA) offers scientific evidence to counter the idea that the need to survive and reproduce is the fundamental driver of human behavior. The author rejects Abraham Maslow’s 1943 formulation of a hierarchy of needs stacked in a pyramid, suggesting that the pyramid is upside down. Physiological needs and safety are at the bottom, followed by social needs and esteem, which Lieberman describes as “the extra scoops of ice cream” and “cherry on top.” He shows countervailing evidence, amassed over the past two decades, that shows social needs to be as basic as their physiological counterparts. Using MRI, the author and his associates have identified a separate area of the brain in which social cognition occurs. It is activated when we “think about other people’s minds…[and] promotes understanding and empathy, cooperation, and consideration.” Along with the capacity for empathy provided by mirror neurons, which we share with other species, it is the part of the brain that we use when we think “about the social world and our place in it.” It also allows us to function effectively in the larger social groups that are typical of human societies, as compared to other primates, and to function collectively in more complex ways. Mammalian young depend on a caretaker from the moment of their birth in order to survive. “Our need for connection is the bedrock upon which the others are built,” writes the author. Empathy, love and our need for social connections follow. A fascinating explanation of why “a broken heart can feel as painful as a broken leg” and social recognition is frequently prized above money.

RANDOLPH CALDECOTT The Man Who Could Not Stop Drawing Marcus, Leonard S. Farrar, Straus and Giroux (70 pp.) $24.99 | Aug. 27, 2013 978-0-374-31025-7

Timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the Caldecott Medal, which honors excellence in picture-book illustration, a slender illustrated biography of its namesake. kirkus.com

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Though he created only 16 picture books for children in a sadly shortened but hugely productive career, Randolph Caldecott’s (1846–1886) name has become inextricably linked to the form. Children’s literature expert Marcus (Listening for Madeleine: A Portrait of Madeleine L’Engle in Many Voices, 2012, etc.) sketches his life swiftly but surely, introducing readers to a likable, hardworking professional. A sickly boy, Caldecott entered the workforce in 1861 at 15 as a clerk in a village bank—a job that left plenty of time for the young man to draw. He sold his first drawing before he turned 16, to a London newspaper. By 26, he was able to move to London to make his living as an illustrator; six years later, eager for a new challenge, he began to apply his talent to picture books. Though not a picture book itself, Marcus’ book has the dimensions of a generously sized one. Caldecott’s sketches, drawings and full-color picture-book illustrations appear throughout, as do other contemporary images that provide context. Carefully selected quotations bear witness to the artist’s signature wit. The pages are of a thick, creamy stock that gives both text (set in a large, comfortingly antique-looking typeface) and illustrations a pleasing richness. Marcus provides a cogent analysis of the ways Caldecott revolutionized storytelling with pictures, creating a visual narrative that expanded on the written text and utilizing pacing and page turns to guide readers through the story. While it’s a shame that some of the images referenced are not reproduced in the book, the copious examples that do appear attest to the artist’s humor and growth. A worthy illustrated tribute to the man who arguably invented the modern picture book.

in detail by countless literary scholars, though he spends much of the text taking readers (rather haphazardly) through some of the major themes of Auden’s poetry. If anything, though, the book could best be called an argument for Auden, a defense of his work, and a simple case for people to continue to pay attention to this particular writer. As McCall Smith writes early on, “I believe that reading the work of W.H. Auden may make a difference to one’s life.” A lovely yet overstretched article or essay topic; there’s earnest enthusiasm aplenty but not enough else to support a full book.

WAR PLAY Video Games and the Future of Armed Conflict

Mead, Corey Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (208 pp.) $25.00 | Sep. 17, 2013 978-0-544-03156-2

A surprisingly profound little book about the rise of the “military-entertainment complex” in the wake of America’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Always on the lookout for capable recruits from diverse backgrounds, the military has long exerted a strong influence on the way the United States educates its young people and even on the way it measures that education: Standardized tests like the SAT and GED are just two major examples of metrics the military developed first to assess the capabilities of, respectively, officer material and recruits lacking a high school diploma. But with the rise of the all-volunteer Army since Vietnam, the military suddenly found itself on the outside of many school districts, looking in. In the late 1990s, the Army hit upon the idea of using relatively inexpensive-to-produce video games, resulting in the hugely popular multiplayer online simulation “America’s Army”, to reach talented high schoolers where they lived (literally as well as virtually). The benefit of this approach was that it could both attract good candidates for the Army’s hightech style of combat using realistic and exciting graphics and simultaneously train these young recruits in core Army values. Paradoxically, perhaps, the military now also uses video games to deal with the myriad mental and social problems—PTSD, suicidal tendencies, marital and family difficulties, etc.—that combat-tested veterans face when they return from war. In fact, Mead (English/Baruch College, CUNY) argues, “[t]he most important video game–related legacy of these wars may have nothing to do with preparing for war at all but be concerned with treating its aftermath.” An English professor may seem an odd fit for this material, but in other hands, the subject might have been treated more dryly. Mead’s approach, while remaining interesting throughout, is straightforward and no-nonsense. Readers will learn something they didn’t realize it was important to know. (8-page b/w insert)

WHAT W.H. AUDEN CAN DO FOR YOU

McCall Smith, Alexander Princeton Univ. (144 pp.) $19.95 | Oct. 22, 2013 978-0-691-14473-3

A beloved author waxes poetic on an unlikely muse: the poet W.H. Auden. Poetry probably isn’t the first word to come to mind when thinking about McCall Smith’s work. A lawyer by training (and the author of Botswana’s only published legal text), he is best known for his wildly popular commercial mystery series, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. However, as he reveals in this slim, category-defying volume, Auden has had a profound impact not only on McCall Smith’s work, but his life as a whole. His succinct ode to the celebrated British poet is not a memoir, though he includes a few moments from his own life—e.g., how he discovered Auden as a student in Belfast and how he began to understand him reading Bucolics on the Hebrides off the coast of Scotland. Nor is the book a biography, though there are some charming details about Auden’s life as well—one particular story about his atrocious housekeeping skills is impossible to forget. McCall Smith is adamant that the book should not be read as criticism, as Auden’s body of work has been analyzed 60

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“Imagined lives and moral ideals are central themes in this revisionist history of the novel.” from the lives of the novel

RED FORTRESS History and Illusion in the Kremlin

Merridale, Catherine Metropolitan/Henry Holt (528 pp.) $35.00 | Nov. 12, 2013 978-0-8050-8680-5

Comprehensive study of Moscow’s walled city, for centuries a byword for power, secrecy and cruelty. “The Kremlin’s history is a tale of survival, and it is certainly an epic, but there is nothing inevitable about any of it.” So writes Merridale (Contemporary History/ Queen Mary Univ. of London), author of the excellent Ivan’s War: Life and Death in the Red Army, 1939–1945 (2006), casting subtle doubt on the claims of the Putin government and its assertions of imperial destiny. Glorifying the past, of course, is a way to take eyes off the present, though the stratagem can sometimes backfire. What is of central importance to the history of the Kremlin and, by extension, that of Russia, is the capacity of its builders to return time and again to scenes of utter destruction and start from scratch. Or not quite from scratch, since, as Merridale notes at the close of her book, Russians were recently delighted to learn that the workmen who had been ordered to destroy the Kremlin’s Orthodox religious icons in the 1930s had defied Stalin’s orders and instead painted them over; and so skillfully that the paint can (comparatively, anyway) easily be removed and the icons restored. Stalin naturally figures heavily in these pages, a ruler whose apparatus was extremely effective in delivering cruelty. What is just as interesting, and perhaps surprising to most readers, is the role of non-Russians in making the Kremlin over the centuries, from a Venetian master builder to German craftsmen fleeing the religious wars of their homeland—to say nothing of the Byzantine hierarchy to whom Russian religious leaders used to answer. Russian visitors and social historians alike will benefit from Merridale’s thoroughgoing research and lively writing.

DEAR LUPIN Letters to a Wayward Son

Mortimer, Roger; Mortimer, Charlie Dunne/St. Martin’s (192 pp.) $22.99 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-250-03851-7

Epistolary commentary from a father to his son. Starting in 1967 and covering a span of more than 20 years, Mortimer reproduces the correspondence his father, Roger, sent to him throughout his life. These letters, along with brief explanations of the circumstances or context of each letter by the son, provide “humorous insight into the life of a mildly dysfunctional English middle-class family in the 1960s, |

1970s and 1980.” There’s the mother, aka Nidnod, who loves to fox hunt, drink and entertain; the author’s older sister, Jane, aka Miss Cod-Cutlet; the younger sister, Louise, aka Lumpy Lou; and a host of other characters who ramble in and out of Mortimer’s letters. The father frequently reflects on his son’s inability to hold a steady job and ponders when he will ever amount to anything; the son even admits his “endless shortcomings, failures, disasters and general inability to live up to the high hopes and aspirations” his parents had for him. Dogs and horses abound, in the field and underfoot, as well as commentary on the latest horrible accident to occur in the neighborhood. Typical letters include reflections on the weather, and other themes include the lack of money, the exorbitant amount on the phone bill and the high cost of eating out. Droll humor abounds, as when the father describes one woman’s work on the index of his forthcoming book: “[N]o sober individual could have done such a lamentable job. I have just sent in a note of protest that will ruffle a few feathers (I hope).” The author makes many references to British people in high society, which American readers may find difficult to follow. A brief glossary of British terms for an American edition would have been useful. Entertaining letters that reflect genuine concern and love despite the rarely taken advice.

THE LIVES OF THE NOVEL A History Pavel, Thomas G. Princeton Univ. (360 pp.) $35.00 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-691-12189-5

Imagined lives and moral ideals are central themes in this revisionist history of the novel. Pavel (French, Comparative Literature, and Social Thought/Univ. of Chicago; The Spell of Language: Poststructuralism and Speculation, 2001, etc.) traces the development of the novel from ancient Greece to the mid-20th century, with a swift glance at contemporary fiction—an ambitious project for barely 300 pages. Unlike historians who believe the novel progressed in a linear trajectory from its origins in the 17th century, Pavel sees it as an organic form with ancient roots, in which patterns emerge, disappear, recur and evolve. His title has a double meaning: “Lives” refers both to the vitality and variety of the genre and to the lives of fictional characters. Examining a generous selection of mostly Western European and British writers, Pavel identifies a tension between what he calls idealist narratives, in which virtuous characters behave admirably, and anti-idealist narratives, which censure or mock human behavior and feature rogues, tricksters or villains. Within these two types of narratives, the author points out three personality types: “strong souls, sensitive hearts, or enigmatic psyches.” Strong souls, guided by providence, battle adversity to live up to ideals of piety, valor and love. Sensitive hearts, often isolated from their community, find their moral compass within themselves. Enigmatic psyches struggle, and kirkus.com

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“Funny, engaging first-person account of the making of The Room, ‘the Citizen Kane of bad movies.’ ” from the disaster artist

LAST OF THE BLUE AND GRAY Old Men, Stolen Glory, and the Mystery that Outlived the Civil War

sometimes fail, to understand their own desires and emotions. Pavel marshals evidence from works that he considers the finest examples of fiction from such writers as Heliodorus, Cervantes, Balzac, Defoe, Dickens, Dostoevsky, Fielding and Flaubert. Women writers and Americans make only brief appearances. Despite its Eurocentric focus, Pavel’s study raises questions that can enrich readings of a wide range of fiction: What does it mean to live a virtuous life? How can humans achieve justice? What is an individual’s responsibility to the community? To what extent is self-knowledge possible? These enduring questions infuse this erudite, elegantly written history with passion and urgency.

Serrano, Richard A. Smithsonian Books (232 pp.) $27.95 | Oct. 8, 2013 978-1-58834-395-6

A Civil War story only for those who can’t get enough of the War Between the States. Serrano (One of Ours: Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing, 1998) proposes to tell the stories of two men, one of whom probably never served as a soldier. “One of them was a soldier, but one,” writes the author, “according to the best evidence, was a fake. One of them had been living a great big lie.” The run-up to the centennial in 1961 brought attention to those who still survived. Albert Woolson (1847–1956) was a drummer boy with the 1st Minnesota Heavy Artillery, and Walter Williams foraged for “cattle, fresh crops, and anything else to eat” for John Bell Hood’s Texas Brigade. Woolson was quick with tales of his war experiences, and, as often happens with old men, his stories tended to change. He was active in the Grand Army of the Republic’s reunions, or encampments, which continued intermittently until 1949 (the organization was disbanded upon Woolson’s death in 1956). Williams, on the other hand, never talked much about his short enlistment. He was more cowboy than Confederate and preferred talking about his days herding cattle on the Chisholm Trail. These two men were the last veterans of their respective sides, but there’s not a lot to tell. The author goes into detail about their last years and all that goes with aging: fighting for pensions, deafness, blindness, toothlessness, general deterioration and the process of dying. As the narrative progresses, Serrano sprinkles in stories of the other last few living soldiers of the Civil War, a tactic that merely bulks up the page count. Serrano’s an adequate writer, and the story could have been a decent long-form magazine article. As a book, however, there is just too much mystery-free filler. (10 b/w photos)

GRAIN BRAIN The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar— Your Brain’s Silent Killers Perlmutter, David with Loberg, Kristin Little, Brown (320 pp.) $27.00 | Sep. 17, 2013 978-0-316-23480-1

“Gluten is our generation’s tobacco,” argues Perlmutter (Power Up Your Brain, 2012, etc.), whose credentials as a boardcertified neurologist and American College of Nutrition Fellow make him a uniquely qualified voice in the debate about which foods are best for the brain and body. Gluten, most commonly found in wheat products, plays a significant role in pernicious health issues relating to the brain. Bucking the mainstream notion that fat and cholesterol lead to poor health, the author proposes that the carbohydrate-laden foods that form the staple of many diets may cause brain problems as diverse as migraines, ADHD, Parkinson’s, depression, anxiety and more. In addition, he provides ample evidence to suggest that diabetes, a disease already linked to the high sugar content of carbs, doubles the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Gluten, not cholesterol, activates damaging chemical chain reactions which can result in inflammation and leave the brain and heart vulnerable to dysfunction and disease—even if an individual has no gastrointestinal sensitivity to gluten. Importantly, Perlmutter stresses that brain damage need not be permanent. A few simple lifestyle changes, he argues, can dramatically reduce the risk for debilitating brain diseases in the future, without the need for any kind of prescription medication. This “genetic reprogramming” is possible at any age, and its side effects include weight loss and increased energy levels in addition to brain health. Alongside numerous professional anecdotes detailing the successes of a diet without carbs but with omega-3 fats, the author provides abundant lists of “good” and “bad” foods, a 30-day plan of action that includes suggested meals, and a slate of gluten-free recipes. A galvanizing call to arms against a gluten-heavy diet.

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THE DISASTER ARTIST My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made

Sestero, Greg; Bissell, Tom Simon & Schuster (288 pp.) $25.99 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4516-6119-4

Funny, engaging first-person account of the making of The Room (2003), “the Citizen Kane of bad movies.” French-American actor Sestero collaborates with acclaimed author Bissell (Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creation, 2012, etc.), producing a deft, energetic narrative as concerned with |


the romantic American obsession with celebrity as with his trying involvement with The Room and its notorious producer/ director/writer/star, Tommy Wiseau. Wiseau dominates his bewildering, unintentionally hilarious film, so Sestero’s focus on trying to understand his friend’s baffling background and motivations gives the story of their relationship surprising depth, even though Wiseau comes off as creepy, self-centered and socially inept (though often bighearted and generous toward the youthful Sestero, possibly his only friend). The narrative follows two strands, one beginning with their 1998 meeting in an acting class where Wiseau presented “beautifully, chaotically wrong performances,” and the other covering The Room’s production, for which Sestero served as both line producer and (at the last minute) as a replacement actor in a key role. Fans of the film will be pleased to learn that making it was an equally punishing and surreal experience, as the manipulative, confusing Wiseau’s relations with the cast were “disastrously intemperate.” Yet, Wiseau spent so much of his own money that a major Hollywood equipment supplier felt compelled to aid him through the production, even as crew members routinely quit in dismay. Sestero now seems mystified by his willingness to spend time on “Tommy’s Planet,” having wrongly assumed that Wiseau’s vanity project would never reach completion. However, he argues that for all Wiseau’s flaws, their friendship provided his abashed younger self with needed inspiration: “He was simply magically uninhibited.” Sestero critiques the movie as Tommy’s “dream life in line with what he thought an American would want.” This may explain why his objectively terrible film nonetheless struck a chord, although the narrative does not explore its cult afterlife, ending abruptly at the film’s premiere. An improbably resonant tale of warped creativity and friendship.

THOMAS JEFFERSON’S QUR’AN Islam and the Founders

Spellberg, Denise A. Knopf (416 pp.) $27.95 | Oct. 4, 2013 978-0-307-26822-8

The intriguing story of Thomas Jefferson and his reading of the holy book of Islam. Spellberg (History and Middle Eastern Studies/Univ. of Texas; Politics, Gender, and the Islamic Past: The Legacy of Aisha bint Abi Bakr, 1994, etc.) is straightforward about Jefferson’s numerous contradictions of thought throughout his political career. On one hand, the cosmopolitan bibliophile purchased George Sale’s translation of the Quran more than a decade before he wrote the Declaration of Independence, examining it carefully as he formulated his thoughts on religious freedom in the new nation. On the other hand, Jefferson “remained rather tenaciously a man of his times,” carrying the biases of his day about Muslims (and slaves). In this fascinating and timely study, Spellberg exposes the early American |

views about Muslims. While the early Americans inherited many biases from Europe, others intimately acquainted with religious persecution, like Roger Williams, embraced a view of “liberty of conscience” that logically had to tolerate the views of all religions—Jews, Catholics and Muslims alike. Jefferson, whose great Enlightenment hero was John Locke, drew on Locke’s seminal A Letter Concerning Toleration as he refined his ideas about toleration for non-Anglican Protestants in the Virginia Commonwealth. Judiciously, he urged for religious toleration of dissenters to keep them from fomenting “seditious conspiracies.” Spellberg reveals Jefferson’s tortuous thought processes regarding religious freedom, as he could not envision how the “universal” legislation regarding liberty of conscience could extend to the West African slaves, who happened to be the only Muslims in America at the time. The victim of a presidential smear campaign, Jefferson recognized personally the danger in hurtful rhetoric about the “infidel.” Meticulous research and a well-structured text combine in this important study of the early American political leaders and their convictions regarding religious and social tolerance. (12 photos)

THE DOWNFALL OF MONEY Germany’s Hyperinflation and the Destruction of the Middle Class

Taylor, Frederick Bloomsbury (432 pp.) $30.00 | Sep. 17, 2013 978-1-62040-236-8

A well-organized, fast-moving political narrative situating the absolute breakdown of Germany’s currency in 1923 in the double context of the international drive for World War I reparations and the violent effects of internal political extremism. Royal Historical Society fellow Taylor (Exorcising Hitler: The Occupation and Denazification of Germany, 2011, etc.) examines the historical span from the overthrow of the “once unshakeable representatives of the monarchical state” in November 1918 to the end of 1923 at the height of the crisis. The introduction of the “fixed-value Rentenmark” in November 1923 was followed rapidly by the beginning of new negotiations on reparations and apparent stability. Early on, Taylor identifies the major players in his drama. First, Erich Ludendorff, and his military associates, who seized on Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points and launched their campaign against the betrayal of the armistice and the “stab-in-the-back” of the Versailles Treaty. Then, the author examines extremists of right and left, out of which the Nazis emerged. The former organized armed units under Ludendorff and assassinated leaders like Matthias Erzberger and Walther Rathenau, whom they associated with the Versailles sellout. The latter took to the streets and organized military units for Soviet-style revolution. Meanwhile, the Allies maintained their embargo on German food supplies and other kirkus.com

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“An extraordinary glimpse into a pivotal epoch in Western history.” from the rainborowes

ALL GOOD THINGS From Paris to Tahiti: Life and Longing

trade until they were satisfied that reparations were forthcoming. Against this backdrop, Taylor methodically traces the fall of the currency and growth of the debt. By November 1923, a loaf of bread could be bought for 140 billion marks, and the middle class was left with next to nothing. Tax reforms and collections, social welfare cuts, impoverishment of students and government workers all played their part. Taylor’s history provides plenty of relevant lessons for today—and not only for Europe.

Turnbull, Sarah Gotham Books (336 pp.) $26.00 | Sep. 16, 2013 978-1-59240-868-9

A lushly described account of daily life in Tahiti from an outsider’s perspective. Turnbull (Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris, 2003) and her husband, who brought them to Tahiti from Paris for a work assignment, socialized, worked, traveled and ultimately made a home for themselves in a place many consider to be solely a vacation destination. As an Australian with a French husband, and given Tahiti’s complicated history with France, the author is admirably sensitive to cultural differences. Her portrayal of the islands and their people isn’t romanticized or naïve; she is cleareyed about the negative aspects of her life there. Her neighbors and friends are people, not exotic props, and she develops genuine connections to them. Another thread of the narrative is the author’s infertility and ultimately successful attempt to conceive through in vitro fertilization. As important as the medical journey is her emotional one: Though she had undergone the process in France and had given up on pregnancy, a remark from her therapist motivated her to try again. Her description of a harrowing accident that befell her son is all the more poignant since we know that he was the result of a “precious pregnancy.” All of her experiences—her daily swim in the lagoon, a walk through the local (and only) town or the exhilaration of snorkeling—are richly rendered in expressive language. The book is frank and personal, and at times, it feels like reading the author’s diary. This is also a drawback, however; though it is well-written and edited, there is little sense of pacing or balance. A sensitive, mostly enjoyable memoir of making a life on Tahiti.

THE RAINBOROWES One Family’s Quest to Build a New England

Tinniswood, Adrian Basic (352 pp.) $28.99 | Sep. 10, 2013 978-0-465-02300-4

A marvelously rendered tale of how one extended family helped shape, and was shaped by, the England and New England of the 1600s. Intrepid seaman William Rainborowe was the patriarch of a family that, though not a household name, went on to have a definitive impact on the founding of Puritan New England and on the English civil war. Tinniswood (Pirates of Barbary: Corsairs, Conquests and Captivity in the Seventeenth-Century Mediterranean, 2010, etc.) chronicles the Rainborowe family history with both the loving care of a true historian and the wit and candor of a storyteller. His work is both a contribution to historical research and a window for the public into the 17th century. William Rainborowe battled piracy around Morocco and in the British Isles while also becoming a wealthy merchant and adviser to the government in naval affairs. Members of his Puritan family would settle in the Boston area in the Great Migration of the 1630s. Some would go on to crisscross the Atlantic again in search of commercial success or in order to take part in English politics. One daughter, Martha, would become the wife of John Winthrop, governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Her brothers Thomas and William Junior were destined to be leading figures in the English civil war. In a story spanning three continents, nearly half a century and dozens of lives, Tinniswood ably keeps readers’ focus. His ability to weave the Rainborowe family tale into the larger tapestry of English and New England history will be appreciated by amateur and professional historians alike. In the end, it is easy for readers to agree with the author’s assessment: “The Rainborowes mattered. Not only because every life matters, but also because they were there at a moment when the world changed. And they helped it to change.” An extraordinary glimpse into a pivotal epoch in Western history. (2 maps)

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FLOATING CITY A Rogue Sociologist Lost and Found in New York’s Underground Economy

Venkatesh, Sudhir Penguin Press (304 pp.) $27.95 | Sep. 16, 2013 978-1-59420-416-6

A well-known sociologist explores how the underground economy is dissolving racial and class barriers in an increasingly globalized New York City. Although Venkatesh (Sociology/Columbia Univ.; Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets, 2008, etc.) established his career via his penetrating studies of the Chicago underclass, he declares that in New York, a “new |


world of permeable borders beckoned [where] the criminal underworld interacts with the mainstream world to make the world of the future.” He notes that although the book grew out of research conducted since 1997 on sex workers and the underground economy in these cities, it is not strictly academic but also contains elements of memoir. After establishing his essential thesis about New York’s new permeability among ambitious residents willing to “float,” he delves into more specific social narratives, beginning with the lives of Indian video store workers and aging Hispanic prostitutes against the backdrop of Manhattan’s Giuliani-era gentrification. Venkatesh then moves on to a nuanced portrait of a Harlem cocaine dealer trying to decode the lucrative downtown (white) market (a section reminiscent of his previous book) and to the noirish lives of several women attempting to be successful as managers of upscale prostitutes. These women discussed the “large numbers of women [arriving] in New York with a surprising new openness to the idea of using sex work to supplement poorly paying straight jobs.” The author displays a piercing sense of empathy and ability to translate dry sociological principles into an understanding of the difficult lives of the urban poor. Less effective are his reveries on his own changing personal circumstances, which include divorce and the struggles of academic careerism, and his attempts to observe the feckless social and career rituals of Manhattan’s youthful upper class. Although the overall narrative is unwieldy and at times indulgent, Venkatesh has established a singular voice in urban sociology, and his immersive research and insights remain penetrating and unique. Will appeal to readers fascinated by the intersections of class, prosperity and crime.

THE ROAD TO BURGUNDY The Unlikely Story of an American Making Wine and a New Life in France

Walker, Ray Gotham Books (320 pp.) $26.00 | Jul. 15, 2013 978-1-59240-812-2

A family man recounts the improbable journey that made him a critically acclaimed winemaker in France. Walker never understood the fuss over the drink around which an entire culture and industry was built in his native California. It wasn’t until a trip to Italy on which he proposed to his wife, a grounded and supportive voice throughout the story, that he fell in love with a restaurant’s house wine. The experience turned him into a self-proclaimed wine geek who bought gadgets, joined online forums and desperately tried to enjoy Bordeaux. Upon accidentally discovering Burgundy wines at a store tasting, Walker and his wife promptly fell in love with this special wine that tasted like “something living and undisturbed in nature.” With a baby on the way, Walker quit his stifling job in finance to pursue his dream of making |

wine. Like the Burgundy monks of centuries past, he sought to shepherd grapes into wine that reflected terroir, instead of overemploying modern techniques. He gained a few months’ experience at small California wineries before contacting courtiers (grape brokers) and making two trips to Burgundy, the second of which landed him a deal for grapes from Chambertin, one of the world’s most sought-after vineyards, from which no American had ever produced. Walker acknowledges the somewhat miraculous nature of this event, given his inexperience and outsider status, with self-deprecating thrill. From here, the book shakes its initial navel-gazing drag and becomes far more engaging and educational as it acquires characters, plot and pace (even if the writing remains pedestrian). Through diligence and luck, Walker navigated the ins and outs of the local culture and wine business, raised money, protected his wines from the jealous sabotage of another winemaker, processed grapes from three harvests by himself and transferred the wine into caves in a literal race to the finish. An appealing success story and a wide-eyed homage to Burgundy.

WHAT THE DOG KNOWS The Science and Wonder of Working Dogs

Warren, Cat Touchstone/Simon & Schuster (352 pp.) $26.99 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4516-6731-8 How adopting a German shepherd puppy turned out to be life-changing for Warren (Science Journalism/North Carolina State Univ.). Having hoped that her new puppy would become a replacement for the companionship of a recently deceased dog, she was dismayed by the aggressive, rambunctious new addition, Solo, who could turn into an uncontrollable, snarling, biting “Tasmanian devil.” After two months, even though she was at her wits’ end, she didn’t want to give up on the puppy, who, despite it all, was “funny and charming” and clearly very intelligent. Warren appealed for help from the trainer who had worked with Solo’s predecessor. The trainer suggested that he had the makings of a cadaver dog, a working dog used to locate missing people presumed dead. His aggression could be channeled by the demands of the search and the rewards of success. For Warren, the task of training and handling became the “rare perfection of that human and canine partnership… [which entailed]...the intense physical and mental challenge of stripping a search to its essential elements.” Warren chronicles how she and Solo each learned their jobs so that they could become effective volunteer members of criminal investigations. She had to teach him to perfect his ability to assess odors but also to deal with electric fences, swim rivers and push through undergrowth while ignoring distractions. Her responsibility was to guide Solo, as he alerted her to being in the vicinity of a target, by judging the effects of intangibles kirkus.com

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“A lively, insightful account of FDR’s early years.” from young mr. roosevelt

YOUNG MR. ROOSEVELT FDR’s Introduction to War, Politics, and Life

such as wind and temperature. She also had to train herself to tolerate gruesome crime scenes and dangerous environments while maintaining Solo’s enthusiasm for the chase. Warren writes with verve and provides rare insight into our working partnership with canines. (24 b/w photos)

IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY How to Divorce Without Destroying Your Family or Bankrupting Yourself

Wasser, Laura St. Martin’s (320 pp.) $25.99 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-250-02978-2

A step-by-step guide to divorce. When a couple walks down the aisle to be joined in marriage, the last thing on their minds is divorce. Yet with divorce rates ever rising, it is important for couples to understand the legal ramifications if a breakup eventually occurs. With more than 20 years of expertise, especially with celebrity clients, divorce lawyer Wasser brings her considerable knowledge to the table and guides readers on the intricate process of separating from one’s spouse while minimizing the emotional and financial harm to each other or to any children in the picture. Using examples from her celebrity clients and her own life to illustrate her points, Wasser’s advice is relevant to samesex couples, mixed-race couples and heterosexual relationships. From the first moments of saying, “I want a divorce,” to the first moments of freedom, Wasser’s straightforward and sometimeshumorous advice is simple and easy to follow. She emphasizes the need for communication so that the dissolution of the relationship is amicable and fair and causes the least amount of damage to all parties. She particularly stresses the need for civility when children are involved; even though one parent may be divorcing the other, they will still have contact with each other through the life of the child. From finding a lawyer to separating the items in a household, through child support, custody schedules and paying for spousal support, Wasser’s recommendations are just the kind of advice men and women need. Brief lists at the end of each chapter help readers stay on track as they navigate the emotional, physical and financial circles of disconnecting and transitioning from one life-changing process to another. Practical and constructive information on breaking up a marriage.

Weintraub, Stanley Da Capo/Perseus (288 pp.) $25.99 | Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-306-82118-9

An account of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s (1882–1945) first few years in politics. FDR began his career in the shadow of Theodore Roosevelt, America’s most famous politician. By TR’s death in 1919, FDR was a fairly prominent national figure and the 1920 Democratic candidate for vice president. This is where veteran historian Weintraub (Pearl Harbor Christmas: A World at War, December 1941, 2011, etc.) ends this perceptive demi-biography of FDR’s political maturation under the eyes of two other great presidents. Barely related to Theodore (Eleanor was his niece), Franklin cashed in on his famous name but also worked hard in 1910 to win an upset victory and enter New York State’s legislature nearly 30 years after his namesake. He became popular among New York Democrats, and his defiance of Tammany Hall to support Woodrow Wilson in 1912 earned him appointment as assistant secretary of the Navy. Like TR, appointed to the same office in 1897, FDR took advantage of an easygoing boss to run the department with a pugnacious advocacy of naval expansion that made him a beloved figure in the service until the end of his life. The book is largely an account of his activities during eight years as an energetic member of the Woodrow Wilson administration, during which he refined the skills and met the men (and a few women) who figured in his own presidency. Weintraub does not ignore an unhappy Eleanor, rarely at his side, harassed with caring for six children and several large households and already suspicious of his wandering eye. Her political career did not blossom until the children were grown and FDR was in a wheelchair. A lively, insightful account of FDR’s early years. (25 b/w photos)

THE ART OF NEGOTIATION How to Improvise Agreement in a Chaotic World

Wheeler, Michael Simon & Schuster (304 pp.) $26.00 | Oct. 8, 2013 978-1-4516-9042-2

Wheeler (Harvard Business School/ Negotiation, 2003, etc.) distills his teaching experience and research in expanding methods of negotiation. The author writes that many negotiation tactics fail to “capture the complexity of real-world negotiation.” Old-fashioned hardball methods were undermined by the emphasis on first identifying and then building on mutual interests of those involved. Wheeler offers a dynamic approach that assumes 66

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interests will be identified and developed during negotiations, and he stresses that effective negotiations are based on the ability to extemporize and to master a flexible approach, permitting uncertainty to be managed effectively. “We can’t script the process,” he writes. “Whoever sits across the table from us may be just as smart, determined, and fallible as we are.” Wheeler begins with a three-part cycle based on the capacity to learn, adapt and influence, and he brings these abstractions to life by discussing classroom experiences designed to address the effectiveness of different ways of dealing with problems, using role-playing and other kinds of simulations and enactments. Wheeler also provides case studies from real estate transactions and other business ventures. He discusses how Don Schnabel acquired and assembled separate parcel lots into the most expensive lot in New York history, which became Citibank’s headquarters; and how Jerry Weintraub inveigled the movie stars who participated in the Oceans Eleven remake with him into a sequel by “stretching the truth.” Wheeler advocates planning, envisioning pathways to the endgame, and using both carrots and sticks, among other approaches. He also provides many examples and helpful stratagems for dealing with slights and belittlement, and he examines nonverbal and emotional behaviors. Throughout, he advocates looking below the surface for closure opportunities. For him, the OODA loop—observe, orient, decide, act—supplements learning, adapting and influencing. A fresh approach offering new ways to improve negotiating skills.

LINCOLN’S CITADEL The Civil War in Washington, DC

Winkle, Kenneth J. Norton (496 pp.) $27.95 | Aug. 19, 2013 978-0-393-08155-8

A skillful portrait of the nation’s capital as microcosm of a nation divided. When newly elected President Abraham Lincoln arrived in Washington, D.C., writes Winkle (History/Univ. of Nebraska; Abraham and Mary Lincoln, 2011, etc.), he came to a city that had a strong reputation as what one British abolitionist called “the chief seat of the American slave-trade.” Indeed, slavery persisted there even when Lincoln took office, and when, in December 1861, a Massachusetts congressman proposed its abolition, the debate dragged on for months as “opponents raised a sweep of objections.” The Confederacy, well aware that slave owners and sympathizers were abundant in the capital, longed to seize Washington; by the end of the war, under Lincoln’s orders, it was probably the most heavily fortified city in the world, ringed by dozens of forts and artillery emplacements—and even so, the target of Rebel forays. Lincoln’s experiment in siege craft did not have to be applied to other cities, but he tested other innovations there, including the suspension of habeas corpus and the use of federal troops to maintain order. Moreover, |

Winkle notes in a particularly timely passage, concerns for Lincoln’s safety were so pressing that federal officials embarked on a secret, not strictly legal program of spying on presumed opponents, potential assassins and other conspirators. Lincoln’s years in the city coincided, necessarily, with the establishment of the great national cemetery at Arlington and other hallowed sites in the capital, while he himself established certain protocols, such as visiting wounded soldiers in hospitals, in which he might have laid eyes on Louisa May Alcott and Walt Whitman. By the end of the war, Lincoln and his lieutenants had converted Washington from a sleepy Southern town into one that was “increasingly northern in outlook and character.” A deep-reaching study of a city in wartime, which Washingtonians and visitors, to say nothing of students of the Civil War, will find to be of great interest. (8 pages of illustrations)

MASTERMINDS AND WINGMEN Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, LockerRoom Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World

Wiseman, Rosalind Harmony (416 pp.) $25.00 | Sep. 10, 2013 978-0-307-98665-8

A how-to guide on raising boys. “Boys don’t demand our attention the way girls do,” writes Wiseman (Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and the New Realities of Girl World, 2009, etc.), but that does not mean they don’t need guidance just as much as girls. In fact, she writes, “[b]oys profoundly want strong, comforting, honorable adults who admit how messy life is.” Using scientific research and information gained directly from more than 150 boys, Wiseman examines the complex world of young men as they navigate school, the playground, locker room, playing fields and social arenas of modern life. Based on the concept that there are unwritten rules about how to “Act-Like-A-Man,” which affect every male child, Wiseman unravels how these conventions stop boys from expressing their emotions and asking for help. The author breaks typical boy behavior into a variety of groups, from the Mastermind to the Punching Bag, and helps parents figure out where their son fits. From there, she gives straightforward advice on how to converse with a boy so that a parent receives actual information, not sullen stares and rolling eyes. From lying to sneaking out of the house to proper manners to use of the computer, Wiseman’s sound and steady assistance provides a calm response to every twist and turn on the multifaceted road of parenthood. Especially important are the insights she presents on what to do when a boy discovers the roller coaster of emotions and desires involved in sexual situations, such as sexting, foreplay and sexual abuse. A wealth of sensible information for parents of boys. kirkus.com

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“An eclectic collection that reasserts the author’s reputation as one of America’s most perceptive, candid and humane critics.” from critical mass

CRITICAL MASS Four Decades of Essays, Reviews, Hand Grenades, and Hurrahs

THE XX FACTOR How the Rise of Working Women Has Created a Far Less Equal World

Wolcott, James Doubleday (512 pp.) $30.00 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-0-385-52779-8

Wolf, Alison Crown (416 pp.) $26.00 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-307-59040-4 978-0-307-59042-8 e-book

A veteran culture critic for Vanity Fair and other publications weighs in and waxes wise on TV, comedians, music, movies, books and writers. Wolcott, who has written a memoir (Lucking Out, 2011, etc.), a novel and a collection of political commentaries, is an unusually erudite critic who writes with considerable humor, compassion and empathy—though his toolkit includes a deadly straight razor, as well. After a brief introduction, he launches into the collection, which is almost entirely chronological within each section (there are a few exceptions). He begins with that classic TV flare-up between William F. Buckley Jr. and Gore Vidal in 1968, an event which he revisits more than 400 pages later in a lacerating review of Fred Kaplan’s biography of Vidal. One of Wolcott’s great strengths is his visual sense and his metaphorical power; something impressive appears on nearly every page. Johnny Carson was “the comedic virtuoso of the superego”; Parker Posy, “scarily thin… plunges blade-like into every scene”; Sam Peckinpah “seemed to have a hand grenade for a heart”; Joyce Carol Oates’ A Bloodsmoor Romance is “a speck of inspiration that somehow metamorphosed into a word-goop with a ravenous case of the eaties”; Truman Capote was “a debauched angel.” Hungry readers will gobble these phrases like Halloween candy. Throughout the collection, Wolcott reveals his admiration for the work of Norman Mailer; his ambivalence about Vidal; his disdain for Oates and Richard Ford; and his respect for Philip Larkin and James Garner. He deals frankly with the private lives of writers—the laundry of Mailer and Styron dangles in the open air—and there is a series of essays about the Amises, father and son, which reveals all their darks, lights and grays. An eclectic collection that reasserts the author’s reputation as one of America’s most perceptive, candid and humane critics.

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An exploration of the unforeseen consequences attached to women’s liberation. For a book about women to start with a Jane Austen anecdote is almost trite. For a book about inter- and intra-gender equality with an economic and educational focus to start with a Jane Austen quote is less expected. It is also a perfect way to illustrate the changes that have occurred in women’s lives in the two intervening centuries. Economist Wolf (Public Services Policy and Management/King’s Coll., London; Does Education Matter?, 2003) parlays her interest in the intersection of education and employment into a book exploring the effects of that intersection on gender gaps. She argues that the gap between genders has all but disappeared, while the gap between the educated and the less educated within each gender has widened considerably. The book is organized into two distinct sections. In the first part, Wolf focuses on women in the workforce; though it teems with interesting statistics and useful knowledge, the writing is often lackluster. The second part, however, in which the author discusses women at home—their sexual and familial habits and choices—is more compellingly written. Wolf ’s research is so extensive that general readers are unlikely to be able to follow up on even a small percentage of the materials she uses for support (she includes more than 800 notes at the end of the book). Though there is plenty to process, Wolf makes most of the information easily digestible. Some sections read like a textbook, with repetitive assertions and conclusions, but others are remarkably conversational. “The shore of Utopia is a hard place to reach; but today’s educated women, in developing and developed countries, are surely much closer to it than the overwhelming majority of their female ancestors,” she writes. Solid research and intriguing patterns make for a worthy, if sometimes difficult read. (graphs/figures throughout)

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children’s & teen THE SNOW QUEEN

These titles earned the Kirkus Star:

Andersen, Hans Christian Retold by Grace MacDonald Illus. by Ibatoulline, Bagram Harper/HarperCollins (40 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-06-220950-4

THE SNOW QUEEN by Hans Christian Andersen; retold by Grace MacDonald; illus. by Bagram Ibatoulline.......................................... 69 SERAFINA’S PROMISE by Ann E. Burg............................................. 73 THE ENCHANTER HEIR by Cinda Williams Chima.........................74 TRAIN by Elisha Cooper....................................................................... 75 MEET ME AT THE RIVER by Nina de Gramont.................................. 75 MITCHELL GOES BOWLING by Hallie Durand; illus. by Tony Fucile...............................................................................78 MY BASMATI BAT MITZVAH by Paula J. Freedman..........................81 WHEN CHARLEY MET GRAMPA by Amy Hest; illus. by Helen Oxenbury...................................................................... 88 LITTLE RED WRITING by Joan Holub; illus. by Melissa Sweet........ 89 HERE I AM by Patti Kim; illus. by Sonia Sánchez...............................91 LIVING WITH JACKIE CHAN by Jo Knowles................................... 92 PROMISE ME SOMETHING by Sara Kocek....................................... 92 AN EYE FOR ART by National Gallery of Art................................... 99

One of the great illustrators of our time takes on one of the knottier Andersen fairy tales, producing a gorgeous and winning result. MacDonald’s retelling hews closely to Andersen’s original in all its complexity but without its Christian allusions. It begins with a prologue: A wicked troll creates a mirror in which everything good looks hideous, and everything evil looks entrancing. The mirror breaks into millions of tiny pieces and pollutes the world. In winter, when Gerda’s grandmother tells the story of the Snow Queen to Gerda and her friend Kai, the window flies open, and Kai is pierced by a tiny shard of the troll mirror. He insults Gerda, dashes outside and is whisked away on his sled by the Snow Queen herself. Gerda does not believe he is dead and searches through many adventures and adversities to find and rescue him. Ibatoulline’s paintings are a wonder of form and color. On one spread, the icy queen wraps Kai completely in her blue and gray fur blanket; on the next, Gerda takes a boat on a sunlit river in a golden spring to find him. There are princesses and robbers, mysterious crows and talking reindeer. Ibatoulline renders the northern lights more exquisitely than any photograph. A deep subtext of love and loss, childhood and awakening, power and trust resonate through these pages at least as strongly as the magnificent images. (Picture book/fairy tale. 7-12)

PICTURE ME GONE by Meg Rosoff.................................................. 104

THE SURPRISE ATTACK OF JABBA THE PUPPETT

THE MAN WITH THE VIOLIN by Kathy Stinson; illus. by Dušan Petricic.......................................................................108

Angleberger, Tom Illus. by Angleberger, Tom Amulet/Abrams (224 pp.) $12.95 | Aug. 6, 2013 978-1-4197-0858-9 Series: Origami Yoda, 4

HIPPOMOBILE! by Jeff Tapia............................................................109 LOULA IS LEAVING FOR AFRICA by Anne Villeneuve................... 111 JUVIE by Steve Watkins..................................................................... 112 ALONE IN THE FOREST by Gita Wolf; Andrea Anastasio; illus. by Bhajju Shyam........................................................................ 113 BOXERS & SAINTS by Gene Luen Yang............................................114

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Dark times have descended on McQuarrie Middle School, and a rebel alliance is born…. The seventh-graders of MMS have little time to celebrate Dwight and Origami Yoda’s return from Tippett Academy before Principal Rabbski holds a special assembly to announce that since the school’s standardized test scores were so low,

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new classes for all students will begin immediately. FunTime classes consist of watching videos starring Professor FunTime and his singing calculator, Gizmo—with extra worksheets! What’s worse: FunTime classes take the place of electives such as art, chorus and band. The Origami Rebel Alliance hatches a plan to fail the test, sinking the school’s chance of meeting state standards, unless Principal Rabbski ends FunTime and returns electives to the curriculum. But Emperor Palpatine—as the kids think of Rabbski—won’t fall that easily! Tommy’s case file grows in Angleberger’s fourth doodle-filled paean to individuality, friendship and all things Star Wars. This book may not win any fans among school administrators, but those who have delighted in Tommy and his friends’ previous case files will be pleased. It’s not a great place to begin reading the series—start with the first—and readers be warned: This documents a battle, not the whole war, and ends with the words “To be continued” (“Way yes!” says Origami Yoda). Origami instructions are included (of course), and it’s otherwise chock-full of customarily quirky fun. (Graphic hybrid fiction. 8-12)

THE FORT THAT JACK BUILT

Ashburn, Boni Illus. by Helquist, Brett Abrams (32 pp.) $17.95 | Sep. 3, 2013 978-1-4197-0795-7

Small Jack makes a fort in the living room with a number of household items that the rest of his family needs back. The text moves to the rhythm of the familiar rhyme, resting on a repeated final line about the dog that “almost collapsed the fort that Jack built.” For Jack has built his fort with the dog’s leash, the pillows from upstairs, a pile of books and chairs belonging to other members of his family. First the dog tries to tug it down. Then Jack’s big sister takes back her chair, his brother takes back his whole pile of books, and his elder sister, wearing a very large bath towel, retrieves the shower curtain. And so on. Finally, though, Grandma finds a way to keep cozy under her quilt and allow Jack some free rein, too, although it’s punctuated with a very clear message about sharing. The rich but retro color palette, using oils on a digital print, emphasizes the static quality of the images, even when Jack is shouting. Family roles are static too: Jack’s mother is first seen with a broom, then moves to making the beds (sigh), while Jack’s dad is intent on the flat-screen. Jack’s knight action figures conduct byplay of their own in various scenes, providing some visual interest. Alas, no substitute for a real pretend fort. (Picture book. 4-8)

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HIDING PHIL

Barclay, Eric Illus. by Barclay, Eric Scholastic (32 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 1, 2013 978-0-545-46477-2 It’s awfully hard to hide an elephant. Three kids find an elephant waiting at the bus stop (the Pachyderm Bus Line, of course). According to the luggage tag, his name is Phil. They take the squat, dumpy blue elephant, complete with tiny fedora, to the park and have a grand time jumping rope and sliding down his trunk. But suddenly, with wide-eyed terror, they realize something. Their parents will likely be less than thrilled about this new friend. “We must hide Phil!” they all shout at the top of their lungs. He’s too big for the doghouse, but piling leaves on top of him almost works until one of those leaves tickles his trunk. After one last solution that seems perfect, their parents enter and immediately ask, “Um. Is that an elephant?” (Gosh-darn parents—they always figure things out.) They order Phil to leave. But Phil just may have some hiding spots of his own. Spare text in scattered speech bubbles makes this a good choice for beginning readers. The illustrations are reminiscent of Harry Bliss’, and details charm; Dad wears a hat almost identical to Phil’s (as well as a goatee), and the kids’ dachshund joins in the fun. The ending is a bit slapdash, but the wide range of expressions found on Phil’s flattened face more than make up for it. A slim story full of determination, problem-solving and pachyderm glee. (Picture book. 3-5)

ATLANTIS RISING

Barron, T.A. Philomel (384 pp.) $17.99 | Sep. 26, 2013 978-0-399-25757-5

A stand-alone fantasy from bestseller T.A. Barron. Knife-throwing, sweets-loving Promi is a city-dwelling thief in the isolated, magical land of Ellegandia. When he decides to both humiliate and steal from the greedy, cruel and disappointingly one-dimensional villain Grukarr, Promi’s actions lead to eventual capture. Imprisoned, Promi meets a woman who bestows upon him special magic that comes with a price. A narrative shift introduces Atlanta, who discovers Grukarr is causing her beloved forest, the center of all magic in Ellegandia, to sicken. When Promi and Atlanta meet, they team up to evade Grukarr and unravel his plans, entangling themselves in an ages-old battle. Though their journey chronicles their growing bond, their adventures often feel drawn out and are further burdened with clunky dialogue, though the honest, happy ending helps to compensate. In a story set in a land inhabited by people whose “skin color ranged from deepest black to palest white and all the shades in between,” it’s a

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“…those who plan to sing this should practice first, but they will be rewarded by a storytime audience filled with standing herons, waddling ducks, whirling dragonflies and squealing kits.” from over in a river

real shame that neither protagonist is explicitly described as nonwhite, particularly given the dearth of diversity in the genre. Despite the novel’s flaws, Barron fans, as well as urbanand high-fantasy readers, may enjoy this original take on the Atlantis myth. (author’s note, map) (Fantasy. 10 & up)

OVER IN A RIVER Flowing Out to the Sea

Berkes, Marianne Illus. by Dubin, Jill Dawn Publications (32 pp.) $16.95 | $8.95 paper | Sep. 1, 2013 978-1-58469-329-1 978-1-58469-330-7 paper From one manatee calf paddling in Florida’s St. Johns River to 10 otter pups sliding in the Mississippi, Berkes adapts the familiar counting rhyme to introduce river animals, their “baby” names, their actions and some U.S. geography. Sixth in a series of predictable, successful titles based on “Over in the Meadow,” this one adds to the learning mix. Each spread includes the animal and its one to 10 young, shown in their environment; a hidden, additional animal; a map with the river labeled; a numeral; and one to 10 cattails as well as the appropriate verse. The final spread presents a large map of the United States with each river and its respective animal(s) labeled. Extensive backmatter includes an illustrator’s note describing Dubin’s research and methods for making her cut-paper collages, which are enhanced with pastels. As in other books in the series, the author’s note points out that while the actions and baby names are correct, these animals may live elsewhere as well, and they don’t necessarily bear that exact number of young. There is further information about the animals and rivers described, suggested activities, and a page with the song and chords. Fitting the words to music can be tricky; those who plan to sing this should practice first, but they will be rewarded by a storytime audience filled with standing herons, waddling ducks, whirling dragonflies and squealing kits. (Informational picture book. 3-8)

Wolf ’s and Peter’s secrets. Meanwhile, other familiar faces reappear, each belonging to one of various other small groups scrapping for survival. The jarring narration jumps back and forth between Alex’s story and the other characters’, often in short bursts with deadly-peril parallels in characters’ situations. There are so many near brushes with death that, at times, danger becomes tedious and expected, losing some tension. It’s recovered through well-crafted sentences, especially Bick’s signature, deliberate cliffhanger chapter endings that ensure that readers won’t be able to stop until they’ve reached the climactic showdown. As the novel progresses, the seemingly disparate storylines bleed into one another more and more, and connections and relationships among factions and characters are clarified as all storylines converge on Finn’s grudge against Rule, his influence on other characters and the terrifying results of his experiments on his Changed army. The ending wraps up most questions but still leaves enough mystery for readers to dwell on. An opus of blood, gore and pain that will leave fans breathless. (Horror. 14 & up)

MONSTERS

Bick, Ilsa J. Egmont USA (832 pp.) $18.99 | $18.99 e-book | Sep. 10, 2013 978-1-6068-4177-8 978-1-6068-4444-1 e-book Series: Ashes, 3 All of the Ashes Trilogy storylines converge in this action-packed series conclusion. Picking up immediately where Shadows (2012) left off, indomitable heroine Alex again claws her way out of one danger and into another. Rescued from a cave-in by Wolf, she rejoins the Changed, despite the risk of ending up on the menu, and gradually learns |

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“[Marisol’s] bicultural identity is a point of pride that imbues her personality.” from marisol mcdonald and the clash bash / marisol mcdonald y la fiesta sin igual

PAPA IS A POET A Story About Robert Frost

Bober, Natalie S. Illus. by Gibbon, Rebecca Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt (40 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-0-8050-9407-7

Robert Frost’s eldest daughter’s fictional reminiscence of her father’s influential early years as a poet on their New Hampshire farm. After their 1915 trans-Atlantic crossing following two years in England, 15-year-old Lesley Frost and her family arrive in New York City, where her father discovers his first book of poems has just been published. Waiting for the train home to New Hampshire, Lesley remembers her childhood on their poultry farm, where days “were ordinary but meaningful.” Speaking in the first person, she recalls the “cupboard was often bare, yet life was filled to the brim” and lovingly describes daily events her father later immortalized in his poems, including how he taught them to read, reread and write down their thoughts and feelings. Bober successfully creates this fictional account from Lesley’s childhood journal and her own A Restless Spirit: The Story of Robert Frost (1981), incorporating lines from Frost’s poems to show how his life on the New Hampshire farm shaped him as a poet. Sprightly acrylic ink, colored pencil and watercolor illustrations embody their idyllic country life. A likable introduction to Frost as a father, farmer and poet who took the road “less traveled” from the engaging perspective of his oldest daughter. (author’s note, photos, Frost quotations, text of selected Frost poems, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 4-8)

MARISOL MCDONALD AND THE CLASH BASH/MARISOL MCDONALD Y LA FIESTA SIN IGUAL

Brown, Monica Illus. by Palacios, Sara Translated by Domínguez, Adriana Lee & Low (40 pp.) $18.95 | Sep. 15, 2013 978-0-89239-273-5

The confident, exuberant, bicultural-and-proud Marisol McDonald is back in this follow-up to Brown’s introduction to the character, Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/Marisol McDonald no combina (2011). Marisol struggles to pick a theme for her upcoming eighth birthday party. How can she choose among princesses and unicorns and soccer when she loves them all? As her mom gently reminds her, maybe she doesn’t have to! What Marisol really hopes for her birthday is to see her abuela, who lives in Peru and with whom she rarely visits. The story’s contemporary solution to this problem will resonate with many families who are living across great distances. The “unique, different and one-of-a-kind” 72

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Marisol McDonald continues to stand out as a character. She is self-assured and caring, without straying into didacticism. Her bicultural identity is a point of pride that imbues her personality. Pura Belpré Honor recipient Palacios’ mixed-media illustrations once again visually express Marisol’s originality. Bits of cut paper add unexpected texture, and the warm tones convey the closeness in Marisol’s family. Domínguez’s Spanish translation is also noteworthy; its emphasis on capturing the spirit of the language over literal words makes this book equally joyful in both English and Spanish. A broadly appealing bilingual and bicultural celebration of being oneself and the love of family. (author’s note, bilingual glossary) (Picture book. 6-8)

THE CART THAT CARRIED MARTIN

Bunting, Eve Illus. by Tate, Don Charlesbridge (32 pp.) $16.95 | Nov. 1, 2013 978-1-58089-387-9

An old, unwanted cart becomes part of Dr. Martin Luther King’s funeral procession. Two men borrow the cart from an antiques store and paint it green, the color of freshly watered grass. They take it to the Ebenezer Baptist Church and hitch two mules to it. Outside the church, crowds gather, while inside, the pews are filled with a weeping congregation. Slowly, the mules pull the cart carrying Dr. King’s coffin through the streets of Atlanta to Morehouse College for a second service. The cart, its day’s journey completed, is now part of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. Bunting uses simple declarative sentences to capture the sorrow of the day and the message that King’s followers were intent upon proclaiming—his greatness came from humble beginnings. The mules, Belle and Ada, were a reminder that upon freedom, slaves were given forty acres and a mule. Tate’s pencil-and-gouache artwork plays up the details of the cart and the two mules while depicting the crowds of mourners less distinctly. Adults looking for a title to share with young readers will find this helpful in imparting the emotions raised by King’s assassination. An affecting snapshot of a tragic day. (afterword) (Picture book. 4-7)

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SERAFINA’S PROMISE

Burg, Ann E. Scholastic (304 pp.) $16.99 | $16.99 e-book | Sep. 24, 2013 978-0-545-53564-9 978-0-545-54994-3 e-book Eleven-year-old Serafina has a dream: to go to school and become a doctor. Yet her life outside of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, is filled with urgent chores and responsibilities. A natural healer, Serafina has already witnessed the loss of baby brother Pierre to disease and hunger, wishing she could have done more to save him. Now Manman is about to have another baby. How will her family ever do without Serafina’s help or afford her school uniform? Burg uses gentle language and graceful imagery to create the characters that make up Serafina’s loving family—Papa, Manman and Gogo, her wise grandmother. (Sadly, Granpè was taken away long ago by the Tonton Macoutes.) Told in first-person verse appealing to both reluctant and passionate readers, the novel is woven with Haitian history, culture and Creole phrases. Readers will root for this likable heroine as she overcomes obstacles—poverty, family obligations, the catastrophic 2010 earthquake—in her effort to emulate her mentor, Antoinette Solaine, the physician who tried to save Pierre. The spirit of the text’s celebration of the power of determination, family, friendship and love is ably captured in Sean Quall’s delightful cover art. Lilting, lyrical and full of hope. (Historical fiction. 10-14)

THE CAROLYNE LETTERS A Story of Birth, Abortion and Adoption Calkin, Abigail B. Familius (226 pp.) $14.95 paper | Sep. 1, 2013 978-1-938301-15-5

In 1963, an unwed, pregnant 20-yearold attending college in Scotland faces a difficult decision: keep the baby, put it up for adoption or abort it. What does she choose? Bizarrely, all three. In this long and wearying tale, Amelia, remarkably selffocused, relates her experiences and thoughts in diary format. In the first section, she barely rejects abortion and puts the child, Carolyne, up for adoption. She eventually summarizes, in a long letter to her daughter, written 21 years later, all the reasons for her not-fully-satisfactory decision, making clear that she has never stopped mourning the girl. In the second part, readers plod through the tale again as Amelia reluctantly chooses an abortion then descends into deep depression, 21 years later writing a sad letter to her (nonexistent) daughter, describing her rationalized justifications. In the final section, a largely contented Amelia keeps the baby. Her level of satisfaction belies |

the difficulties that choice, too, must have entailed, diminishing its credibility. The prose is at times attractive, and readers learn much about the protagonist—especially after reading through the story three times—making for a thoroughly developed main character. The extended exploration of Amelia’s inner landscape doesn’t sustain interest, though, and the bias of the concept as presented is unlikely to provide much enlightenment to young women sharing Amelia’s plight. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

THE CHILDREN WHO LOVED BOOKS

Carnavas, Peter Illus. by Carnavas, Peter Kane/Miller (32 pp.) $11.99 | Sep. 1, 2013 978-1-61067145-3

The phrase “there’s no such thing as too many books” sums up this whimsical story. Angus and Lucy don’t have a television set, a car or even a house (the illustrations show a trailer). What they do have is hundreds and hundreds of books. They are piled, propped and stacked everywhere, overwhelming their small home (a humorous cartoon double-page spread shows books pouring out of door and windows, burying the family). The books have to go, and Angus’ dad hauls them off with his bike, with considerable effort. But things aren’t the same without them; bowls slide off the table, and Angus can’t reach the window without piles of books to stand on. Not only is there now physical space inside, but also unwelcome space separating the family members. That is, until the day that Lucy brings home a book from the library, and Mom and Dad read it far into the night: They are all hooked—again. The playful art, set against white backgrounds, furnishes details not mentioned in the text (the trailer, household pets) and conveys the casual lifestyle of the family. The catchy cover of this Australian import nicely sets up the warm and loving story within. (Picture book. 4-7)

PICK A CIRCLE, GATHER SQUARES A Fall Harvest of Shapes

Chernesky, Felicia Sanzari Illus. by Swan, Susan Whitman (32 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 1, 2013 978-0-8075-6538-4

A father-daughter-son trip to the pumpkin patch is an opportunity to point out shapes while enjoying the sights and tastes of the season. In her debut, Chernesky goes beyond the basics—circles, squares, rectangles and triangles—by including ovals, diamonds, hexagons, hearts and stars. Each shape is given a double-page

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spread on which it predominates, though others can be picked out, too. This presents plot problems. The family is supposedly on a hayride to the pumpkin patch, but inexplicably, it is often seen not on a wagon—they stop to fly kites, investigate honeycombs, peek in the barn and don’t even appear on the pages devoted to rectangles. The verse sometimes limps, but the text helps beginning readers by highlighting the shape words as well as one related vocabulary word: “Gather OVALS! Squash and corn. / Speckled EGGS nest in the barn.” Swan’s artwork, which appears to be digital and collage, is full of textures and patterns, fall colors dominating the palette. But the contrast among the elements sometimes overwhelms the page design, the scenes a hodgepodge of elements that don’t always meld (people’s faces seem to be the worst offenders). This is neither the best shape book nor the best fall book out there, though if teachers are looking to combine the topics, this may be a good choice. (Picture book. 2-5)

THE ENCHANTER HEIR

Chima, Cinda Williams Hyperion (464 pp.) $18.99 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4231-4434-2 Series: Heir Chronicles

Chima returns to her best-selling contemporary fantasy series with an entry that is almost entirely setup—but such delicious setup. Ten years ago, something terrible happened at the magical commune of Thorn Hill, a refuge from vicious Weir infighting. Thousands died, leaving only a few hundred young children, horribly damaged and with mutated gifts. Jonah is one of those survivors, born a charismatic and empathetic enchanter but now cursed with a killing touch, which he reluctantly employs to hunt down the undead spawn of the massacre. Meanwhile, Emma scarcely remembers Thorn Hill and knows nothing of her sorcerous heritage, until her grandfather’s murder sends her fleeing into the epicenter of Weir intrigue, prejudice, accusations and assassination. There are so many complicated storylines introduced here—characters old and new, factions with shifting allegiances and agendas, plots and counterplots and secrets and lies—that the protagonists don’t even meet for over 100 pages, and the volume ends on a grisly cliffhanger. Yet the twisty narrative works, propelled by the deft characterizations of tortured, frustrated, desperate Jonah and fierce, feral, determined Emma and held together by the ubiquitous soundtrack of the blues, both literally and metaphorically. Chima orchestrates a world gravid with smoke and grit and sudden death, throbbing with hopeless longings, messy affections, festering resentments, passionate hungers, inevitable betrayals, and miraculous flashes of beauty and grace. A smoldering story soaked in tears, sweat and blood, constantly threatening to blaze into an inferno. Spellbinding. (Fantasy, 14 & up)

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RELIC

Collins, Renee Entangled Teen (400 pp.) $8.99 paper | Aug. 27, 2013 978-1-62266-015-5 Plot trumps characterization in this Wild West fantasy. When mysterious attackers burn their hometown, survivors Maggie Davis and her younger sister, Ella, seek refuge in a nearby town. Local law enforcement assumes the burnings are Apache attacks against relic-mining communities, as the Apache culture views relic use as religious desecration. Relics are the expensive fossils of magical creatures such as dragons and goblins, and they give the wielder access to the creature’s residual magic. When a few Apaches—including the one who rescued Maggie and Ella from their town’s fire (the first of Maggie’s many rescues)—are captured, Maggie must solve the mystery before they are executed. While local nuns take in little Ella, Maggie needs employment—preferably not as a prostitute. She only barely finds a position at the local saloon when its young, handsome owner—Álvar Castilla, the wealthiest man in town—invents a hostess position for her. She befriends a showgirl/prostitute with a heart of gold and flirts with a heroic cowboy while avoiding a controlling stock villain. The text often tells readers that Maggie is strong, yet more often than not, other characters must push her along through the plot. The ending demands a sequel, but only readers willing to forgive slipshod characterization for the innovative worldbuilding will look forward to it. Simplistic characters undermine an exciting, creative fantasy world. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

MUHAMMAD The Story of a Prophet and Reformer Conover, Sarah Skinner House (128 pp.) $14.00 paper | Sep. 1, 2013 978-1-55896-704-5

Respectful of Islamic tradition, this biography from the Unitarian Universalist Association’s publishing imprint presents a coherent narrative of the

prophet’s life. The main incidents from birth to the flight to Yathrib (now Medina) in 622 are here, but disappointingly, the author omits the last 10 years of Muhammad’s life. Within her narrative, Conover carefully delineates information taken from the Quran, from hadith (traditional sayings and deeds) and from early biographies, although the books in her bibliography are recent. The author notes when she has totally invented a scene in concluding chapter notes and freely admits that “sensory and scene details have been added” throughout. The smooth text is

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“Thanks to clever narrative pacing and handsome design, children are invited to hop on for the ride.” from train

accessible to those with no prior knowledge of Islam. There are no illustrations, but a decorative pattern in green, the Islamic symbolic color, surrounds each chapter title. The book ends before the battles in Medina, thereby eliding the controversial aftermath of the “Battle of the Ditch,” in which a Muslim general had Jewish men who supported the Quraysh tribe of Mecca, the prophet’s enemies, put to death. Though incomplete, this slim volume provides a readable account of how the orphan boy and young trader developed into the prophet. (timeline, glossary, bibliography, notes) (Biography. 11-14)

TRAIN

Cooper, Elisha Illus. by Cooper, Elisha Orchard/Scholastic (40 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-545-38495-7 Who can watch a train race by without longing to be on it? This delightful picture book delivers the literal and figurative rush of cross-country rail travel as it tracks a variety of trains, beginning with a New York commuter line and ending with a high-speed train pulling into a California terminal. Along the way, readers are treated to descriptions of the whizzing thrills of long-distance trains, including the sights, sounds and even aromas that passengers encounter inside and outside the cars. Thanks to clever narrative pacing and handsome design, children are invited to hop on for the ride. Punchy, clipped sentences, often enlivened with evocative onomatopoeic words, enhance the sense of movement. The text on the right-hand page of each spread ends in ellipses that demand rapid page turns, heightening the feel of forward momentum. The book’s rectangular shape suggests a railroad car’s appearance while also providing the illustrator ample space in which to present sweeping, panoramic views of ever-changing scenery and busy stations. The loose watercolor-and-pencil artwork hums with activity and energy; a nighttime scene is dramatic and beautiful. Cooper reminds readers of the anticipatory, ephemeral nature of rail travel by repeating the phrase “Passengers off, passengers on” and gracefully transitioning from train to train both visually and in the text. Kids will be all aboard for this one. (glossary, author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

DOT TO DOT

Cossons, Malcolm Illus. by Stevens, Neil Thames & Hudson (32 pp.) $15.95 | Sep. 10, 2013 978-0-500-65015-8

More than anything in the world, they want to be together on their birthday. But Grandma lives in New York, and Dot lives in London. Grandma Dot decides to pay Dot a surprise visit, going the long way to London around the world, picking up other grandchildren in Beijing, Mumbai and Rome along the way. The whole entourage finally arrives at Dot’s London home in style in a double-decker bus, and the two relatives are joyously united on their birthday. Flip the book over to see young Dot’s attempts to mail a birthday card to her grandma. This beautifully produced faux–two-color picture book is pleasingly symmetrical; each Dot’s story mirrors the content of the other, and Dot and Dot come together at a family party in the middle. In a self-consciously retro style that strongly evokes children’s classics such as Madeline and Curious George, the illustrations are humorous and skillfully done, but the depictions of other cultures (China, India and Europe) seem dated and naïve for today’s readers. Clever concept and beautiful execution—but hard to truly flip over. (Picture book. 3-6)

MEET ME AT THE RIVER

de Gramont, Nina Atheneum (384 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-1-4169-8014-8

With a deft hand, de Gramont easily convinces the most skeptical of readers that the depth of Tressa’s and her boyfriend Luke’s emotions can enable a few fleeting, and frustratingly incomplete, moments of connection for them during the year following his tragic death. One of this riveting novel’s most astonishing qualities is that it features a spectral character but avoids the clichés of many modern paranormal romances; it is instead a largely realistic tale of grief and healing. Rather than offering impossible hopes for a continued post-death romance, the imperfections of Tressa and Luke’s phantom connection—they can neither speak about the present nor feel each other’s touches—is a continual painful reminder of all that they have lost. And while Luke’s visits are a testament to their profound love, they are also an agonizingly slow goodbye and a hesitant step toward moving through their shared grief. De Gramont torments readers with flashbacks similar to Melina Marchetta’s Jellicoe Road (2008), in which the knowledge that a character’s death is inevitable heightens, rather than assuages, readers’ dread as Luke’s final doomed moments are slowly revealed. The novel should come with a disclaimer that readers who are shy about public sobbing should avoid cracking this one open on public transportation, in waiting rooms or during classroom silent sustained reading times. A must-read. (Fiction. 12 & up)

In this wittily titled dos-à-dos picture book, Grandma Dot and her granddaughter share a name, a birthday and a strong regard for each other. |

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“Devine’s examination of the teenage boy’s need for adrenaline is admirably complex, and he frames it within an engaging and realistically foulmouthed narrative.” from dare me

FROZEN

de la Cruz, Melissa Illus. by Johnston, Michael Putnam (336 pp.) $17.99 | Sep. 17, 2013 978-0-399-25754-4 Series: Heart of Dread, 1 A high-stakes chase through a dystopian future in search of a hidden land called “the Blue.” Sixteen-year-old Nat Kestral works as a blackjack dealer and card counter in New Vegas, the frozen wasteland that’s all that’s left of the former Sin City after extreme climate change and pollution overtook the Earth. She’s guarding her own secrets and powers. When she scores a necklace with a mysterious stone from her boss that could be a map that leads to the Blue, she enlists the help of handsome, goldenhaired Wes and a team of mercenaries to take her there. Bullets fly alongside high-speed car chases and narrow escapes, and inevitable romantic sparks between Wes and Nat ensue. Add in Wes’ wary, Lost-Boys–like crew and a host of zombielike creatures called Thrillers (named for the Michael Jackson song), and de la Cruz and Johnson score a hit. The story sputters at first as readers navigate parallel scenes between Wes and Nat that are often hard to follow as they try to simultaneously digest the dystopian environment and the action taking place. The plot quickly jells once the two come together, and the alternate narrating chapters focus on the same plot and the growing romance. The action soon accelerates, and readers will find themselves completely immersed in the authors’ dangerous world. Lots of fun and tons better than the average dystopian romance. (Dystopian romance. 14 & up)

NAPLES!

De Laurentiis, Giada with Morris, Taylor Illus. by Gambatesa, Francesca Grosset & Dunlap (144 pp.) $16.99 | $6.99 paper | Sep. 1, 2013 978-0-448-47853-1 978-0-448-46256-1 paper Series: Giada De Laurentiis’s Recipe for Adventure, 1 De Laurentiis should be embarrassed to have her name on this trite, clichéd and overlong story, although it is not clear how much she had to do with the writing. Siblings Alfredo and Emilia are having takeout pizza, again, as their parents are too busy to cook. Appearing on their doorstep is their mother’s aunt, Zia Donatella, who travels the world having adventures and who loves to cook. The children find her making zeppole in the kitchen that night, and then, after a bite, they find themselves in Naples, their family’s hometown, alone! They can understand what everyone is saying! It’s time for the Festa di Pizza! Marco, a local boy, fortuitously finds the pair and takes them with him on his search for the best tomatoes, 76

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mozzarella and basil for his family’s pizza. Of course, there is a rival family, who turn out to be a different branch of Marco’s family, and Alfredo and Emilia manage to engineer peace between brothers in time for the pizza contest that night. By taking a bite of another Neapolitan specialty, lemon fried fish, they magically find themselves at home, where their mother is making pizza from scratch (with help from Zia Donatella) for the school’s United Nations potluck. The siblings’ teasing relationship, their aunt’s glamour and their parents’ occasional use of Italian are all broadly drawn and border on caricature. This kicks off a series. Oh, dear. (recipes) (Fantasy. 7-10)

DARE ME

Devine, Eric Running Press Teens (352 pp.) $9.95 paper | Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-7624-5015-2 Fully attuned to the adrenalinefueled appeal of dares, Devine deftly conveys the dire consequences that can ensue once the first step is taken. Ben, a perfectly normal high school senior, and his buddies Ricky and John pull an amazing stunt, which they post anonymously on YouTube, hoping for “weblebrity.” What comes their way is a contract promising them money if they continue to do evermore-dangerous dares. When not filming dares, narrator Ben works as a pizza-delivery guy and longs for popular co-worker Alexia, who’s attached to a bad boy. His reflections on physics, English class and math become more penetrating as the ante ups with each completed dare. Adding in cameraman Trevor changes the equation only a little. Trev is a nerd and a target for bullies, but he’s also exceptionally smart and a quick thinker. As the stunts continue, Ben begins to have his doubts. Further complicating matters, Ben’s dad is out of work, and Ben’s sister wants to do a paper on their macho antics for her college psychology class. Devine’s examination of the teenage boy’s need for adrenaline is admirably complex, and he frames it within an engaging and realistically foulmouthed narrative. Ben reflects, “This is larger than us, and we’re already in motion and gaining speed. The natural course is to let this run take us where it’s going. There are no brakes in freefall.” Astute and riveting. (Fiction. 12 & up)

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THE CAPTIVE MAIDEN

Dickerson, Melanie Zondervan (352 pp.) $9.99 paper | Oct. 13, 2013 978-0-310-72441-4

Weaving a heavy dose of romance into a familiar fairy tale, and revisiting the same family as in The Healer’s Apprentice (2010) and The Fairest Beauty (2013), Dickerson has concocted another lavish medieval idyll. Abused by her stepsisters and her vicious stepmother (whose motivation is unclear), orphaned Gisela, whom they call “Cinders-ela,” has never lost her spirit. She has secretly admired rugged Valten, Lord Hamlin, for years. After he falls for her, she sneaks out to attend a jousting tournament, where he selects her as his lady. Valten duels the dastardly knight Ruexner, who’s driven to defeat him even if that requires cheating. Gisela’s conniving relatives maliciously conspire to have Ruexner kidnap her with the intent to force her into marrying him, but heroic Valten comes to her rescue, ultimately aided by Friar Daniel (an annoying character seemingly inserted merely to provide ample prayers and homilies). While Valten and Gisela are attractive characters, others lack the spark of life. Though it gets off to a fine start, it gradually loses its way—at least partly through heavy-handed references to other tales in the series—needlessly extending an otherwise pleasant if uninspired romance. Nevertheless, meticulous period detail and the slightly steamy—though modestly chaste—evolving relationship between Gisela and Valten ultimately sustain this tale. (Historical romance. 11-16)

CINDERELEPHANT

Dodd, Emma Illus. by Dodd, Emma Levine/Scholastic (32 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-545-53285-3 An extra-large take on the classic fairy tale. The Warty Sisters, Cinderelephant’s warthog cousins, work the poor elephant mercilessly—in the first illustration, she has a pot handle in one hand and a mop in the other, and there’s an iron at the end of her trunk—and leave her sad and lonely when they depart for Prince Trunky’s ball. But a swish of her Furry Godmouse’s tail instantly transforms Cinderelephant’s clothes and makes a limo appear. Of course, she becomes the belle of the ball, as Prince Trunky is afraid of squashing the other, smaller guests. Indeed, synonyms for “large” dot the text. Some wordplay will go right over readers’ heads: “Cinder-irrelevant!” But other instances will be in tune with a kid’s sense of humor, as when the Furry Godmouse tells Cinderelephant to have a good time, but, “and it’s a big but.” This is juxtaposed with an illustration of Cinderelephant’s huge |

derrière as she bends down to get into the white stretch limo. Unfortunately, though, while the illustrations have moments of humor, they don’t otherwise stand out; despite Dodd’s oversized subject, the details often get lost in the digital artwork, and the sparkly cover, while it may attract readers, isn’t enough to keep them coming back. And why, with all the possibilities available to her, does Dodd limit herself to names so unfunny and -punny? Other fractured versions are funnier, while many straightforward versions are far more beautiful; opt for them. (Fractured fairy tale. 4-7)

FOREVER

Dodd, Emma Illus. by Dodd, Emma Templar/Candlewick (24 pp.) $12.99 | Oct. 22, 2013 978-0-7636-7132-7 Though expressed by a mother polar bear in the snowy Arctic, this is a very warm message of love to a small child. In quiet, lilting verse, the bear mother assures her little one that she will always be there, no matter what the circumstances—sharing in her tot’s happiness, consoling her in sad and scary times, finding her when she’s lost, and always encouraging her hopes and dreams. The best part, of course, is mom’s heartfelt promise that she will love her child forever. The simple digital illustrations are sweet and comforting, usually rendered in stark white and black against muted background hues; most feature close-ups of mother and child embracing or enjoying activities in each other’s company. Some scenes are particularly striking—one spread depicts a bold, blue night sky with a bright full moon casting the duo’s reflections on still water; another spread shows the bears marveling at the vivid colors of the aurora borealis—but the general quietness of the artwork reflects the gentleness of a mother’s calm, heartfelt assurances. The message is universal, and the words can’t be said enough. The bears are certainly stand-ins for any adoring mother-child pair. (Final, foil-embellished art not seen.) (Picture book. 2-5)

SANTIAGO STAYS

Dominguez, Angela Illus. by Dominguez, Angela abramsappleseed (32 pp.) $12.95 | Sep. 3, 2013 978-1-4197-0821-3 Why won’t Santiago come? In this simple tale of pet camaraderie, a boy tries to play with his dog, plying him with ever-escalating enticements. A toy, a ball, a walk, a treat? A very special treat? Various options are presented in minimal, conversational text, with accessible pictorial cues to let young listeners and readers figure out precisely what is being

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offered. Warm, colorful, digitally enhanced illustrations rendered in pencil, ink, marker and tissue paper are the focus here, as the lovable, resolute pup and his very determined boy each try to communicate in his own way. But wait! What’s that cry coming from the corner? The boy’s sister, of course! And as Santiago knows, she needs to know she is not alone. “Don’t cry. / We’re here! // Good boy, Santiago,” the boy says, recognizing both very special members of his family. While not stated, the boy seems to be of Hispanic or Latino origin, adding a subtle, multicultural flavor to this appealing, straightforward selection. Dog lovers and older siblings alike will bask in the quiet humor as they try to solve this gentle canine mystery. (Picture book. 2-5)

FAIRY TALE COMICS Classic Tales Told by Extraordinary Cartoonists

Duffy, Chris—Ed. First Second/Roaring Brook (128 pp.) $19.99 | Sep. 24, 2013 978-1-59643-823-1 A quirky and vibrant mix of visually reinterpreted fairy tales compiled by the editor of the Eisner-nominated Nursery

Rhyme Comics (2011). In varying styles, renowned artists present their interpretations of 17 fairy tales ranging from the well-trod “Snow White” and “Hansel and Gretel” to some lesser-known stories, such as “Give Me the Shudders” (a more obscure Brothers Grimm tale), “The Boy Who Drew Cats” (a Japanese tale) and “The Small-Tooth Dog” (an English tale). As individual as snowflakes, the interpretive styles range far and wide. There is a traditional Sunday-comics feel to the captivating “The Prince and the Tortoise,” illustrated by comics veteran Ramona Fradon; Graham Annable presents a delightfully wordless and expressive take on “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”; in Gigi D.G.’s digitally reimagined “Little Red Riding Hood,” the heroic lumberjack happens to be female; Jillian Tamaki contributes a dreamily earth-toned rendition of “Baba Yaga.” This pastiche works beautifully, and it should inspire readers to seek additional versions; those who wish to do so can find helpful suggestions in the editor’s note. A veritable who’s who of artists renders this an instant crowd-pleaser and will most certainly leave its readers “happily ever after.” (editor’s note) (Graphic folk tales. 6 & up)

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ESCAPE FROM COMMUNIST HEAVEN

Dunivan, Dennis W. Sentient Publications (392 pp.) $17.99 | Sep. 1, 2013 978-1-59181-229-6

A 14-year-old boy struggles to survive the Communist takeover in Vietnam. Prior to 1975, Viet and his family lived well in their Saigon neighborhood. His father worked as an intelligence officer for the U.S. Army, and he and his brother both attended school. But when Ho Chi Minh’s forces take control of the country, his family loses everything and is forced to flee. Several chapters and far too many pages later, Viet is arrested on the streets of the city and is subsequently put into a labor camp deep in the jungles of Vietnam. Based on the true story of survivor Viet Nyugen, Dunivan’s sprawling, just-the-facts narrative vividly captures Viet’s story, the Saigon setting, and the ups and downs of living in 1975 Saigon. The details are rendered lovingly and cinematically, and as a result, the plot feels very real. What the book lacks, however, is control. The main arc of the plot doesn’t kick off until readers are about halfway into the story, and the author’s love for the details often mires him in the minutiae when teen readers will want him to get on with the story. Despite these flaws, Dunivan has penned a compelling, rich first novel that shows his considerable promise. An informative first effort with lots of potential. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)

MITCHELL GOES BOWLING

Durand, Hallie Illus. by Fucile, Tony Candlewick (40 pp.) $15.99 | Sep. 10, 2013 978-0-7636-6049-9

Boisterous Mitchell and his resourceful dad are back in a hilarious father-and-son tale that celebrates working together with wit and warmth (Mitchell’s License, 2011). Four-year-old Mitchell loves to knock things down: blocks, cups, papers—even his dad is fair game. Knowing his son’s proclivities, Dad finds a creative solution: the bowling alley! Loud crashes, colorful balls and cool shoes make this tyke feel right at home. But after he learns about the gutter and sees his dad’s strikes, Mitchell’s competitive fire runs hot. He tries everything to win. He hollers, he heaves, and then...he wants to go home. That is, until his dad suggests they be on the same team. Mitchell realizes that together, they can’t lose. The artwork, perfectly paced with the text’s comedic beats, is full of energy, physical comedy and emotion. Fucile’s style is reminiscent of the post-war–boom advertising that idealized America’s promise; still, it’s also current, bringing that same sense of hope to a more modern America. Here, the family is mixed-race; the

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“…the narratives are shot through with evidence of vicious racial prejudice—not just in the distant past: ‘My mother works with residential school survivors,’ tellingly notes Cohen, a Haida teen.” from looks like daylight

mother works (possibly from home); and the dad is a full and actively engaged partner in the parenting process, showing patience, understanding, creativity and love. Durand and Fucile are a winning combination, and their father/son bonding will leave readers in stitches. Loads of fun with a lot of heart. (Picture book. 3-7)

AFRICA IS MY HOME A Child of the Amistad Edinger, Monica Illus. by Byrd, Robert Candlewick (64 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-7636-5038-4

In this text-heavy picture book, Edinger fictionalizes the story of Margru, a child whom slave traders transported in 1839 from Mendeland, West Africa, to Cuba and then to the United States on the Spanish slave ship the Amistad. Margru’s father pawns his daughter at 9 in exchange for rice. When he is unable to redeem her, she is sold off to traders and forced to endure the Middle Passage. The child narrator effectively conveys her confusion at being treated savagely by people whose language and intentions she does not understand, as well as the meager comfort she finds in her two friends, Kagne and Teme, who are purchased along with her in Cuba. Throughout the story, Margru’s dreams of home appear within round frames, thick with the flora and fauna of Africa. Edinger and Byrd punctuate the story with reproductions and snippets from archives, newspaper clippings, maps, letters and engravings—all of which reinforce its authenticity. While this book makes an important part of history accessible to child readers, it is not without flaws. Its illustrations are frequently cramped and offer minimal variety in the characters’ skin tones and facial features. The narrative occasionally skips weeks or months without alerting readers, making parts of the story befuddling. Nevertheless, this book gives middle-grade readers a starting point for understanding this landmark episode in American history, in which slaves fought through the court system and won. (author’s note, bibliography) (Historical fiction. 10-14)

THANKSGIVING DAY THANKS

Elliott, Laura Malone Illus. by Munsinger, Lynn Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins (32 pp.) $17.99 | Sep. 1, 2013 978-0-06-000236-7 Sam has trouble thinking of what he is most grateful for when his class celebrates Thanksgiving, and Elliott has trouble sustaining the focus on group relationships begun with Sam’s first outing (A String of Hearts, 2010). |

Sam’s classmates have no difficulty giving thanks for football, sweet potatoes and shopping. Led by Mrs. Wright, the class discusses the first Thanksgiving (Native Americans taught Pilgrims to plant and hunt; Pilgrims celebrated their friendship and the harvest with a feast). Then the students brainstorm ways to celebrate—costumes, food, crafts and a yarn turkey whose feathers are made up of the students’ thanks—but that only increases Sam’s anxiety. He does manage to think of something for the day of the feast, but will the wind steal it? Mary Ann’s bow-andarrow practice pays off, rescuing at least part of Sam’s surprise, and Sam now knows just what to write on not one, but two feathers. It’s just too bad more of the book doesn’t focus on the close relationships among the students. One page of backmatter tells more about the relationship between the Native Americans and the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving, while another provides some facts about the modern-day Thanksgiving celebration. Munsinger’s sweet, enthusiastic and diverse anthropomorphized animal cast is quite busy with individual projects, which all turn out, rather unrealistically, spectacularly. With its wide variety of activities and crafts, this is sure to spark some classroom celebration ideas, though it otherwise doesn’t stand out from other holiday titles. (Picture book. 4-8)

LOOKS LIKE DAYLIGHT Voices of Indigenous Kids

Ellis, Deborah Groundwood (256 pp.) $15.95 | $14.95 e-book | Sep. 10, 2013 978-1-55498-120-5 978-1-55498-413-8 e-book In distilled interviews, 45 young Native Americans express hope, resilience, optimism—and, rarely, anger— amid frank accounts of families plagued by drug, alcohol and sexual abuse, as well as murder, suicide, extreme poverty, and widespread discrimination, both public and private. The interviewees range in age from 9 to 18 and in locale from the Everglades to Nunavut, Martha’s Vineyard to Haida Gwaii. Despite this, likely due to editorial shaping, Ellis’ interviewees sound about the same in vocabulary and “voice.” Together, they tell a wrenching tale. Many are foster children; several suffer from or have siblings with spectrum disorders and other disabilities; nearly all describe tragic personal or family histories. Moreover, the narratives are shot through with evidence of vicious racial prejudice—not just in the distant past: “My mother works with residential school survivors,” tellingly notes Cohen, a Haida teen. Even the youngest, however, display firm tribal identities and knowledge of their collective history and heritage. Also, along with describing typical activities and concerns of modern dayto-day living, these young people embrace their distinctive cultural practices and almost without exception, express a buoyant attitude.

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“Through mayhem and twists, Jaxter’s cheeky attitude keeps this second volume flowing….” from the shadowhand covenant

As gay Chippewa 16-year-old Zack puts it, “They tried really hard to kill us all off, and we’re still here!”—a welcome and necessary reminder to all. (introductory notes, photos, annotated lists of organizations) (Nonfiction. 12-16)

THE QUEEN AND THE NOBODY BOY A Tale Of Fontania Else, Barbara Illus. by Broad, Sam Gecko Press (328 pp.) $17.95 | Sep. 1, 2013 978-1-8775-7949-3

Else gathers a pile of well-seasoned fantasy kindling but fails to light it up in this uninspired sequel to the effervescent The Traveling Restaurant (2012). An infant in the opener but now 12, Queen Sibilla of Fontania impulsively disguises herself as a boy and runs away with disaffected odd-jobs boy Hodie. Chaperoned by an unusually helpful squirrel and former pirate/cook Cpl. Murgott, the two land in the subterranean capital of Um’binnia just as its blustering emperor, Prowdd’hon, declares war on Fontania. Meanwhile, the land’s magnificent Dragoneagles are being captured or dying, and with them will disappear all magic unless certain lost Ties are recovered and used in some unspecified way. Else also tucks in colorful elements, from flying passenger trains and giant poisonous Ocean Toads to bumbling Um’binnian rebels led by a woman (also in male disguise). Despite these small pleasures, her plot is too driven by conveniently overheard conversations and dependably timely distractions or rescues to develop any real suspense. Moreover, the cast is made up of the usual stock suspects, and as a point-of-view character, Hodie makes a cold fish—sullen, inarticulate and only briefly moved by meeting his long-missing (aristocratic, natch) mother or, later, seeing the devoted servant who had raised him as a son murdered before his eyes. That death is the only surprise in this routine bildungsroman. (endpaper map) (Fantasy. 10-12)

THE SHADOWHAND COVENANT

Farrey, Brian Illus. by Helquist, Brett Harper/HarperCollins (384 pp.) $16.99 | $9.99 e-book | Oct. 22, 2013 978-0-06-204931-5 978-0-06-204933-9 e-book Series: Vengekeep Prophecies, 2 Through mayhem and twists, Jaxter’s cheeky attitude keeps this second volume flowing (The Vengekeep Prophecies, 2012). It opens with classic Grimjinx shenanigans: a craftily narrated sham funeral, arranged to empty the mourners’ houses for easy thieving. Jaxter returns from his apprenticeship (studying plants 80

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for the purpose of “negating magic through nonmagical means”) to join the mischief. But soon after not-actually-dead Nanni reappears for supper, Jaxter, Ma and Da are summoned by the Shadowhands, “elite thieves-for-hire” who operate in total anonymity. Jaxter’s stunned to learn that Ma used to be one. Chaos is afoot. Shadowhands are vanishing; five magical relics have been stolen from the High Laird, who’s ordered an entire ethnic group, the Sarosans, arrested and imprisoned. Before Jaxter knows it, he and his nemesis from the first book, Maloch (whose Shadowhand father has disappeared), are kidnapped by Sarosans, led by—startlingly—a famous botanist whom Jaxter always idolized. Making enemies-but-friends with two Sarosan kids, Jaxter and Maloch tumble their way through escapes, traps and fights with creepy monsters, while trying to untangle which adults committed which bad deed. Always “flippant when faced with danger,” Jaxter narrates in humorous first-person: “ ‘Good news, guys. I found more bugs!’ I said cheerfully….Holm made a rude gesture that I was pretty sure he was too young to know.” Well-meaning but worrisome romanticization of simple, dark-skinned nomads somewhat undermines Farrey’s explicit anti-racism. High-spirited fun, with complexity and surprises. (Fantasy. 8-12)

SIZING UP WINTER

Flatt, Lizann Illus. by Barron, Ashley Owlkids Books (32 pp.) $14.95 | Sep. 15, 2013 978-1-926973-82-1 Series: Math in Nature

Flatt’s latest, the third in the Math in Nature series, encourages children to use math to measure. Measuring with nonstandard units found in nature—footprints in the snow, otters in lakes, piles of porcupine leftovers— Flatt and Barron encourage children to look at the world in new ways. But this way of measuring may also confuse very young readers, for whom the book is best suited: “How far do flakes fall? / Is it one length for all? / The distance depends / on the start and the end.” One question on this spread asks readers to count “[h]ow many snowflakes deep is the snow?” The grid of blue, gray and purple flakes provides the answer—eight—but it doesn’t have any basis in reality. Other pages are more successful, encouraging readers to measure using the birds at two birdfeeders, bringing up the issue of the size of the measuring units—each is four birds long, but chickadees and cardinals are different sizes, as are their feeders. Distance, area, capacity, mass, time and comparisons round out the volume, which asks good questions, but children already need to have a good grasp of those concepts in order to answer them. Barron’s stunning cut-paper collages are the highlight of the book, while backmatter provides a paragraph of information about each of the featured creatures. When read with a caring adult, this may challenge readers to look at measurement in a different way. (Math picture book. 4-7)

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ORDINARY DOGS, EXTRAORDINARY FRIENDSHIPS Stories of Loyalty, Courage, and Compassion

Flowers, Pam Illus. by Baskin, Jason Alaska Northwest Books (144 pp.) $12.99 paper | Aug. 15, 2013 978-0-88240-916-0

Flowers (Alone Across the Arctic, 2011) is a sled-dog musher in Alaska. Her attachment to her loyal and hardworking dogs is unmistakable. She introduces readers to some of her favorite canine friends, each chapter offering in clear, engaging prose another portrait of a treasured dog. There’s Amy, who accidentally fell through the ice in an isolated spot and remained lost until Flowers stumbled upon her freezing pet, patiently standing deep in an icy stream for 24 hours, trusting in her eventual rescue. She describes Jocko, a dog who pays perfect attention to her commands—until she mistakenly tells him to do something dangerous, and then he wisely ignores her. She tells of a bullying dog that picks on his harness mate relentlessly until that dog finally firmly puts him in his place, and then in an interesting twist, she relates that effective dog behavior to human bullying situations. Baskin’s pen-and-ink illustrations nicely capture the flavor of the text, with the canines’ facial expressions reflecting the appropriate and touching anthropomorphizing nature of the tales. These dog stories are so clearly based on love and respect and include many details about long, arduous and thrilling journeys across the Arctic landscape, that they are sure to entertain and perhaps even inspire readers. A must-read—and reread—for all animal lovers. (Nonfiction. 10-15)

MY BASMATI BAT MITZVAH

Freedman, Paula J. Amulet/Abrams (256 pp.) $16.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4197-0806-0 The latest spunky heroine of South Asian–Jewish heritage to grace middlegrade fiction, Tara Feinstein, 12, charms readers from the get-go in this strong, funny debut. Cheerful, sociable and a New Yorker through and through, Tara’s blessed with two best friends: Ben-o, a gentile, and Rebecca, who’s Jewish. Both girls attend Hebrew School. As boys prepare for their bar mitzvahs and girls for bat mitzvahs, Tara struggles with doubts (does she believe in God?) and fears devaluing her beloved Indian heritage. When Sheila Rosenberg tells Tara she’s not a real Jew because her mother (an Indian-American convert to Judaism) wasn’t born a Jew, Tara |

hits back—literally. Tara looks forward to working with Ben-o in Robotics Club for seventh grade. Instead, she’s stuck with ADD-challenged Ryan Berger, whose interest is Tara, not robotics, and her comfortable relationship with Ben-o is threatened now that he seems to want to take it to the level of romance. Her simmering feud with Sheila complicates life further. Authors often mention but then shrink from exploring in depth their characters’ mixed religious heritage; it’s a sensitive subject that demands close scrutiny. Freedman bucks that trend, avoiding didacticism by portraying broader issues through Tara’s personality and unique circumstances. As Tara learns in this skillful exploration, an important source of her special strengths—questioning spirit, empathy and strong ethical compass—is her mixed heritage. (Hindi-Yiddish glossary) (Fiction. 10-14)

CAN YOU SAY CATASTROPHE?

Friedman, Laurie Darby Creek (160 pp.) $17.95 | $13.95 e-book | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4677-0925-5 978-1-4677-1620-8 e-book Series: The Mostly Miserable Life of April Sinclair, 1 Irked by her parents, annoyed by her younger siblings and bewildered by the recent behavior of Billy, one of her best friends, April’s teen years are off to an inauspicious start. In journal-style entries, April contemplates the ups and downs of her life, beginning with her momentous—and monumentally embarrassing—13th birthday. Drama abounds as April comically details her most cringe-worthy, mortifying moments. With a suddenly tumultuous love life and mischievous younger sisters who constantly invade her privacy and reveal her secrets, April is eagerly anticipating summer camp. However, in response to her less-than-satisfactory attitude, her parents have completely revised April’s summer agenda. Rather than attending camp with her BFFs, April embarks upon a family vacation featuring a ramshackle RV, camping and compulsory family time. In this first title of her new series, Friedman delves into a plethora of teen concerns as April copes with body-image worries, friendships, family relationships and first kisses. She consummately conveys April’s self-absorption, adeptly capturing the turmoil of the shifting stages between childhood and adolescence. While April’s narration can be somewhat sarcastic, the overall tone is more cleverly sassy than harsh. However, as the summer progresses, April’s maturity grows perceptibly. When a near disaster occurs during their family trip, it serves as a revelation for April, affirming the importance of family. By tale’s end, it is evident that this humorous, spirited teen is poised to triumph over the challenges of adolescence. (Fiction. 12-15)

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WHERE IS BABY?

Galbraith, Kathryn O. Illus. by Butler, John Peachtree (32 pp.) $15.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-56145-707-6

This sweet, simple introduction to animal babies focuses on how they keep themselves safe by hiding. Beginning with an illustration of a little boy preparing to hide from his mother, the text explains: “Some babies are found in unusual places.” Each page spread that follows features a baby animal and explains where and how it hides. The deer, for example, “disappear in dappled spring sunlight,” while the little robins “hunch down and don’t made a peep.” The final foldout page provides closure and comfort as Mama discovers her little boy hiding under a blanket and scoops him up. Though limited to only a short sentence on most pages, the language is quietly poetic, with audience-appropriate descriptive vocabulary. The acrylic-and–colored-pencil illustrations depict cuddly baby animals up close, allowing readers to see their faces as well as their textures and colorations in great detail. While the illustrations are lovely, a few will likely provoke some consternation, as children will wonder why the animals are so easy to spot when they are supposed to be hiding by blending into the background. Three pages of backmatter provide more information about each animal. Though baby animal books abound, this one’s sweet framing device, simple but precise language and appealing illustrations will no doubt find it some fans. (Picture book. 3-6)

UNBREAKABLE

Garcia, Kami Little, Brown (320 pp.) $18.00 | $9.99 e-book | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0316210171 978-0-316-21020-1 e-book Series: Legion, 1 In a fast-paced series opener, Kennedy Waters encounters a ghost, loses her mother and meets a love interest— all in the first few pages. Until a grave-jumping “vengeance spirit” inhabits her cat, Kennedy’s worst problem is that her dad abandoned her family. After twins Lukas and Jared arrive, saving her life with ghostsquelching liquid salt, Kennedy’s world rapidly turns surreal. Now she must use her special talent (an eidetic memory) to work with other gifted teens, members of an ancient Legion trying to assemble the Shift, a tool required to destroy the demon Andras. Collecting the Shift’s five pieces prompts encounters with blood-chilling ghosts fiercely guarding their parts of the puzzle in abandoned mansions and wells. Garcia excels at cinematic, gripping ghost scenes and generating suspense (will Kennedy and Jared connect? Is Kennedy the final, fifth member 82

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of the Legion?). Though characters are quite plucky and engaging when wraith-fighting, occasionally their too-human teen concerns (If you really knew me, would you love me? Will Jared leave me like Dad did?) ring melodramatic, especially when placed amid scenes of mortal danger. Just as readers settle into what seems a predictable plotline (find piece of Shift leading to whereabouts of next piece, extinguish ghost guarding it, repeat), Garcia shakes it up with an ending that will leave readers reaching for the next book. This vivid, thoroughly imagined paranormal world will draw readers into its icy realm. (Paranormal romance. 12 & up)

BEAVERS

Gibbons, Gail Illus. by Gibbons, Gail Holiday House (32 pp.) $17.95 | Sep. 1, 2013 978-0-8234-2412-2 Gibbons adds to her extensive nonfiction shelf with this informational

guide to beavers. From how and why beavers build dams to their life cycle, habitat, body parts and how they communicate, Gibbons covers it all in her signature easy-to-digest format that includes short paragraphs of information and picture captions, which stretch from a single word to a few sentences. Readers will learn that larger beavers are able to move 30- to 40-pound stones when building their lodges and that they have two sets of eyelids—one is clear and closes sideways. A beaver also has mouth flaps that close behind its four incisors (which never stop growing) when the beaver is underwater. Especially fascinating to any reader who has tried to dam a stream will be the description of how beavers build their dams. Gibbons packs lots of information into her full-bleed watercolors, arraying beavers’ predators along the edges of a pond, for instance, or, on another page, to show human activity and its impact on beaver populations and habitat. Backmatter includes a page of fascinating facts (largest beaver? 115 pounds!) and a list of websites. A great source for learning more about beavers and an incentive to get out in nature and see their handiwork. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

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EMERALD GREEN

Gier, Kerstin Translated by Bell, Anthea Henry Holt (464 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-8050-9267-7 Series: Ruby Red Trilogy, 3 Contemporary teen Gwen confronts romantic heartbreak and shocking secrets about her destiny as part of the time traveling Circle of Twelve in this final volume |


“In pictures and text, Gordon cleverly foretells the pair’s entwined destiny, engaging readers conspiratorially as Herman and Rosie continually almost connect.” from herman and rosie

of the Ruby Red Trilogy, which commences where Sapphire Blue (2012) abruptly ended. Since discovering she’s the Ruby, the last link in the multigenerational Circle, which is controlled by malevolent Count Saint-Germain, Gwen and fellow time traveler Gideon have undertaken perilous trips to the past. They’ve connected with missing Circle members whose blood samples must be added to a chronograph for the Circle to be complete and a secret prophecy fulfilled. Desperately in love with Gideon, a heartsick Gwen believes he feigned love to manipulate her, but during one of their missions, Gwen receives what should be a mortal wound, and Gideon reveals his true feelings. Together, they learn the count plans to sacrifice Gwen to ensure his own immortality, and Gwen discovers game-changing secrets about her past as she prepares for a final showdown. The vulnerable Gwen continues to narrate in chatty, somewhat self-absorbed banter that’s liberally laced with humor. Gradual unveiling of secrets, blossoming love and suspenseful forays into the past rivet attention. Ruby Red series fans will not be disappointed with this surprising and romantic finale. (Fantasy. 12 & up)

HUNTER MORAN HANGS OUT

Giff, Patricia Reilly Holiday House (144 pp.) $16.95 | Sep. 15, 2013 978-0-8234-2859-5 Series: Hunter Moran, 2

Rising sixth-graders Hunter and Zack make the most of the last four days of their summer vacation, attempting to stave off a kidnapping, performing rescues and welcoming yet another sibling. Continuing the TV-fueled adventures begun at the start of their summer and chronicled in Hunter Moran Saves the Universe (2012), the twins leave a surprising trail of destruction at summer’s end. They trample their father’s newly seeded lawn and try to cover the damage with an enormous rock they claim is a coyote’s gravestone. They take lumber and nails intended for a workroom to build a watchtower high in a tree. They break into basements, and Hunter falls out a second-story window. They survive near-drowning in the pond in Werewolf Woods. As reported by Hunter in a breathless first-person, present-tense narration, the chaos in the Moran household sometimes seems a little far-fetched, but it can be excused by the arrival of K.G., the new baby and seventh child (whose real name is not “Killer Godzilla”). Throughout the book, the boys continue to feed and replenish the worm farm they’ve established in a kitchencabinet drawer, a running joke that seems likely to offer possibilities for more sequels. For summer reading or dreaming of summer, this satisfying sequel can be a good starting point for middle-grade readers. (Fiction. 9-12)

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HERMAN AND ROSIE

Gordon, Gus Illus. by Gordon, Gus Neal Porter/Roaring Brook (32 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-1-59643-856-9 In bustling New York, anthropomorphic croc Herman and Rosie (a goat?) inhabit parallel lives until they discover they’re soul mates. They live in tiny apartments in adjacent buildings. Herman plays oboe and sells “things” in a call center—until he’s canned for not selling enough of them. Rosie’s a restaurant dishwasher who takes singing lessons and gigs at a jazz club on Thursdays—until it’s shuttered. In pictures and text, Gordon cleverly foretells the pair’s entwined destiny, engaging readers conspiratorially as Herman and Rosie continually almost connect. Each, hearing the other’s music by chance, is mesmerized for days. Both love “watching films about the ocean” and turn to Cousteau documentaries for solace after their twin career setbacks. Traipsing the city (Gordon provides a map and key for their concurrent rambles), they simultaneously buy hot dogs from the same vendor—without meeting. Finally, Rosie hears “the familiar sounds of a groovy little jazz number” and leaps “to follow that tune.” The penultimate double-page spread shows them meeting—at last!—on Herman’s roof against a luminous full moon. The final page shows they’ve formed a quartet—The Cousteaus. Gordon utilizes vintage postcards, ledgers and maps to create collaged tableaux. Evocative of William Steig and Bernard Waber, the pictures at their best juxtapose New York’s duality: its cacophonous enormity and charming intimacy. Sweetly celebrates artistic bonding in the Big Apple. (Picture book. 5-8)

THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS

Grahame, Kenneth Illus. by Roberts, David Candlewick (256 pp.) $24.99 | Sep. 10, 2013 978-0-7636-6526-5

Many famous artists have interpreted the antics and adventures of Mole, Ratty, Toad and Badger. Roberts takes a decidedly modern approach in this gift edition sure to appeal to another generation of readers. From the glimmer of silver-foiled lettering on the front cover to the full-color illustrations liberally dispersed throughout, readers of all ages can fully immerse themselves in Grahame’s settings. Images executed in watercolor, ink, pen and pencil perfectly convey the postures of a distraught Mole or a momentarily contrite Toad, while the backgrounds impress with a range of seasons and circumstances. Washes of a dominant color are given fine details and highlights with touches of contrasting color, as when cool, frosty blues give way to a circle of white that glows around a young mouse choir, all snuggled

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“The Da Vinci Code meets Freaky Friday in this chick-lit mystery.” from projection

in their vibrant orange-red scarves, as they sing carols. Humor abounds. Giggles will erupt at the picture of Toad alarmed and upside down, with the birds at the bottom of the page and the grassy bank slanting at the top. The variety of full-page, doublepage and spot illustrations keeps the experience lively. Although purists may quibble at the omission of the chapter “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn,” those new to the book will not miss it (but may inquire who the mischievous boy—the Greek god Pan—is that appears on a few pages). All told, an elegantly designed volume ready to take its rightful place on any child’s bookshelf. (Fantasy. All ages)

PROJECTION

Green, Risa Soho Teen (288 pp.) $17.99 | Sep. 3, 2013 978-1-61695-200-6 The Da Vinci Code meets Freaky Friday in this chick-lit mystery. It posits that during the Roman Empire, Plotinus, a real philosopher who’s fictionalized in this thriller, discovered a ritualistic way to trade souls with other humans. Two thousand years later, the Oculus Society, a secret society based on Plotinus’ practices and made up of wealthy socialites, leads the town of Delphi, Calif. When Gretchen’s mother, the president of the Oculus Society, turns up dead, the teen sets out to find her mother’s killer. After a slow start, the pacing quickens and remains heightened as Gretchen and her best friend, Jessica (also with ties to the Oculus Society), trade souls to gather evidence in the stalled murder investigation. They create more tension when they invite Ariel, a one-time foe who’s still not completely eliminated from the suspect list, to join in their hunt and soul switching. The novel’s third-person narration allows each girl to see the crime and clues from a different perspective and seemingly stereotyped characters to take shape. Flashbacks to Plotinus’ soul switching, its disastrous results and how his ability came to be handed down to women only provide an engaging back story and helpful clues to solving the murder mystery. The focus on friendship will appeal to chick-lit fans, while those tired of vampires, fallen angels and the like will appreciate the fresh take on the paranormal. (Paranormal thriller. 12 & up)

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EVERYTHING BREAKS

Grove, Vicki Putnam (240 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 3, 2013 978-0-399-25088-0

A tragic story of teen drinking and driving takes on a new twist when characters both real and supernatural challenge a young man’s psyche. Tucker and three high school buddies are the essence of carefree, youonly-live-once teen existence: borrowed IDs and beer, tweeted updates and last-minute plans for a school bonfire, risky climbs and drinking parties in abandoned zinc mines. Their night of high school celebration changes when “silent Indian” Tucker’s sudden and unexpected decision to drink—and his subsequent inability to perform his assigned designated-driver role—precedes a horrific accident that kills his best friends. It’s shocking but predictable, except for the sudden and mysterious appearance of a three-headed dog that confronts Tucker. Mirage? Hallucination? Perhaps, but the pebble on his windowsill and the sudden appearance of best friend Trey’s lighter are unsettling tangibles. Stepgrandfather Bud provides post-accident guidance; a teacher shares Greek mythology, a boon and advice; tri-headed Cerberus reappears with a cute, blue-haired, female hitchhiker version of Charon. Together, they bring Tucker to a point of deep, personal reflection and critical decision. The dialogue and camaraderie ring true though sanitized, with nary a curse passing among the teens; adults are caring and supportive. Grove provides an exploration of adolescent guilt, responsibility and connection in this modern legend—or is it a chronicle of grief-inspired hallucinations? Readers are free to decide. An engaging, perhaps paranormal, problem novel. (Fiction. 12 & up)

THE GREATEST DINOSAUR EVER

Guiberson, Brenda Z. Illus. by Spirin, Gennady Henry Holt (32 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-8050-9625-5 Guiberson presents arguments as to why each of 12 dinosaurs should be considered the greatest—tallest, longest, fastest, smartest, bestarmored, etc. Each spread introduces a different species, Spirin’s oils making each dinosaur, in its earth-toned, scaly glory, come to life in its habitat. The pattern of the text makes it easy for children to chime in with every page turn: “I was the greatest. I had the longest spikes at the end of my tail. They were sharp and strong and as long as a third grader. On my back I had 17 stunning plates shaped like kites. / I, STEGASAURUS,…was the greatest dinosaur of them all.” From the well-known and

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common dinos to the lesser-known, like Leaellynasaura and Therizinosaurus, Guiberson provides the pronunciation under each name. Of the final three species—Archaeopteryx, Oviraptor and Microraptor—two fly, and all are depicted with feathers. Some of the “greatest” designations may be cause for dispute, but in that case, readers may enjoy giving evidence for their own candidates. Though they have a rather antique look, Spirin’s illustrations are lifelike, and most give readers a good sense of the dinosaurs’ comparative sizes. While there is no gore, these creatures sport wide-open, toothy mouths (sometimes enclosing prey). Backmatter presents thumbnails and quick information: name’s meaning, pronunciation, size, period and location. Dino lovers will learn how their favorites stack up. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

EVERYBODY CAN HELP SOMEBODY

Hall, Ron Illus. by Moore, Denver Thomas Nelson (32 pp.) $14.99 | Sep. 10, 2013 978-1-4003-2269-5

Patronizing storytelling glosses over a tale of Christian kindness. Hall retells his biography of inspirational speaker Moore (Same Kind of Different as Me, 2008) as a lesson in charity. Moore grows up on The Man’s plantation during the Great Depression, illustrated with deep colors and eye-catching images, such as a black boy with a sack of cotton as big as he is. After hopping a freight train, Moore is homeless until Hall’s wife dreams about him and finds him at a mission. Moore’s reaction is plainly touching: “Denver had never heard anyone say, ‘God loves you.’ He had never even heard someone say, ‘I love you.’ ” However, Hall’s prose is often glib; he tells without showing, and his description of plantation life borders on benevolent. When The Man gives Moore a bike in exchange for picking 100 pounds of cotton, the blistering labor is described as “extra chores”; asked if he is homeless, Moore reflects that The Man had “given him” a shack. While young children may understand chores and rewards, equating sharecropping with receiving an allowance is hugely problematic without discussion. Moore’s simple, evocative pictures tell his story best, mitigating Hall’s superficial text. For a more reflective illustration of kindness begetting kindness, consider Jacqueline Woodson’s Each Kindness, illustrated by E.B. Lewis (2012). (Picture book. 4-7)

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FIRE WITH FIRE

Han, Jenny; Vivian, Siobhan Simon & Schuster (528 pp.) $17.99 | Aug. 13, 2013 978-1-4424-4078-4 Series: Burn for Burn, 2 Revenge might be a dish best served cold but not when it’s as unappetizing and bloated as this sequel to Burn for Burn (2012). At first, in the aftermath of the homecoming debacle, Kat, Lillia and Mary think they’re done with revenge. But then they regroup and focus their efforts on one person: star quarterback Reeve, who broke his leg after Lillia drugged him at the dance and who used to bully the stillfragile Mary. There are signs that Reeve has a crush on Lillia, so the girls decide she will get close to Reeve and then break his heart. This has the bonus of hurting Rennie, Kat’s nemesis and Lillia’s new frenemy. The movement of Lillia to the forefront of the novel and the slow growth of her feelings for Reeve are compelling, but Kat’s relegation to the sidelines and the strange supernatural powers that Mary discovers make the book feel uneven. When the truth about Mary is finally revealed, it’s just a distraction from the more interesting plot points—and feels totally unnecessary. Clocking in at over 500 pages, this attempt by Han and Vivian to craft a Carrie-meets–John Tucker Must Die novel falls very flat. (Fiction. 15-18)

WHAT’S IN THERE? All About Before You Were Born Harris, Robie H. Illus. by Westcott, Nadine Bernard Candlewick (40 pp.) $15.99 | Sep. 24, 2013 978-0-7636-3630-2 Series: Let’s Talk About You and Me

The third installment in the Let’s Talk About You and Me series finds Harris back where adults expect to find her—discussing the human body for the youngest set. Gus and Nellie’s mom is having a baby. The sibling pair from Who Has What? (2011) and Who’s in My Family? (2012) could not be more excited. But of course they have plenty of questions, too. Harris admirably begins by stressing that the baby is not growing inside mommy’s tummy but in her uterus. (“The uterus is just below a girl’s or woman’s tummy and is very soft and stretchy.”) Each spread represents a month of the pregnancy, but the passage of time is subtly hidden within Westcott’s cheery illustrations, rather than as a defined calendar counting down the days. Mommy can also be seen to be growing larger, with the fetus varying in size from a pencil-point dot to a watermelon. Amid the simple facts of development, Harris includes extra tidbits aimed squarely at the curiosities of child

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INTERVIEWS & PROFILES

Matthew Quick

The empathetic writer’s new novel peers into the dark world of a troubled boy on the verge of a murder-suicide By Ian Floyd

When Matthew Quick began writing in his voice, he didn’t know much about Leonard Peacock. The voice was troubled, angry and sarcastic—atypical of Quick’s past characters—but he stuck with it. “I realized I was starting to process a lot of feelings I had both as a former teacher and a former student,” Quick says. As he continued writing Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, the portrait of a confused, abandoned teenager emerged. An outsider, Leonard has been cast aside by his father, an aged, wannabe rock star; his mother, a New York fashion designer, completely removed emotionally and geographically from the boy; and Asher Beal, Leonard’s childhood best friend—whom Leonard intends to kill before committing suicide. Mental illness is a key factor in Quick’s new—and very dark—young-adult novel, an elaboration of the illnesses he depicted in The Silver Linings Playbook (2008), whose film version garnered eight Academy Award nominations and earned Jennifer Lawrence an 86

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Oscar. “A lot of people suffer,” Quick says, “even in the year 2013.” The difference between some depictions of mental illness and Quick’s is that the reader becomes emotionally connected to Quick’s off-kilter characters because they are imbued with human emotions and struggles; they could represent any one of us. “Leonard wants to talk,” Quick points out. “If you give students in conflict a chance to talk about it, they will talk.” After giving himself a haircut (more mutilation than manicure), Leonard leaves for school with a Nazi-issued P-38 handgun in his backpack. Like a scene from the movie Taxi Driver, it is hard to not imagine Leonard as a young Robert De Niro hellbent on a kamikaze mission. “I never set out to write about this kid who took a gun to school,” Quick says. As an English teacher at a high school outside of Philadelphia, Quick received mental health training and counseled a number of troubled students. “There was a lot of pain,” he recalls. Quick could tell when a student was in crisis, and it astounded him that often, it was the popular, smart students who were the most troubled. Adolescence, he says, is the time when one is first aware of the realities of murder, mental illness and the darker sides of life. “Leonard is really coming to terms that his childhood is a mess,” he explains. For Quick, the voice takes over, the narrative unfolds before him, and, as if an innocent bystander in his own novel, it perpetually surprises. To warrant killing someone—your ex–best friend— requires a deep loathing and resentment. That deep-seated antipathy emerged in the form of sexual abuse. While both boys are barely pubescent, Asher’s uncle rapes Asher on a fishing trip. Upon his return home, Asher unleashes a like torment on young Leonard that continues for two years of sexual, emotional and physical abuse. “He didn’t understand

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what that meant when it was happening, but Leonard, now that he is older, realizes what Asher did,” Quick explains. Much of the novel is devoted to Leonard’s emotional goodbyes to the four people in his life that he cares for. In Dickensian style, Walt, Herr Silverman and Lauren are the ghosts of birthdays past, present and future. For it is on Leonard’s birthday that he will commit murder and say farewell to his kind, perceptive Holocaust teacher; a religious zealot he has a crush on; and his neighbor, a chain-smoking old man he issues rapid-fire Humphrey Bogart quotes to on days that Leonard skips school. During his encounters with these characters, Leonard is raw, naïvely curious and painstakingly happy. After trading Bogart lines, he smiles; one gets the sense that Leonard, although robbed of innocence and left to suffer, is still a child yearning for praise, attention and love. The fourth loved one, Baback, an Iranian violin prodigy, is Leonard’s lifeblood. The instrument and its master hypnotize Leonard each day while the school eats lunch. For just those few moments, listening to Baback practice in the auditorium, Leonard is at ease. “Those experiences were so trivial in the grand scheme of the world, but maybe it was those experiences” that could prevent a teenager like Leonard from pulling the trigger, Quick says. It is hard not to feel sorry for young Leonard as he brings each of the four a present, hinting both at his birthday forgotten and the impending murder-suicide. “Leonard loves all four of those characters, but he also wants to hurt them,” Quick points out. “There is something that gives Leonard pleasure in this.” He is drawn to each character for their passion— Bogart, the Holocaust, God, violin. Lauren’s innocence, her godliness, attracts Leonard, but he also wants to steal her innocence, much as his was stolen. Leonard gives his Bogart-loving friend Walt a hat, lies to him about its origin from a Bogart movie set and hastily leaves the old man distraught, confused after inquiring into Leonard’s well-being. The mind of someone under duress is unstable, uneasy and ever-changing. Leonard’s intelligence and mental instability are chaotically yet accurately illustrated by the use (or overuse) of footnotes, often consuming more of the page than actual text. “I thought it was very consistent with his emotional state of mind,” Quick says. “He is one of those kids that needs adults to know that he is smart.” Leonard does so in a striking passage where his |

intimate knowledge of Hamlet is weaponized and results in his AP English teacher bursting into tears. “He uses Shakespeare to prove his own self-worth, to shame his teacher,” Quick says. “It is true that some kids understand literature in a certain way that others don’t.” Growing up, Quick understood Arthur Miller, Hemingway and Shakespeare. His parents didn’t read literature, and he knew he had something on them. It was an empowering experience for him and inspiration for Leonard’s proof of genius. I ask Quick why, in the aftermath of national tragedies at Columbine and Sandy Hook, he’s written a book about a kid with a gun in school. “I feel like you do a disservice if you don’t write about this stuff,” he responds. “I was really reacting to the climate of the country.” It was important for him to not paint Leonard as a demon but have the reader feel empathy for him. “I would have never taken a gun to school, but some of the problems Leonard went through are…reminiscent of what I went through and what others went through, especially for kids that don’t necessarily buy in to the typical high school,” Quick says. As a self-described “introspective loner” during primary school and a witness to struggling, emotional students in his days as an educator, Quick understands the impact of caring teachers. “When I was a teacher, everybody immediately started to ask, ‘What’s wrong with education?’ ” Quick recalls. “People don’t ask, ‘What’s going right?’ Who are the teachers in the building that are taking care of the students and preventing more of these tragedies?” Ian Floyd is a journalism major at the University of Texas at Austin and the features intern at Kirkus Reviews. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock was reviewed in the June 15 issue of Kirkus Reviews.

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FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK Quick, Matthew Little, Brown (288 pp.) $18.00 | Aug. 13, 2013 978-0-316-22133-7

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readers—the baby starts out with a tail! It pees a little inside the womb! However, the mention of how the baby was actually made is kept purely at a cellular level; adults may welcome the freedom to fill in that gap as they see fit. Clear, direct and anatomically correct; an excellent entryway for the many anticipated questions about childbirth. (Informational picture book. 2-6)

WHEN CHARLEY MET GRAMPA

Hest, Amy Illus. by Oxenbury, Helen Candlewick (32 pp.) $15.99 | Sep. 10, 2013 978-0-7636-5314-9 Picking up where Charley’s First Night (2012) ended, the tale of Charley and Henry Korn continues in this charming stand-alone storybook. Now that new-puppy Charley has settled in, Henry writes to Grampa to tell him all about Charley and to invite Grampa to visit. With elegant simplicity, the premise is revealed: Grampa agrees to come but states that he has never been friends with a dog before. The ensuing action takes place when Henry and Charley go off through the snow to pick up Grampa from the village train station. As before, Hest’s language is descriptive and lyrical: “ ‘Wait till you meet Grampa,’ I told Charley, and he danced in the wind and his ears blew back and I pulled my sled for Grampa’s suitcase.” Oxenbury’s pencil-and-watercolor illustrations are enchanting, perfectly capturing the town, Henry and Charley’s trek, and their anxious wait at the station. With a WHOOOOO WHOOOOOOOO, the train finally arrives. Although Charley and Grampa look at each other a long time, and Charley even smiles, it is not at all certain they will be friends until, in a tense, dramatic moment, Charley effects the heroic rescue of Grampa’s windblown hat through the everdeepening snow. One moment changes everything. That night, Charley and Grampa look into each other’s eyes again, this time telegraphing, “I love you.” Children will love Charley and Grampa, too. (Picture book. 4-8)

NOISY FROG SING-ALONG

Himmelman, John Illus. by Himmelman, John Dawn Publications (32 pp.) $16.95 | $8.95 paper | Sep. 1, 2013 978-1-58469-339-0 978-1-58469-340-6 paper

Himmelman follows up his salute to noisy bugs with a look at frogs—how and why they sing and what their songs sound like. Patterned similarly to his Noisy Bug Sing-Along (2013), each double-page spread focuses on a single sound—which reaches 88

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across the pages in a huge font—made by a frog or toad, some identified, some not. “A Peeper peeps in the cold spring rain. Peep-peep-peep.” To help readers imagine their tunes, many of the sounds are compared to other things—a plucked banjo, an angry sheep—while others use onomatopoeia—cuk, meep, ribbit—and still others are described as verbs—cry, trill, growl. Still, readers would do well to consult the sound files on the publisher’s website (not heard) or hope that a companion app will be along shortly. Inexplicably, a salamander is featured in the middle of the book, silent without a throat pouch to sing. While Himmelman’s frogs are realistic (and up-close and huge in the seemingly digital illustrations), his backgrounds are less so, sometimes reflecting actual habitats, other times simply a (bright) color wash. Backmatter includes a page of activities that will allow readers to further explore frogs and a paragraph about each of the featured fauna. It’s just too bad this wasn’t folded into the text. Without benefit of recordings, onomatopoeia alone can’t convey what the book hopes to. (Informational picture book. 3-8)

THE GREAT BIG BOOK OF FEELINGS

Hoffman, Mary Illus. by Asquith, Ros Frances Lincoln (40 pp.) $17.99 | Sep. 13, 2013 978-1-84780-281-1

A smorgasbord of thoughts and pictures about a variety of feelings. “How do you feel today?” the author asks. Framed portraits, more than a dozen over one spread, show children expressing a range of feelings. “It isn’t always easy to tell.” (A statement belied by this array of evocative faces.) Following this introduction, several double-page spreads put a feeling at the top of the left-hand page and fill the rest with examples in text and illustration. (Some opposites, like shy and confident, merit a facing page each.) Design choices add impact; the letters of sad seem to droop within a cloud of blue, while happy has dancing letters in a field of yellow bordered by multicolor fringe. The other 13 feelings include such usual suspects as scared, silly and angry, as well as some not so often plumbed, such as satisfied, jealous and embarrassed. It all ends with a big illustration of a handful of children putting the finishing touches on a big mural of several children displaying their feelings. Thanks to the abundance of examples, the book is predictably hit-andmiss; should interested be identified as a feeling? Too, the text is sometimes starchy and seems aimed at an older audience than the illustrations. Well-intentioned but only intermittently effective. (Picture book. 3-7)

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“...Little Red has one noun left, and she uses it judiciously.” froms little red writing

LITTLE RED WRITING

Holub, Joan Illus. by Sweet, Melissa Chronicle (36 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 24, 2013 978-0-8118-7869-2

Exploding with puns, wordplay and the irrepressible desire to re-imagine “Little Red Riding Hood” one more time, Holub and Sweet bring forth some actual useful writing advice—that’s not just for beginners. It’s Write On! Day at the Pencilvania School, and all the little pencils and their teacher, Ms. 2, are about to follow the story path. Ms. 2 gives our heroine, Little Red, a basket of nouns and reminds her to stick to the path. She becomes entangled in descriptive adjectives, stuck in a sentence that just keeps going, and is rescued and then ambushed by adverbs and random nouns. Principal Granny seems to have a long electric tail and a growly voice when Little Red gets to her office. It’s not the principal but the Wolf 3000—a voracious pencil sharpener! But Little Red has one noun left, and she uses it judiciously. Watercolor, pencil and collage give the magnificent Sweet lots of material to play with: The little pencil-pupils each have an identifying eraser cap (a stegosaurus, a basketball, a map of Pencilvania). When Little Red looks for excitement in her story, she goes to the gym and is “quickly drawn into the action,” as all the pencils twist, jump and play catch on the page. The artwork—which integrates written text in a variety of lettering styles—fills the pages with a riot of color, shape, movement and design. Endpapers and title pages are all part of the tale. Little kids should love the illustrations and their multiplicity of meanings, and older children trying out their writing wings will find good, strong advice. Every writers’ group should start with this story. (Picture book. 7 & up)

THE GREAT TROUBLE A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel Hopkinson, Deborah Knopf (256 pp.) $16.99 | $10.99 e-book | $19.99 PLB Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-375-84818-6 978-0-449-81819-0 e-book 978-0-375-94818-3 PLB

the handle. The Broad Street pump story is a true one, and Hopkinson methodically chronicles the role of Dr. Snow in linking the “blue death” to London’s water supply. It’s impossible not to like the fictional Eel, who tells the tale in journal form from a first-person point of view, with a convincingly childcentric focus on lovable pets, lemon ice, trust and justice. Eel is a hard-edged softie who rescues drowning cats, tends to Dr. Snow’s test animals, hides his little brother from their malevolent stepfather at great personal cost and ultimately helps solve the cholera mystery. Rough types such as Thumbless Jake and Nasty Ned pop up like cartoon villains, but Eel proves too slippery for them, and plenty of best-of-times goodness shines from the murk. A solid, somber dramatization of a real-life medical mystery. (epilogue, author’s note, timeline, bibliography, acknowledgments) (Historical fiction. 9-12)

UNTIL IT HURTS TO STOP

Hubbard, Jennifer R. Viking (256 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 12, 2013 978-0-670-78520-9

A quiet, insightful look into the aftermath of bullying through the eyes of a former victim. Maggie is 17 now, but she still feels the effects of the torment she experienced in junior high school. When Raleigh Barringer, the popular girl who orchestrated physical, verbal and digital attacks against Maggie, returns to Maggie’s high school after living in Italy, the teen is terrified. Details of Raleigh’s past actions are revealed slowly over the course of the narrative. Through each relationship in Maggie’s life, readers see how Raleigh’s bullying has left an impact. As the book begins, Maggie and her close friend Nick are developing romantic feelings for each other. After they kiss, Maggie remembers Raleigh telling her that no boy would ever like her, so readers will likely realize long before Maggie does that Nick’s interest is genuine. More subtly drawn is the rift that grows between Maggie and her friend Sylvie. Maggie is so certain that everyone besides herself is happy and well-adjusted that she neglects Sylvie’s troubles with her girlfriend. Maggie and Nick climb tough mountains as a hobby, and the hazards and triumphs of their climbs are gripping and emotionally resonant. Well-crafted, though it treads some familiar ground. (Fiction. 12-18)

A scrawny 12-year-old orphan named Eel changes history when he helps famous epidemiologist Dr. John Snow identify the source of a cholera outbreak in the streets of 1854 London. It’s a vile summer in the city: “hot in a thick, wet sort of way, as if the sun were a giant who’d aimed his moist, stinky breath on us all.” Chillingly, the Broad Street pump, popular for its cleaner-tasting water, is dispensing cholera with every push of |

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“Jones is interested in giving readers more than spooky thrills; his characters have moral heft….” from constable & toop

FLIGHT OF THE HONEY BEE

Huber, Raymond Illus. by Lovelock, Brian Candlewick (32 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 10, 2013 978-0-7636-6760-3

A New Zealand import describes a worker honeybee’s scouting mission. Naming his protagonist Scout for her current role in the hive, Huber delivers a present-tense narrative of her odyssey. It is fall, and Scout seeks its “last flowers.” Through winds and past a hungry black bird, she finds a “sea of flowers” from which she gathers nectar and pollen. A sudden hailstorm temporarily grounds her, and when she arrives home, guard bees are battling a wasp that’s attempting to rob the hive. Once inside, she does her waggle dance so her “sister bees” can find her meadow and harvest enough nectar to make honey for the winter. Running alongside the narrative of Scout’s day are supplemental facts about the science of bees (flying charges them with static electricity, attracting pollen, for instance), and a brief author’s note and index provide additional informational heft. The text at times strains under figurative language that’s not quite right— the bees “flick from the hive like golden pebbles”—but by and large, it succeeds in accurately dramatizing honeybee behavior. Lovelock’s full-bleed paintings, done in watercolor, acrylic ink and colored pencil, vary in perspective and scale, making the most of the autumn palette and refraining at all times from anthropomorphizing their subjects. While hardly the only bee book available, this handsome, respectful volume deserves a place on the shelf. (Informational picture book. 3-7)

THE TWO AND ONLY KELLY TWINS

Hurwitz, Johanna Illus. by Mourning, Tuesday Candlewick (96 pp.) $14.99 | Sep. 24, 2013 978-0-7636-5602-7

In this Monty spinoff, Hurwitz once again writes about childhood milestones—but this time with twins. Arlene and Ilene Kelly are 7-year-old identical twins with the same straight brown hair, the same style glasses and usually even the same outfit. In six short, episodic chapters that combine into a larger narrative, the second-graders face the ups and downs of being twins. The first chapter introduces the sisters, who, though born only eight minutes apart, have birthdays on separate days. Readers learn how their parents (though not most other people) tell them apart and how they play with neighbor Monty (featured in several books by the author). Subsequent stories describe how the sisters end up with the perfect pets though they can’t decide between a cat or a dog; wonder if being twins is less special than being triplets; and deal with a 90

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Halloween mix-up. The final story realistically recognizes the girls’ anxiety when Arlene, à la Madeline, awakes in the night with appendicitis, and the sisters are forced to spend time apart. The experience affirms both their growing independence and unyielding friendship. No matter the predicament, Hurwitz interjects both humor and warmth. Accompanied by illustrations as playful as Arlene and Ilene, this chapter book is a t-winning choice for transitional readers who have graduated from Grace Lin’s Ling & Ting early readers and enjoyed Hurwitz’s previous titles. (Fiction. 6-9)

CONSTABLE & TOOP

Jones, Gareth P. Amulet/Abrams (416 pp.) $16.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4197-0782-7

In this generously plotted, overstuffed ghost story set in Victorian London, “a phantasmagorical wasting disease” known as “Black Rot” is infesting haunted houses, and it’s up to a group of unlikely heroes to save the city. Sam Toop, an undertaker’s son, is a Talker—he has the ability to communicate with ghosts. Lapsewood is a methodical and conscientious ghost civil servant sent to London to find out what happened to a missing co-worker. As their stories intertwine, they are joined by a large, Dickensian cast of heroes and rogues, both living and dead, each with his or her own agenda. Jones is interested in giving readers more than spooky thrills; his characters have moral heft and are concerned with issues such as culpability, whether people can be considered good if they have done bad things, and the importance of living life to its fullest. He does a good job of explaining the rules of his world and keeping its mythology consistent, and he leavens the material with plenty of humor. For example, he imagines a ghost world with a vast, onerous bureaucracy, a clever notion. The book is not for everyone; the overlong story drags in places, and it requires a level of patience and persistence that not all readers possess. A complex, richly textured tale that will satisfy patient readers. (Fantasy. 10-14)

THE MISCHIEVIANS

Joyce, William Illus. by MoonBot Studios Atheneum (56 pp.) $17.99 | $12.99 e-book | Oct. 22, 2013 978-1-4424-7347-8 978-1-4424-7348-5 e-book A guide to the elusive creatures responsible for everyday ills offers kids the ultimate book of excuses. Why are some things always sticky? Who hid the remote? What does an earworm really look like? Two children plagued

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by a series of inexplicable events make the acquaintance of Dr. Zooper. He encourages them to read his guide, The Mischievians, billed as “An encyclopedia of things that make mischief, make mayhem, make noise, and make you CRAZY!” Here, the kids learn about critters like the Sock Stalker, which only steals one of any pair, or the File Sucker, a subspecies of the better-known Homework Eater. With his customary flair, Joyce brings to life all manner of benign but annoying mischief-makers, ending the book with the kids (and the readers) determined to identify even more. Written for the most part in Q-and-A fashion, the book lends itself to both browsing and reading all in one fell swoop. This being Joyce, the creatures aren’t half as disgusting as they could be (even when they’re luring boogers out of noses or raising blisters on toes). Successfully tapping into the human need to find explanations for all-too-common annoyances, this book charms with its intricacy. (Picture book. 4-8)

SHANGHAI ESCAPE

Kacer, Kathy Second Story Press (240 pp.) $14.95 paper | Oct. 14, 2013 978-1-927583-10-4 Series: Holocaust Remembrance The story of Jewish refugees in China during World War II is told through the eyes of an 11-year-old girl and her

extended family. When Lily Toufar and her family flee their home in Vienna in 1938, on the eve of Kristallnacht, they head for Shanghai, China. This city, so far from their roots, is one of the few places that will allow Jews to escape the oppression they are experiencing. Life in the Shanghai ghetto is full of deprivation and struggle for Lily’s family. Despite the difficulties, they are together, a reality they have to work hard to maintain. The refugees build a community with school, worship and religious traditions. Those things are clouded by outside events as Lily’s parents try to stay abreast of what is happening in the war. It gets closer following Pearl Harbor with the fear that the strict Japanese presence in China might intensify and extend to the refugees. Lily’s story is compelling, and this highly readable narrative always maintains the perspective of a child coming of age in dangerous circumstances. The story would have been strengthened by some documentation. The moving dialogue is not sourced, leaving readers to wonder whether it’s real. There are few footnotes, and most of the photos, while helpful to the story, are not credited. Readers will come away with a strong sense of the resiliency of a family and a community under unique stress, though they will need to look elsewhere for facts to back it up. (Nonfiction. 9-12)

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FRIENDLY DAY

Kelly, Mij Illus. by Fuge, Charles Barron’s (32 pp.) $8.99 paper | Sep. 1, 2013 978-1-4380-0345-0 Vivacious illustrations carry this unlikely tale of a captured mouse’s ploy that inspires three predatory animals to wage peace. When Cat nabs Mouse by the tail, the quick-thinking rodent immediately tells him it’s Friendly Day: “a day for sharing, a day for caring, / when everyone is nice, // when Frog reads Snail a fairy tale / and cats do NOT eat mice.” So eloquent is the mouse that the dazzled feline marches off to persuade Dog and a less credulous but tenderhearted Bear to join paws and set out to make the holiday a real one. Expanding the central cast into a burgeoning gallery of wild creatures from all over, Fuge illustrates Kelly’s bouncy rhymes with a series of harmonious gatherings. These range from the aforementioned frog and snail to a tiger lounging familiarly against a (knitting) rhino, a fox serenading dancing geese, baboons handing out balloons and a cow pouring medicine for a bedridden crocodile. All are expressively posed and rendered in sharp detail (with occasional anthropomorphic tweaks) and with fond smiles. “It is a lovely thought,” opines Bear, “to think that we could ever be, / as kindly as we ought.” Impossible to disagree. (Picture book. 6-8)

HERE I AM

Kim, Patti Illus. by Sánchez, Sonia Capstone Young Readers (40 pp.) $14.95 | Sep. 13, 2013 978-1-62370-036-2 Beautiful, evocative pictures tell the story of a boy who comes from an Asian land to a big U.S. city. Images in this virtually wordless, slender graphic novel range from dreamlike curlicues to bold, dark cityscapes and emotional vignettes. The boy looks out of the window of a plane, great sadness in his body language. He and his father, mother and baby sister go through a crowded airport and a noisy and bewildering city to a small apartment. He finds the subway and the streets confusing, and he does not understand anything at school. The boy cherishes a red seed he has evidently brought from home. By accident, he drops it out the apartment window and then goes on a frantic search for it, finding new and interesting places along the way. He discovers he loves big, salted pretzels and shares some with the pigeons. When a girl with bouncy braids and beads in her hair climbs a tree and hangs upside down, the red seed falls out of her pocket. She and the boy plant it together, and as the seasons pass, friendship, seed and baby sister grow. An author’s note describes the storyteller’s voyage at age 4 from Korea to Washington, D.C.

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Sánchez has captured a kaleidoscope of emotion and powerful sensations in a way children will grasp completely. It’s The Arrival for younger readers. (Graphic novel. 5-10)

THE DRAGON AT THE NORTH POLE

Klimo, Kate Illus. by Shroades, John Random House (176 pp.) $15.99 | $10.99 e-book | $18.99 PLB Sep. 24, 2013 978-0-375-87066-8 978-0-307-97438-9 e-book 978-0-375-97066-5 PLB Series: Dragon Keepers, 6 It is Emmy the dragon’s first Christmas, and she is determined to meet Santa Claus even if she must travel all the way to the North Pole to do it. Ten-year-old cousins Jesse and Daisy have been Emmy’s Keepers ever since she was an egg small enough to fit in a dresser drawer. But by 7 months, she is as big as two elephants and has a sassy attitude to match. On Christmas morning, the two cousins find an empty barn and a note from Emmy explaining that she is helping Santa. With the assistance of some magical snowshoes, Jesse and Daisy are able to follow their charge to the frozen north, where they meet up with St. Nick. After a ghastly meal full of endangered animals and several threatening remarks from Santa, the cousins realize that the man in the red suit is not Santa at all, but Beowulf, an infamous dragon slayer. Filled with magic, mythology and mystery, this creative story will enchant longtime fans of the series as well as newcomers. Emmy’s combination of sass and childlike behavior will resonate with young readers heading toward their preteen years. Corny humor and a cheesy ending feel just right. Fizzy and light series fare. (Fantasy. 8-12)

LIVING WITH JACKIE CHAN

Knowles, Jo Candlewick (384 pp.) $16.99 | $16.99 e-book | Sep. 10, 2013 978-0-7636-6280-6 978-0-7636-6716-0 e-book

In this delightful and moving followup to Jumping Off Swings (2009), 17-yearold Josh moves away from his hometown and in with his ever-sanguine uncle to avoid confronting a crisis of his own making. He’s been tormented by immeasurable guilt after a onenight stand resulted in a teen girl’s pregnancy and, ultimately, the delivery of his baby. Uncle Larry, corny and sentimental, opens his arms to his troubled nephew, hoping to give him both guidance and room. As an avid Jackie Chan fan and a sensei, Larry 92

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spouts daily tenets about what makes a “true karate man”— which in its simplest terms means being a kind, decent person who unflinchingly helps those in need. But Josh’s escape to the city isn’t without frequent reminders of his indiscretion, and every time he passes a stroller or hears a baby wailing, he experiences severe anxiety attacks—which makes it especially difficult when Stella, a girl of intrigue for Josh, turns out to be the nanny for his upstairs neighbor’s baby. As their friendship grows, Josh struggles to keep his moral transgression under wraps, but he soon discovers that Stella has baggage of her own. Josh’s first-person, present-tense narration brings readers into his anguish and incrementally charts his recovery. Knowles’ knack for developing relationships and creating authentic and memorable characters is truly superior, and the story positively brims with intelligence, sensitivity and humor. Readers will be behind Josh all the way. (Fiction. 14 & up)

PROMISE ME SOMETHING

Kocek, Sara Whitman (320 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 1, 2013 978-0-8075-6641-1 High school as crucible of character is a mainstay of teen fiction, but seldom have its dilemmas and dramas been so precisely re-created in all their brutal, claustrophobic intensity as in this debut: part morality play, part suspense tale. Reyna Fey begins freshman year under a cloud. Her friends attend the town’s other high school. She still bears scars from the death of her mother, killed by a drunk driver; her father’s girlfriend, Lucy, crashed his car, injuring him, yet they’re closer than ever. When a smart, odd and prickly classmate befriends her, Reyna is conflicted. Olive’s a social pariah, but her frankness and honesty attract shy Reyna, who keeps her own resentments under wraps, muffled by a conventional Roman Catholic upbringing. Observing a homophobic history teacher and discovering that Levi, the boy she’s drawn to, has two mothers challenge Reyna’s worldview but fail to dislodge her assumptions or overcome her longing to be included in the social wolf pack. Watching Reyna repeatedly abandon her better self to chase the ephemera of “normalcy” is gripping and agonizing. Olive—manipulative and rude—is no angel, but in high school’s deceptive hall of mirrors, her honesty is as valuable as it is rare. Compelling, honest storytelling. (Fiction. 13 & up)

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“Koertge’s Jesus cracks lame jokes, takes to Wheaties and Almond Joys, and appears to have slightly limited powers.” from coaltown jesus

COALTOWN JESUS

Koertge, Ron Candlewick (128 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-7636-6228-8

Months after his brother’s death, an anguished teen finds his prayers for help answered in a surprising way. In this tender free-verse narrative, Koertge explores quite literally the notion of faith as a balm in the wake of devastating loss. Walker and his mother live upstairs in the small-town nursing home she owns and are still racked with grief two months after troubled 17-year-old Noah’s sudden passing. Despondent over his mother’s sadness, 14-year-old Walker prays for help, and soon after, Jesus shows up, looking—in Walker’s estimation—“just like / your pictures” yet acting slightly less godlike than imagined. Koertge’s Jesus cracks lame jokes, takes to Wheaties and Almond Joys, and appears to have slightly limited powers. Visible only to Walker and select individuals, Jesus nonetheless exhibits rather classically cryptic omniscience and can’t quite answer Walker’s central existential question: “Why now?” he demands. “I prayed / to God like a thousand times. And what / happened? Noah died. Didn’t God look / downstairs? It’s a nursing home. Half / my mom’s clients are ready to check / out. But he picks a kid.” Koertge’s tight, spare verse captures the ineffable qualities of fraught relations and emotions. The generosity of spirit Walker exhibits makes this protagonist one easy for teen readers to not only empathize with, but emulate. Didactic yet not preachy, Koertge’s tale offers much food for thought. (Fiction/poetry. 12 & up)

WHIMSY’S HEAVY THINGS

Kraulis, Julie Illus. by Kraulis, Julie Tundra (32 pp.) $17.95 | Sep. 24, 2013 978-1-77049-403-9

A worthy idea is lost in this ungentle metaphor for dealing with big problems in everyday life. Poor Whimsy. She’s incapable of happiness thanks to the presence of four heavy, round “things” she must carry around with her (they look rather like bowling balls, but they are not attached to her in any visible way). She attempts to do away with her problems in a variety of unsuccessful sequences. After much deliberation, Whimsy changes tactics and breaks them apart, turning each heavy thing into something useful or beautiful: marbles, peach pits, etc. The story has good-enough bones, yet the writing is not up to the plot. Too on-the-nose to be an allegory and too didactic to pull off its message, this heavyhanded tale is helped not one jot by Kraulis’ oil-and-graphite images. Resembling nothing so much as a short 45-year-old in both her appearance and problems, Whimsy comes off as a |

poorly rendered escapee from an Etsy store rather than a living, breathing character. Additionally, the muted palette of greens and blues, with the occasional yellow and red, shows little modulation after Whimsy’s transformation, keeping the emotional tone flat. The message—tackle your problems by breaking them into smaller pieces—may be a worthy one, but breaking down this book only yields more and more problems for author and readers alike. (Picture book. 4-8)

HOSTAGE THREE

Lake, Nick Bloomsbury (400 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-1-61963-123-6

A diamond in the rough that, pared down, could be a glittering gem. Amy Fields is a privileged 17-yearold who has had a dose of tragedy—her mother’s suicide—to which she reacts with blame and shame. The blame is for her remaining parent, her father; the shame is for her inability to see her mother’s suicide coming. Forced by her father and stepmother to accompany them on a round-the-world cruise in her father’s posh yacht, she is at first withdrawn and surly. Then, in the Gulf of Aden, Somali pirates capture the yacht, and Amy begins to experience a bit of life outside the bubble as she and her family are held hostage. As the tale unfolds, assumptions about right and wrong, First World and Third World crumble under Amy’s (and readers’) growing awareness. Things are complicated further when Amy falls in love with one of the pirates and he with her. Printz winner (In Darkness, 2012) Lake’s writing is often breathtakingly illuminating, but there is too much of it. Three metaphors are used when one will do, as the rambling first-person narration seemingly disgorges Amy’s every thought and forces readers to do their own filtering. Readers will most likely forgive the lack of narrative control, however, as they become caught up in the layered nuances of this original story. (Fiction. 14 & up)

JACK AND THE HUNGRY GIANT EAT RIGHT WITH MYPLATE Leedy, Loreen Illus. by Leedy, Loreen Holiday House (32 pp.) $17.95 | Sep. 15, 2013 978-0-8234-2602-7

Books about the USDA’s nutrition standards regarding healthy eating are universally bland. This is no exception. When Jack (yes, that one) climbs the beanstalk to the giant’s land, instead of threatening his life, Waldorf invites Jack to have a healthy meal with him. Double-page spreads introduce the

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“The patterned repetition of the title questions and the identifiable images will make even pre-readers feel competent….” from what am i? where am i?

food groups—vegetable, fruit, grain, protein and dairy; huge (to Jack) labeled examples of the foods fill the pages. Zofia, Waldorf ’s wife, arrives in time to share the meal with them. Only in these final few pages is the new MyPlate program introduced: “So it’s healthy to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables?” “Right! The other half has grains and protein foods.” “Help yourself to a serving of dairy too!” Their meal ends with some suggestions for exercise (though the USDA MyPlate graphic takes away the visual of a figure climbing the food pyramid). The MyPlate image appears in the backmatter, along with a few more tips for healthy eating, a page of foods that have “empty calories” and a few exercise ideas. Leedy combines humor with (mostly) easily identifiable foods, making this a book that kids can participate in reading. But there is a strange mix of cartoon and real—Zofia’s plate contains a cartoon fruit salad and cooked crab alongside collaged-in salad and rice, and a piece of corn bread that is an odd mixture of both. The need to confine intake to one MyPlate per meal goes unsaid. Despite obvious curricular connections, this one’s a miss. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

WHAT AM I? WHERE AM I?

Lewin, Ted Illus. by Lewin, Ted Holiday House (32 pp.) $14.95 | Sep. 1, 2013 978-0-8234-2856-4 Series: I Like to Read

A straightforward guessing game connects iconic animals to their habitats. In 21 words arranged in simple sentences, Lewin offers emergent readers a pleasing package of wildlife puzzles. Keyhole images open up to double-page spreads of an animal against a white background, which is then followed by a full-page picture of that animal in its natural habitat. Lions rest in the grassland. Reindeer roam the tundra. Two wild Bactrian camels with patchy pelts stand patiently in the desert. A sea otter floats in water on its back, holding a clam. A tiger sprawls on a forest floor. All are depicted in luminous watercolors, lightly outlined with pencil. The animals are rendered in myriad shades of gray and brown; the blues of the ocean and greens of the forest are similarly varied. A culminating page connects these creatures to readers, showing “a boy…on the beautiful earth.” Behind the smiling boy, a blue marble image of the Earth is oriented so that both North and South America can be seen. The patterned repetition of the title questions and the identifiable images will make even pre-readers feel competent; they’ll need only just a little help with the habitat names to master the text. This latest entry in the I Like to Read series can be paired with Lewin’s Look! (2012) as natural history for the very young. (Early reader. 2-6)

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THE CONTEST

Long, Ethan Illus. by Long, Ethan Blue Apple (72 pp.) $10.99 | Sep. 13, 2013 978-1-60905-351-2 Series: Scribbles and Ink Scribbles and Ink fumble a contest entry, with amusing results. Scribbles, a cat with scribble-style fur, and Ink, a mouse with clean edges that sometimes drip ink, aspire to win a competition—“Draw a Dino! Win a Prize!”—so they can go to Mudsplash Mountain, the muddiest place on Earth. Scribbles takes a big blue pencil and draws something with sharp teeth and a pointy tail, but, oh dear: “Behold its bony thighs and feathery body!” says Ink, naming it a “chick-a-saurus.” Ink, gripping a paintbrush twice his height, approaches the task conceptually, painting an egg’s red outline. Suddenly, it cracks, and a roundish, vaguely dino-ish monster emerges, querying “Mommy?” of both artists (a cheerfully postmodern nod to P.D. Eastman’s Are You My Mother?). “Nope. Sorry, dude,” says Scribbles. The outsized baby monster finds its mother—whose identity is hilarious—and Scribbles and Ink get a surprising mud frolic without reaching Mudsplash Mountain. Three hue sets and visual styles work well together: the mobile, black bodies of Scribbles and Ink themselves, the casual blue and red lines of their simple artwork, and the gleamingly realistic detail of their pencil and paintbrush. The pages are slightly cramped, given all the motion, but then again, Long’s playing with cartoon conventions and frame breaks. A giggle-inducing romp about making mud while the sun shines. (Picture book. 5-8)

YOU WERE THE FIRST MacLachlan, Patricia Illus. by Graegin, Stephanie Little, Brown (40 pp.) $17.00 | Sep. 24, 2013 978-0-316-18533-2

Two doting parents celebrate the many milestones of their first child. Very proud parents (dad is white; mom has Asian features and coloring) narrate here, taking time to spell out all of the special moments they have shared with baby. They croon to the little one that he or she (it’s not clear whether the child is a girl or a boy) was first to smile, cry, coo, look at the trees and flowers, go to the beach, crawl, dig in the garden, throw a ball and more. Through the poignant moments selected and the realistic yet muted illustrations that accompany them, readers watch as the seasons change and the child grows from tiny newborn to intrepid toddler. A blissful portrait emerges, with milestones such as teething pain and temper tantrums scrupulously avoided. The tender final pages—while potentially envyinducing for those readers not first-born themselves—reveal

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the authentic but often unspoken feelings many new parents harbor: “You were the first to teach us how to be parents. // One day there may be a second— / or a third—to sleep in the basket with the yellow ribbon wound round. // But you will always be the first.” More than the children it ostensibly targets, new parents will appreciate this tender celebration of the parent–first baby bond that grows as fast as the little one does. (Picture book. 3-6)

SNOWFLAKES FALL

MacLachlan, Patricia Illus. by Kellogg, Steven Random House (32 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 29, 2013 978-0-385-37693-8

Falling snowflakes highlight the beauties and joys of winter in this celebration of the uniqueness of not only every snowflake, but every child. MacLachlan’s lyrical free verse is set on the pages, sometimes drifting like the flakes in a storm, sometimes stacked up like so much snow on the ground. Her language is the same, at times gently flowing, at others, a staccato list, always matching the emotion: “Snowflakes / Fall / Drift / And swirl together / Like the voices of children.” Boot prints and sled tracks are not the only evidence of children in these pages, which are filled with the wonders and delights of childhood, wonderfully captured in Kellogg’s detailed and perfectly colored illustrations. They wake up to new snow, find animal tracks, catch snow on their tongues, snuggle in a cozy bed, revel in the companionship of pets, and make snowmen and snow forts and snow angels. Snowy wind at night can be scary, but in the morning, the world is new again. MacLachlan ends with a simple version of the water cycle, the snow melting and filling “the chattering streams” then “[s]ending drops of water up / To fall as rain.” And where there once was snow, there will be flowers, reminiscent of the snowflakes. No direct mention of the Sandy Hook shootings is made in this book dedicated to its victims; the emphasis is on life, not death. MacLachlan and Kellogg celebrate the small things, but the small things turn out to be the big things after all: the children, “No two the same— / All beautiful.” (Picture book. 4-7)

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LOST CAT

Mader, C. Roger Illus. by Mader, C. Roger Houghton Mifflin (32 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 22, 2013 978-0-547-97458-3 Attractive illustrations, gentle humor and a large but satisfying coincidence propel this first effort toward a happy ending. The plot is simple. A beloved cat, left behind in the bustle of moving, first tries to catch up then considers a variety of options before finding the perfect new home. Mader matter-of-factly describes Slipper the cat’s wanderings and adds a touch of humor to the potentially poignant tale by assigning names to human characters based on their footwear. Shown from Slipper’s vantage point, the pictures likewise focus on feet, from the cat’s original owner, Mrs. Fluffy Slippers, through strangers that include the friendly Ms. Muddy Boots, intimidating High Tops and noisy Mr. Big Boots to the warmly welcoming Miss Shiny Shoes. Mader’s realistic drawings, created with pastels, are particularly effective when a single image dominates the page (Mr. Big Boots’ shiny red motorcycle on one spread, Slipper herself on another). While occasionally somewhat static, they add charm to the straightforward story and effectively portray both setting and characters. In at least one instance—a double-page spread that shows Slipper’s silhouette, small and far off, engulfed by the dark forest around her—the pictures also add an emotional resonance that is mostly missing from the brisk text. Given the appealing subject matter, tightly focused visual storytelling and feel-good resolution, Slipper’s adventures will likely find an enthusiastic audience, particularly among feline fanciers. (Picture book. 4-7)

THE COPYCAT CAPER

Madormo, John Philomel (336 pp.) $15.99 | Sep. 26, 2013 978-0-399-16256-5 Series: Charlie Collier, Snoop for Hire, 3 What would (fictional) Sam Solomon do? Charlie Collier, “weight-challenged” sixth-grade private eye, asks that question whenever he is faced with a dilemma. Charlie, along with sidekicks Henry and Scarlett solve cases large and small—from figuring out how to retrieve a tennis ball lost down a hole to capturing a serial burglar. This time, Charlie nearly misses out on the case because he gets roped into playing the lead in the class play opposite Scarlett, who still has little romantic use for him. When Charlie notices a connection between the burglaries and the re-released Sam Solomon radio dramas, he opens his business again, against his father’s orders. Even his eccentric cryptographer grandmother, who shares the investigator gene with her grandson, makes it clear that this case is too dangerous. Only Charlie’s

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encyclopedic knowledge of the Sam Solomon episodes—and his science teacher’s frequent brainteasers—can save the day. A few missteps (it’s hard to believe a bakery or a pet store would have more than $2,000 in the overnight till or that the thin boy on the cover is Charlie) take away from the action, but true fans will ignore them. Twenty-four short chapters move along at a clip to satisfy mystery fans, with plenty of red herrings and real clues sprinkled along the way. (Mystery. 9-12)

THE 9 LIVES OF ALEXANDER BADDENFIELD

Marciano, John Bemelmans Illus. by Blackall, Sophie Viking (144 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 3, 2013 978-0-670-01406-4

Adult readers may find themselves desperately searching the subtext of this book for hidden lessons; children will probably just relish it. Rather like The Bad Beginning, this curious uncautionary tale lays all its cards on the table right up front. To readers expecting growth in the aptly named child’s character arc, the narrator says, “If this were a Hollywood movie, or a fairy tale, or a run-of-the-mill chapter book, this would undoubtedly be the case. But in the real world such things rarely happen.” All of the elder, equally venal generations of Baddenfields having perished young, 12-year-old Alexander decides to have a life transplant, using the eight extra lives of his cat, Shaddenfrood, as a resource—and over the protests of his faithful servant, Winterbottom (as good as Alexander is bad). Lives installed, he goes on to run through them all at a spectacular rate. (Shaddenfrood, purring appropriately, survives.) Blackall’s characteristically knowing illustrations and dramatic design decisions reinforce Marciano’s gleefully morbid humor and bely the seeming amorality of the tale. The purposeful fading of the text during Alexander’s ninth and last demise encourages readers to grapple with it. Adults will be grasping for an obvious point, an impulse reinforced by references to the myth of Icarus and Frankenstein and digs at the pharmaceutical and insurance industries, but child readers will likely be way ahead of them. Freely embracing the literary principle that, at bottom, evil is better fun than good, this envelope-pushing bonbon may not have an easily discernible moral, but that’s its strength. (Gothic humor. 10-14)

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DREAM ANIMALS

Martin, Emily Winfield Illus. by Martin, Emily Winfield Random House (32 pp.) $17.99 | $20.99 PLB | Oct. 22, 2013 978-0-449-81080-4 978-0-375-97149-5 PLB An invitation to “close your eyes” and “snuggle in” to be transported by a menagerie of dream animals to magical adventures. When readers fall asleep at night, “animals from long ago / And twice as far away” could carry them to their dreams on “wing or paw or fin.” A bear might carry them to a never-ending feast. A fox might take them to an “elfin hollow / Hidden underground.” Robins may fly them above the trees or a narwhal dive them beneath the seas to a mermaid tea party. A tiger could take them to a circus or perhaps a moth will carry them to the “very moon and stars.” Neatly enclosed within line borders on a serene, pale blue background, the enticing rhyming text accompanies a fluid sketch of a sleeping child in a real-world setting with a toy animal, foreshadowing the dream animal that, on the opposite page, transports the child to a fantasy destination revealed in the subsequent double-page spread. These stunning, full-color illustrations rely on polished brush strokes, midnight blue backgrounds and ethereal light to produce an almost surreal atmosphere in which children quietly ride their dream animals to fantastical venues, silently suggesting the infinite possibility of dreams. A visually elegant and textually cadenced bedtime treat. (Picture book. 3-6)

DON’T SNEEZE AT THE WEDDING

Mayer, Pamela Illus. by Avilés, Martha Kar-Ben (32 pp.) $17.95 | $7.95 paper | $6.95 e-book Sep. 1, 2013 978-1-4677-0428-1 978-1-4677-0429-8 paper 978-1-4677-1641-3 e-book This is two books in one, but it’s not as much of a bargain as it sounds like. Children may feel as though they’re reading two stories at once. The first is a step-by-step guide to a Jewish wedding: Sign the ketubah, exchange rings, listen to the Seven Blessings. That book is practical, although it may seem a little dull to children who aren’t obsessed with brides or pink shoes or flower girls’ dresses. The second book is a story about Anna, a flower girl who’s dressed in pink from head to toe, including a pink wreath of flowers on her head. She’s afraid that she won’t be able to complete her wedding duties because she can’t keep from sneezing. Everyone from her parents to the florist has advice to give. They tell her to wiggle her earlobe or whisper the word

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“Punctuated by many zombie battles that have almost a Keystone Kops feel to them for all their undeniable menace, [the characters’] escape is fueled by desperation and snark.” from unfed

“pineapple.” The second book is much more amusing than the first. “Pineapple” is always funny. The problem is that the educational book and the humor book never quite mesh. A joke doesn’t work very well when it’s got a discussion of marriage documents in the middle. The punch line is still funny. Anna manages to keep her sneeze hidden from the wedding guests. But readers may feel they’ve had twice as much story as they really needed. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-9)

THE GREAT BEAR SEA Exploring the Marine Life of a Pacific Paradise

McAllister, Ian; Read, Nicholas Photos by McAllister, Ian Orca (128 pp.) $19.95 paper | Sep. 1, 2013 978-1-4598-0019-9

“[W]ithout a Great Bear Sea to feed and nurture it, there would be no Great Bear Rainforest.” Third in a series of explorations of the coastal wilderness where the author/photographer lives and works in British Columbia, this title focuses on the creatures of the water surrounding and supporting that temperate rain forest. Chapter by chapter, the authors build up the web of life in this area, from microscopic plankton to the orcas they call “wolves of the sea.” Spawning salmon aren’t only food for wolves and bears, their carcasses decompose on the forest floor and nourish the trees. In the shallow waters of the intertidal zone, large animals (and humans) find shellfish and more. Sea otters clown in the kelp beds; seals and sea lions dine on the fish. Dolphins and porpoises dance offshore, and whales feed there in the warmer seasons. Every spread includes at least one of McAllister’s striking photographs. Sidebars called “Maritime Morsels” add explanations that supplement the lengthy, informative text. Chapters are headed with a stylized salmon image by Martin Campbell, a local Heiltsuk artist. As much an invitation to readers to visit this unspoiled area as a description of its wonders, this is a commendable complement to The Sea Wolves and The Salmon Bears (both 2010). (bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 9-14)

UNFED

McKay, Kirsty Chicken House/Scholastic (288 pp.) $17.99 | $17.99 e-book | Sep. 1, 2013 978-0-545-53672-1 978-0-545-53675-2 e-book The undead are shambling all over Scotland in this bitingly funny sequel to Undead (2012). The last thing Bobby remembers is fleeing the zombie apocalypse in a |

school bus full of nascent undead. She wakes up in a top-secret medical facility fairly teeming with zoms. With her are snotty Alice and geeky Pete, along with strong and capable Russ, the only survivor from that fateful school bus. Missing is Smitty, the maddening boy she lost her heart to in the first book. Following cryptic clues left in her cellphone by her scientist mother—the one who formulated the zombie-creating concoction in the first place and the person who may have the key to its cure— Bobby, Alice, Pete and Russ break out and flee, hoping to find Smitty and Bobby’s mom and, possibly, safety. Punctuated by many zombie battles that have almost a Keystone Kops feel to them for all their undeniable menace, their escape is fueled by desperation and snark. The kids carp at one another constantly (the mutual hostility between Bobby and Alice is particularly fizzy), and Bobby’s narration maintains the razor’s-edge balance between humor and horror. “Oh, fudmukker,” Bobby remarks, as they try to flee Edinburgh by rail. “Zoms on a Train.” A gleefully revolting romp, it ends on a cliffhanger; here’s hoping it’ll be resolved soon. (Horror. 14 & up)

GOLDEN AT THE FANCYDRESS PARTY

McNamara, Margaret Illus. by Denos, Julia Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins (112 pp.) $15.99 | $4.99 paper | $3.99 e-book Sep. 3, 2013 978-0-06-222808-6 978-0-06-222807-9 paper 978-0-06-222809-3 e-book Series: Fairy Bell Sisters Fairy Golden Bell travels to the mainland for an adventure packed with fairies, fashion and bullying. Queen Mab announces that her mainland cousin, Queen Titania, has issued an invitation to one Sheepskerry Island fairy to come and attend her fancy-dress party. The prestigious event includes a costume contest with prize. The Sheepskerry Island fairies decide that creative, fashion-loving Golden will best represent them, and she is thrilled at the chance to travel to the mainland. Once there, however, she discovers that people are curt, her hosts are snobs, and fairies who struggle with reading—like Goldie herself, who has special tutoring back home—are given up on and limited to servant positions. Her host and competitor in the costume contest, Claudine, discovers Goldie’s reading trouble and exploits it to sabotage Goldie, lying about the letter that tells the costume theme. Goldie constructs a witch costume while everyone else prepares pink princesses. Goldie overcomes her embarrassment by collecting new costume components on the way to the party, and with a quick alteration, she becomes a princess of the night. As the only standout in the sea of pink, Goldie’s originality wins the prize. The straightforward bullying storyline pleasantly surprises by touching on how bullies affect wider group dynamics. References to earlier books in the series enforce the familiar continuity.

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Age-appropriate story sophistication outweighs didacticism. (Squeak’s glossary, Goldie’s cape instructions, music) (Fantasy. 6-8)

3:59

McNeil, Gretchen Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins (368 pp.) $17.99 | $9.99 e-book | Sep. 17, 2013 978-0-06-211881-3 978-0-06-211883-7 e-book In this quasi–science-fiction novel, doppelgangers Josie and Jo agree to temporarily trade places after their mothers’ scientific experiments accidentally open a portal between their parallel worlds. The situation soon spirals out of control as Jo’s mother (who also secretly traded worlds) attempts to make the trade permanent by destroying the portal. McNeil deserves credit for writing science fiction featuring women scientists. Josie and her lab partner, Penelope, as well as Penelope’s parallel-world other, Pen, all casually drop quantum-mechanics and paralleluniverse theories and use the scientific method to understand the portal between their worlds. However, the devil is in the details, and offering little explanation of the scientific theories under discussion compromises the novel’s scientific tenor. Further stretching the science is the improbable existence of the laser that is used to create the portal. Readers must accept that an X-FEL laser, “one of the most high-tech, cutting-edge pieces of equipment in the world,” whose production at a lab required “millions in funding, a team of A-list scientists and engineers, top secret specs no one had ever seen,” was secretly recreated out of scraps in a residential basement. Also implausible is the half-baked insta-romance (true love after four days, really?) that fails to create romantic tension. The patchy science, though hastily injected with romance, makes for an unsatisfying read. (Science fiction. 12-18)

BE POSITIVE!

Meiners, Cheri J. Illus. by Allen, Elizabeth Free Spirit (40 pp.) $14.99 | $9.99 paper | Sep. 1, 2013 978-1-57542-452-1 978-1-57542-441-5 paper Series: Being the Best Me!

something seems bad, I can learn from it or find some good in it.” Publishing simultaneously is Feel Confident!, which looks at a black girl’s activities and the self-confidence skills she uses. “I’m able to think and decide for myself. / When I make good choices, I can feel proud of myself. // When there is a problem, I can try to do something about it, or ask for help.” Allen’s seemingly digital illustrations show a nice range in terms of both racial diversity and situations that will be familiar to readers. Four pages of backmatter in each book include a list of relevant skills, some games and activities that will help develop those skills, a list of terms and discussion questions. Worthy as their messages are, however, kids are likely to recognize right away they are being preached to. If there is such a thing as too upbeat, these are. Teachers, school counselors and social workers seem to be the intended targets; children aren’t likely to choose them on their own. (Picture book. 3-6)

ETERNITY

Miles, Elizabeth Simon & Schuster (336 pp.) $17.99 | $9.99 paper | Sep. 3, 2013 978-1-4424-2227-8 978-1-4424-2228-5 paper Series: Fury, 3 An overall satisfying conclusion to a tale that imagines the Furies as three beautiful but terrifying supernatural sisters who thrive on vengeance against teens who they feel have done wrong. The fictional town of Ascension, Maine, is the backdrop for this modern reworking of Greek mythology. It offers up plenty of tried-and-true horror hallmarks—an eerie, seemingly sentient doll and a babbling crazy girl smearing on uneven lipstick among them. Readers will need to have read the earlier installments of the series, as this picks up right where Envy (2012) left off, with protagonist Em struggling both against her own seeming transformation into something evil and between two guys— a hard-drinking stereotypical bad boy but sensitive musician named Crow and her childhood best friend and literal boy next door, JD. Those looking for atmospheric and enjoyably spooky thrills will find plenty to like, but it seems to take JD in particular an awfully long time to work out what’s really going on. However, the pacing does eventually pick up in the novel’s final chapters, and fans of the first two will be certain to devour this. Fun to be sure, but also a case where shorter might have been sweeter—and more suspenseful. (Horror. 12 & up)

One of the first two entries in the Being the Best Me! series, this focuses on optimism, though its over-the-top feel-good message may limit its kid appeal. The story follows a young boy with Asian features from the time he wakes up to bedtime, and readers “listen” to his selftalk throughout the day. Most utterances reinforce an optimism skill: “I can think about things in a new way. / Even when 98

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“An inclusive, superb handbook for art educators and art historians, this has strong appeal for parents and children seeking a fresh approach to engaging with the art on museum walls.” from an eye for art

SABOTAGE SEASON

art on museum walls. Though the publisher suggests that this information-rich collection is best for ages 7 to 12, the book’s sophisticated design and cunning mix of accessibility and complexity enlarge the audience to grade schoolers through seniors. Consider this a must-have art resource for all ages. (table of contents, timeline of artists) (Nonfiction. 7 & up)

Morgan, Alex Simon & Schuster (176 pp.) $15.99 | Sep. 3, 2013 978-1-4424-8574-7 Series: Kicks, 2 Team co-captain and eighth-grader Devin returns (The Kicks: Saving the Team, 2013) for another tale of soccer teamwork, this time with a little sleuthing thrown in. The Kentville Kangaroos started off the season poorly, but they find themselves in contention for a playoff berth. This opportunity sends Devin into overdrive as she plans practices, researches drills and watches the team rankings with an eagle eye. When more than one suspicious problem occurs, all eyes turn to Mirabelle, ex-teammate and ex–best friend of one of the Kangaroos. A gym bag goes missing, a practice field reservation is cancelled, and even a fake email from the coach is sent out. The girls bring their observations to the league director, who rebuffs them. Taking matters into their own hands, the girls plan their detective work and their revenge. But will they identify the saboteur in time to focus on the playoff game? Can they even concentrate as the boys’ team comes to watch them play? Morgan’s new soccer series is wholesome and simple. She portrays the mindset of a committed young soccer player well, bringing readers in on dreams and plans. Although formulaic, the story’s fast pace and plot buildup will appeal to female athletes. (Fiction. 8-10)

AN EYE FOR ART Focusing on Great Artists and Their Work National Gallery of Art Chicago Review (180 pp.) $19.95 paper | Sep. 1, 2013 978-1-61374-897-8

Ingenious and wonderfully inviting, this is a well-conceived and beautifully produced compilation of brief biographies and selective insights into the lives and works of over 40 artists. Anchored in the collection of the renowned National Gallery of Art (Washington D.C.), it is drawn from the NGA’s longrunning series of lively four-page family-education publications, the NGAkids Quarterly. The overviews span art movements, methods and media from the 13th through the 21st centuries. The carefully constructed discussion starters are organized into seven broad sections: nature, places, portraits, stories, everyday life, questioning tradition and playing with space. Generously illustrated with hundreds of full-color reproductions from the National Gallery’s collection, these minilessons are bolstered by relevant and doable activities that respond to the diverse artists’ works and techniques. An inclusive, superb handbook for art educators and art historians, this has strong appeal for parents and children seeking a fresh approach to engaging with the |

SOMETHING BIG

Neeman, Sylvie Illus. by Godon, Ingrid Translated by Bedrick, Claudia Zoe Enchanted Lion Books (40 pp.) $16.95 | Sep. 14, 2013 978-1-59270-140-7 A little one wants to do something big, even though he is a little one. In this fraught pleasure from Neeman, an unnamed small boy is disturbed that he can’t do something big, since he is little. Like what? asks the big one. (The text never defines the characters, but they appear to be a father and son in the illustrations.) The little one can’t quite put his finger on it. Not like a mountain or a tower or a house. Maybe he’d like to build a lighthouse? suggests the big one. “No, I don’t. You don’t understand anything,” says the little one, a bit peevishly. On they go, in a quiet back-and-forth conveyed in language that allows readers into the relationship. “I don’t think it’s a good idea for you at your age to do something little,” says the little one to the big one after another off-target suggestion, though there is a tenderness always at work between the two. Sometimes the little one can be too sensitive a flower, but Godon’s artwork keeps that in check, with its minimalist line work and moody fields of color—ancient blue, green, red and black, and a lot of white. And the solution to the little one’s dilemma, if it is a solution, is a good balance of mystery and possibility. A sweetly caught moment of youthful existentialism. (Picture book. 4-8)

IF IT’S SNOWY AND YOU KNOW IT, CLAP YOUR PAWS!

Norman, Kim Illus. by Woodruff, Liza Sterling (24 pp.) $14.95 | Oct. 1, 2013 978-1-4549-0384-0

A wintry riff on the popular participation song, with a cast of appropriate

cold-climate animals. A rabbit in sunglasses slides down a snowy hill, using a polar bear pal as a sled. Penguin, walrus, fox and others look on approvingly. The text faithfully follows the rhythms of the song as these characters frolic. “If your fur is full of flurries, taste a flake” shows the walrus making snow angels while the wolf and bighorn sheep skate neat figure eights around him. “If

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“First the good news: Half the pieces in this uneven anthology are standouts.” from open mic

it’s shimmery and sunny, sculpt a friend” features almost all the animals making snow animals. (The moose is sunning in a chair with a reflector.) They also build a fort, blow a kiss, give a roar and share a meal (“If it’s starry and you’re starving...”). Everyone shares a cave at the end of the day: “If it’s sleeting and you’re sleepy, climb in bed.” It’s like a big pajama party. In their sleep, all dream of more exciting fun they can have tomorrow. Norman’s solid variations on the preschool song are completely singer-friendly, supported by Woodruff ’s crisply drawn, smiling animals, in watercolor, colored pencil and pastel. Consistently entertaining and engaging. All together now! (Picture book. 3-6)

THE FOX IN THE LIBRARY

Pauli, Lorenz Illus. by Schärer, Kathrin NorthSouth (32 pp.) $17.95 | Sep. 1, 2013 978-0-7358-4150-5

Picture-book stories that feature the library are bound to have an instant audience, but unfortunately, in this case, the tale doesn’t stack up. A mouse is enjoying some peace and quiet until a fox chases her into the library. Scheherazade-like, Mouse distracts the fox from eating her by demonstrating all of the resources of the library. (Unfortunately for the local poultry, the first book she reads to him is about a fox chasing chickens.) Returning the next night, Fox asks Mouse to read a story to him since he can’t read; Mouse is busy learning to be a magician, so she suggests he look for the book on a CD. He returns again with a chicken clenched in his jaws. She has told him that chicken bones are bad for him, and he has come to the library to confirm this; Mouse suggests an encyclopedia. When the now–library-crazy Fox takes out a stack of books all at one time, Mouse cautions him that he can only take 10. From the appealing cover to the exaggerated ending, it’s the delightful, colored-pencil illustrations that will attract readers. The storyline is well-intentioned, using the animal characters as an obvious contrivance to highlight the things libraries offer. However, both the device and the writing are belabored and do not serve the theme well. Moreover, the riff on the “fox in the henhouse” lays a narrative egg. Better picture-book invitations and initiations to the library are available, so skip this one. (Picture book. 5-8)

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THORNHILL

Peacock, Kathleen Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins (352 pp.) $17.99 | $9.99 e-book | Sep. 9, 2013 978-0-06-204868-4 978-0-06-204870-7 e-book Series: Hemlock The plot wallows as Mackenzie struggles to reunite with her werewolf boyfriend, Kyle, in this sequel to Hemlock (2012). She hopes to find him in Denver, something of a mecca for those infected with Lupine Syndrome. With two of her best friends—boyfriend wannabe Jason, recently a member of the werewolf-hating Trackers, and werewolf Serena—she tracks him down at a werewolf nightclub presided over by her father, who abandoned her three years before. There’s little time for reunions, though, as a Tracker raid quickly sends Mackenzie, Kyle and Serena to Thornhill, a model “rehabilitation camp.” There, Mackenzie poses as a werewolf, hoping to effect a rescue from inside. Complicating matters is the removal of Serena to a top-secret facility within Thornhill, for no-doubt-nefarious purposes. This is too bad, as Serena was one of the more interesting characters in the first book, but a couple other wolves—Eve, a punk protégée of Mackenzie’s father’s, and Dex, an internee with dark suspicions—help to compensate. Unfortunately, far too much of the plot is given over to Mackenzie’s hand-wringing over having put everybody in danger and the swoony kisses she shares with Kyle in stolen moments. Real-world parallels to such issues as closeted homosexuality and the spread of HIV are quickly indicated and then dropped. A semi-climactic confrontation leaves characters poised for Book 3; only series devotees will be as well. (Paranormal romance. 14 & up)

OPEN MIC Riffs on Life Between Cultures in Ten Voices

Perkins, Mitali—Ed. Candlewick (144 pp.) $15.99 | Sep. 10, 2013 978-0-7636-5866-3

First the good news: Half the pieces in this uneven anthology are standouts. The Korean-American teen in David Yoo’s story makes an unwanted, undeserved Asian “model minority” label work for him, acquiring unexpected life skills in the process. The sole black student at a Vermont boarding school is unsettled when black twin sisters also enroll in Varian Johnson’s nuanced tale. Gene Luen Yang’s graphic anecdote demonstrates how standing up for one’s beliefs can yield rewards beyond self-esteem. Luis’ siblings give him permission and support to transcend cultural constraints and be himself in Francisco X. Stork’s gentle tale. Naomi Shihab

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Nye’s wistful, bittersweet poem “Lexicon” looks at the power of words to unite or separate, exemplified by her Palestinian father and his fading hopes for peace. The remaining pieces are significantly weaker. Perkins salutes the value of lightening up in her introduction: “Conversations about race can be so serious, right? People get all tense or touchy.” She offers ground rules: Good humor pokes fun at the powerful, not the weak; builds affection for the “other”; and is usually self-deprecatory. Yet too few pieces here reflect those rules or appear to have been conceived as humor. Undisclosed selection criteria, author bios that don’t always speak to identity, and weak and dated content are problematic. The sweeping racial and cultural judgments and hostile—occasionally mean-spirited—tones of several pieces disappoint; angry venting may be justified and therapeutic, but it’s seldom funny. Leaves readers with more questions than answers. (Anthology. 12 & up)

SO MUCH IT HURTS

Polak, Monique Orca (288 pp.) $12.95 paper | Sep. 1, 2013 978-1-4598-0136-3 A teenage thespian becomes romantically involved with her abusive adult acting coach in this straightforward cautionary tale. Seventeen-year-old Iris is introduced to 31-year-old theater director Mick Horton by her drama teacher during a high school production of Hamlet. Iris, who is playing Ophelia, swoons under Mick’s intense attentions and is soon drawn into a sexual relationship with him. At first, Iris enjoys Mick’s protective manner: “Mick’s not bossy. He’s old-fashioned and romantic. He likes to take charge, and I like how that feels.” But she begins to question the relationship after Mick gets angry and punches a wall—and then her. The situation is further complicated by the fact that Iris’s largely absentee father has recently contacted her on Facebook, and she is telling lie after lie to her mother and friends to cover up her secret liaisons with both men. Iris finally ends the affair after her concerned friends and family stage an intervention, and Mick moves to Australia. The provocative, linear storyline, simple dialogue and textbook development of a typical abusive relationship make this an ideal title for teens who don’t consider themselves readers. Those looking for a more complex depiction of dating violence should try Sarah Dessen’s Dreamland (2000) or Chris Lynch’s Inexcusable (2005). Best for bibliotherapy. (Fiction. 12-15)

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THE SILVER MOON Lullabies and Cradle Songs

Prelutsky, Jack Illus. by Ishida, Jui Greenwillow/HarperCollins (48 pp.) $17.99 | $18.89 PLB | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-06-201467-2 978-0-06-201468-9 PLB

A collection of rhymes for the very young falls smack in the middle of twee territory. Prelutsky’s simple, consistent rhymes could prove pleasing to sleepy ears, but accompanying digital art by Ishida adds little to the collection. Many of the rhymes list various creatures or items, and the illustrations prove reiterative of the text, failing to build upon them to create something new. Granted, the redundancy between art and text could provoke something of an I Spy sort of game, prompting readers to point to those things named in the text, but page after page without an overriding sense of cohesion reads like a missed opportunity. Added to this flaw is the saccharine sensibility of the collection, populated by round, planar forms in soft colors that accompany rhyme after rhyme, each concluding with go-to-sleep messages. Backmatter includes sheet music for four of the lullaby rhymes, which is a nice added touch to a book that otherwise seems rather undistinguished. While a goodnight book needn’t—shouldn’t—be stimulating or exciting, the market is so saturated with such reading material that new titles need to add something special to rise above the rest: This doesn’t. (Picture book. 0-3)

BROKEN

Pulford, Elizabeth Illus. by Gomes, Angus Running Press Kids (240 pp.) $9.95 paper | Aug. 27, 2013 978-0-7624-5004-6 A novel with graphic elements chronicles a girl’s mental and emotional journeys as she works through a childhood trauma while in a coma. Fifteen-year old Zara is in a coma as a result of the motorcycle accident that took the life of her brother, Jem. The first-person narration shifts between comatose Zara, as she hears and mentally responds to the people in her hospital room, and her adventures in the world of her brother’s favorite comic book, Hoodman. Strangely, Zara does not appear to know that she is in a coma, despite her immobility and blindness and the fact that no one responds to her. Much of the action within the comic-book world feels similarly disconnected as, Harold-like, Zara draws herself in and out of various situations, searching for Jem and evading the comic’s villain, Morven. Morven’s depiction, distressingly, borrows from stereotypical tropes of the Other, with dark skin and a hooked nose, a stark contrast to the blonde, fair-skinned protagonist.

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As Zara’s back story unfolds, readers learn that in order to come out of her coma, she must confront the demons from her childhood—a fictively tidy solution that feels both illogical and contrived, given the coma’s cause. In the end, this story attempts to tackle serious issues but fails to grasp the gravity of its subject matter. Disappointing. (Graphic hybrid fiction. 14 & up)

JO MACDONALD HIKED IN THE WOODS Quattlebaum, Mary Illus. by Bryant, Laura J. Dawn Publications (32 pp.) $16.95 | $8.95 paper | Sep. 1, 2013 978-1-58469-334-5 978-1-58469-335-2 paper

Quattlebaum and Bryant continue their nature-themed singalong books with one focused on the sounds of the forest animals. Jo MacDonald and her grandfather head out for a hike in the woods, the familiar childhood song inspiring the pair to describe the animal sounds they hear: the rat-tat of a woodpecker, the err-err of a squirrel, the gobble-gobble of a turkey and more. The hoo-hoo of an owl ends the day, Jo in her grandfather’s arms. Some of the sounds may test (and fail!) the limits of human hearing—the chomp-chomp of a chipmunk eating, a snake’s slither-slither, the shuffle-shuffle of a turtle, the pad-pad of a skunk and a moth’s flutter-flutter. Bryant’s watercolors are sweetly lovely, not only capturing the relationship between the girl and her grandfather (though their faces could be more expressive), but also simplifying the nature scenes in order to highlight the important parts of the ecosystem and to allow young children to easily spot the featured animal and the squirrel that appears in each spread. Backmatter includes extensive information about trees; a paragraph of information about each of the animals, plants and trees in the illustrations; a section on how to emulate Jo, a naturalist; and a list of questions (not all of which can be answered by the text as the directions state—kids may be hard-pressed to draw a squirrel’s drey, for instance). The weakest of Jo’s three adventures; still, this could be a good checklist for young children to use on their own animal-spotting, or -listening, hike. (Picture book. 3-7)

DAISY GETS LOST

Raschka, Chris Illus. by Raschka, Chris Schwartz & Wade/Random (32 pp.) $17.99 | $10.99 e-book | Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-449-81741-4 978-0-449-81743-8 e-book

Having chased first her blue ball and then an amusingly unconcerned-looking squirrel, Daisy finds herself alone in the trackless woods. Applying paint with broad brushwork both wet and dry, Raschka expertly captures sweeping emotional arcs as Daisy and her equally anxious owner search for each other through dense foliage. Finally, Daisy’s despairing howl leads to a reunion so joyful that it requires three nearly identical scenes to express properly. With only Daisy’s called-out name and that howl for text, the pictures chart the eventful outing in a mix of full spreads and sequential strips or panels—with a midcourse aerial view that reassuringly reveals that the two are never very far apart. The duckling Daisy in Jane Simmons’ Come Along, Daisy! (1998) may be more venturesome, but young children will readily identify with the mix of high spirits and vulnerability this Daisy, literally and figuratively fetching, displays. Endearing. (Picture book. 3-5)

THE HUMAN BODY

Richards, Jon Illus. by Simkins, Ed Owlkids Books (32 pp.) $15.95 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-1-926973-93-7 Series: World in Infographics Like its preceding titles (The Natural World, 2013, etc.), this attempt to illuminate factual information by presenting it in visual ways seldom exploits the graphic possibilities. In single-topic spreads, Richards surveys the human body’s insides and outsides, senses, bacterial fellow travelers, reproduction, growth and organ transplants. Though not particularly systematic—mentioning, for instance, red, white and platelet blood cells but only explaining (some of) the actual functions of whites—he does drop many impressively big numbers and also describes major parts and processes clearly. Printed in intense colors against monochromatic backgrounds, Simkins’ images are eye-catching, but they only illustrate the arrays of quick facts and numbers rather than highlighting comparisons or contrasts. (There are occasional exceptions, like one chart showing changing body proportions and another comparing the hearing acuity of various animals.) The visuals are sometimes misleading to boot, as when the relative amounts of nitrogen and of trace elements shown in a silhouette depicting body components contradict the printed percentages, and cardiac chambers don’t change shape or size in the portrayal of a heartbeat. Similar issues dog the co-published The Human World, in which medallions enclosing the rising number of international travelers over time are the same size, as are all but one of the balloons around population figures for the five largest cities. These brave efforts to bring data to life are hobbled by unimaginative visuals. (index, websites) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

The floppy-eared charmer who won the hearts of (among others) a Caldecott Award committee in her first outing suffers more doggy distress in this return. 102

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“Who has been chosen and who has been excluded may spark debate among music buffs, but this work is designed to pique the curiosity of young people who have not yet been exposed to these boundary-pushing innovators.” from legends, icons & rebels

THE FIELD

Richardson, Tracy Luminis (244 pp.) $15.95 | $7.95 e-book | Oct. 12, 2013 978-1-935462-83-5 978-1-935462-84-2 e-book Eric Horton is a talented soccer player and a decent student, and he manages to convince the new French exchange student to go out with him; is he just a lucky teenager, or is he tapping into extra energy via the Field? When Eric and his best friend, Will, agree to act as test subjects for their beautiful classmate’s physicist father, they’re both skeptical but willing. When Eric’s natural ability to do things like communicate via telepathy and conduct astral projections becomes apparent, he accepts the extra energy—and responsibility—that comes with it. Why not? He’s a better goalkeeper when he can anticipate where the ball is going to go. And when the horrifying dreams and premonitions that have plagued him start coming true, it’s handy to have a backup source of strength to do things like lift cars and rip doors off hinges. Richardson uses her science education to delve into questions about interconnectedness and alternative resources; these explorations add necessary depth to characters who are otherwise recognizable tropes from the landscape of teen literature. Readers will appreciate the fast-paced, compelling drama but may wish for more wonder, even cynicism, from these kids, who react to cutting-edge science with an obligatory air of acceptance. A good choice for people who hope there’s more to space than space. (Paranormal fiction. 11-16)

LEGENDS, ICONS & REBELS Music That Changed the World

Robertson, Robbie; Guerinot, Jim; Robertson, Sebastian; Levine, Jared Tundra (128 pp.) $25.95 | Oct. 8, 2013 978-1-77049-571-5 Art, factoids and personal reflections introduce 27 carefully selected and thoughtfully presented musicians, whose radical experimentation with sound and verse helped to shape the music of today. Each profile opens with a two-page spread of stunning original artwork and a recollection from lead author Robbie Robertson, who is himself an accomplished musician best known for his role with The Band. Brief snippets of biographical information follow, along with details about the artist’s influence not only on music, but also on the culture of the time. This diverse selection of artists spans many decades (1925-1968) and musical genres. Though the included CDs provide only one song per artist, recommended songs for further listening are listed. Who has been chosen and who has been excluded may spark |

debate among music buffs, but this work is designed to pique the curiosity of young people who have not yet been exposed to these boundary-pushing innovators. Unfortunately, the lack of contemporary musicians may limit this book’s initial appeal to the already music-obsessed. However, the conversational tone of the writing and visually alluring layout will quickly capture the attention of most young readers who give it a chance. A compelling introduction to the ancestors of modern popular music. (timeline, sources) (Nonfiction. 12 & up)

DING DONG! GORILLA!

Robinson, Michelle Illus. by Lord, Leonie Peachtree (32 pp.) $15.95 | Sep. 1, 2013 978-1-56145-730-4

The mayhem begins with a pizza delivery, but blame it all on the gorilla. The inclination to deny culpability is a universal one, and young children are especially good at it. So when there’s mischief afoot, a small boy with a very inventive imagination places all the responsibility on a mysterious gorilla who manages to absent himself just as mother appears on the scene. After all, how else to explain toys and DVDs scattered about, crayon drawings on the wall, a pile of clothes on the floor, a broken window and furniture, a chocolate-covered kitchen and other assorted disasters? He describes each episode, emphasizing his own complete innocence, and follows with “But that’s not the bad news,” indicating there’s worse to come. That is left to the conclusion and an empty pizza box. Robinson builds the action with one hilarious explanation after another, seamlessly partnered with Lord’s digitally rendered illustrations that fly across the pages. The little antihero’s facial expressions indicate that he is appropriately appalled and concerned by this gorilla’s outlandish behavior. The gorilla, on the other hand, seems to genuinely enjoy his exploits. The text is peppered with a smorgasbord of typefaces that grow larger and bolder as the events grow more improbable. Read it with a little fibber and just laugh and enjoy. (Picture book. 4-8)

THOMAS JEFFERSON BUILDS A LIBRARY

Rosenstock, Barb Illus. by O’Brien, John Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills (40 pp.) $16.95 | Sep. 1, 2013 978-1-59078-932-2

This unusual picture-book biography fosters a new understanding of Thomas Jefferson’s life as viewed through his love of books and its impact on our burgeoning nation. The opening quote from Jefferson sets the tone: “I cannot live without books.” The narrative replicates the rhythm of a

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“Rosoff respects her young character, portraying her as a complete person capable of recognizing that there are things she may not yet know but aware that life is a sometimes-painful sequence of clues to be put together….” from picture me gone conversation as it provides numerous examples of his love of books. Clever spreads combine expansive full-bleed images and individual, framed pen-and-ink–and-watercolor illustrations, plus vignettes amplifying points made in the text. Throughout, fact boxes shaped like open books scattered across the pages supply additional details. A scholar from childhood, Jefferson devoured his father’s library and then, at school, learned to read in several languages. He cultivated personal libraries covering many subjects while living at his parents’ plantation and again at Monticello. Ultimately, this examination highlights Jefferson’s role in ensuring that the Library of Congress held a viable collection: first as president, when he supported the Library of Congress, and later, when the collection was burned during the War of 1812, by offering his books to them. The piece closes on the fascinating note that the Library of Congress owns more than 155 million items and adds around 11,500 each day. An author’s note provides further information, including a discussion of Jefferson as slaveholder. Sure to be enjoyed, this is an engaging study of one of our Founding Father’s great legacies. (selected bibliography, source notes) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)

BOBO THE SAILOR MAN!

Rosenthal, Eileen Illus. by Rosenthal, Marc Atheneum (40 pp.) $15.99 | $12.99 e-book | Sep. 24, 2013 978-1-4424-4443-0 978-1-4424-4444-7 e-book Willy—the small boy whose selfabsorbed attachment to a household sock monkey is shared by Earl, the family cat—has grown into a more adventuresome fellow (I’ll Save You Bobo!, 2012, etc.). On an expedition outdoors, Willy boldly kicks at some “[p]oison mushrooms,” notices acorns and delicate flowers, lets a caterpillar crawl up his shirt, and finally launches Bobo, the sock monkey, into a small creek in a found vessel—a red pail. Too smart to venture far on the slippery rocks to rescue Bobo, who has sailed into the middle of the current, Willy returns home for the proper rescue turnout and reappears in bright rain gear, fishing pole at the ready to snag the bobbing bucket. Meanwhile, readers get to see Earl step delicately across the rocks to claim Bobo. The ever-watchful Earl stands in sweetly for a vigilant protector—not of Willy, but of Bobo, which lets Willy’s adventure seem quite independent. The story unfolds clearly through the illustrations, offering an opportunity for young listeners to return to retell the tale. The generous white space and bold lines of the illustrations, Earl’s expressive, scheming face, along with the nicely visual, slapstick punch line all invite very young readers to identify with Willy. Endearing as a slightly exaggerated solo adventure with a stuffed animal—but then there’s Earl, who adds a lovely dose of spice. (Picture book. 2-6)

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PICTURE ME GONE

Rosoff, Meg Putnam (256 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 3, 2013 978-0-399-25765-0

Mila, 12, a keen observer of people and events, accompanies her translator father, Gil, on a journey from London to upstate New York in search of Gil’s lifelong friend, who’s disappeared. Mila applies her puzzle-solving skills to the mystery of why Matthew would abandon his wife and baby, not to mention his dog. On a road trip to Matthew’s cabin in the woods, she mulls over the possibilities while Gil keeps his thoughts to himself. Mila, who finds strength in her multinational pedigree and her ability to read people, is the one who eventually puts the pieces of the story together. Rosoff respects her young character, portraying her as a complete person capable of recognizing that there are things she may not yet know but aware that life is a sometimes-painful sequence of clues to be put together, leading to adulthood. The author skillfully turns to a variety of literary devices to convey this transition: the absence of quotation marks blurs the line between thoughts spoken and unspoken; past, present, and future merge in Mila’s telling just as they do in the lives of the characters as truths come to light and Mila is able to translate Matthew’s darkest secrets. A brilliant depiction of the complexity of human relationships in a story that’s at once contemplative and suspenseful. (Fiction. 11 & up)

ELECTRICAL WIZARD How Nikola Tesla Lit Up the World

Rusch, Elizabeth Illus. by Dominguez, Oliver Candlewick (40 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 10, 2013 978-0-7636-5855-7

Nikola Tesla’s curiosity and passion for discovery are on full display in this picture-book biography. From the time he was a small boy, Serbian-born inventor Nikola Tesla was fascinated by electricity. It wasn’t long before he began to notice everything about this power and ways to make it more effective. As he traveled the world, working, learning and inventing, he was constantly looking for a way to develop electricity using alternating current, a method he believed would be safer and cheaper than the direct current that was in use. When he came to the United States, he sought the help of Thomas Edison, a proponent of direct current, and the two inventors eventually found themselves rivals after initial collaboration. Despite powerful opposition, Tesla’s ideas ultimately prevailed. This is a lively introduction to the life of an important figure in technology, someone whose ideas

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are still at the center of today’s world. Rusch highlights key episodes in Tesla’s creative life that will resonate with young readers. Dominguez’s graphite, gouache, ink and acrylic paintings capture both the inventor’s focus and his exuberance, ably complementing the narrative. The backmatter, with attention to Tesla as visionary, his rivalry with Edison and additional discussion about his work with electricity, answers questions without interrupting the story flow. An engaging volume that will encourage both budding scientists and anyone intrigued by the creative process. (sources, bibliography, further reading) (Picture book/biography. 7-10)

THE LOST BOY

Ruth, Greg Illus. by Ruth, Greg Graphix/Scholastic (192 pp.) $24.99 | $12.99 paper | $12.99 e-book Sep. 1, 2013 978-0-439-82331-9 978-0-439-82332-6 paper 978-0-545-57690-1 e-book A mysterious reel-to-reel tape player may solve a local mystery, but it may also

lead to gravest peril. Nate would have preferred staying in the city over his family’s move to a creaky, old country house. However, when he finds an old tape machine under the floorboards of his room with an attached note addressed to him and reading “Find him,” things get a bit more interesting. The tapes were recorded long ago by a boy named Walt, who narrated his search for missing local pets and whose story is interleaved with Nate’s. Walt’s investigations take a fantastical turn when the neighborhood fauna, from insects to squirrels, begin to talk. Back in the present, Nate’s new friend, Tabitha, relates the local legends of Walt’s disappearance. (The two timelines are distinguished by black margins for Walt’s story and white margins for Nate’s.) As they dig deeper, the two are drawn into a frightening mystery that thrusts them into a strange world through the gate in Crow’s Woods. Can they find Walt? Will they even survive? Dark Horse author/illustrator Ruth creates a sinister, yet familiar urban fantasy of parallel worlds. Some lettering in the speech bubbles can be difficult to decipher, but the black-and-white panels of spirits, insects, animals and shadows are packed with action and realistic dialogue. A refreshing fantasy in which not all is spelled out, with tantalizing hints at a sequel. (Graphic fantasy. 8-12)

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SNOW BEARS NEVER LIE

Said Illus. by Ludin, Marine Translated by Wilson, David Henry NorthSouth (32 pp.) $17.95 | Sep. 1, 2013 978-0-7358-4137-6

A Swiss flight of fancy pairs a little girl with a big, white playmate. On her way to pick berries, Lily discovers a white snow bear slumbering inside a fridge parked on a wintry hillside. He’s gruff, but magical too, granting three wishes: a basket of berries, the ability to fly and freedom from her fear of the dark. Charmingly absurd, this quirky tale slips and slides in pacing and plot. Its cadence (the translation is a little clunky, like a clog) and sensibility (nothing saccharine here: “You don’t know much about snow bears, do you?” and “Shut the door, girl!”) make this somewhat odd tale fresh and unusual. Cool blues and crisp whites cover pages like blankets of snow, their frosty tones invigorated by the valentine red of Lily’s scarf and the yellows of her hair and distant sun. Simple, unadorned and warm, these illustrations recall folk art in their economy and good nature. A fireside ending provides coziness as well. After the snow bear returns sleeping Lily to her doorstep, she shares her adventure with her parents while popping berries like a big, burly bear. Squinting readers will spy the snow bear through the window, flying north on the wind, just as he said he would. Why would he lie, anyway? A little awkward, but appealing in its uncommon language, unusual hero and kindly artwork. (Picture book. 2-6)

SNOWBALL TRUCE!

Schmitt, Michel-Yves Illus. by Caut, Vincent Graphic Universe (32 pp.) $6.95 paper | $18.95 e-book | $25.26 PLB Sep. 1, 2013 978-1-4677-1523-2 978-1-4677-1657-4 e-book 978-1-4677-0770-1 PLB Series: Where’s Leopold?, 2 Impish Leopold returns for more madcap adventures with his big sister, Celine. Leopold isn’t your typical annoying little brother: He can turn invisible at will. Often using his powers to torture Celine, he occasionally uses them for good. A snowball fight between the siblings causes them to declare a truce, which is promptly broken, leaving Celine with a snootful of snow and a subsequent cold. Seeing his sister ill and unable to leave her bed to watch her favorite show, Leopold uses his powers to enact the scenes with her favorite toys—though of course, he adds his own spin upon it, seizing the chance to give her a good scare. Later, when a group of boys tease Leopold, saying the power to turn invisible is “a girl’s superpower” and “so lame” (Flammable Man is much cooler), Celine quickly comes to his defense. While the

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undercurrent of sibling teasing is practically a torrent, it’s gentle and often humorous. Oversized panels with a merry, candycolored palette carry the short vignettes, most only a few pages long. With its brevity and easy wit, this should be a quick sell to reluctant readers. A quick and enjoyable yarn. (Graphic fiction. 6-11)

LOVE HURTS

Scudamore, Beverly Lorimer Press (144 pp.) $16.95 | $9.95 paper | $8.95 e-book Sep. 1, 2013 978-1-4594-0367-3 978-1-4594-0366-6 paper 978-1-4594-0368-0 e-book Series: SideStreets In a mostly well-executed problem novel, a Canadian teen becomes romantically involved with a dangerous boy. Mel has a long-standing crush on her friend Dustin, but although the two of them almost dated a year earlier, Dustin has a new girlfriend. When Mel meets new kid Colter Wagner in the principal’s office after she and Dustin witness a fight, she is excited to have a new boy in her life. As Mel and Colter become involved, however, the relationship changes subtly and gradually. Readers may pick up on warning signs—Colter wants to spend lots of time away from Mel’s friends; he buys her an unsettlingly extravagant ring—but the storytelling makes it clear how Mel misses the signs or waves away her doubts. Even when Colter confesses he was responsible for a car accident that killed his previous girlfriend and asks pitifully and manipulatively if Mel will leave him now that she knows, it is easy, if upsetting, to understand her response: “After everything he’s been through, how could I walk away?” Some of the exposition is clunky, especially as Mel is introducing herself to readers, but the central storyline is compelling and builds to a harrowing yet hopeful resolution. A believable and largely unsensationalized look into an abusive dating relationship. (Fiction. 12-16)

TIME TRAVEL TROUBLE

Seegert, Scott Illus. by Martin, John Egmont USA (192 pp.) $13.99 | Aug. 27, 2013 978-1-60684-461-8 Series: Vordak the Incomprehensible, 4

and Vordak answers, “Hey! You leave that sweet old lady out of this!” It might help to think of this book as a psychological test. Older readers can use it as a dating service: If two people both laugh at the grammar joke, they might be perfect for each other. But even fans of dumb jokes may get frustrated with the narrator. Vordak is one of the least sympathetic characters in children’s literature. Sometimes he breaks the fourth wall to insult readers directly. He says, “…how can I be expected to concentrate with that goofy mug of yours staring down at me all beady-eyed and everything?” The “About the Author” page says, “Vordak the Incomprehensible is a world-class Supervillain and the Evil Master of all he surveys.” So it’s no surprise that the book is full of abuse and bad jokes. Vordak’s longtime fans will welcome the unpleasantness. Your mileage may vary. (Humor. 9-12)

LARRY GETS LOST IN PREHISTORIC TIMES From Dinosaurs to the Stone Age

Skewes, John; Fox, Andrew Illus. by Skewes, John Sasquatch (32 pp.) $16.99 | Aug. 20, 2013 978-1-57061-862-8 Series: Larry Gets Lost

A pooch with, in previous outings, a penchant for straying touristically in various modern cities takes a quick scoot through the age of the dinosaurs, and after. Having dozed off while his human buddy Pete is studying, Larry “wakes” beneath the feet of a huge, plant-eating sauropod and then flees from a T. Rex, going past various armored and feathered dinos. He goes on to get glimpses of Cretaceous fliers and swimmers, then trots through the Cenozoic Era to the Stone Age and, at last, his modern dinner. In illustrations that look like scraped screen prints, the prehistoric critters are recognizable in shape but monochromatically colored. The often low-contrast or pastel hues are as flat as the main narrative’s verse: “These guys look scary, / With armor and spikes. / But that’s just for defense; / It’s plants that they like.” Along with unexplained terminology (“Cretaceous-Paleogene Extinction Event”), the accompanying prose captions offer such awkwardly phrased gems as: “If something becomes buried under the right conditions, the evidence of it can last for millions of years.” Even very young dinosaur devotees will have no trouble finding better pickings elsewhere. (Informational picture book. 5-7)

This book might be the definition of “Your mileage may vary.” A lot of people like to say, “The stupidest jokes are always the best,” but this book may test their patience levels. In the third chapter, for example, a character says, “I was talking about your grammar,” 106

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“From naiad to minotaur, the straight characters, gay characters, jerks, bitches, buddies and one major diva are fleshed out, not merely relying upon their exteriors for interest.” from man made boy

MAN MADE BOY

Skovron, Jon Viking (368 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 3, 2013 978-0-670-78620-6

How do you circumvent the same, boring fate as your famous monster parents? Run away from home and launch a maniacal computer virus that might possibly annihilate human- and monsterkind. Oops. Seventeen-year-old Boy’s name is mundane, but his life isn’t. With his celebrity parents (Frankenstein’s monster and the Bride of), he lives among a merry band of monsters and mythical creatures in catacombs beneath Times Square. Under the guise of a theater troupe, they perform a popular creature-feature show, their human audience blissfully unaware that the stage is populated by bona fide trolls, sirens and an egomaniacal gorgon. With their mostly scientific origins, Boy and his parents aren’t fully accepted by the 100-percent myth-and-magic creatures in their commune. So rather than endure segregation—and the life his parents planned for him—Boy runs away. Tech-savvy Boy’s plan to leave his stamp on the world backfires when the computer virus he engineers goes rogue, the troll he loves goes feral and returning home means facing parental wrath. From naiad to minotaur, the straight characters, gay characters, jerks, bitches, buddies and one major diva are fleshed out, not merely relying upon their exteriors for interest. And as Boy’s journey takes him from the tri-state area to the West Coast, each locale rings with well-researched authenticity. A comically creepy coming-of-age road trip stitched together with action, romance, sex, combat and a couple of bootleg cocktails. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Lovitt books (Pie in the Sky, 2012, etc.) have always been especially anchored to time and place. Beautifully written as always, this installment is especially satisfying for the way it shows Abby’s curiosity and sense of wonder naturally unfold. Also as always, the horse details continue to fascinate. Another successful visit with Abby Lovitt and her horses. (Historical fiction. 10-14)

CLAUDE AT THE CIRCUS

Smith, Alex T. Illus. by Smith, Alex T. Peachtree (96 pp.) $12.95 | Sep. 1, 2013 978-1-56145-702-1 Series: Claude

Children waiting for an absurdist chapter book need tap their toes no more. “Claude’s best friend,” readers are told, “is Sir Bobblysock. He is both a sock and quite bobbly.” (Oddly, the sock in the illustration, though striped, looks quite smooth.) Readers should be warned: The Claude series is full of jokes that are clever but extremely bewildering. This may be a book for a rarified audience. It’s a story about a dog who’s compulsively neat. When he goes to a golf course, he fills in the holes and picks up the untidy balls littering the grass. Fans of Amelia Bedelia will find this sort of thing hilarious, but some of the jokes are positively surreal. Amelia Bedelia’s socks never danced “a high-stepping jig.” The climax has everything a child could want in a book. Claude hangs from a tightrope, throws custard pies and is shot out of a cannon. Some readers may wonder why Claude needs to give “the high wire a once-over with a damp cloth,” but surrealists probably won’t complain. (Fiction. 7-9)

GEE WHIZ

Smiley, Jane Illus. by Clayton, Elaine Knopf (272 pp.) $16.99 | $10.99 e-book | $19.99 PLB Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-375-86969-3 978-0-375-98533-1 e-book 978-0-375-96969-0 PLB Series: Horses of Oak Valley Ranch, 5 Abby Lovitt’s newest horse brings her a taste of the wider world. Handsome, intelligent Gee Whiz, recently retired, raced successfully all over the country, and Abby loves to imagine the things he’s seen. Meanwhile, her brother looks to be heading into the Vietnam War, her friends Barbie and Alexis come home from boarding school, and a beloved church member dies. Abby’s awash with change—but if that weren’t enough, the man who co-owns her young horse, Jack, wants to start his race training, which Abby and her family can’t afford. Smiley’s Abby |

BAYGIRL

Smith, Heather Orca (288 pp.) $12.95 paper | Sep. 1, 2013 978-1-4598-0274-2 In the Newfoundland fishing village of Parsons Bay, Kitty has her refuges all staked out, for when she needs to hide from her father’s nearly incessant drunken belligerence. Neighbor Ms. Bartlett and her Nan live nearby, and there is a cliff where she frequently meets her best friend, Anne-Marie, for solace. But it’s 1992, and the cod fishery is subject to a moratorium, leaving her father suddenly without work. Hoping to find work, the family moves to live with Uncle Iggy in St. John’s. The bigger city and foreign environment require that Kitty find new friends and new ways to cope. Her uncle, an elderly neighbor who favors forgiveness, and, above all, an attractive boy support Kitty and yet present

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“Imaginatively illustrated and beautifully written, this offbeat ode to the power of music is a winner.” from the man with the violin

her with challenges. Required to look past first glances and see the heart beneath in this new environment, Kitty in the process begins to look past her father’s drunken exterior as well. Learning and accepting a bit of the why her father is incapable of facing life sober helps. Admitting that she knows that he loves her even if he can’t seem to show it makes life endurable. Kitty’s initial belligerence and anger, so predominant early on, modulates to a more nuanced point of view; given her growth, it’s a shame the mother remains a nonentity. This first-person tale gently illustrates change, both good and bad. (Historical fiction. 12-16)

“WHEN DID YOU SEE HER LAST?”

Snicket, Lemony Little, Brown (288 pp.) $16.00 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-0-316-12305-1 Series: All the Wrong Questions, 2

Questions answered, question posed (the wrong one again). Mysteries solved, mystery deepens…. Nearly 13-year-old Lemony Snicket chased the missing statue of the Bombinating Beast under the inept, ignorant and annoying supervision of his mentor S. Theodora Merkson (“Who Could That Be at This Hour?”, 2012). That case didn’t turn out too well. They now have a new case, and Theodora looks to be pursuing this as ineptly as she did before. The duo is searching for Miss Cleo Knight, daughter of the heirs of Ink Inc. Her unconcerned parents appear to have been drugged by their private apothecary, Dr. Flammarion, but housekeepers Zara and Zora are deeply worried. Cleo’s a brilliant chemist, but shallow investigation points to her having run off to join the circus. Young Mr. Snicket knows most things are not as they seem at first, and while his mentor celebrates solving the case, he investigates further, with the help of associates from his last adventure, and discovers connections to their last case…and the case his sister Kit is working on. Snicket’s second of four All the Wrong Questions is more sly noir for preteens. Chock-full of linguistic play and literary allusions to children’s and classic literature, this is adventure mystery for young readers who like to think as they read. Little is answered definitively, but fans won’t mind; they’ll just be pleased there are two more young Snicket adventures to come. (Mystery. 8-14)

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ARE YOU EXPERIENCED?

Sonnenblick, Jordan Feiwel & Friends (304 pp.) $17.99 | Sep. 3, 2013 978-1-250-02564-7

When 15-year-old Rich Barber travels back in time from 2014 to the 1969 Woodstock festival, he encounters the ’60s, including his teenage father. Rich loves playing the guitar and wishes he had been around in the ’60s, like his father and uncle who played in a rock band and attended Woodstock. After his older brother died from a heroin overdose, though, Rich’s father turned into a depressed, overprotective adult. Rich has spent his whole life limited by his father’s rules. When he discovers his father’s been hiding a guitar rock luminary Jimi Hendrix played at Woodstock, Rich defiantly strikes a chord and wakes up on the road to Woodstock with his father, his uncle and his uncle’s girlfriend. A stranger from the future who knows what’s going to happen, Rich conceals his identity and bonds with his father. Together, they witness Woodstock’s free love, rampant drug use and incredible music. When Rich learns his father had abusive parents, he’s determined to “meet Jimi Hendrix, save [his] uncle and change [his] father’s future.” Alternating his first-person narration between past and present, Rich proves a sensitive, insightful and humorous 21st-century guide to the hippie generation’s most iconic event. This provocative, personal peek at legendary Woodstock rocks. (Fantasy. 12 & up)

THE MAN WITH THE VIOLIN

Stinson, Kathy Illus. by Petricic, Dušan Annick Press (32 pp.) $19.95 | Sep. 16, 2013 978-1-55451-565-3 A Stradivarius on the subway? This Canadian import tells the story of violinist Joshua Bell’s quirky experiment. An imposing woman in a fur coat and matching hat pulls a little boy down the street behind her. “Dylan was someone who noticed things. His mom was someone who didn’t.” The colors in the street scene behind them are muted grays, except for a thick stripe running across the page to the back of Dylan’s head. Brightly colored objects against a white background fill it. Mom has a stripe as well, of blank white. In the crowded train station, Dylan hears music; its swirls of color wend through the scene. Dylan follows the sound to a man in a blue baseball cap, energetically playing the violin. Mom pulls him away, but the power of the music lingers in his mind. Later, at home, he’s amazed to hear the violinist on the radio. An announcer explains that famed violinist Joshua Bell played in the subway today, yet “few people listened for even a minute.” Dylan runs to show Mom how deeply the music has affected him. He soars around the

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room in curly colored waves, riding the music. Then they listen together, and they dance! Bell himself recalls the incident that inspired the book in a postscript. Imaginatively illustrated and beautifully written, this offbeat ode to the power of music is a winner. (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-9)

Adventures in Cartooning Characters in Action

Sturm, James; Arnold, Andrew; FrederickFrost, Alexis Illus. by Sturm, James; Arnold, Andrew; Frederick-Frost, Alexis First Second/Roaring Brook (64 pp.) $9.99 paper | Oct. 8, 2013 978-1-59643-732-6 Series: Adventures in Cartooning This is a Zen sort of art book. It teaches advanced art techniques while hardly talking about drawing at all. If the book had an index, there would be entries for “Boat-asaurus” and ���Clown-a-clops” and “Bandit raccoon” and “Witch, 7 years old.” There are more characters on the cover of the book than in some entire novels. The authors write: “…the ones we couldn’t fit INSIDE the book are here, on the back cover!” There’s so much going on in this drawing book that there’s barely any room for drawing tips. Most of the drawing lessons appear between pages 48 and 53. The rest of the book is an adventure story with knights and frogs and, for some reason, a movie director. And yet, the drawing tips are remarkably useful. The authors explain in just a few panels how a peanut shape can be turned into every possible character or personality type. It goes without saying that they draw dozens of sample characters. This is, in short, a very silly book. The About the Authors section takes up two whole pages and contains no information about the authors. But it has a cowboy and a robot and a monster with two heads, and for fans of the series, that will be more than enough. Hysterical—and useful. (Nonfiction. 6-12)

HIPPOMOBILE!

Tapia, Jeff Clarion (240 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-547-99548-9

eat their meals at Mabel’s cafe, sleep in the local hotel, spend time in their special tree and try hard to memorize all the presidents of the United States. When Mabel admits to them that she can’t afford to keep the cafe open any longer, they put their eager brains to the problem of saving Mabel’s and, subsequently, the town. How? By resurrecting a glorious vehicle invented by a previous, mysterious town inhabitant. In his first book for a young audience, Tapia (Deep Tissue, 2012) shows remarkable ownership of language that his readers will find both hilarious and wise. Peppering the pitch-perfect description and dialogue are phrases like “Stella scraped her prayer bones” and “the biggest linguisters,” and for readers who can’t figure out what those mean, Tapia provides plenty of footnotes. The relationships between the young and old, the townspeople and the town are endearing and enduring. A rousing adventure with double the heart. (Adventure. 8-12)

ROBOT RUMPUS!

Taylor, Sean Illus. by Collins, Ross Andersen Press USA (32 pp.) $16.95 | $12.95 e-book | Sep. 1, 2013 978-1-4677-2031-1 978-1-4677-2037-3 e-book Once more into the night, when feckless parents leave their kid in the charge of defective robots. Who are these parents anyway, and haven’t they read by now—or just scanned in a picture book—that you can’t trust robot babysitters? This old ground, so well-turned it has surrendered most of its nutrients, is visited again by Taylor with little new to offer except for Collins’ robots, which are ancient, modern and futuristic all rolled into one (or seven—the number of droids invented here). So the parents gaily skip out for the evening and entrust their little girl to a gang of robots they haven’t even unpacked. (Mum says, “They’re the latest models. What could possibly go wrong?” Right.) In often-clunky couplets, readers are taken through the ensuing chaos, which culminates with the robots zonked out in the parents’ bed, along with the parents. Serves them right. It’s playful enough, but the narrative skips along and never dives in—as it does in Jon Scieszka and David Shannon’s Robot Zot! (2009) or Timothy Bush’s Benjamin McFadden and the Robot Babysitter (1998)—leaving these robots without much personality. Subpar. (Picture book. 4-9)

The town of Wymore is dying, and it’s not just because the majority of its 51 residents are “all old and have either gray hair or no hair at all.” During the summer months, when their parents are working long hours out of town, twins Jimmy and Stella are watched over by 47 grandparents, none of whom are related to them by blood. The twins |

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RELIC

Terrell, Heather Illus. by Cortés, Ricardo Soho Teen (288 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 29, 2013 978-1-61695-196-2 Series: Books of Eva, 1 Standard-issue dystopia set in a post– global-warming future: plucky heroine, lying leaders, ridiculous endurance tests and, yes, two hot guys. Eva is a Maiden of New North, the last remaining civilization after oceans rose and the world flooded. The Lex, or law, of her world is filled with references to the evil of the “false god Apple” and strict hierarchical and gendered rules for living. After her twin brother’s death, Eva takes his place as a Testor seeking Relics from the pre-Healing time. If she can find a worthy Relic and craft a suitably moral cautionary tale (but not a Lex-prohibited “fiction”), she can succeed her father as Chief Archon. The plethora of details include Inuit and Latin terms and slightly entertaining but preachy uses of real-world items (Prozac, MasterCards) listed as evils of the past, all of which set this slightly apart from similar books but might overwhelm readers. Moreover, the plot lacks plausibility, some of which is revealed to be intentional but much of which seems designed to propel action. Flat first-person narration and weak characterization detract from the good bits, and in the end, it’s really all setup for the next volume anyway. While not egregiously terrible, this is yet another alsoran in the hordes of books vying to be the next Hunger Games or Divergent. (map, illustrations) (Science fiction. 12 & up)

FRACTURED

Terry, Teri Nancy Paulsen Books (336 pp.) $17.99 | Sep. 26, 2013 978-0-399-16173-5 Series: Slated, 2 Those intrigued by Terry’s first book about Kyla (Slated, 2012) will find themselves swimming in a morass of her memories in this second. Kyla’s past lives as Lucy and Rain are indistinct and muddled. While Kyla has escaped the worst effects of being Slated (the wiping of her previous life and memories), her personality has definitely been fractured, as the title indicates. Readers are left to puzzle out what actually happened and why. The family she is placed with has direct ties to a martyred prime minister, and her personal doctor is the one who invented the Slating process. Coincidence? Irritatingly vague events and dream sequences abound and seem to have import, but the threads fail to cohere. Readers familiar with the first book will find seeming inconsistencies (Kyla’s visceral reaction to blood late in the book contrasts with a not-so-visceral one 110

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in an early scene) confusing, and they will wonder how and why the other characters seem to change personalities as quickly as Kyla does. In this shifting moral environment, there is so little to trust that the authorial manipulation of events becomes all too evident. Readers who decide to go with the flow will reach a violent and surprising payoff, but it will take dedication to get there. (Dystopian romance. 12 & up)

THE HOLE

Torseter, Øyvind Illus. by Torseter, Øyvind Enchanted Lion Books (64 pp.) $22.95 | Sep. 21, 2013 978-1-59270-143-8 The Norwegian illustrator of My Father’s Arms Are a Boat (2013) pokes a pencil-sized hole through both covers and all 64 pages of this outing—but then doesn’t do much with it. In very plain, nearly wordless line drawings with pale monochromatic highlights, Torseter depicts a cartoon figure (a lanky creature with a face like a hippo) who spots the hole in the wall of his new apartment. He chases it as it “moves” through various rooms and then plunks it in a box. He proceeds to “carry” it through a long sequence of city scenes—it does duty as sign lettering, wheels, eyes, lights and other items—to a laboratory, where it’s shoved into a drawer. The figure then walks obliviously home as the hole follows through the sky and ends up back in its original position on the apartment wall. Though the hole may take a moment to spot in some scenes, it is too small to have any significant visual impact. Nor, in contrast to the one in Hervé Tullet’s The Book with a Hole (2011) and other similarly pierced titles, is it placed or decorated in ways that will spark imaginative play or lead viewers to fresh considerations of their own surroundings. A one-trick pony—and the trick’s not all that great. (Picture book. 4-6)

LITTLE MISS MUFFET

Trapani, Iza Illus. by Trapani, Iza Skyhorse Publishing (32 pp.) $16.95 | Sep. 10, 2013 978-1-62087-986-3 The most famous scaredy-cat of them all experiences fright after fright before finally getting to enjoy her curds

and whey. Trapani continues Miss Muffet’s story: “All through the room, / She zipped and she zoomed / And looked for a place to hide. // A mouse came to find her; / It scurried behind her. / The dainty Miss bolted outside.” From a frog in the bushes and a crow at the top of a tree to a fish next to her canoe and a moose

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“Gestural ink-and-watercolor illustrations evoke the fantastic fluidity of the imagination, and crisp, copious white space suggests its limitlessness.” from loula is leaving for africa

on the shore, it’s one thing after another. Finally, she unwinds in a bubble bath before once again settling on her tuffet (here pictured as an upholstered footstool) for a snack. Readers will barely be able to contain themselves when they spy the spider climbing up the tuffet leg. Indeed, Trapani slyly inserts clues as to what might next befall the hapless Miss Muffet in her brightly colored illustrations, which humorously capture both Miss Muffet’s primness and her fright. The rhythm and rhyme are not as tight as in others of Trapani’s extended nursery rhymes—she rhymes “scuttered” with “water” and “canoe” with “out to”—but it’s still a fun romp. The back cover includes the music and the words to all eight verses. Those with similar fears may feel empathy for Miss Muffet’s plight; others will just giggle at the improbability of it all. (Picture book. 3-6)

DEATH OF A KING

Vanderwal, Andrew H. Tundra (304 pp.) $19.95 | $10.99 e-book | Sep. 10, 2013 978-1-77049-398-8 978-1-77049-399-5 e-book Teenage time traveler Alex continues to search for his missing parents, blithely influencing history as he goes. Rightly certain that his parents went to the 13th century to prevent the death of Scottish King Alexander and thereby ensure Scotland’s continued independence, he has stayed in the past in hopes of finding them (The Battle for Duncragglin, 2009). Meanwhile, his confederates in time travel, siblings Annie, Willie and Craig McRae, though newly restored to the 21st century, find a clue in an obscure account of the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297 and re-enter history in order to bring him back. With them goes a graffiti-mad classmate. The convoluted plot moves back and forth between Alex and the McRaes, as the former’s misadventures near Stirling reveal a plot that influences the outcome of the fateful battle, leaving William Wallace the victor, and the latter’s efforts likewise put them in the path of the legendary leader. As in the first book, an emotional flatness hamstrings the characters’ hair-raising antics; companions are killed—or thought to be—with little effect on those left behind. The time travelers traipse around the medieval Scottish countryside with cans of spray paint and in 21st-century clothes that are barely remarked on by the locals, further emphasizing the primacy of plot over believability. The body count is high, but credibility is very low in this tepid historical outing. (Fantasy. 9-13)

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LOULA IS LEAVING FOR AFRICA

Villeneuve, Anne Illus. by Villeneuve, Anne Kids Can (32 pp.) $16.95 | Sep. 1, 2013 978-1-55453-941-3

Loula seethes. Sick of three ugly brothers and ignored by dotty parents, she sets out for Africa, making it only as far as the tree in the front yard until Gilbert (the family chauffeur) arrives to assist her on an imaginative safari. Much feels familiar here: an affluent, plucky girl with an upturned nose and a doting servant (Eloise, anyone?). A roundbrimmed straw hat calls to mind a spunky French girl (bonjour, Madeline!). It’s Gilbert, long-legged and lanky in high-waisted trousers, driving cap and bow tie, that makes this story special, sweet and lasting. His elaborate game of pretend, one that turns a city playground into the jungle, desert and rivers of Africa, reveals an utter devotion not only to little Loula, but also to make-believe. “Mademoiselle, please! Don’t put your hand in the water! Piranhas!” he cautions urgently. Gestural ink-andwatercolor illustrations evoke the fantastic fluidity of the imagination, and crisp, copious white space suggests its limitlessness. Yellows and blues appear frequently, making this sunny adventure even sunnier. When Loula and Gilbert reach their destination (a tiny park island) at sunset, the dark squiggly cloud that hovered above Loula’s head on each previous page dissipates in a miniexplosion of elation. A paean to imagination and an artful acknowledgment of children’s needs and frustrations, leavened with poignancy and humor. (Picture book. 2-6)

THE GHOST IN THE GLASS HOUSE

Wallace, Carey Houghton Mifflin (240 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 3, 2013 978-0-544-02291-1 In this convoluted ghostly romance set during the 1920s, a privileged set of early teens devoid of positive adult role models uneasily navigates relationships, sexual feelings and jealousy. Readers will connect readily with Clare. The youngest of her group at 12, she is ambivalent about leaving childhood behind; the emotions of the others are often impenetrable. What is clear is that none have responded well to parental abandonment: Power-hungry Teddy, 15, drinks; precocious Bridget, 13, plans marriage as an escape; inseparable friends Denby and Bram, both 14, face changes in their relationship. In Clare’s case, she misses her deceased father and, given her mother’s string of “importunate” suitors, is desperate to know how a good man

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“In the midst of the terrible reality, realistically tiny glimmers of hope shine like candles fighting the darkness.” from juvie

behaves. Then she meets Jack, the ghost in the glass house. His touches are soft, and, invisible, he can be anything Clare imagines. This provides a sharp contrast to Bridget’s manipulations. She takes up with Denby in an effort to make Bram jealous, but Bram is interested in Clare. Denby’s motivation is opaque— regrettable since, in a pivotal scene, he becomes inexplicably violent. That Clare’s mother should suddenly assume parental responsibility is unconvincing, and the resolution leaves some threads hanging. Die-hard young romantics may embrace this; others will not mind letting this one slip away. (Historical fantasy. 12-16)

PLEASE BRING BALLOONS

Ward, Lindsay Illus. by Ward, Lindsay Dial (32 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 17, 2013 978-0-8037-3878-2

With balloons and a carousel taking center stage, this nocturnal fantasy will provide a pleasurable lift for young audiences. When Emma passes the polar bear on the merry-go-round, she notices a message tucked into his saddle: The titular request includes text and a drawing, so pre-readers can help decipher its meaning. On her way to school the next day, the red-haired protagonist affixes a red, polka-dot balloon to the bear’s pole. Returning in the afternoon, she finds a second note requesting more. After the bountiful bunches are attached to the animal, the pair is carried aloft through the sunset and the stars until they reach the snowy Arctic and, in a double gatefold opening, the “polar bear rumpus.” Lined paper, spattered night skies, and washes of white paint over maps and algebraic equations infuse Ward’s cut-paper, pencil and watercolor collages with texture and interest. Her brilliantly hued days contrast with the midnight blue journey and return home. The plot comes full circle when a new message is found. Although this has a stronger storyline than the author’s When Blue Met Egg (2012), a book that felt like a vehicle for collages of New York City, Ward’s dramatic arc is weak, and the voice needs stylistic development. Enjoy for the subject matter and design, search elsewhere for heart and character. (Picture book. 3-5)

JUVIE

Watkins, Steve Candlewick (320 pp.) $17.99 | Oct. 8, 2013 978-0-7636-5509-9 Once you’re in juvie, it doesn’t matter if you’re a good girl. Sadie’s the good sister: taking care of her mentally ill, shut-in father; raising her party-girl sister Carla’s 3-year-old 112

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daughter, Lulu; making good grades; and playing basketball in hopes of a scholarship that will get her out of her crummy Virginia town. One night, while Sadie tries to keep Carla out of trouble, the two of them are caught in a sting. Carla’s on probation for shoplifting and possession, so Sadie agrees to take the fall, thinking she’ll get off with some community-service hours. But she’s caught before a hanging judge in the mood to make an example of drug-dealing minors, and the next thing she knows, she’s spending six months in juvie. Neither the guards nor the inmates in juvenile detention are interested in rehabilitation. Demeaned and degraded, her schooling reduced to pointless GED-prep workbooks from apathetic teachers, barred from the simple comfort of human contact, Sadie doesn’t see how she can return to her outward-bound trajectory when her six months are over. She wants to make friends, to avoid trouble and to protect those weaker than her, but none of that is as simple as it seems. In the midst of the terrible reality, realistically tiny glimmers of hope shine like candles fighting the darkness. A bleakly optimistic reminder to hold on to what is good. (Fiction. 13-17)

WILL YOU BE MY FRIEND?

Watts, Bernadette Illus. by Watts, Bernadette NorthSouth (32 pp.) $17.95 | Sep. 1, 2013 978-0-7358-4117-8

A small group of anthropomorphized woodland creatures have a mild adventure and make a new friend (sort of) in this low-key tale. Watts’ delicate illustrations offer glimpses of cozy burrows, cold, snowy vistas and portraits of charming creatures. Executed in what appears to be pen and colored pencil, they provide plenty to look at, including a variety of actions and characters not mentioned in the text. In one corner of a double-page spread, a small hedgehog runs away clutching a squash. On a different spread, two hedgehogs and three bunnies build a snowman while a mouse in a red hat skis by. Unfortunately, young listeners will likely feel that Watts’ narrative is not nearly as engaging as her pictures. The long, rambling story takes place over several seasons. The central section follows willful Little Jack Rabbit as he and two friends get stuck outside overnight by a snowstorm. The animals survive because the whistling wind blows down a scarecrow, and his coat covers them, keeping them warm. How intentional the scarecrow’s actions are is open to interpretation, though the final page implies that he is alive, alert and able to experience emotions. Listeners who enjoy old-fashioned animal stories will appreciate Watts’ gentle, whimsical tone, pastoral setting and sweet conclusion, but for many, time spent poring over the pictures will be more rewarding—and enjoyable. (Picture book. 5-7)

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BROTHERHOOD

Westrick, A.B. Viking (368 pp.) $17.99 | Sep. 12, 2013 978-0-670-01439-2

Set in Richmond, Va., in 1867, Westrick’s debut affords readers a look into the mind and heart of a reluctant member of the Ku Klux Klan. Fourteen-year-old Shad Weaver’s life is full of secrets. Desperate to learn to read, he begins attending a school for African-Americans, offering tailoring lessons to the students there in exchange for the instruction he receives. He is very careful not to be seen, especially by any members of the other secret group to which he belongs, the Klan. Shad is deeply ambivalent about the brotherhood, appreciating it for the camaraderie it fosters but becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the violence it perpetuates. When the head teacher of the African-American school is murdered and Shad’s brother Jeremiah is fingered, Shad must rely on his own evolving moral compass to help him figure out what to do. While it becomes a bit tedious at times, Shad’s inner dialogue is crucial, as it reveals his struggle against the almost overwhelming social forces seeking to shape him into an instrument of racist violence. The constant sense of danger evoked will keep readers interested, and while the resolution is not entirely satisfying, it is nonetheless realistic. From the perspective of a curious, compassionate young man caught up in Klan violence, this coming-of-age story will spark fruitful discussions about race, identity, social pressure and loyalty. (Historical fiction. 10-14)

WHO GOES THERE?

Wilson, Karma Illus. by Currey, Anna McElderry (40 pp.) $16.99 | $16.99 e-book | Oct. 22, 2013 978-1-4169-8002-5 978-1-4424-4984-8 e-book There’s something scary out there, disturbing Lewis Mouse in his cozy home. Lewis lives in a tiny hole at the bottom of a large tree. He has made it warm and comfortable, but he senses that something is missing. When he hears “SCRITCH SCRATCH TAP TAP TAP,” he imagines threats from a great horned owl, a sneaky cat or a big bear, and he puts forth his bravest, loudest voice, shouting, “Who goes there?” Though leading to expectations of a scary ending in the manner of the various incarnations of the “Tailypo” folk tale, the story takes a different, more comforting turn. Lewis finds that Joy, another mouse, has been making those sounds while preparing her home for the winter. She, in turn, was frightened by his loud bellows. So, it is all a case of mistaken identity, and the two mice find companionship for the long winter ahead—and Lewis realizes that the missing |

“something” was a friend. Wilson makes good use of sound effects and repetition to build suspense and depicts Lewis as no scaredy-mouse, as he bravely faces his fears. Little readers will be reassured by the warm, fuzzy conclusion. Currey’s pen, ink and watercolor illustrations nicely contrast the dark night with the cozy interiors and are a bit Beatrix Potter–esque in their depictions of Lewis. The start of a beautiful friendship. Lovely. (Picture book. 4-8)

ALONE IN THE FOREST

Wolf, Gita; Anastasio, Andrea Illus. by Shyam, Bhajju Tara Publishing (40 pp.) $16.95 | Sep. 10, 2013 978-81-923171-5-1

The terrifying experience of being alone in the woods is rendered through the eyes of a young Indian boy. Assuring his ailing mother that he’s grown-up enough to get wood from the forest near his home, Musa sets off happily with his axe, only to be frightened by a loud noise. Hiding in the hollow of a large tree, he imagines himself trapped in a circle of wild boars. He waits in the dark, convinced he will never escape. The illustrator, a noted Gond tribal artist, conveys the boy’s experience convincingly with evocative and elegantly produced images. Patterns of lines, dots, and chains fill the figures, which are enhanced with solid blocks of colors. There is no depth to these scenes, but there is great variety. The cheery daylight of the beginning turns to a foreboding darkness; the text is white on a black background. The stylized trees, birds and squirrels of the forest are reduced to a maze of branches through which readers see Musa’s terrified eye in close-up. The emotional spell of his fear is broken by a squirrel and then a friendly, familiar cow who leads Musa home to safety. “He didn’t have any wood, but he was very proud of the story he had to tell.” A familiar story arc conveyed through traditional art captivates with its freshness and originality. (Picture book. 4- 7)

GOBBLE YOU UP!

Wolf, Gita—Adapt. Illus. by Sunita Tara Publishing (40 pp.) $29.95 | Oct. 15, 2013 978-81-923171-4-4 Readers familiar with a certain old lady who swallowed a fly will revel in this adaptation of a Rajasthani trickster tale. Beautifully illustrated in a traditional finger-painting style called Mandna, practiced by the Meena tribe in Rajasthan, the black-and-white pictures on thick, tan

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paper are eye-catching in their graphic qualities. Ultimately, the art outshines the simple text, which is told in a cumulative rhyme that occasionally falters in its cadence. Despite this quibble, the picture book is a visual feast for readers as it depicts the gluttonous, lazy jackal who doesn’t want to hunt for his food and instead tricks a succession of animals into becoming his meal. When he is quite literally full-to-bursting, the picture depicts all of the animals he’s eaten within his “huge balloon” of a tummy. Mistakenly thinking that some water will help him, he drinks from a river—until “BLAMM! his poor tummy finally gave up…and BURST.” The animals tumble forth, alive and well, leaving jackal “as thin as a whip” and in search of a tailor bird to sew him up. Itself hand-sewn and bound (as well as -printed, as the ink smell wafting from the pages attests), this handsome volume is an art object in itself. Though the story will feel familiar to Western readers, its fresh visual expression sets it far apart. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)

DEAD GIRLS DON’T LIE

Wolf, Jennifer Shaw Walker (336 pp.) $17.99 | Sep. 17, 2013 978-0-8027-3449-5

But can dead girls help solve their own murders? Rachel and Jaycee used to be best friends until Latina Rachel started hanging out with an emerging gang population in their small town. After Rachel is shot in her home and the police write off her death as a gangrelated accident, it’s up to Jaycee to track down her friend’s killer. In this satisfying mystery, Jaycee has plenty of offers for help: There’s new boyfriend Skyler, Skyler’s older brother (and high school cad), law enforcement, an ex-gang member and, most prominently, a variety of messages Rachel, realizing her death could be imminent, hid before her murder. As Jaycee uncovers her small town’s biggest secrets, she never knows whom she can fully trust, especially when her own life is in jeopardy. She must also reckon with her developing, personal moral code when her religious single father sets strict limits that impede her investigation and blossoming first love with Skyler. While the story covers such mature issues as murder, mental illness and racism, it refrains from edgy language and sex (only a few steamy kisses take place). Although the action waxes and wanes, the story’s greatest strength is in keeping readers guessing the killer’s real identity until the final scenes. (Mystery. 14 & up)

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BOXERS & SAINTS

Yang, Gene Luen Illus. by Yang, Gene Luen First Second (512 pp.) $34.99 paper | Sep. 10, 2013 978-1-59643-924-5 Printz Award winner Yang’s ambitious two-volume graphic novel follows the intertwined lives of two young people on opposite sides of the turn-ofthe-20th-century Boxer Rebellion. Little Bao, whose story is told in Boxers, grows up fascinated by the opera’s colorful traditional tales and filled with reverence for the local deities. Appalled by the arrogant behavior of foreign soldiers, Christian missionaries and their Chinese supporters, he eventually becomes a leader of the Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fist, fighting under the slogan “Support the Ch’ing! Destroy the Foreigner!” The protagonist of Saints—an unlucky, unwanted, unnamed fourth daughter—is known only as Four-Girl until she’s christened Vibiana upon her conversion to Catholicism. Beaten by her family for her beliefs, she finds refuge and friendship with foreign missionaries, making herself a target for the Boxers. Scrupulously researched, the narratives make a violent conflict rarely studied in U.S. schools feel immediate, as Yang balances historical detail with humor and magical realism. Ch’in Shih-huang, the first emperor of China, and Joan of Arc serve as Bao’s and Vibiana’s respective spiritual guides; the rich hues of the protagonists’ visions, provided by colorist Lark Pien, contrast effectively with the muted earth tones of their everyday lives. The restrained script often, and wisely, lets Yang’s clear, clean art speak for itself. This tour de force fearlessly asks big questions about culture, faith, and identity and refuses to offer simple answers. (bibliography) (Graphic historical fiction. 12 & up)

HOMICIDAL ALIENS & OTHER DISAPPOINTMENTS

Yansky, Brian Candlewick (336 pp.) $16.99 | Sep. 10, 2013 978-0-7636-5962-2 Series: Alien Invasion, 2

In this continuation of the story begun in Alien Invasion and Other Inconveniences (2010), elements of mythology add spice to the science-fiction adventures of a group of American teens who escaped from slavery under the alien Sanginians. Having left slavery behind, Jesse, Lauren and Catlin find life with the rebels in the camp in New Mexico’s mountains to have a different—but no less disturbing—set of pitfalls to navigate. In the battle at Taos in the previous book, Jesse managed to kill Lord Vertenomous and acquired the reverence of some rebels as the mythical Warrior Spirit as well as the hostility of those with

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plans of their own. As revealed by Jesse in his present-tense narration, this is not something he is particularly comfortable with. The addition of a new alien called the Hunter that’s searching for Jesse results in a potent mix of political conflict, double crosses and maximum suspense. The believable resolution is preceded by several shocks that add to its credibility. Fans of the first book are a natural audience for this one, but thanks to the graceful insertion of back story in the form of a recapping prologue, this second act will attract and satisfy new readers. (Science fiction. 12-15)

IT’S TIME TO SAY GOOD NIGHT

Ziefert, Harriet Illus. by Barroux Blue Apple (36 pp.) $17.99 | Sep. 13, 2013 978-160905374-1

A child greets the day and then says goodnight in this circular picture book. Over the first three double-page spreads, spare verse (based on a song by Betty Comden and Adolph Green) relates the various sights that a boy beholds as he opens his window to the day: “Good Morning to the sun, / Good Morning to the hills, // Good Morning to the chickies and the hen. / Good Morning to the rooster, // Good Morning to the cow, / Good Morning to the piggies in the pen.” Ensuing pages show the boy greeting other creatures, things and places, moving from the pastoral setting of the opening to a city scene. The climax of the text reads (with a bit of a rhythmic misstep) “Good Morning! Good Morning! / To everything in sight! By the time I get through saying Good Morning, it’s time to say… // Good Night,” and then, looking rather forlorn, the child says “Good Night” to everything he’d greeted on prior pages. By the time he snuggles down to sleep, he is smiling as his mother (heretofore unseen amid all of his adventures) stands in his bedroom doorway. Barroux’s whimsical, naïve-style illustrations establish his work, once again, as an ideal match for Ziefert’s verse—see Bunny’s Lessons (2011) and My Dog Thinks I’m a Genius (2011) as other strong collaborations. A successful offering from a well-matched pair. (Picture book. 1-4)

interactive e-books LITTLE BABY BOB

Banjo & Sons Banjo & Sons Jul. 11, 2013 $0.00 1.0; May 11, 2013

This storybook app for beginning readers provides plenty of exposure to simple rhyming words, but it uses few of the iPad’s capabilities. Like many babies, Bob loves to bang on pots: “Big pots and small pots, black pots or white pots, he likes the whole lot!” Bob tries to play with pots in his bedroom, in the kitchen and on the porch. Although the language is clear, the reliance on words that rhyme with “pot” overwhelms the meager story. The narration is enunciated but with a marked accent that may sound awkward to native speakers. This storybook app provides only minimal interaction, letting users tap a pot and a cot to see picture definitions. Beginning readers listening to the narration will not see words highlighted as they are spoken, a feature common to apps for this age that they will likely miss. Readers can tap on individual words to hear them pronounced or swipe across a selection to hear a phrase, though. The final page includes a simple coloring page, but the results are never incorporated into the story; again, it’s a common feature that children accustomed to storybook apps will be puzzled not to find. The artwork throughout is amateurish, with simple facial features, Kewpie-doll hair and a body shape that doesn’t quite seem like a baby’s. With only six screens, this story leaves much to be desired, both as a story for new readers and an interactive app. (iPad storybook app. 2-6)

TINO THE TRIANGLE Book & Peekaboo

Cumer, Eleonora Illus. by Cumer, Eleonora LARIXPRESS May 18, 2013 $0.00 1.0.1; May 18, 2013

Colorful, simple artwork will draw young children to Tino’s story, in which the little triangle meets 10 different animal friends. Tino, a bright yellow triangle, is in search of new friends as he explores the world. Tap Tino, and he is surrounded by a bright blue background. Quiet sound effects provide clues to guess the next friend Tino meets, revealed with another tap and creating a peekaboo game. Barks and pants signal the appearance of Fido the dog, “a funny fellow./ The fleas just love his fur.” |

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Tino the triangle is incorporated into each illustration, whether as the dog’s ear or a crocodile’s tooth. Each animal spread contains a few interactive elements—enough to keep up interest but never impeding the pace. The order in which the animals appear changes with each reading, heightening the pleasure of the guessing game. (Unfortunately, not all of the sound clues are obvious: Do hedgehogs really snore?) The story can be read in English, Italian or German. Interestingly, the authors did not directly translate the text, instead creating text suited to young children in each language. For example, Tino meets Fido the dog in English, cane Tobia in Italian and Hund Lumpi in German. In each language, alliteration and internal rhyming combine with smooth, gentle narration suitable for toddlers. While this app may seem simple at first glance, it is actually just skillfully restrained, providing a reading experience nicely tailored to very young children. (iPad storybook app. 2-6)

THE STORY OF THE THREE LITTLE PIGS

Touch’anka Touchanka $4.99 | Jul. 1, 2013 1.1; Jul. 1, 2013

The iPad proves an excellent platform for telling a story with clay and stop-motion animation, but everything else about this version of the oft-adapted

tale is lacking. Developers following the over 100 others who have adapted the tale had better have one heck of a gimmick. For this app, the developers do: lovely, squishy, remarkably realistic clay artwork that transforms with a touch into the familiar elements— pigs, a hungry wolf and hastily built houses. The clay work is so charming and looks so good that it may take readers a few pages to notice that the accompanying writing and narration are more like swine than pearls. It differs from the more kid-friendly modern versions of the popular story by allowing the first two pigs to become wolf chow before a climax that ends with the third pig boiling the wolf and eating him. But the text itself, taken from L. Leslie Brooke’s turn-of-the-last-century edition, is antique, with sentences that would tire triathletes. The star attraction is the clay action, employed cleverly on the pages, including one in which pieces of straw can be moved to build the first pig’s house around a tree. The app doesn’t enchant with “Three Little Pigs,” but it may make readers long for one from the same artists that might be called, “Let’s Just Play with Clay.” Fusty storytelling sinks this one, though it’s an eyepopping pleasure otherwise. (iPad storybook app. 3-8)

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TINY FIREFIGHTERS

wonderkind interaktionsmedien GmbH wonderkind interaktionsmedien GmbH $0.99 | May 2, 2013 1.0; May 2, 2013

Heroic opportunities abound in this tiny, one-page world of fire and rescue. The app shines with interactive adventures. A cow gets stuck in the pond; a cat requires rescue from a tree; a car and a house both catch fire; a charcoal grill flames up too high....Little fingers tap to initiate each rescue, saving people and property and animals along the way. Clever sound effects accompany the adventure, bringing the animation to life. Especially entertaining are the mischievous animals: squirrels fighting over an acorn, a rednosed mole digging holes, a pesky crow, a quacking, diving duck. If there’s a hole here, apart from the background music that continues to play after the screen goes dark, it’s that the entire world exists on one tiny page. There’s a “What’s Up?” picture index to help readers find some actions specifically, but the connectivity of the stories here would have been better served spread over several pages. Lovely, detailed illustrations get lost in their smallness, even on an iPad. (On an iPhone, “tiny” would be an overstatement.) All in all, as an activity book, it’s a win for hand-eye coordination, reasoning-skill building and engaging fun. (requires iPad 2+) (iPad storybook app. 2-4)

This Issue’s Contributors # Alison Anholt-White • Kim Becnel • Elizabeth Bird • Kimberly Brubaker Bradley • Louise Brueggemann • Timothy Capehart • Ann Childs • Julie Cummins • GraceAnne A. DeCandido • Dave DeChristopher • Elise DeGuiseppi • Lisa Dennis • Andi Diehn • Carol Edwards • Brooke Faulkner • Omar Gallaga • Barbara A. Genco • Judith Gire • Carol Goldman • Faye Grearson • Jessie C. Grearson • Melinda Greenblatt • Heather L. Hepler • Megan Honig • Julie Hubble • Jennifer Hubert • Shelley Huntington • Kathleen T. Isaacs • Betsy Judkins • Deborah Kaplan • Joy Kim • K. Lesley Knieriem • Megan Dowd Lambert • Angela Leeper • Peter Lewis • Ellen Loughran • Lori Low • Wendy Lukehart • Joan Malewitz • Hillias J. Martin • Michelle H. Martin PhD • Jeanne McDermott • Shelly McNerney • Kathie Meizner • Daniel Meyer • Lisa Moore • Deb Paulson • John Edward Peters • Susan Pine • Melissa Rabey • Rebecca Rabinowitz • Kristy Raffensberger • Nancy Thalia Reynolds • Melissa Riddle Chalos • Amy Robinson • Erika Rohrbach • Ronnie Rom • Leslie L. Rounds • Ann Marie Sammataro • Mindy Schanback • Katie Scherrer • Mary Ann Scheuer • Hillary Foote Schwartz • Stephanie Seales • Karyn N. Silverman • Robin Smith • Karin Snelson • Jennifer Sweeney • Deborah D. Taylor • Gordon West • Melissa Yurechko

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continuing series RAIDS AND RESCUES

THE POWER

Chick, Bryan Greenwillow/HarperCollins (288 pp.) $16.99 Sep. 24, 2013 978-0-06-219228-8 Series: Secret Zoo, 5 (Fantasy. 8-12)

Grant, Michael Katherine Tegen (288 pp.) $16.99 Aug. 27, 2013 978-0-06-183372-4 Series: Magnificent 12, 4 (Fantasy. 8-12)

DAY OF THE NIGHTCRAWLERS

SUNBLIND

Cummings, Troy Illus. by Cummings, Troy Branches/Scholastic (96 pp.) $15.99 | $4.99 paper Sep. 1, 2013 978-0-545-49324-6 978-0-545-49325-3 paper Series: Notebook of Doom, 2 (Light horror. 8-10)

Griffo, Michael KTeen (352 pp.) $9.95 paper Sep. 1, 2013 978-0-7582-8074-9 Series: Darkborn Legacy, 2 (Paranormal romance. 14 & up)

CAVE OF WONDERS

Kirby, Matthew J. Scholastic (192 pp.) $12.99 Sep. 1, 2013 978-0-545-38700-2 Series: Infinity Ring, 5 (Adventure. 8-12)

THE CASE OF THE BUGS ON THE RUN

Freeman, Martha Holiday House (128 pp.) $16.95 Sep. 15, 2013 978-0-8234-2872-4 Series: First Kids Mysteries, 6 (Mystery. 8-12)

ELMER AND SNAKE

McKee, David Illus. by McKee, David Andersen USA (32 pp.) $16.95 Sep. 1, 2013 978-1-4677-2035-5 Series: Elmer the Patchwork Elephant (Picture book. 4-9)

THE BIG SOMETHING

Giff, Patricia Reilly Illus. by Palmisciano, Diane Scholastic (40 pp.) $5.99 paper Sep. 1, 2013 978-0-545-24463-3 Series: Fiercely and Friends, 2 (Early reader. 5-7)

THE CASE OF THE LOCKED BOX

Montgomery, Lewis B. Illus. by Wummer, Amy Kane Press (112 pp.) $22.60 PLB | $6.95 paper Sep. 1, 2013 978-1-57565-625-0 PLB 978-0-57565-626-7 paper Series: Milo & Jazz Mysteries, 11 (Mystery. 7-11)

EXTREME PHYSICS

Green, Dan Illus. by Basher, Simon Kingfisher (64 pp.) $12.99 | $7.99 paper Sep. 1, 2013 978-0-7534-6969-9 978-0-7534-6956-9 paper Series: Basher Science (Nonfiction. 8-12)

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continuing series APPLES GALORE!

LION

O’Connor, Jane Illus. by Glasser, Robin Preiss Harper/HarperCollins (32 pp.) $16.99 | $3.99 paper Sep. 1, 2013 978-0-06-208311-1 978-0-06-208310-4 paper Series: Fancy Nancy (Early reader. 4-8)

Stone, Jeff Random House (160 pp.) $16.99 | $19.99 PLB Sep. 24, 2013 978-0-375-87019-4 978-0-375-97019-1 PLB Series: Five Ancestors Out of the Ashes, 2 (Adventure. 9-12)

SOMETHING NEW

Stoudemire, Amar’e Scholastic (144 pp.) $17.99 | $5.99 paper Sep. 1, 2013 978-0-545-60608-0 978-0-545-60607-3 paper Series: STAT, 4 (Fiction. 7-10)

SCHOOLED

Papademetriou, Lisa Scholastic (224 pp.) $5.99 paper Aug. 1, 2013 978-0-545-34920-8 Series: Confectionately Yours, 4 (Fiction. 8-12)

DEAD IS JUST A DREAM

I SURVIVED THE JAPANESE TSUNAMI, 2011

Perez, Marlene Harcourt (176 pp.) $16.99 Sep. 3, 2013 978-0-544-10262-0 Series: Dead Is…, 8 (Paranormal suspense. 12 & up)

Tarshis, Lauren Illus. by Dawson, Scott Scholastic (112 pp.) $4.99 paper Sep. 1, 2013 978-0-545-45937-2 Series: I Survived, 8 (Adventure. 7-10)

I WANT A SISTER!

ELLRAY JAKES AND THE BEANSTALK

Ross, Tony Illus. by Ross, Tony Andersen USA (32 pp.) $16.95 Sep. 1, 2013 978-1-4677-2047-2 Series: Little Princess, 8 (Picture book. 4-9)

Warner, Sally Illus. by Biggs, Brian Viking (144 pp.) $14.99 | $4.99 paper Sep. 12, 2013 970-0-670-78499-8 978-0-14-242359-2 paper EllRay Jakes, 5 (Fiction. 6-8)

SAMMY SPIDER’S FIRST YOM KIPPUR

Rouss, Sylvia A. Illus. by Kahn, Katherine Janus Kar-Ben (32 pp.) $16.95 | 7.95 paper Aug. 1, 2013 978-0-7613-9195-1 978-0-7613-9196-8 paper (Picture book. 2-8)

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indie Type and Face

These titles earned the Kirkus Star:

Mannbutte Xlibris (236 pp.) $81.99 paper | Mar. 25, 2013 978-1-4836-0478-7

A Wilder Rose by Susan Wittig Albert.........................................120

A Wilder Rose Rose Wilder Lane, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Their Little Houses Albert, Susan Wittig Persevero Press (307 pp.) $24.99 | $14.99 paper Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-9892035-0-0

A glossy photography collection featuring a broad variety of typography and design combinations. This book brings together photographs taken by Mansoor A. Bhatti (a photographer and designer who published under his artistic identity, Mannbutte) and interpretations of those photographs by the author and 14 of his fellow artists and designers. Many of those interpretations make use of typography, often in the form of tributes to a typeface the designer clearly admires: “The girl was tall. Her legs were slender. Kind of like Akzidenz Grotesk,” says text accompanying the silhouette of one leggy model. Sometimes the typefaces are anthropomorphized: “Meet Futura. Thin and bold. And sometimes when she’s had one too many, italic.” Besides serving as a tribute to the variety of typefaces available to designers, the book also celebrates the range of artistic imagination. Many of the photographs in the collection have been interpreted by more than one contributor, often with strikingly different results. Photographs are reprocessed, transformed by color and given new meaning through design overlays. Some of the photographs are displayed without any typographical design at all—a surprising choice given the book’s title. In fact, aside from the occasional clever wordplay, typefaces make up a far less substantial portion of the book than the title and introduction might lead readers to expect. The emphasis is clearly on the images as well as the fact that these designers want readers to know that the contributors see themselves as creators of profound, meaningful art. Whether the reader agrees will depend on his or her patience with the concept, particularly as it is represented by attractive females with come-hither expressions. There is no question, however, that the book as a whole is an attractive package, well-laid-out with highquality, full-bleed printing. The collaboration effectively blends the styles of a variety of different artistic perspectives, both contrasting and complementary. A coffee table–ready tribute to photography and design.

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“The novel might be about a dream of escaping, but readers will be happy to stay.” from stuck

A Wilder Rose

Albert, Susan Wittig Persevero Press (307 pp.) $24.99 | $14.99 paper | Oct. 1, 2013 978-0-9892035-0-0 This pitch-perfect novel reimagines the life of Rose Wilder Lane, co-author of Little House on the Prairie. Albert (Widow’s Tears, 2013, etc.) has discovered an endlessly fascinating protagonist. Lane, the libertarian and rumored lesbian, was an established, award-winning writer in her own right, but she may be best remembered today as the uncredited co-author of the Little House books written by her mother, Laura Ingalls Wilder. Albert’s well-researched novel draws from the letters and journal entries of both women to offer a fictionalized account of the years spanning 1928-1939. The Great Depression threatens not only Rose’s livelihood as a writer, but also the free-wheeling, itinerant lifestyle she so values. When she and her companion, Helen Boylston, leave their home in Albania and return to the Wilder farmstead in Missouri, the move is meant to be temporary—Mansfield, Mo., has little to offer in the way of culture, after all, and Rose frequently clashes with her headstrong and old-fashioned mother. In the aftershock of the stock market crash, however, both women lose their savings, and Rose loses the financial stability she had enjoyed as a freelance writer before the crash. When a publisher shows interest in printing the stories of Laura’s difficult frontier childhood (but Laura’s untrained writing fails to impress), the mother and daughter enter into an unlikely, often contentious collaboration to produce the now-beloved Little House books. From this strange, very specific historical relationship, Albert has written a nuanced, moving and resonant novel about fraught mother-daughter relationships, family obligation, and the ways we both inherit and reject the values of our parents. The book also offers insightful, timely commentary on what it means to be a career writer. With all of the charm of the Little House series—and the benefit of a sophisticated, adult worldview—Albert’s novel is an absolute pleasure.

Sweet Karoline

Astolfo, Catherine Imajin Books (224 pp.) $14.99 paper | $3.99 e-book Jul. 9, 2013 978-1-927792-07-0 In her latest novel, Astolfo (Legacy, 2012, etc.) takes what at first glance appears to be a straightforward story of murder and guilt to an unexpected place where love is discovered. Anne Williams, a haughty, self-proclaimed “Ice Queen,” kills her best friend and roommate, Karoline. While Anne spends the first few pages saying what a beautiful woman she is and 120

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how much attention she garners, it becomes clear that it’s not an indulgent outpouring of facts but rather, her way of putting walls up between herself and the reader even after confessing to murder. She’s built up only to be broken down and emotionally reconstructed once she finds her “real trio”—a brother and sister she never knew about—as opposed to the trio she grew up with: friends Karoline and Giulio. By putting a wedge in Anne’s thick shell on the first page and then continuing to pry the walls apart as readers witness her reactions to realizing where she’s actually from, Astolfo adeptly makes vast leaps of character transformation completely believable, even for a murderer. Anne goes on a treasure hunt for her real family’s secrets related to the fate of freed slaves, interracial relationships, incest and a fortune. Anne falls in love with Ethan, the cop who shows up on the scene after Karoline’s murder, and she learns to let her guard down and care for her siblings and dying birth mother, Memé. Readers may not be surprised by who’s skulking through the darkness or frightening Anne’s mentally challenged brother, but the novel’s revelatory conclusion is shocking all the same. A deliciously vibrant portrait that realistically muddles good and evil.

Stuck

Atkinson, Stacey D. Mirror Image Publishing (240 pp.) $16.95 paper | $5.95 e-book | Jul. 26, 2013 978-0-9917543-2-8 A charming, sincere coming-of-age story set in a claustrophobic Canadian fishing town. Though Odette LeBlanc has just been promoted to night supervisor at the convenience store, where she’s worked since graduating high school, the smart, hardworking 23-yearold longs for a life less ordinary. But working by night and sleeping by day in the trailer she shares with her compulsivegambler mother and dangerously precocious 15-year-old sister, Odette has a difficult time envisioning anything beyond the drowsy New Brunswick village—until she meets a rich, handsome stranger visiting for the summer, and a lie of convenience becomes a chance for her to live out a pretend privileged life. Sailing at the local yacht club instead of sleeping takes a physical and emotional toll, however, and yet another handsome stranger—a mysterious free spirit who lives on a ramshackle, refurbished fishing boat—gives Odette a glimpse into a better future that doesn’t depend on money. Though these love interests aren’t far from being stock characters, Atkinson’s treatment of class is actually quite nuanced, and the rhythm of this debut, revolving around Odette getting up every evening and going to work the night shift, perfectly captures the hopeless routine in which her life is suspended. The night-shift scenes of Odette and her co-workers—aimless young people and a few adult immigrants, for whom the concept of “a better life” differs considerably—are some of Atkinson’s strongest. The other characters outside the central plot are also vividly conjured,


including Odette’s best friend, Anne, whose sense of possibility is wrapped up in her long-term relationship—something naggingly absent in Odette’s life. Though the novel’s beginning tends to be heavy on exposition, and the resolution has swift closure thanks to a deus ex machina, Odette’s struggle not just to get out, but first to simply imagine a way out is incredibly touching. The novel might be about a dream of escaping, but readers will be happy to stay. A moving story steered by a likable if imperfect heroine whose combination of grit and hard luck will win readers’ hearts.

The Iron Order The Blackthorn Tales Volume 1

Barr, Matthew Bruce Doghouse Reilly Studios (196 pp.) $8.99 paper | $4.73 e-book Apr. 29, 2013 978-0-615-73281-7 In a land of prophecy and magic, a young boy proves that individuals still have a choice in Barr’s (Grasshopper in the Ant Hill, 2011) children’s fantasy tale, the first in a planned series. Orphaned Brannoch has grown up hearing the enigmatic Mr. Gern’s heroic tales of Tal Rij, a hero credited with defending the world against the evil tyrant Lord Bedlam and his Iron Order. As a small boy who has trouble facing his own village bullies, he doesn’t expect ever to achieve greatness. But when Brannoch’s sister is killed in her sleep by a shadow creature, Gern rushes Brannoch away from his village and hands him off to Ein Ulani, a skilled sorceress. Brannoch finds himself heading into an unknown future, as adults around him decide his destiny. After he has a fateful conversation with a capable, beautiful girl named Leli, he realizes he must start taking control of his own life. During their talk, he claims not to believe in fate: “That our lives are laid out ahead of time and we’re just going through a set of actions to get to some fixed point?…What would be the point of…of anything?” Later, a monster fighter named Calion also encourages the boy to make his own way in life, and Brannoch soon discovers that, in making his own choices, he may end up confronting the same evil that Tal Rij once fought. The story is reminiscent of David Eddings’ early works, but its focus on individual choice makes it unlike many other fantasy tales, where prophecy often plays an important part. Barr gives the novel’s secondary characters strong personalities, although the novel’s brevity doesn’t allow for extensive character development. The conclusion, with its slightly rushed final battle, leaves room for the story to grow in later installments. A strong opening to a children’s fantasy series.

Animal Cracker

Brown, Andi CreateSpace (254 pp.) $10.99 paper | Jun. 6, 2013 978-1-4841-0760-7 Fed-up employees of a Boston petshelter network plot the comeuppance of their egomaniacal boss in this comic novel. Diane Salvi, 25, the new communications director of the Animal Protection Organization, is a conscientious animal lover who wants to make a real contribution. But her boss, Hal Mason, keeps thwarting her best ideas in favor of his own vanity projects. Her co-workers—Hal’s assistant, Betty, and Southern belle fundraising director, Mary-Day—are smart women, dedicated to animal welfare. They sympathize with Diane, but Hal is the board of directors’ golden boy, despite his crude behavior and malapropisms. (At one point, Diane describes him as “Brad Pitt on the outside, Borat on the inside.”) When Hal finally overreaches, Diane and friends begin a covert investigation, aided by Diane’s friend and roommate Genie, a reporter for a local paper—but Diane’s relationship with Mark, Hal’s son, complicates things. A novel that features abandoned pets and animals could be heavyhanded, but Brown ((A)Musings, 2013, etc.) has a light touch, acknowledging sadness but avoiding gratuitous sentimentality. The characters’ well-developed back stories allow readers to make sense of their personalities and choices. Diane’s wry, comic voice is smart and enjoyable, and her romantic travails realistically lead her to greater self-knowledge. Hal’s well-drawn narcissism is funny and exasperating, and the excerpt from the book he’s “writing” is a dead-on portrayal of egotistical self-delusion. Brown’s exploration of Hal’s character also goes beneath the surface to look at the politics of Boston’s academic and Brahmin worlds. The author’s real-life experience with professional fundraising makes such concerns in the novel ring true. In the end, Diane and her friends cook up an extremely satisfying and welltimed showdown that will leave readers satisfied. A sweet, but not saccharine, comic novel.

FROM BUILDING WORRIER TO BUILDING WARRIOR Taking the Worry out of Building Chandler, Steve CreateSpace (210 pp.) $19.99 paper | $9.99 e-book Apr. 2, 2013 978-1-4811-3737-9

In his latest how-to offering, Chandler (Property Development For Beginners, 2013, etc.) attempts to help investors, homebuilders and renovators avoid the possible pitfalls of construction projects. Working in the property-development industry for 30 years, Chandler has seen problems—e.g., projects that go over |

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budget, conflicts with builders, bureaucratic headaches—that could have been avoided or at least alleviated with effective communication and due diligence. Chandler’s easy-to-read strategy begins with some personal questions to ponder, such as how a construction project will affect a person’s work or family life. As a rule of thumb, and to avoid unexpected stress, Chandler suggests allowing two years for a renovation project. A plethora of construction and commercial-acquisition subjects are briefly discussed, including cost planning, obtaining authority approvals and permits, and how to compare different builder “tenders” or cost proposals. However, this isn’t a detailed, step-by-step guide for building a home or acquiring properties for profit. Though homebuilders and renovators can utilize the general ideas presented, the overall tone is geared for large-scale projects and sometimes feels like a pitch for the author’s current career as a building and property-development consultant. Nonetheless, Chandler’s calm, clearheaded advice is valuable, with the crux of his message revolving around careful planning and good communication with all persons involved— designers, builders, authorities, etc. For example, instead of telling a designer what he wants, Chandler either uses a red pen to alter a real estate agent’s brochure floor plan or draws his own. These rough sketches can then be professionally changed to fit reality, since, as Chandler says, showing instead of telling gives the designer a better idea of a person’s vision and reduces the chances of disappointment with the final product. Likewise, says Chandler, well-drafted building contracts can help eliminate future problems with builders, and knowing about different types of insurance, like “Professional Indemnity” versus “Construction All Risk,” can reduce liability. Novices may be overwhelmed with all of the information presented, but the author includes a glossary of terms and urges readers to seek experts for further professional help. A solid, discerning starting point for larger projects.

Fyrelocke Jack Boomershine and the Prophecy Untold Kobb, R. Christopher Moonpepper Press (266 pp.) $14.95 paper | $4.29 e-book May 23, 2013 978-0-9892072-0-1

In this debut children’s book, a 12-year-old boy’s journey into a fantastical world begins when he’s mysteriously guided to find a strange, glowing rock. Jack Boomershine is a little different. A young inventor, he lives in a room “filled with gizmos and gadgets, half-worked doodads.” His best friend, Chase, is an equally misunderstood seventh-grade outcast who obsessively reads financial magazines. On a field trip to a cave, Jack gets anonymous texts on his phone that direct him away from the class. Is Chase playing a joke on him? Following a glowing light, he comes across its source—what appears to be a simple stone. But when Jack picks it up, he blacks out. Shortly after, 122

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he comes to, pockets the stone and rejoins the class, his absence unnoticed. The next day, the two boys happen upon a fortuneteller who speaks only in rhyme, though sometimes the rhyming takes precedence over meaning. Cryptically, she tells them: “Stand at the edge of a large cliff, you do. Looking down, very soon, the time for change will come for you.” True to the prophecy, the magic Jack had stumbled upon pulls him and Chase into an odd world peopled by wizards and hybrid creatures. For Jack, the journey turns out to be not just one of danger and adventure, but one of self-discovery and introspection. The well-drawn, memorable characters have equally memorable names: Oleagina and Caitiff Cankrot, and Vidalia and Pescipalius Dorfnutter. The story’s strength lies in these characters, their observations and their occasional waggish repartee, as well as the vivid descriptions and imagery. The illustrations—realistic yet infused with a dreamlike quality—would be stronger if, like the striking cover, they appeared in color instead of black and white. Also, the story can be a bit convoluted in places, and readers may have to work harder than they’d like to sort it all out. Oddly jarring among all the wizard terminology and descriptions of powers is a reference to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, which may be unfamiliar to young readers. An exciting trip through a wild, dangerous fantasy world that’s well worth it despite some bumps along the way.

Henry Hare’s Floppy Socks Cobb, Daryl K. 10 to 2 Children’s Books (36 pp.) $10.99 paper | Apr. 17, 2013 978-0-615-79610-9

A happy-go-lucky hare finds it difficult to hop when his socks won’t stay up. Henry Hare loves to hop, but his hopping is a bit hampered by his titular “floppy socks.” They habitually slide down his ankles and over the tops of his sneakers, and he finds himself spending so much time pulling and tugging them back up that he decides to try to find a solution. Linda Sue the duck suggests using tape or glue, but Henry wisely points out that neither would stick to his fur. Next, Linda Sue suggests bubble gum, but Henry finds this equally “dumb.” When Linda Sue suggests string or a rubber band, Henry seizes upon the idea, but Peter, Paul and Peggy Pup are there to tell Henry that a rubber band would only cut the circulation off to his feet. Despondent, Henry seems willing to accept that nothing will ever keep his socks up where they belong—until wise Al the owl tells him to use suspenders. And that’s just what Henry does. Cobb (Greta’s Magical Mistake, 2013) highlights an amusing scenario with Henry and his socks that just won’t stay up. Even if they’ve never experienced something similar, young readers may still be entertained by Henry’s difficulties—particularly when the frustrated hare attempts to hop while holding onto his socks. The book follows a familiar formula: The title character receives advice from various other characters on how to solve his dilemma until, somewhat predictably, the wise owl saves the day. Cobb’s text has a playful rhythm to it, though it unfortunately sometimes breaks that rhythm in order to force a rhyme here and


“Durham delicately approaches the theme of Grace’s sexuality in a way that captures the timid naïveté of a turn-of-the-century woman while also acknowledging his readers’ modern values.” from redeeming grace

there. Overall, however, the narrative is solid, if partly because it’s so familiar. In Miller’s unique illustrations, Henry and the other animals resemble an amalgamation of beautifully patterned cutouts. Unfortunately, the background is equally colorful and dizzying, occasionally drowning out the characters. Nevertheless, the overall effort will impress young readers. A fun romp with uniquely illustrated characters and a simple solution to an amusingly silly dilemma.

Beating Broadway How to Create Stories for Musicals That Get Standing Ovations

Cuden, Steve CreateSpace (466 pp.) $17.95 paper | $9.99 e-book | Apr. 5, 2013 978-1-4812-2302-7 A successful Broadway librettist offers a detailed tour underneath the hood of classic musicals. According to Cuden, co-creator of the stage version of Jekyll and Hyde, “if it ain’t on the page, it ain’t on the stage.” By following the basic tenets of storytelling—which, he says, viewers expect, even if they don’t comprehend—the book for a musical can be the first step in creating something salable to producers and enjoyable for audiences. Starting from Aristotle’s teaching that a story must have a beginning, a middle and an end, Cuden places writing for commercial theater structurally in the same place as screenwriting, and he recommends an approach similar to writing for the movies, such as transforming already existing material and keeping plots simple and characters complex. Within the three movements of a story, Cuden places seven plot points through which plots progress: life in the normal world; an inciting incident; the point of no return for the protagonist; a midpoint in which the protagonist gains a new understanding of what to do (through which a miniclimax and then the intermission can occur); escalating conflict leading into the “Big Gloom”; a climax in which the protagonist dramatically succeeds or fails; and then the close of the show featuring the new normal, a world that has been changed by the protagonist’s journey. Cuden’s depiction of story structure is a bit dry and repetitive, like a textbook, and readers might do well to return to earlier sources referenced in the book, such as Hal Ackerman. But the genius in this manual is the second half, in which Cuden creates an impressive breakdown of 35 stage musicals and movie musicals into scene-by-scene synopses, highlighting the places in each where they manifest the seven plot points. Not only useful to libretto writers, this detailed treatment will also appeal to general Broadway fans as a behind-the-scenes look at how the stories they love were built. Broadway hopefuls and admirers will enjoy this reverse engineering of the genre’s great successes.

Redeeming Grace Book 2 of The Grace Sextet

Durham, Weldon B. FriesenPress (192 pp.) $31.99 | $16.99 paper | $2.99 e-book Apr. 15, 2013 978-1-4602-0907-3 In Durham’s (Tides of Grace, 2012) latest historical novel, a free-spirited young woman with a tarnished past rubs elbows with turnof-the-century Broadway big shots. In the wake of a scandalous teenage affair with her teacher, 22-year-old Grace realizes that she may never lead the conventional life expected of a young lady in 1910s St. Louis. But she refuses to accept the sealed fate of a tainted woman. After Grace marries Ray Dobbins, a young, ambitious theater manager, she embarks on an exciting new life as a secretary for notorious Broadway theater executive J.J. Shubert in New York City. Grace is shocked and delighted by her ability to travel through New York unescorted, and she soon finds that there are plenty of other freedoms afforded young city women. Adult readers who grew up enamored with L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables are likely to fall instantly in love with Grace. Her quest to find herself socially, professionally and sexually mirrors the lives of many modern 20-somethings. (However, her struggles with a “dark angel” are somewhat underexplained.) This second book of a planned sextet awkwardly attempts to integrate the vast back story from the previous novel and, as a result, feels disjointed at points, but it nonetheless manages to stand alone as a self-contained story. Broadway fans may delight in the novel’s insight into the real lives of theater bigwigs such as Shubert and Irving Berlin; their stories provide a window into the glamorous and sometimes-salacious side of an era known for its conservatism. As such, Durham delicately approaches the theme of Grace’s sexuality in a way that captures the timid naïveté of a turn-of-the-century woman while also acknowledging his readers’ modern values. A well-told tale of an early-20th-century woman’s quest for liberation.

Promo Cowboy

Fitzsimmons, Barry CreateSpace (372 pp.) $14.95 paper | $2.99 e-book May 13, 2013 978-1-4792-7166-5 A genre-bending mystery set in the high-stakes world of TV production. The titular narrator of Fitzsimmons’ (Life Askew, 2002) second novel is straight out of the Wild West, right down to his dialect, values and beloved collection of hats. But Promo Cowboy, who’s long renounced his “Christian name,” isn’t lassoing cattle out on the range—he’s working long days and late nights at a post-production studio in Midtown Manhattan, |

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“Flynn maintains a wry but affectionate stance toward the Catholic Church that’s wonderfully reminiscent of the best of J.F. Powers.” from the exorcism of little billy wagner

creating promos for whatever TV network calls on his freelancing talents. Though he’s suspicious when he gets a new gig through the referral of a longtime rival, Promo Cowboy is in no position to turn down work. As he gets further involved in the inner workings of a new up-and-coming network, some troubling coincidences come to light—namely, many of his new colleagues (and old friends) seem to be connected by their past tenure at Lifestyle TV, a music TV network that “[c]hanged television forever.” Sound familiar? Promo Cowboy’s new boss, Belinda, got her start in the business as one of the “A-Girls,” LTV’s in-house pretty young things. Work becomes more complicated when a murderer dubbed the Video Killer begins strangling industry veterans with video tape, and Promo Cowboy, who’s recently had a one-night tryst with one of the victims, finds himself at the center of the media circus and the police investigation. Fitzsimmons, a more than competent writer, constructs a smart, well-plotted whodunit, and mystery fans will likely find his unusual setting and hero refreshing. More cosmopolitan readers, however, may find themselves exasperated by Promo Cowboy. Though his dialect is consistent, it’s also a bit heavy-handed; the longer passages that he narrates can quickly become grating. And while his occasional sexist and generally offensive remarks don’t go unremarked upon by other characters, neither do they render Promo Cowboy a particularly sympathetic figure. This original, well-written crime story will win plenty of fans, but it’d be better off with a more likable protagonist.

The Exorcism of Little Billy Wagner Flynn, Francis Grenville Press (186 pp.) $4.99 e-book | Dec. 29, 2012

In Flynn’s novel, the strange behavior of a 12-year-old boy mobilizes his whole town. The short novel opens with a crisis in faith. In Saint Anthony’s parish in Gateway City, Mo., surly, big-for-his-age Billy Wagner has begun acting very strangely—barricading himself in his room, playing with knives, etc. His frantic parents have had no success talking to him, so they write a letter to the bishop of their diocese, wondering if an exorcism might be in order. The bishop passes the letter up the chain of command to the archbishop, an imperious man—“His parents raised The Archbishop to be The Archbishop,”; “his first word was pater”—in precarious health: “His bypasses had bypasses.” The archbishop is currently enraged by an incident that’s become known as “L’affaire Texting”: From the pulpit, he spotted a young person tapping a message on some sort of electronic device. “Was he a spy?” the Archbishop wondered. Now, he’s seeking a more direct confrontation with evil, so he tells Bishop Waller, who instructs Monsignor Wilhelm Krebs (dubbed “Krazy Krebs” because of an incident involving a boy apparently possessed by the evil spirit of a donkey) to investigate. Krebs orders associate pastor Father Leopold Mackenzie to visit the Wagners and report back, but Father Leo is less 124

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dogmatic (and, though gentle, more heroic) than his superiors; he wonders if there might be a nonsupernatural explanation for the boy’s behavior. He files a long report expressing his reservations, but it’s promptly buried by the diocese hierarchy. That’s followed by a frenetic, often hilarious story involving a Wiccan pole-dancing stripper named Eve, the “vision of loveliness” named Veronica Fields, a bungled attempt at intervention on Billy’s behalf and a high-profile trial. Throughout, Flynn maintains a wry but affectionate stance toward the Catholic Church that’s wonderfully reminiscent of the best of J.F. Powers. The one-liners are good for serious laughs, but the occasional swerves into emotion are just as affecting, and the revelations of church corruption in the climactic courtroom trial are expertly handled. A fun, fascinating send-up of the modern Catholic Church.

Angels Ten! Memoirs of a WWII Spitfire Pilot

Gilman, Richard FriesenPress (136 pp.) $12.99 paper | $3.99 e-book Nov. 23, 2012 978-1-77097-276-6 An airman recalls his brushes with death—including four crashes while serving as a fighter pilot—in this sharply pitched World War II memoir. Born in Vancouver but raised in England, Gilman enlisted in the Royal Air Force at the tender age of 18. Even before entering combat, he learned that flying could be a deadly proposition. One friend perished in a fiery wreck during a training flight. Another survived a crash but suffered terrible burns; he later committed suicide. In the book’s most unsettling episode, a pilot with engine failure glided to a smooth landing on a deserted beach. But he failed to retract his landing gear, as per regulations, so the wheels stuck in the sand; the plane flipped, and he drowned in the rising tide. Gilman was equally vulnerable to the whims of fate and technology. While chasing a German fighter over the North Sea, his Spitfire’s radio went dead. With zero visibility, blackout conditions and no return course, his death seemed assured. But quick thinking and an alert lighthouse keeper steered him back to the land of the living. More a matter of luck was his surviving a midair collision with another pilot. As usual, Gilman narrates the horror of his crash with a mix of incredulity and bemusement. Of losing all his teeth when “the microphone at the end of my oxygen mask had gone through my mouth,” he looks on the bright side: “My last ever dental appointment was 78 years ago.” Such generosity of spirit is typical from the author, whose strange-but-true tales are a worthy addition to first-person accounts of World War II. Crisp prose and laconic humor bring the book’s collection of hair-raising stories to life, as do his well-chosen black-andwhite photographs. Gilman rarely gets caught up in the jargon of the cockpit, and in pursuing his personal story, he avoids the lethargy of potted history. If readers don’t acquire a deeper


Glimpses through the Forest Memories Of Gabon

appreciation for the sacrifices made by the so-called Greatest Generation, they’ll at least come away with extra gratitude for the safety features of modern aircraft. A highly engaging memoir of flying the not-sofriendly skies.

Gray, Jason Peace Corps Writers (288 pp.) $14.95 paper | $9.99 e-book May 8, 2013 978-1-935925-30-9

The Projection Room

Golembiewski, Carol AbbottPress (248 pp.) $35.99 | $17.99 paper | $3.99 e-book Jan. 29, 2013 978-1-4582-0742-5 Cubist art runs amok and slaughters museum staff in this arty, high-concept supernatural thriller debut. Georges Bosque, a master of the cubist style of painting, wanted his last works to be destroyed after his death—including a painting depicting two angels of death roaming a World War I battlefield. But Noelle Walker, the acquisitions curator at the Milwaukee Museum of Art, is happy to buy them from his widow, despite their spooky aura. Trouble starts when museum employee Bruce Mallory scans one of the paintings with a new computer-graphics gizmo that projects paintings in three dimensions. It works great with naturalist artworks, but cubist paintings are, well, different, and their projections cause bystanders to mimic their off-kilter geometry—eventually turning them into mangled heaps of flesh. Before you can say “non-Euclidean universe,” the gadgetry has liberated a ghoulish Bosque figure from its canvas to wander the galleries, looking for fresh victims. Noelle, Bruce and Noelle’s elegant boss, Geoffrey, must cope with art that’s gone off the deep end; at the same time, Noelle deals with her romantic feelings for Bruce and for Geoffrey, the father of her child. As the “malicious Cubist thing” passes paintings, they come to life, and threatened humans dive into pictures to escape the lurking danger—causing consternation among the paintings’ inhabitants, whose flatland world has suddenly been invaded. Art teacher Golembiewski creates an intriguing new menace which works its mayhem as artists do, by creatively reimagining space and structure—but with grisly real-world effects. Although the overall conceit is a bit cartoonish, she grounds it in subtle, psychologically realistic prose and a gallery full of sharply etched characters. (The sullen, liberally pierced goth art student who sets off the carnage is a particular hoot.) Although the subject matter may be lurid at times, the author’s fine brushwork keeps the picture sharp. An original, entertaining horror fantasy.

A former Peace Corps volunteer reminisces about life, love and the tropics during his three years in Gabon, where the people, the countryside and nature captured his heart. For debut travel writer Gray, the coastal West African country of Gabon, a former French colony, was about the most extreme contrast to his native Montana he could have wished for. Tropical downpours, intense humidity, lush jungle and a tremendous variety of wildlife are the background to his daily existence as he helps develop a grade school education program. And the food—simple, deliciously fresh (such as fish grilled straight out of rivers), served in a variety of spicy sauces. Above all, the kindness and zest for life among the people enchant him most. They welcome him into their hearts and homes, and along the way, he finds that even without the material comforts of modern society, community bonds are cherished, and they enjoy life more than he could imagine. A wide-eyed Gray nearly bumps into a forest elephant, stares hippos in the eye, monitors sea turtles laying their eggs at night and nearly encounters a dangerous Nile crocodile. But not all was well during Gray’s posting. He witnesses a witchcraft tribunal, where an old, lonely woman was accused of transforming herself into different beasts and tormenting fellow villagers. After everyone was given the chance to have their say, the village elders pronounced their verdict, which was aimed at keeping harmony among the community. Steering clear of politics, Gray is careful to keep an open, objective mind about the customs. At the center of the country is oil revenue, but, with only passing references made to the presence of international companies, Gray’s efforts to avoid political controversy lead him to give no opinion on the matter—a shortcoming of this otherwise engaging portrait of a society caught between ancient and modern ways. A personal, somewhat overly romantic account of life far away from home.

THE ELEPHANT OF SURPRISE The Russel Middlebrook Series, Volume 4 Hartinger, Brent Buddha Kitty Books (226 pp.) $12.99 paper | $7.99 e-book Mar. 30, 2013 978-0-9846794-5-4

In Hartinger’s (The Order of the Poison Oak, 2005, etc.) newest YA installment in the Russel Middlebrook series, Russel |

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Interviews & Profiles

Sergio de la Pava

The talented writer has made a career thriving in both indie and traditional publishing By Sarah Rettger S t o r i e s o f commercially successful self-published books being reissued by trade publishers are all over the book industry news these days. But a university press—one that doesn’t often publish new fiction—picking up a nearly 700-page debut novel Photo courtesy Genevieve McCarthy narrated by a young lawyer, with a plot that covers everything from the death penalty to television to boxing? Sergio de la Pava and the University of Chicago Press have that field to themselves. De la Pava’s A Naked Singularity was self-published in 2008, accumulating positive reviews and thoughtful, in-depth coverage from traditional media like the Wall Street Journal to online reviewers including the Millions and the Quarterly Conversation, and Chicago acquired it in 2011. The novel, experimental in its prose style and structure and skilled in its use of language, follows the work and thoughts of Casi, a public defender whose cases include an appeal of a death sentence. In the book’s early pages, Casi dashes from one client to another, and the reader quickly gets a sense of de la Pava’s writing as Casi interviews a teenage defendant: What were you doing there? just hanging out with a friend. Who? we call him Boop. What’s his real name? i d’know just Boop. Where does he live? d’know, think downtown. The edition published by the press was almost identical to de la Pava’s self-published version, so the 126

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work he did with editor Margaret Hivnor “wasn’t the traditional editor-author relationship,” he says, comparing it to the work done to reissue an out-ofprint book. Before Chicago published A Naked Singularity, de la Pava’s wife, Susanna, was the driving force behind the book’s popularity. “It’s not an exaggeration to say that without her, the book basically doesn’t exist,” he says. “She’s a really bright person who essentially made this entire thing possible.” It was Susanna who handled the publicity and outreach, targeting literary websites, like Open Letters Monthly, that became the novel’s champions after they received a copy of the book and an introductory letter. “The self-publication of the book in late 2008 happened to coincide with the rise of many superb online literary publications,” Susanna says. She also served as her husband’s representative when the University of Chicago Press first approached him after publicity director Levi Stahl read the Quarterly Conversation’s profile. While de la Pava is grateful for the expertise that Chicago’s marketing, production and subrights staff bring to the process—Spanish publisher Pálido Fuego recently bought translation rights—he realized he had to adjust his expectations for himself once he was no longer working alone. “Now other people have kind of stuck their necks out” on behalf of A Naked Singularity, he says. “Before, if the book was not successful, it really only affected me.” As a rule, though, de la Pava doesn’t concern himself too much with commercial success. “I really don’t get too caught up in that,” he says when asked where it would make him happiest to see his book displayed. De la Pava, who is currently working on his third book (he self-published his second, Personae, shortly before Chicago acquired A Naked Singularity), fits his writing around his work as a public defender, and while


“that does tend to make the writing more sporadic at times,” he doesn’t think he would give up the day job if he had a choice. “I think I’m a bit too restless” to write full-time, he said. “It’s useful to have this other concurrent pursuit.” In fact, because of their belief in his talent, the University of Chicago Press is also picking up Personae in October (see sidebar). Will his third book be first self-published as well? De la Pava isn’t certain. While “certain aspects of that suit my personality,” he says, “I’m not a thousand percent sure what I’ll do.” He enjoys the sense of control that comes with the selfpublisher’s involvement in every step of the publishing process, as well as the speed with which he can go from finished manuscript to printed book. But he’s still a fan of the traditional publishing arrangement, and not only for the specialized skills publishers bring: “The preferable route is to have somebody else pay you and then publish the book,” he asserts. At the same time, de la Pava does see self-publishing as a viable path for other writers. Despite the challenges self-published authors face, “it can, in some instances, still work out,” he says. The one piece of advice he would offer to all authors considering self-publishing is not to rely only on their own judgment as to a book’s merits. Once a writer has decided a manuscript is ready to be published, he or she should seek out “credible, multiple opinions about the worth of that book.” And after the book is published, de la Pava doesn’t encourage writers to dwell on its success in the marketplace. “External affirmations are dangerous,” he says, a philosophy that he strives to embrace in his own writing career.

And Now for Something Completely Different

Sergio de la Pava has a history of selfpublishing his novels, only to have them picked up by the University of Chicago Press for traditional publication. De la Pava’s new novel Personae will be published on October 9. We asked Levi Stahl, the promotions director at the University of Chicago Press, what the new novel is like. “The way I’ve been describing it to people is using the words of one of our early readers: a novel in a fugue state,” Stahl tells us by email. “It’s a cracked mystery novel, of a sort: It opens with an intense, claustrophobic account by a police detective investigating the death of an old man. We quickly realize that she has some sort of odd psychic powers—but also that she’s seriously damaged emotionally. “Then in the middle of the book, just when we’re getting settled into the investigation, de la Pava changes course entirely, embarking on a Sartre-or-Beckett-style black comedy about a group of people who are in an isolated room that just might be hell (and which they maybe, just maybe, could walk out of if they had the gumption). Then we’re back to the murder investigation, but this time as seen through documents related to the case, the writings of the old man and the people investigating. There’s no solution of the sort that would satisfy S.S. Van Dine or Agatha Christie, but there is a strangely melancholy sense of closure, nonetheless. “It’s a strange book, in many ways more challenging than A Naked Singularity, despite being nearly 500 pages shorter. And what I love about it is that it really is something completely different: Sergio had success doing one thing with A Naked Singularity, so for his second book he tried something completely new. Which leaves me impatiently wondering: What will the third book be?” —Claiborne Smith

Sarah Rettger is a writer and bookseller in Massachusetts. A Naked Singularity was not reviewed by Kirkus Reviews. A NAKED SINGULARITY de la Pava, Sergio University of Chicago Press (688 pp.) $18.00 | Apr. 19, 2012 978-0-226-14179-4

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finds his wishes for adventure unexpectedly granted in the form of a counterculture-loving, Dumpster-diving new guy. While instant messaging his boyfriend—Otto, who’s 800 miles away but a great friend—Russel suddenly realizes they’ve become just friends. Otto understands that Russel wants more than text on the screen, so they decide to break up. This is just what Russel needs: an opportunity to forsake love and welcome adventure. Yet not 24 hours after breaking up with Otto, and despite his claims against love and guys, Russel finds himself guiltily, and weirdly, attracted to Wade, a tight-shirt–wearing, beefy, black 19-year-old who pops out of a Dumpster. Wade is a “freegan” living off society’s refuse and discarded consumerism, though he’s not a bum or homeless. Rather, he’s smart and invigorating—just the kind of adventure Russel has been looking for. But perhaps too much of one. In true-to-character, first-person prose, Hartinger reveals the psychological and social conundrums of a lovesick, somewhat self-involved gay boy in high school. Teenage readers, homosexual or not, will find the confident, slang-heavy prose easy to understand, especially since Russel’s and his friends’ mindsets are warmly personal yet identifiable. When Russel’s life doesn’t go exactly as he expects, Hartinger shows how “the planet exploded, and the sun winked out, and gravity stopped working, and our entire solar system was sucked into a big black hole.” Along with the edifying main plotline, which will appeal to readers of any age, the well-conceived subplots won’t disappoint young readers looking for the juicy gossip that runs through the series. With Russel, there’s always drama—real and perceived—but definitely no lack of love. Fans of the series will revel in this smart, quirky YA novel that’s ripe with substance beyond the surface.

From Pain to Parenthood A Journey Through Miscarriage to Adoption Kahler, Deanna CreateSpace (212 pp.) $14.95 paper | $8.99 e-book May 8, 2013 978-1-4819-8665-6

Kahler, in her debut memoir, recounts the pain of her miscarriages and the healing process that finally led her to decide to adopt. In a preface, the author says that she wrote this book to help readers struggling with infertility or the unexpected loss of a pregnancy. She begins with describing her own story: Kahler was excited at the prospect of being a mother, filled with hopes and dreams for her unborn child. She joyfully shared the news of her first pregnancy with friends and family members, but her joy quickly turned to fear when it became clear that it wasn’t progressing normally. The spontaneous termination of her pregnancy was devastating, and Kahler felt a deep sense of loss on top of her medical concerns. In fact, her grief threatened to overwhelm her and her marriage, but with therapy and the help of a supportive husband, Kahler eventually achieved a new sense of normalcy and discovered the emotional strength to pursue her dream of having a child. After a second miscarriage, pregnancy 128

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was no longer an option, so Kahler and her husband turned to adoption instead, which led to a different set of struggles that she recounts with empathy and optimism. Kahler gives readers more than a simple retelling of her own experiences by suggesting steps for coping with grief. She also validates the strong emotional connection a woman may feel for an unborn child; this bond, she acknowledges, isn’t always understood by others and can leave many women feeling alone, unable to express their pain. With the same kind tone, she shares her research into international and domestic adoptions, including the adoption of children with special needs. She emphasizes the importance of working with a reputable agency, noting that the search for a child can leave a couple emotionally and financially vulnerable. Kahler’s book is an excellent look at what to expect from the adoption process, and it includes lists of helpful resources. An engaging memoir that offers gentle, caring advice about surviving grief and moving forward.

The Opera

Leveillee, Kateland CreateSpace (42 pp.) $9.99 paper | Apr. 11, 2013 978-1-4825-2775-9 A free verse narrative poetry cycle portraying mental illness from a deeply personal perspective. In a haunting debut, Leveillee unveils a painstaking portrait of madness as viewed from the inside. Unmoored from the demands of conventional narration, her speaker’s story proceeds in leaps and circles, leaving readers to fashion their own linearity from the scattered clues. The poet/narrator seems to believe himself to be in his apartment, though his talk of “orderlies,” “the asylum” and the fact that he believes the “super has come and closed me in” suggests he’s in a psychiatric ward instead. What marginalizing behavior put him there remains unclear, but his challenges are abundant. Believing an army of mantids are stalking him, even the simple task of going out to buy eggs proves impossible: “Open my door and one was standing right there / on my doormat! / As if selling Bibles. As if looking for a dog!” The paranoia extends beyond insects to the “men [who] have recruited / The wallpaper to spy on me” and to his own “lying” psychiatrist. The narrator’s memories suggest that his problems are both genetic and the result of trauma; in “Court-Appointed Therapy on My Eighth Birthday,” he recalls the psychiatrist asking “if I hate my mother for what she did / to my sister,” before referring to himself as a “putrid child of a cannibal.” Abandoned by his brother, who leaves “to wash away the shame / of our last name,” the narrator grows increasingly dissociated. As “time / Runs backwards,” he “wonder[s] if when / we leave a certain place, a piece / of us stays, wondering why / we left them.” In Abel, the brother, Leveillee provides a foil for the narrator: Abel is similarly consumed by irrational beliefs, but since his are framed by ideology—“He is staunchly against liberalism”—rather than by idiosyncrasy (i.e., being staunchly concerned about mantids), Abel is on the


“[A] comprehensive view of Japan, past and present, as seen through the eyes of a young artist with an eye for beauty in all its forms.” from japan 365

JOSHUA The Odyssey Of An Ordinary Man

outside, while the narrator is on the inside. Unfortunately, along with Foucauldian insights about deviancy and punishment comes a touch of hazy Foucauldian romanticism about madness. An urgent, engaging read, though readers might wish for a bit more subtlety and context.

My Own Church A Nonbeliever Looks at PostChristian America Mates, Thomas eBookIt.com (138 pp.) $6.99 e-book | July 25, 2013

A levelheaded look at belief and nonbelief in modern America. In his introduction, Mates writes, “The main reason I’m writing is to add a moderate nonbelieving voice to the chorus of adversarial, anti-religious nonbelievers we’ve been hearing from lately, who often display attitudes as militant as those of the least attractive believers.” In a country increasingly less religious—where extremists on both sides often dominate discourse—voices like Mates’ are valuable and necessary. His thesis? People create their God rather than vice versa. The work takes its title from a quotation from Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason: “My own mind is my own church.” He also references Friedrich Nietzsche’s famous proclamation “God is dead.” These perspectives are not meant as an attack on believers but rather as indications of Mates’ own conclusions about faith. He believes that “true” belief is exceptionally rare and that God no longer has an active, terrifying presence in the life of the believer. Instead, he sees Christianity in the United States as a sort of political shibboleth and a personal comfort. Mates has no objections to the latter function of religion, but he believes that the first function should end. He writes that the Gospel “is a collection of writings that have no ready application outside the context of imminent apocalypse, but one to which the West still imagines itself culturally attached” and argues strongly that God should stay out of politics, particularly as few if any political figures could be said to display deep religious commitment. Mates’ words for nonbelievers of the New Atheist stripe are no less harsh. He believes that they neglect the human element of religion because they do not understand it, and they intend to make war on such eternal human qualities as irrationality and love. No one comes out looking superior in this treatment of the modern religious landscape, much to the credit of the author. A readable, enjoyable book that suggests a path for understanding between the faithful and nonbelievers.

Mathew, Theckedath M. Odyssey Press, Inc. (592 pp.) $17.99 paper | $8.99 e-book Mar. 13, 2013 978-0-9887130-0-0 A compelling look at the adolescent life of Jesus Christ. In the New Testament, there’s an 18-year gap in Jesus’ life story, which this work attempts to fill. A curious 13-year-old Jewish boy, Joshua is suddenly cast out of his temple because he wanted to ask his rabbi a few questions. Soon after, he witnesses the stoning death of his cousin, Rachel, all because her new in-laws were convinced she wasn’t a virgin upon marrying their son. Joshua is devastated and bewildered; how could this happen to his beloved cousin? Disgusted by the Mosaic Law he’s grown up with, Joshua starts out on a journey of discovery through Galilee, Judea, Egypt, Rome, Greece, Babylon and more, along the way discussing and philosophizing with great minds of those regions. Joshua begins to form his own ideas, amassing followers and slowly evolving into the Joshua depicted in the Gospels. Mathew has poured over hundreds of documents to fill in the blanks, so to speak, of Joshua’s life. The work is impeccably researched—perhaps even a bit too much: At times, the philosophizing seems to roll on for pages as it struggles to reach a point. While this dry ruminating may inspire thinkers, average readers might find it burdensome. Toward the end of the novel, Mathew’s tale seamlessly integrates well-known characters—including Mary, Pontius Pilate, King Herod, Peter, Judas, Caiaphas, etc.—and lesser-known, contemporary philosophers. Joshua’s thoughts are notably modern, focusing greatly on the rights of women and instances of monotheists treating women poorly. An impassioned, thought-provoking work of biblical fiction.

Japan 365 A Drawing-A-Day Project Muzacz, J. Self (432 pp.) $30.00 paper | May 24, 2012 978-0-9853127-0-1

A debut collection of pen-and-ink drawings of Japan that blend reality and the artist’s imagination. Muzacz, an American artist and a resident of Japan, compiles the results of his effort to complete one ballpoint-pen drawing each day for an entire year, starting in January 2011. The devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011 are the focus of many images, as is the Occupy movement that developed later in the year. The author arranges his drawings by theme—people, architecture, fashion, animals and so on—and provides captions or longer descriptions in both English and Japanese. Drawings of the natural world dominate the book’s early pages, and later |

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illustrations mostly depict people and man-made environments. A section on graffiti reflects the author’s early days as a street artist, but the collection embraces a wide variety of styles, including explicit emulations of noted artists throughout Japanese history. The captions suggest that some drawings are based on photographs, while others are apparently drawn from life. Some images, particularly those depicting mythological creatures or surfing fish, are evidently drawn from the author’s imagination. Many of these pleasing drawings feel timeless; readers will be left wondering if a bucolic temple image was taken from a 19th-century photograph or if there are tourists just outside the frame taking pictures on their iPhones. The book’s final section collects thumbnail versions of all 365 images, presented in the order in which they were originally drawn. Overall, this is a comprehensive view of Japan, past and present, as seen through the eyes of a young artist with an eye for beauty in all its forms. An attractive visual introduction to Japan.

China CMO Best Practice in Marketing Effectiveness & Efficiency in the Middle Kingdom Paull, Greg; Goh, ShuFen Typhoon Media Ltd. (350 pp.) $27.95 | $9.99 e-book | Jun. 14, 2013 978-9-8815542-3-9

Co-founders of a global consulting firm present authoritative, culturally aware advice for successful marketing in China’s complex and growing economy. Paull and ShuFen’s debut targets Western corporate types with capital to invest, but the accessible, conversational style makes it a compelling read for anyone interested in marketing and culture. The authors’ team conducted face-to-face interviews with 17 top chief marketing officers in China, and the book begins with profiles (and color pictures) of each of these “visionaries behind the brands,” including Coca-Cola’s Stephen Drummond, Camilla Hammar of IKEA, and Christine Xu, the first mainland Chinese to hold McDonald’s CMO position in China. Lively chapters contain hands-on advice concerning best practices—how to build a brand around the Chinese (and not the Western) consumer—and emerging trends to watch, like China’s changing demographics or the decline of foreign brand appeal. Specific case studies are also showcased, such as how Starbucks became a hit in a noncoffee culture by emphasizing national holidays and using less sugar in treats to please the Chinese palate. The key to building brand success in this very competitive market, write the authors, is to humbly learn Chinese values and vernacular; for example, health care in China means living a healthy lifestyle, as preventive doctor visits aren’t generally part of the culture. The guide includes memorable examples of smart cultural marketing: e.g., Johnson’s Baby company’s “Spare Space, Spread Love” initiative. When Chinese moms complained about lack of space for pumping breast milk at work, Johnson’s Baby 130

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designed reusable tags—complete with its company logo—to hang on any workplace door as a signal that Mom needs privacy for pumping. Likewise, Coca-Cola capitalized on growing Chinese pride when it garnered government approval to participate in the Beijing Olympics’ torch ceremony (and pass out soft-drink samples). Chinese values are not about the individual, write the authors, so an “individual hero” would not do well in a Chinese advertisement; however, China is a diverse nation of regions and languages, and companies should not treat it as a homogenous market. A thoughtful, serviceable guide for corporate success.

The Tactical Option Investor

Roberts, Kenneth CreateSpace (108 pp.) $8.95 paper | May 13, 2013 978-1-4826-8313-4 Roberts’ debut provides an insider’s take on utilizing options to enhance portfolio returns while minimizing risk in bullish and bearish markets. After a brief history of Wall Street’s “boiler room operations,” “pump and dump” and Ponzi schemes, insider trading and algorithmic trickery, Roberts, an options-trading veteran of more than 15 years, offers a stern caveat concerning fraud to both experienced and potential traders. Only through education can investors protect themselves, he writes, before laying out a solid lesson plan. There are no guaranteed ways to minimize all risks, but Roberts offers solutions to keep them low. The first: Manage your own portfolio or work with a registered investment adviser—not a broker. He suggests investing in low-cost, broad-based index or sector-based funds to avoid “company-specific risk entirely,” and he explains the benefits of using exchange trade funds before delving into the minutiae of options trading, “one of the few areas where the small investor has an advantage.” Options are contracts written on an underlying investment vehicle—for Roberts’ purposes, stock and ETF options. Most importantly, they can be used to manage stock portfolios and produce solid returns while lowering risk. While there are only two types of options contracts (calls and puts), Roberts demonstrates the numerous strategies one might employ in various market conditions, from the simplest to understand—“the long call”—to the more masterful-sounding: “the iron condor” and “the long straddle.” Roberts writes in short, declaratory

This Issue’s Contributors # Alana Abbott • Michael Badger • Vicki Borah Bloom • Julie Buffaloe-Yoder • Stephanie Cerra • Donna Conaway-Morrissey • Simon Creek • Lindsay Denninger • Steve Donoghue • Tom Eubanks • Jameson Fitzpatrick • Khristian Mecom • Jon C. Pope • Jackson Radish • Sarah Rettger • Martin Rushmere • Crystal Schwanke • Hillary Foote Schwartz • Robert Silva • Bridget Whelan


sentences that are simple to follow, making market jargon easy to comprehend. Quick and concise, the book makes perfect plane reading for anyone interested in the intricacies of options-trading strategies. As a comprehensive guide to basic investment concepts, it serves as an excellent appetizer for younger investors, especially with its appendix—from Agilent Technologies to Zion’s BanCorp—that conveniently lists the underlying names and symbols of penny pilot stocks and ETFs. A competent guide for serious investors, not speculators looking to get rich quickly.

the Dram scourge, Ambra must make a heart-wrenching choice: the universe or Earth. Eventually, the novel takes a slightly odd turn toward metafiction, as Ambra informs the reader that they, too, have a part in saving the Earth. A richly detailed, compelling story about the power of love.

READER Daughter of Time: Book 1

Stebbins, Erec Twice Pi Press (312 pp.) $24.99 | $11.50 paper | $2.99 e-book May 1, 2013 978-0-9890004-4-4 An original take on various sci-fi motifs that meditates on themes of love and humanity. Traversing time and space, Stebbins’ space opera follows the long journey of a singularly gifted Earth girl named Ambra Dawn, who might just be the savior of the entire universe. Even as a young girl among humans, Ambra was different. Odd and strange, she possessed an ability coveted by all alien species: a gift to see the future and the past, the result of a tumor growing in her brain. Unbeknownst to the inhabitants of Earth, an insectlike alien race called the Dram rules from the shadows. Influencing culture and politics, they’re here to guide human evolution toward producing Readers—those, like Ambra, who possess the ability to guide Dram ships through the Orbs. With tendrils reaching out, Orbs allow for instantaneous space travel, but what the Orbs truly are is unknown and debated. Ambra’s idyllic life in farm country is destroyed when humans working for the Dram come and take her. In an institution, she’s tested, beaten and experimented on. Horrific surgeries mutilate and blind her, and her skull is removed to give her tumor room to grow. The only escape Ambra has is to travel through time, back into history on her own to learn and experience life. But, since the Dram don’t realize she has surpassed every other Reader in terms of power and ability, Ambra is taken from Earth and sold into slavery. Stebbins does an exceptional job creating unique, detailed alien races, from the dreadful, cruel Dram to the octopuslike Sortax who live in water and the Xix, who rescue Ambra from enslavement. Long, lean, four-armed, intelligent and kind, the Xix work to prevent cruelty against the lesser races. Two Xixians, Waythrel and Thel, are especially strong alien characters who act as guides for Ambra, helping her develop her abilities. Although the first half of the novel suffers from too much telling and too little action, the second half comes alive. Ambra, able to travel through Orbs like no one before, takes on the Dram in a dramatic conflict that leads to her facing the Dram emperor. In order to free the universe of

K i rk us M e di a L L C # President M A RC W I N K E L M A N Chief Operating Officer M E G L A B O R D E KU E H N Chief Financial Officer J ames H ull SVP, Marketing M ike H ejny SVP, Online Paul H offman # Copyright 2013 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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“Elegant.”

—Booklist

978-0-316-18356-7

“Fascinating.” “Inspirational.” 978-0-316-07013-3

New for FALL 2013

—SLJ —Booklist

“Compelling.” “Playful.”

—SLJ

—PW

978-0-316-20478-1

“TW-inspiring.” “A triumph.”

—Kirkus

—PW

978-0-316-18405-2


August 15, 2013: Volume LXXXI, No 16